Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I love the Olympics

Every two years, I tune in to watch the world's finest athletes do their thing in front of millions of people, hoping to deliver the performance of a lifetime.

Now, I'm not interested in sports generally- I didn't even know who won the super bowl until I logged into Yahoo the next morning. But there's something about the Olympics that's different. The athletes seem more humble. Their skill seems incredible. And it's a rallying cry to support your favorite athletes. I have personal favorites for both the summer and winter olympics, making it fun to watch every two years. In the summer I cheer loudest for Phil Dalhausser, a 6'9 beach volleyball player called the "thin beast" who basically stands at the net and smacks the ball back over. In the winter, I watch my favorite athlete, Apolo Anton Ohno, speedskate.

There's something rhythmic and yoga-like about speedskating. The graceful movements, the split-second movement between skaters, and the avoidance of the inevitable crashes. Ohno has now become the most decorated winter olympian, and with good reason. What I love about Ohno is that he's always so down to earth. It's a refreshing change from the "I'm so amazing" football, basketball and baseball players of today who make FAR too much money and inevitably ruin their careers in my eyes with bad choices (Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods- role model, anyone?)

Last night's skating program added a new favorite to my category- Evan Lycasek. What graceful movements. Even in light of being slammed by the Russian skater who just edged him out after the short program, Evan remained calm.

More favorites? Shaun White. This kid is ridiculous. He's one of the few men I've ever seen able to rock curly red hair - and avoid the Carrot Top look- and he used a private half pipe to prepare for the olympics. You can bet his presentation is going to be incredible. On that note, I'm a little worn down of people ripping down these athletes. You could see the disappointment of the Russian coaches when two of their men took tumbles in pairs. Poor Lindsay Jacobellis took a spill during the snowboardcross just four years after she celebrated a little too early and lost the Gold. Snowboarding- and most sports- are hard. Athletes make mistakes just like anyone else.

I feel like I'll support these athletes whether they fall or fail because I expect more out of them morally. There's something redeeming about a Johnny Weir standing up for who he is or a Shawn Johnson being a genuine person. Why don't we expect this out of our non-olympic athletes? We're also willing to write it off in our politicians. So I say, cut them a break. These athletes are real people! And they're pretty impressive!

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