I was asked a couple of weeks ago, “Which do you prefer, the Winter or Summer Olympics?” At first I just responded with “Both!”
Unfortunately, the guy wasn’t satisfied with that answer. He pressed more. “No, really. You have to pick one.”
I thought that was silly. Choose between the Olympics? Aren’t they the SAME? Or at least like two children? How dare he make me choose between my children! You just don’t do that. At least, not to me.
I finally muttered out “Summer,” simply because he wanted an answer. But it did make me consider why I love both Olympic events equally.
1. They each have their signature events.
When I say “Summer Olympics,” there are a variety of events that automatically flash across the brain: swimming, running, gymnastics. These events are highlights, and usually bring the biggest spotlight on the nights they are featured.
Well, the same goes for the phrase “Winter Olympics.” There are also several signature events that flash across the brain when that is heard: figure skating, speed skating, skiing. Lately, snowboarding has also become a very prominent sport (almost more than skiing, in my opinion).
It’s not like it’s hard to think of significant Winter Olympic events. As a matter of fact, it might actually be easier to think of Winter events, since the Summer Olympics cover a much wider spectrum of sports. (Archery? Really?)
2. They have crossover appeal.
Like gymnastics? Meet its snotty little sister, figure skating!
Enjoy track and running events? Well, ask Usain Bolt to try that...on speed skates!
Prefer the great USA-dominated team sport of basketball? Here is the great team sport of hockey, dominated by...Canada? Well, we’re trying. (We put in NHL players to help!)
Hate all sports? Then snowboarding must be for you!
3. They make you guilty.
I’m pretty sure you’ve given the excuse of “It’s too hot!” or “It’s too snowy and cold!” to avoid working out. Well, these athletes endure the elements and do fancy footwork and look amazing doing it.
So what are you waiting for, you lazy bum?
4. The whole world is captivated, no matter what the national media might tell you.
It happens EVERY YEAR. We spend the four weeks leading up to the Olympics hearing about how terrible they’re going to be, how the host city spent way too much money, how no one is going to watch, blablablah.
Then we get two weeks of pure, (mostly) unadulterated joy. Incredible performances go viral. Unknowns become household names. We yell at our TVs to “Stick the landing!” Grown men cry. And the national media forgets what it said four weeks earlier and spends a lot of time talking about everyone is watching it.
5. It’s a great break from the monotony.
With winter comes bowls. With spring comes basketball and hockey playoffs. With summer comes lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of baseball. With fall comes football and baseball playoffs. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Throw in some golf tournaments and tennis matches and sports can get a bit lethargic.
Thanks to the Olympics, every two years we can spend some time watching something completely different. Skiing becomes the event to see if anyone crashes. Biathlon makes you wonder how anyone would have thought to combine cross-country skiing and shooting into ONE event. You spend way too much time rooting against the Chinese in table tennis and badminton and diving, just to see a different country on the podium for once.
The Olympics are that breath of fresh air that sports so desperately needs every now and then.
6. The music is the same!
Never fails: I hear that theme, and I smile. And I get really, really excited to get back to the Blurb with all you fine people!
Coming up: I will introduce you to the second snowboarding event, talk about how I may actually prefer Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski’s figure skating commentary over Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic’s, give thanks that Lindsay Vonn isn’t competing, mourn that Apolo Ohno isn’t either, and try to figure out a good sleep schedule that will allow me to still competently work during the day and watch the moguls’ final live on the Internet at 3:00 a.m.