Monday, February 27, 2006

The media didn't medal

So the Olympics are over, and even after hours of viewing, I still haven't figured out Curling. It's a surprisingly mesmerizing sport to watch, though. Bravo should get going with some sort of Celebrity Curling show, seriously. Wouldn't you just love to see your favorite TV stars frantically brushing the ice and yelling ... whatever it is curlers yell? Bring it on!

I've read all the wrap-up stories about these games, and apparently I'm supposed to have been disappointed in them. No big moments, the pundits say, performance below expectations. Maybe I'm just easy to please, but I found plenty to be inspired by. Ski jumps, both simple and twisting. Snowboarding, and the laid-back kids who practice it. Joey Cheek, giving his medal money to charity; seriously, put that boy on a Wheaties box. That Chinese pairs skater who picked herself up, dusted herself off, and kept on skating through what must have been unbearable pain. I don't think there was a day I watched the games that I didn't see something I didn't know humans could do (or, frankly, would want to). Are we only allowed to be inspired by winning -- and for that matter, only by winning gold?

If I'm disappointed by anything, it's by the media coverage that built huge mountains of hype, yammered about how much pressure that hype put on the athletes, and then pounced on anyone who didn't measure up. In sports where there are so many variables, from the weather to other athletes to the very unpredictability of the human body, how dare we put out those expectations -- especially knowing how much those expectations can affect the outcome by messing with people's heads. I'm willing to cut the athletes more slack than the journalists and the corporations. How 'bout next time, we don't hype anyone until they actually do something, 'kay?

Between the physical crashes and the PR crashes, I come away from these Olympics with a profound sense of gratitude that my children will likely never become serious sports competitors, and save us all the agony of having their mistakes analyzed by know-it-alls on national television. Would you want your child to compete in the Winter Olympics? Take the poll on my site and show your (lack of) spirit.

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