Friday, August 8, 2008

Let's light this torch!

images.jpegI love the Olympics. All those strange, obscure sports that are pursued by people with a love for some oddball form of competition get their moment in the sun. Like curling!

At least in Canada, becuase I don't think that Curling merits more than a few seconds of coverage here in the US, even during the Olympics. That said, Curling has a much higher participant base in Canada, though I'm not sure it's the place to make bank on the endorsements, even up North.

And yes, I know this is the Summer Olympics and I won't get to watch even a few seconds of curling. But curling has a certain symbolic value in my mind. It stands for all those who labor and train in obscurity, without a signature line of shoes, electrolyte rich sports drinks, or even brooms.

But really, this is the time you see athletes who have day jobs. Athletes who compete for love and for personal challenge. And every four years, they get a share of the glory. Granted, some get more than others. I neither like nor appreciate most gymnastics (ice skating suffers something similar) so I'm not quite sure why it gets the drama and the media darlings. Swimming and track work for me, so you can be sure that I'll be cheering for Phelps as much as anyone. Though his very-low-rise swim pants bug me. I'm always afraid something untoward will accidentally get revealed. And his name makes me think of Fred Phelps, one of the Ten Worst Humans Now Alive.

8716.jpgI'm getting pretty excited about cycling, The Tour having formed a nice little warmup exercise. To watch those crazy track team pursuit events that have an odd similarity between watching the Blue Angels and a rugby match (if you've ever watched a very good rugger squad move the ball up the field, it has a feel that reminds me of the drafting tactics of team cycling). Triatlon, the dominant sport of the Strauss household right now since golf is on hiatus until after the Danskin and/or Tiger's return to competition, gets is multisport moment in the sun. The majestic equestrian events get their day. The odd carnival of track and field get some glory.

Then you've got the people who compete in things like the heptathlon. I'm pretty well read, but I had to check that "hept" means seven. And I still am not quite sure what seven things go in the heptathlon. There' also the three-athlon we're so familiar with here, the five-athlon, the seven-athlon, and the ten-athlon among the multisports. Sorry folks, no dirty-du's.

And the weird "is this really an Olympic sport?" moments: BMX, beach volleyball, etc. For a good chuckle, look at the Wikipedia entry on Olympic Sports and enjoy the ones that aren't played anymore. I'm kind of glad that tug of war is off the menu, but why did the axe polo?

So we're here to celebrate it all -- to have a little fun and watch some guys with offensive lineman-sized guts go gung-ho trying to throw a small metal ball as hard as they possibly can. I'm planning on turning off the election campaign, global events (ps -- Russia, bad move with the invasion of South Ossetia. Couldn't you have held off a few days?), the unreliability of vendor managed training events, and lamentations on summer traffic for a couple of weeks. I'm going to put aside the reasons I'm told I should love, hate, fear, embrace, boycott, celebrate, mock, or ignore China. I'm just going to let the games unfold, enjoy the show for my own shelfish reasons, and then get back to the grind and the worry when everything is over and done with. I've strenuously avoided watching TV for the past two weeks, preparing my self for a long bout of coverage. We've stockpiled the house with healthy snacks to keep our endurance up (edemame, fruit, home-made sushi fixings -- all much better than nachos!). I've been trying to find a coherent and convenient tv and events schedule -- and might have actually succeeded. Now let's get ready and light this torch!

With apologies to Alan Shepard for the intentional misquote!

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