Sunday, February 26, 2006

COLUMN: Olympics

Ahh, it's that rare time again -- when the entire country becomes transfixed by the thrill of human competition. Night after night, we sit in front of the television to watch it all unfurl. We listen to the human interest stories with heavy hearts. We pick our favorites (and hope that they're not brought down by scandal.) We revel in their victories; we cringe at their defeats. We boo the judges. In the end, there will be heroes and there will be forgotten faces. There will be tears of joy, and there will be tears of those who succumb to the pressures of knowing that the entire country is watching their shining moment.

But enough about the new season of "American Idol." I'd rather talk about these Winter Olympics going on in Torino. More specifically, why -- for the first time that I can remember -- I couldn't care less about 'em.

Usually I find myself glued to the tube every four years. To me, the Winter Games are WAY more exciting than the summer ones. It's the same reason I find myself drawn to NASCAR races -- in the Winter Games, the agony of defeat can be downright dangerous. The way I see it, if you're crazy enough to strap a piece of wood on your feet and go whipping down a mountain at 50 mph, you deserve to be watched. But this year it's different.

It has nothing to do with the fact that Team USA is underperforming this Olympics. Call me unpatriotic if you will, but if we're not going to win, there's nothing wrong with rooting for the underdog. You've got to admit, our nation usually has a heck of an advantage at the Olympics. We've got the money and training facilities to develop some seriously great talent. But how should that stack up against poor Thirdworldistan, one of the random countries to walk in a delegation of, say, 4 to the Olympics? A country whose entire training budget consists of a pair of Nikes, a stopwatch, and a guy to yell "Go!" (Or, in Thirdworldistani, "Geflugenscheide!")

No, this year it's different. The internet has ruined the Olympics.

Fifteen years ago, I couldn't have cared less about what happened around the world. Nowadays, I feel like a complete and total isolationist if I don't have round-the-clock access to It's as though my life would stop without the security of knowing Paris Hilton's whereabouts 24-7. Donne was right -- no man IS an island -- provided, of course, he has broadband access to The internet OWNS me.

And thanks to the time difference, the internet also owns complete Olympic coverage, some 6-8 hours before we see it on NBC's nightly telecast. I've tried and tried to avoid seeing event results, but it's challenging when Yahoo! sticks it in big print on their main page. In short, the internet has become a huge Olympic spoilsport.

Case in point: I'm writing this Tuesday night. I just hopped onto the internet to confirm that Donne wrote the "no man is an island" line above (I'm really not that smart, people.) On that quest alone, I now inadvertently know who won the ladies figure skating short program that's airing later tonight. This just stinks.

What's the fun in listening to Scott Hamilton's over-the-top whisper-scream commentaries now? "This is simply a beautiful performance, provided of course that he sticks THIS TRIPLE TOE LOOOOOOOP...!" It just loses something if you know the skater in question is five seconds away from a faceplant on the ice.

About the only thing that the internet DIDN'T ruin were the Opening Ceremonies. That's because Italy ruined them for us instead. What some are calling "breathtaking" and "majestic", I'm referring to as "psychedelic monstrosity." Silly me, I thought Italy was just about spaghetti, scooters, and mind-blowingly bad techno music. But between the disturbing masks, the creepy face-balloons, and the Ferrari whipping donuts on center stage, Italy reminded us that they're also about a wide array of tackiness. It was like watching something Fellini hacked up after one too many hallucinogens. Really, all it needed was an inflatable pig and a Pink Floyd jam session to fully set the mood.

But the point remains: thanks mostly to the internet, I officially don't care about the Olympics this time around. There's an easy answer around this problem, though. From now on, we simply need to hold all future Winter Olympiads somewhere in the Central Time Zone. In fact, I suggest Barstow. It'd at least give us something to worry about other than the impending pork plant, and with any luck we'll temporarily stop running pictures of pig carcasses on our front cover. The 2010 Barstow Games might be a bit stinky, but hey, I'd at least watch.


JohnC Anderson said...

Speaking of the impending pig plant, I'll be happy to see them park it in Barstow---

Barstow, California, that is.

JohnC Anderson said...

Incidentally, they are hosting a pig plant discussion in Silvis, at Porkies of all places and as a citizen of Silvis* I'd like to invite you to attend it, Shane. I believe it's on March 19th.

*I don't particularly like Silvis and when I mentioned this to a friend of mine at a local library and he asked me then why do you stay there I said, "cause the rent's cheap, the women are cheap, the beer's cheap and I'm cheap.

JohnC Anderson said...

There is an Olympics, a Special Olympics and a Senior Olympics.

Maybe out in Silvis, the home of Hero Street and some of my good Hispanic friends they could have a Senor Olympics.

But the Senoras and Senoritas might raise a fuss about it, so maybe we better scratch that idea and move on to another.

-shane- said...

They're SERIOUSLY having this meeting at PORKIE'S?!?!


That right there. THAT is the Quad Cities in a nutshell.

JohnC Anderson said...

Yep, that am us'uns!!!