The Winter Olympics are sort of the WNBA equivalent of the Summer Games: Fewer superstars, everybody’s shorter and whiter and nobody can really slam-dunk. But we’ll take what we can get because, c’mon, what else are we going to do, turn off the TV during primetime and actually talk to our families? I’d rather watch a Kurd ski jump. And speaking of ski jumping . . .
For two weeks we have watched athletes who have devoted their entire lives to having their athletic exploits edited down to 20 seconds and replayed to Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.” But more importantly, we have become armchair experts in sports we literally knew nothing about and had never ever seen (prior to a helpful explanation provided by America’s favorite little person, Bob Costas). Yet that hasn’t stopped all of us from offering our own sage words of Cheetos-stained criticism after every single performance, from snowboard cross to short-track speed skating to freestyle aerial skiing: “Ooh that’s going to cost her . . . should’ve kept her knees together . . .”
Yes, because apparently the whole point of every Winter Olympics event seems to be to keep your knees together and not fall down. That sounds more like a sobriety test than something you should get an awards ceremony for—though wouldn’t it be awesome if they played your national anthem and lowered a giant flag after successfully passing a sobriety test? This year’s Winter Games are being held in Vancouver, Canada, which sounds far away but, according to Kathy Lee Gifford of the The Today Show, is still in the Pacific Time Zone. That means, for instance, when a figure skater wins a gold medal at 7:30 p.m. in Vancouver . . . let’s see here, carry the one, check the tide charts, divide by pi . . . well what a coincidence, it’s also 7:30 p.m. in Southern California! But apparently the NBC folks who are televising the Olympics are too busy thinking up new ways to screw up Heroes and make sweaty 700-pound people take off their shirts for prize money. Because instead of just showing events live as they happen, NBC would rather tape-delay them until just before midnight and then air something that’s been all over the Internet for 4 hours. Four hours. For the record, an airline flight from Southern California to Vancouver takes less than three hours. So you could conceivably get on a plane, fly to Vancouver and congratulate the gold medal winner in person before it’s ever televised on NBC in Southern California.
The only upside, of course, is every second we watch tape-delayed biathlon coverage is one less night we’re subjected to NBC’s all-new, same-old The Jay Leno Show.
Plus it’s always entertaining when the Americans win a butt load of Olympic medals. (Though at the Summer Olympics at least we had a hated rival like China. Who are we supposed to root against at the Winter Games, Norway?) And not that I even watch hockey—or as I like to call it “ice soccer”—but it’s always nice when the U.S. can beat Canada at their only sport, in a home game no less, and then spend the next four years gloating about it (or until football season starts).
But if I have learned one thing from watching these Winter Games it has nothing to do with international camaraderie or the spirit of competition. It’s something even simpler and more beautiful: Swedes are hot. Seriously, have seen Sweden? It’s apparently full of Swedes. And when you see something as majestic and graceful as a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, Hooters-quality athlete in Spandex skiing her little Nordic heart out, only to get crushed just like everyone else by an unstoppable American juggernaut, it makes you think:
This—this!—is why Greeks invented the Olympics.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.