Let’s break down the Olympics for what they largely are. We’re talking about a collection of sports, by and large, no one watches for 205 out of every 208 weeks featuring athletes, again by and large, no one has even remotely heard of. Oh yeah, throw in the additional fact that these events normally are taking place in a part of the world where it rates somewhere between moderately and extremely inconvenient to watch them live.
I’ve never enjoyed watching the Olympics and honestly can’t figure out why anyone does on more than a passing level*. Then again, I was raised in a family with a father who hated Halloween, loves rooting against his favorite baseball team, and doesn’t like going to the beach.
So, maybe it’s me, but I doubt it.
Some of these competitions are laughable, they truly are. One of my absolute favorites, one I had no idea existed, was race walking (aka speed walking or “I really have to go the bathroom, but can’t run or else I’ll go in my pants”). I can’t help but believe that everyone in that competition is thinking to themselves, “If only everyone just looked over there for one second, I could jog for a bit and be in first!”
How do you feel any national pride for competitions like walking or trampolining or ping pong? People cheering on walkers with “Come on, Brazil!” makes literally no sense to me. Do you honestly feel pride for a man you’ve never heard of, met or read about prior to that day winning a competition for being a quick walker? Even if you’re the person that wins a medal, how is that cool? You’re incredible at not-running, or you’re good at leisure games… good for you. There’s a couple guys in the lounge at my office who want to challenge you.
I happen to be a huge basketball fan and as a result of that fact people can’t believe I’m not into watching that portion of the games. To them I say this: If we were allowed or so inclined, we could probably enter in 3 or 4 teams of our own that would make the medal rounds. At which point, it would likely be US1, US2, US3, Spain, US4, and France. And if I wanted to watch great Americans play basketball against one another, I’d watch the NBA. You know, that yearly league they have set up across the country with standings and all that Jazz.
Listen, I get that there’s a lot on the line. That these athletes have spent the last 4 years (in some cases, their whole lives) building up to this one moment and it’s their chance to shine. That’s fantastic… for them, their families, hometowns. But for me, the guy that hasn’t watched a swim meet or a track and field event or could barely tell the difference between a kayak and a canoe… it’s just a bunch of people racing. Not that exciting.
I’ve run into a few people that have the courage to say, “No, I don’t care for the Olympics, I’ll pass on watching boring competition amongst strangers, thank you very much”. But, largely most people can’t get enough**. And for them, I feel sorry. They’re going to have to wait 4 more years to catch a glimpse of their beloved Olympic games. It’s funny how no one’s interested in Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt or (insert anyone/anything Olympic-related excluding NBA players) outside of the Olympics.
Oh well, there’s always next time.
*I’ll give those of you that have been gymnasts a slight pass for watching those contests, but on the same page, I play a lot of ping pong for fun, and you don’t see me getting all geeked about table tennis competition.
**According to Darren Rovell, nearly 70% of Americans watched at least 6 consecutive minutes of Olympic coverage. I suppose, if you want to be positive, that’s impressive (although, on the other hand, if you own a TV or went to a bar at any point in the last two weeks, it is nearly impossible to avoid). Also, footnote to the footnote, I can’t tell if I like or dislike Darren Rovell. His tweets are usually pretty interesting, but there’s just something about him. Maybe it’s the finance guy look he has? I don’t know.