Scott Phillips is our sports guy. He took issue with my (Alex Russell)’s opinion that the Olympics aren’t as interesting as we’re being told they are. You might say he took many issues. The following is his reasoned response.
As we roll along in week one of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, I’m continually puzzled by the lack of interest from friends and colleagues as one of the greatest sporting events in the world goes on. We’re past all the bullshit about the underdeveloped Olympic Village — and town of Sochi — and the games have finally begun. Bob Costas even took a day off to rest his eye and keep it away from Russian water. (Sidenote: If the Russians somehow hurt Bob Costas, this is grounds to potentially re-ignite the Cold War. Costas is a fucking American treasure.) But the games themselves? I feel like I have nobody to talk to them about. And I’m confused why… I hear a few gripes about the Olympics — mainly Winter — about them being boring, or lacking name recognition, etc. I hate these arguments. If you like sports, you should like the Olympics. Here’s why:
The “name-recognition” argument: This is an argument that I hear a lot in regards to the Olympics. It usually breaks down in some capacity to, “I can’t name more than five people in the Olympics,” or snarky, asshole detractors will challenge someone with that same line of reasoning: “Name five people in the Olympics. Go ahead. Do it.” [Editor’s note: he means me, and honestly, I still don’t think people can. I also asked for six, but I don’t think five is possible either.] You don’t need to name people to have a rooting interest because you can use the names of countries. You did watch Carmen Sandiego as a kid and can name more than a handful of participating nations, right? There you go, rooting interest done. If you love America, root for the American. Learn about someone from a state you never think about and root for the fuck out of them while enjoying a beer at the bar. Root against those “terrorist countries” you believe we’re facing until you’re blue in the face. It isn’t difficult to figure out. And if you can’t get into rooting for countries? Gamble on that shit. Drinking games; money; push-ups; dinners. Gambling is for everyone now. It’s American. Kids gamble. Your grandparents play bingo. Do it. The “I don’t know the sports” argument: Bobsled, luge, skeleton and skiing are all ridiculously exciting to watch and involve a person that could get catastrophically injured in one wrong turn. No, this isn’t the NASCAR argument to watch for the sake of the crash. But when a human being is moving 60-80 miles per hour on snow and ice it’s pretty incredible. If you live in Chicago like I do — well, shit, seemingly everywhere this winter got snow — you’ve experienced snowfall and realize how it slows everything down. Well, now, imagine crazy people flying down steep and dangerous courses of snow and ice. How is that NOT exciting? It’s not like they show this every week, either. It’s once every four years and it’s pretty damn entertaining to watch after a few beers. That doesn’t even include all of your friends that recently got into hockey because the Blackhawks got good again being really into the hockey portion of the games. And speed skating? C’mon, you’ve been to an ice or a roller rink and tried to race your friends while knocking over the uncoordinated kids. This is the same shit, but on a global scale for millions of endorsement dollars. Apolo Ohno eats Subway every fucking day now. For free. Show some respect. \
The “there isn’t any black people” argument”: Yeah, I really have nothing for this one… Chance to watch white people celebrate and dance regularly, which is funny for all races? That’s all I got.
The “I’m at work argument”: I get it, you like to watch live and many of the events are on during the work day. But you aren’t a writer and can’t sit around doing nothing, watching the Olympics all day like I can. You have a 9-5. Then figure it out! American ingenuity! You have sick days, vacation days and work-from-home leeway. You have the Internet at work and on your phone. If you’re a teacher, show that shit to your students. Make it educational. The “globalization of something-or-other.” Done; lesson planned for two weeks. Kids will love it. Well, there you have it, folks. Tons of reasons to get involved with the Winter Olympics. They’re gone before you know it and you shouldn’t miss them.
Image source: AP
Your whole rebuttal of the name-recognition argument is perfect. Who watches the games to cheer for the individual athletes? If I see someone from Ukraine, I’ll cheer for them against any one, because they really seem like they need a win right now. And besides all that, it’s always entertaining to see how long you can watch cross country skiing for before falling into a coma.