Reasons to Get Involved with the Winter Olympics


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

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 Do You Hate That Everyone Loves?


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

What Do You Hate That Everyone You Know Loves?

Rules are simple: what’s that one thing that you just can’t sign off on? What is the thing that you just cannot wrap your mind around? What does every damn person love that you just can’t even find it in your dark heart to like?

Austin Duck

Aside from people, there’s really not a whole lot that I hate. But, being a big metropolitan area, one thing everyone seems to love is fancy cocktails in fancy cocktail bars and it drives me up the fucking wall. Why would I pay, like, $8 extra for fancy bitters or elder flower liqueur when I can go to the shitty bar that I go to and get whiskeys for $3.50. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Food, I get. Drugs, ditto. But it’s not like the booze is any better when it’s mixed by mixologists; it’s exactly the same. I want something that I can drink a lot of on a meager salary. 

Mike Hannemann

This goes back and forth for me, but it all boils down to sports. Personally, I blame being the only member of a (somewhat) big family that wasn’t physically capable of any of this. To get more specific: basketball. I could probably name less than 10 players currently in the NBA, including general descriptions like “that one guy with weird hair who’s an asshole.” I know I’m wrong in not caring, but I just can’t access it. I went to a Chicago Bulls game a few years back and the only details I remember are that it was Benny the Bull’s birthday and the Bulls scored over 100 points (but I only remember this because it meant I got a free Big Mac if I brought the ticker to a McDonald’s).  I never even redeemed my Big Mac.

Alex Marino

I fucking hate Twitter. I also don’t like Facebook a whole lot but I hate Twitter more because it could be this awesome community and instead is a giant pile of word throw up. The wild popularity has forced it to become a place where people have to rush to make the first shitty joke about whatever show is on TV so they can get the most retweets. Last week was a bunch of dumb fucking Justin Bieber jokes and tonight it’s a bunch of garbage about the Grammys (which are also garbage). And then tomorrow there’s going to be a bunch of miserable Buzzfeed articles about “ZOMG 13 Awesomesauce Tweets About the Grammys.” There’s another polar vortex coming through this week. Are you as excited as I am to see Twitpics of everyone’s weather apps?! Twitter is a place that breeds lazy journalism where you can see entire news articles written about two tweets from someone famous. In politics it’s just another medium where the competition is to see which side is louder rather than right. Twitter was awesome when its users were authentic and engaging rather than brand-focused and politically correct. And there still are a lot of those users out there. There’s just way more shit you have to wade through to get to it.

Alex Russell

This has to be How I Met Your Mother. There is a commercial for this show where a character says “It’s going to be LEGEND. DAIRY.” with a deliberate pause between the two words. It may sound petty to be caught up in one silly commercial, but this is what I hear when I’m falling asleep. I think of how thousands and thousands of people don’t watch Parks and Recreation but do watch this show and I wake up. This is why I haven’t slept in five years. LEGEND. DAIRY. I’d pay ten American dollars for this show to never run again. It’s not the worst show on TV by a long shot, but it’s the worst one that smart people like.

Andrew Findlay

The Game of Thrones TV Show

This is not so much a matter of hatred – I just won’t watch the show. I watched the first episode and thought “this is boring, I know everything that happens already from the books.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not neglecting to watch it because of some “the book is just better” snob factor. It’s just that I read the first four in a single month, and then when I got to the end, there were no more, and it was painful. Then there was one more, I read it, and then there were no more, and it was painful. I fully support GRRM doing whatever he wants to with his time. Understandably, he got pissed off once when fans complained about his liking football and him spending precious writing time watching sports instead of finishing the books they loved, but for some reason I sort of irrationally see the show as a direct competitor to book completion. In addition, I’ve built up this world in my own mind, and don’t want all the actors’ stupid faces messing up how I see people. I’ll circle back and marathon it once the books are done or after enough people yell at me for this stupid decision.

Brent Hopkins

This is actually a really simple answer for me. I absolutely hate peanut butter and I have had to deal with that shame my entire life. Most people instantly ask “Are you allergic to nuts?” which is a valid question. When they find out that isn’t the case and that I just don’t like peanut butter it turns into an interrogation. “Do you like other nuts?” “Do you like peanuts?” “How about peanut butter cookies?” I actually like all nuts including peanuts but the smell and flavor of peanut butter has been off-putting to me since I was around five years old. I think I got it from my dad because he hates the flavor just as much as I do. Living in Korea has been interesting because they don’t really eat it here either but when talking about Western food it always comes up and they always assume I like it and act just as surprised when I explain how much I hate it.