Thanks, Olympics, for giving me a reason to sit on the couch all week

Okay, I think I’ve reached it. I’ve finally had my fill of the Winter Olympics.

I haven’t been sitting in front of the TV EVERY evening for these two weeks. We had theater tickets last night, for example, and I’ve also been around to help with homework (pretty bad form to blow the kids off so I can watch ice dancing) and gave a speech in Ann Arbor last Saturday. But other than that, with the TIVO in hand, I’ve been glued to the set. Why?

It helps that the Olympics are in Canada, undoubtedly my favorite country I don’t live in. Seeing all those maple leafs everywhere warms my heart, and I’ll cheer for a Canadian in just about every winter sport except short track speed skating. I feel bad that the national movement to “Own The Podium” has resulted in Canada landing in fourth in the medal total, but really, that whole quest for domination seems so American that it’s a good thing it imploded. (Maybe American covert agents were behind it all along.)

Also, I don’t know why this is, but I think everyone who is out competing in winter sports at any level just generally LOOKS good. Maybe it’s the lack of sweat, plus the lycra body suits that cover up the overstrained muscles enough so the athletes don’t look like lab experiments.

Hockey isn’t my sport, but I learned more watching the US-Canada and Canada-Russia games than I have in all my life. The speed, the set-ups, the passing, the lack of cheap hits and fighting–all were beautiful things to behold. While this won’t turn me into a rabid rink rat, it will at least make hockey fans more intelligible, if not tolerable. And the pictures of the Canadian Women’s Team drinking beer and smoking cigars after winning the gold medal are the coolest pics I’ve seen in a long time. Olympic officials can go lick a flagpole if they don’t like them.

Bobsled? I still don’t get bobsled. The vehicles they were pushing down the track looked like NHRA funny cars or something. The pusher in the back doesn’t even get to watch where the rig is going. Where’s the satisfaction in that? Luge and skeleton were a little more entertaining, but here are two ideas for consideration:

Just attach runners to an athlete’s jumpsuit and let er go. Talk about a need for control.


Send people down the chute in those metal flying saucer things we used to ride as kids. The kinds that spun around and gave you know control about anywhere you were going. (Two years ago, I watched some kids in Chicago sledding in the top of a Weber kettle, which was pretty macho.) It would at least let us see the expressions on the player’s face.

One reason I think I’m addicted to watching the Winter Olympics, especially the ski competitions, is that I miss “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” Skiing was a regular feature on that show, and to a kid in Detroit the broadcast locales were exotic, like St Moritz and Squaw Valley and, yes, Whistler. That romantic aura still infects me when I go skiing, no matter how long the lift lines are, how expensive the food and lodging is, and how obnoxious the snowboarders are.

So, thank you, Winter Olympics, for this two-week binge of excitement, vicarious competition, and harmless jingoism. (Well, the Russian hockey team might find such jingoism a little painful when they return to their homeland. Suck it, comrades.) They’re not for everyone, and the arguments against the Games from the non-fans are completely plausible. The way I see it, if you don’t like or participate in winter sports, then you’re a punk (especially if you live in a cold climate). Everyone should at least be grateful that the Winter Olympics have postponed the debuts of “The Marriage Ref” and “The Tonight Show seized by Jay Leno” and all the amazing, breathless coverage of the Oscars that will immediately flood the media.

Who will be left to perform in the closing ceremonies? They used every single Canadian performer I can think of, short of Anvil and Mike Myers.