Sports

Reasons to Get Involved with the Winter Olympics

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Scott Phillips

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

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Your Twitter Guide to #Sochi2014

Scott Phillips

One of the amazing things about Twitter is the real-time access you get to anybody that you follow. Bob — that guy you work with — might royally suck on conference calls, but maybe he makes some witty remarks on the CTA every morning. That little cousin of yours probably can’t string two sentences of real words together, but at least they have Twitter to talk about #oomf (one of my followers; get with the times, you assholes).

But Twitter is also granting us some amazing access to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, where journalists from around the globe are sending some pretty ridiculous images of the semi-completed Olympic surroundings.

Here’s a snapshot — no, not a Snapchat, that’s for another time — of some of the more interesting things we’ve seen in Sochi so far.

Since the Olympics is about the athletes, we’ll start with their accommodations. Hockey will be the sport that the casual fan of the Olympics will watch the most because of the involvement of NHL players, so that makes this photo even funnier.

Canadian hockey players are supposed to sleep and get laid in twin beds that are, like, a foot apart? Can you imagine Jonathan Toews trying to bring groupies back to his room?

“Hey, how you doing? Jonathan Toews, Stanley Cup champion. I signed a multi-million dollar contract, but do you wanna come back to my room and kick it on my twin bed with my two roommates? Also, we need some extra towels if you have any leads…”

As media members have checked into uncompleted hotel rooms, normal things in America like lightbulbs, door knobs, soap, and shower curtains are becoming hot items on the Olympic media black market.

The thought of someone like Dan Wetzel, a national sports columnist who makes six figures to comfortably cover every major sporting event from a prime location, trying to trade three light bulbs on the Russian black market for a doorknob is just awesome.

Then there’s this horrifying revelation: Russian water will evidently melt your face. Or, Olympic corporate sponsor Gatorade has taken their branding in Sochi to the fucking next level by replacing water with lemon-lime Gatorade. I mean, do people in Russia have enough electrolytes?

The water has been a much-discussed issue in Sochi and if you can get clean water at all — and it also happens to be hot! — then you’re basically staying in the best hotel room in Russia.

Why are there stray dogs fucking everywhere in Sochi? Have we established this yet? It’s like that scene in A Christmas Story when dogs are just randomly running through the kitchen tearing everything apart.

There’s also the famous story of the German photographer that tried three times to check into a hotel room in Sochi only to find a stray dog in the third room he was shown.

Did Stephen King have Pet Cemetery filmed there?

Manhole covers: We evidently take them for granted in America, but here in Sochi, they just call it “population control.” Not watching your kid? Sorry, mom, your son has fallen into the abyss and is playing an underground level of Super Mario World right now collecting coins and crying like crazy.

Seriously, why isn’t this the universal sign for bathrooms all across the world? It completely gets the point across and is so much more entertaining to look at than what we have now in America.

That’s not creepy or anything… Forget about things like privacy and an ability to sleep soundly thanks to randoms coming in and out of your room to see if construction is complete.

Maybe some other journalist offered a few million rubles to steal your hotel room. Try telling your boss that you have to cover Ice Dancing from your hotel room because the construction workers keep trying to break in to steal your instant oatmeal.

Well, there you have it, folks. Some of the crazier shit we’ve seen on Twitter from Sochi. And we’re still two days from the Olympic Games even beginning!

Tough Questions: What Are You Most Excited for in 2014 That You’re Sure Will Disappoint You?

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Every Monday we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week?

What Are You Most Excited for in 2014 That You’re Sure Will Disappoint You?

Rules are simple: what do you have hope for that you know you’re wrong about? What are you fired up for early in the year that you will be miserable about once it happens? As a note here, Brent answered before the game. His pick of the Seahawks flopping in the Super Bowl looks hilarious for that reason.

Alex Marino

I speak for a lot of people when I say that I was hoping George R. R. Martin was going to release the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series called The Winds of Winter.  But it’s looking more and more like it’s not going to be released anytime soon. With his last release A Dance with Dragons, his original goal completion date was late 2006. Then his publisher said it would be released in the fall of 2008. Then in early 2009 he said he would get it finished by June of the same year. By July 2010 he had yet to have the book finished. It wasn’t until July 2011 that the book was finally published. And in 2011 with regards to The Winds of Winter Martin said that he could have it finished in three years at a good writing pace. But given how everything went down with A Dance with Dragons, who knows how accurate that is. It’s now to the point where people are getting worried the TV show is going to catch up to the novels before they’re all finished. I still believe that the remaining books are going to be excellent, but my biggest 2014 disappointment that I’m most excited for is Martin’s eventual statement that things are taking longer than he anticipated.

Alex Russell

Every year I set four basic goals for myself. They’re simple but important, and keeping them in mind all year allows me to keep my year on track. It’s easier to quit smoking when it’s one of four things to do in a year than it is to “quit smoking.” I quit last year and haven’t had a cigarette in just under a whole year. This year? The one I’m going to miss is losing 20 pounds. I was rail thin growing up and time caught up with me in my late twenties. Through portion control, salads for lunch, and just outright misery I’ve managed to get my diet under control, but there’s just no damn way I’ll make it to 20 pounds. It’s fun to live in a world where that’s still possible, and that’s where February finds me. Oh, and stand up. There’s no way anyone can follow 2013, which had some of the greatest album releases of the last decade. The only way to go is down.

Andrew Findlay

The University of Tennessee’s football season. God. Damn. It. Go Vols.

Brent Hopkins

This is strange (because by the time this is posted it will already have passed) but I think the thing that I am most excited for this year is the Super Bowl. The reason I am so into the Super Bowl this year is because I am a huge Seahawks fan and have been for years. I got to sadly watch the last Super Bowl they were in where Pittsburgh benefited from less than stellar refereeing (yes, I know the Seahawks had quite a few games go their way unfairly this year, also). The reason I think this year will disappoint me is two-fold. One is I have work. Like any sane company though, we aren’t allowed to just sit and watch TV so I’m probably not going to be able to watch it. I will be sitting at work, doing nothing, in Korea. Second is this sinking feeling that the Manning two-headed dragon needs four rings to satiate the football gods in their family. One for the father and one for the unknown brother as well. The stars seem to be aligning for them to place their fists together in this strange Planeteer formation made with four Super Bowl rings  and Mr. Football will come down from the skies  and erase rugby and soccer from history and the new sports chairgroup will be the Mannings… or maybe I am a smidge neurotic. WOOOO HAWKS (if they won).

Scott Phillips

I always get fired up for the Olympics, but I just know that I’m going to be disappointed by this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. I mean, can Russia do anything right? There are still Olympic structures that have yet to be completed. There’s the fiasco about stray dogs and whether Russia actually believes if non-heterosexuals are “people.”

And we haven’t even gotten to the actual playing of the games. In the summer of 2008, I had the time of my life playing drinking games to the Olympics nearly every night while I was living at my Mom’s house and hanging with my friends from high school. It was fantastic. But, ever since, I can’t find good drinking partners for these games and the Winter Olympics, in particular, are a difficult sell.

Drinking games during the Olympics are fantastic and I encourage people to join me at any point during the Sochi games, I just know I’m going to be disappointed while doing it.

Mike Hannemann

The event in 2014 I’m most looking forward to being disappointed by has boiled down to the third and final Hobbit movie.  I don’t mean that in the sense that I thought the prior two were particularly bad films. Quite the contrary, in fact. They were flawed and directionless at times, but they still were fun. And as a nerd who made that large transition into adulthood during the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, any chance I get to return to that world is already a win in my book. Hell, I’m going to fight kicking and screaming to hold onto that belief when an inevitable sequel to the original trilogy comes out in 15 years. The disappointment is instead going to come from longing to return not to a place, but a time. I’m going to see this movie with my best friend at midnight in the same theater we saw the original films in, and I’m going to hope beyond hope that it’ll feel like I’m 19 again, and there’s still a whole lot about the world I haven’t figured out yet. But in the end, I’ll probably just end up mildly entertain and thinking that maybe taking the next day off of work just to see a movie was a bad idea. Also that I probably shouldn’t have drank 64 ounces of Mountain Dew at one in the damned morning.

Conversations with my Future Son: Deion Sanders

Scott Phillips

Every once in awhile, I see a “celebrity” of our era and try to think what it would be like to explain that person to my future son, King Phillips.

(Please note that King Phillips, my future NBA-playing son, has been a running joke among friends of mine for over a decade, except they’re totally unsure if I’m actually serious about using that name. It’s fucking fantastic; my girlfriend hates it.)

Kids ask a lot of questions — a lot of blunt, honest questions — and I know that I asked my Dad about plenty of obscure celebrities when I was growing up.

Who is Boy George? Who is Corey Feldman? Who is Ross Perot? Who is Milli Vanilli?

God, I feel bad for my old man. I probably peppered him with questions every week about useless people that he knew next to nothing about or didn’t feel like explaining in-detail to his prepubescent oldest son.

But these future conversations with my son, King, are the things I think about late at night.

So what would it be like if my son, King, asked me about 1990s multi-sport athlete and NFL All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders?

Here’s how it might transcribe:

King: Dad, who is Deion Sanders?

Scott: You mean “Leon Sandcastle?” (starts laughing out loud)

King: (Stares blankly)

Scott: Sorry, that was a joke from a long time ago.

King: Why do you always laugh at your own jokes, Dad?

Scott: I do not.

King: Yes, you do. Mom and I always just look at each other and don’t know what to do.

Scott: (Interrupting son) Well, King, Deion Sanders was an All-Pro cornerback. One of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game of football, actually.

King: Better than Richard Sherman?

Scott: Oh yeah, definitely better than Richard Sherman.

King: But Richard Sherman is always on TV talking about how he was the best ever.

Scott: Richard may destroy Deion on television, but Prime Time was the coolest two-sport athlete of my day. Deion was an unreal football player, but he also played for the Atlanta Braves for a few years.

King: You mean Deion Sanders played two sports?

Scott: Yup, pretty cool huh?

King: Didn’t Michael Jordan do that too?

Scott: We don’t talk about Michael’s baseball career, son. That never happened. Understand?

King: Okay, okay…

Scott: So why the question about Deion Sanders? What made you bring him up?

King: They showed a highlight reel of NFL players that danced on “SportsCenter” and Deion was on there high-stepping and dancing. Why was he wearing a bandana?

Scott: People in the ’90s and early 2000s thought that bandanas were a lot cooler back then.

King: So how come you liked Deion Sanders so much? I found an old jersey in your closet.

Scott: Well, I liked the Dallas Cowboys for a few years when I was a kid because every kid goes through a soul-sucking phase where they root for a team that’s just really good for no reason.

King: Kind of like how I like the Charlotte Bobcats (just kidding, let’s try that line again)

King: Kind of like how I like the Los Angeles Clippers?

Scott: Yeah, just like that. You like Blake Griffin and the Clippers because they win a lot, yeah.

King: Yeah, and Derrick Rose is always injured.

Scott: (under breath) I hate you, son.

King: What, Dad?

Scott: (Turns on radio loudly and drives a touch faster) Nothing, son. Dad needs to stop at Binny’s.

Image credit: NFL.com