Winter Olympics 2014 thoughts

I’ve always considered myself a huge fan of the Olympics. Although I’m not terribly sure why. I don’t watch it as much as I’d like to, and I couldn’t even name my top Olympic memories. The miracle on ice doesn’t count, I was 1. When it comes to the Olympics, I’m conflicted on quite a few things.

Is it amateur or professional? I love amateur sports, but when you take amateur athletes, offer then $25,000 to win a gold medal, and give them the professional sports treatment in the media, is it really amateur? And how can you crown the best in the world if you don’t invite the best in the world? The media loves to focus on the most talented and the most marketable, which may or may not be in keeping with the spirit of the thing.

The way they show the sports also conflicts in some ways for me. I like it when they jump from sport to sport, only showing you the action. But it also doesn’t give me any time to learn the sports, and the athletes, and to really appreciate what I’m watching. There’s someone in a USA jersey, YAH! Most of the sports, especially the winter sports, I don’t know at all, it might be better to take them at a slower pace. But aside from the Olympics, I spend approximately 0 seconds watching or thinking about most of these sports. So that’s a tough call, they throw so much at you at once, there’s no time to digest it all. At least I’m off work after next weekend so I can spend more time watching if I want.

And of course, sometimes I find myself watching a game in which the ole’ red, white and blue isn’t represented. Now what? There’s something I can appreciate about watching these elite athletes, but it’s always better when you have a reason to care. There’s some 300 members of team USA, too many to know individually, plus all the excellent athlete’s on other teams with interesting stories. I just went through the http://famousmormons.net/olympians2014.html and followed a bunch of them on twitter. Seems a bit wrong though to focus on mostly on those who are on both team USA and my faith, but I also had to start somewhere. I guess the more in common I have with them the easier it is to get behind them. Also, following them on twitter was kinda neat, some of them only had a few hundred followers. That’s generally something I’m more interested in than some pro athlete with tens of thousands of followers.

Then there’s the sports themselves. I generally like the summer sports a lot better. I did wrestling, track and field and soccer in school, so I get all of those sports. I don’t have any personal experiences with the winter sports, but I do enjoy hockey. My general lack of excitement at some of the winter sports falls into a few categories.

I can’t tell the difference between a winner and a loser in many events. My wife and I were watching some of the slopestyle snowboarding last night. It was neat to watch, and they are obviously very talented. But we simply could not tell too much of a difference between one performance and the next. We were told that one athlete was in 7th place, the next person up had the second place run. I couldn’t tell a lick of difference. Any of these sports where there are judges have never been a favorite of mine. In the track events, you finish first. In hockey, you score the most goals. You know who has won. But in sports like gymnastics and figure skating, you’ve got judges, and to the untrained eye, it looks artistic and athletic, but unless something obviously goes wrong, the final score is a seemingly random surprise to me. That might be one of the reasons people get into curling at Olympic time, sure it’s a bit weird and that makes it fun to get behind, but the technique and strategy seems easy enough to get, and you can tell who is winning.

Then you have some of the events like luge and bobsled and downhill skiing, they are racing the clock, so I get that, it’s easy to understand who wins and why. But the technique and strategy is beyond me. Luge looks pretty cool, and one of them finishes .2 seconds ahead of the next one. But I have no clue why. The differences between winning and losing are so subtle, it seems you need to be a real expert in order to notice it.

So there you go, what I like and what I don’t like. What are you looking forward to? Or not?

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About garybraham

I grew up in Mahopac NY, studied geology at Colgate University. I've moved to Queensbury NY to teach HS earth science. I also coach soccer and wrestling, take pictures at local sporting events, and am the Scoutmaster for the Glens Falls ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My wife and I will be married 5 years this October, and we have a two and a half year old little girl.
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One Response to Winter Olympics 2014 thoughts

  1. quintana365 says:

    I generally enjoy both versions of the Olympic Games simply because I am an avid sports fan. Have things changed regarding true amateurism and professionalism? Of course they have. I think the main connector to all the changes is simply money.

    Whoever holds the broadcast rights (NBC) has tremendous say on the actual scheduling of prime events they want shown on as close to prime time as possible.

    Good post.

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