An Olympic-sized pool of apathy


The Winter Olympics start today!

Wait. I don’t care. I really don’t.

Seriously. I’m not sure what it is about the Olympics, but I’ve never been able to get into it – especially the ones in the winter.

Maybe I’m just disillusioned about sports. I’m one of the few people that would rather watch professional players rather than amateur – one of those that actually believe the NBA plays better basketball than the NCAA, and one of those that can’t get into a college football game unless I know some of the stars.

I’m a product of my generation, a sports fan that’s driven more by the names than by the on court/field product. It’s rather embarrassing to say, actually, because it’s supposed to be the opposite. The biggest sports fans follow college football. They follow the NCAA basketball season. They have loyalty to a faceless, ever changing team.

That could be my problem, Olympic-wise. I’m too caught up in the allure of the big star to actually give a damn about some amateur luge champion.

Another concern to me is the sudden devotion, for two weeks every four years, to sports that we would make fun of at any other time. Curling? Usually a joke. During the Olympics, however, it’s one of the top ticketed events. Hockey gains some semblance of respectability during the Olympics, as does figure skating. Likewise during the summer – we usually don’t think twice about soccer, track and field, or swimming, but during those two weeks they’re amazingly relevant.

I can’t do it, though. Everyone else can jump on that Olympic bandwagon and root for our country. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! I’m not patriotic enough to root for our country in a war, let alone root for them in an ultimately meaningless ski jump battle. I can’t switch gears and become a huge fan of these sports that don’t get a second thought at any other time in my life.

I probably save all of my “every-four-year” anticipation for World Cup soccer. I can’t explain it any other way.

Despite all that I say, though, there’s something I have to admit. I’ll probably end up watching at least three hours of Olympic coverage this year. It’s not a lot, but considering my lack of interest in all things Olympic, it’s an anomaly.

I can’t escape it, really. We only get six channels in our house, and only four of them come in clearly enough to watch longer than five minutes. Of course, one of those four channels is NBC, home of the Olympics. At some point, we’ll stop the television and stare at downhill slalom for an hour. We’ll get sucked into the viewing experience. We’ll end up choosing someone to root for. We’ll give up the fight and watch the Olympics.

And we’ll hate ourselves in the morning.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 9th, 2006