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February 17, 2010

Victim of "Olympification."

Maybe it's Olympication, or Olymptrophy, or even Olympicitis?

This girl snowboarder doesn't win and they practically lampoon her for it. People win and people lose, but the emphasis on the fact Miss Jacobellis couldn't pull it off not only points to a press that has no dignity, but disregards the other competitors that raced that day. From what I read she wasn't even the favorite to win, so I say lay off her.

The real problem, yet again, is making certain sports Olympic events. I think some are chosen only to appeal to a certain audience, not because they deserve entry. Don't even get me started on the ridiculousness of professional athletes competing in what was ALWAYS intended to be a showcase of amateur athletes. Now they reach deep into obscure sports and make them Olympic events, and it's just idiotic.

I call it the olympification of sports, and I think part of the motivation for it is insecurity. Countries think winning Olympic events is helpful to their image, their national pride, and a salve for their bruised egos or ruffled feathers caused by perceived insignificance. The US sends their professional basketball players to stomp all over other countries, the world sends professional tennis players, even paying their expatriates to come back to the "motherland" and on and on.

Then comes the "x" factor. For years, people thinking ski jumping, curling, or biathlon were too slow and obscure to attract a TV audience thought some "X" game sports would make good entertainment so they brought in the snowboarders. Half-pipe...good. Snowboard jump...also good. Snowboard downhill? Eh, that's pushing it, but the snowboard cross is just reaching, grasping at straws. What's worse, the snowboarders that claim to be "counter-culture" or anti-establishment don't realize they sold-out in order to get on TV. Yep. Sorry kids, when what's-his-name spins-up a controversy about his nickname (the flying tomato), he's a sell-out. What was it I said about insecurity?

Think about it; if the games were really about sport, it would be all amateur and there wouldn't be so much emphasis placed on the by-country "medal count." There would not be such an effort for racers to put sponsor labels on their clothes for people to see, kick-off their ski's or snowboards so fast so they can hold them up for the camera, and the news would report who trained the hardest, won the most prior competitions, and then subsequently kicked ass instead of focusing on some one's misfortune or making someone considered pretty such a topic. Go ahead and make an issue out of some snowboarder wearing tight pants. I know! Make the females wear mini-skirts, big furry boots and hats! Now that's entertainment. Skin still sells where I come from, but faux fur only, please. Oh, and if you let professionals in, then some female luge racer that made her sled a bit too heavy can go ahead and race.

What's next for the winter games? Snowball fights as a metaphor for global armed conflict? Snowman building? the politically correct world of today, it would have to be "snow-person." After all, the feminizing of the world has to continue, right?

How about toboggan? I know, luge and skeleton are toboggan-on-steroids, but they don't really show it much on TV. Besides, you can enter in the degree of difficulty of spending some time in the lodge drinking before the event. THAT's how people really toboggan so why not give it a go? Why not snowboard moguls? Figure skating against an opponent dressed as your favorite cartoon character? Speed skating while carrying an enormous cup of coffee? (winner crosses the line the fastest with the most coffee remaining in the cup, sponsored by Starbucks). Downhill skiing while avoiding getting shot by a paintball. Snowboarders towed up the slope by snowmobiles and the snowboarders armed with wiffle-ball bats to use on the other boarders! Get to the top without your boarder and you lose! Run to the top of the slope from the bottom while being pursued by angry dogs. Now there's a nail-biter for you! How about the race to the ski area over slick, snow and ice-covered roads in order to beat the lift lines? Now there's reality TV for you!

If the Olympics keeps going in their current fashion, one day it will be NASCAR, MMA, snowboarding, paintball, golf...and figure skating. It's the "olympification" of the Olympic games. Go for the ratings, not the athletics. After all, who can explain the fact people actually watch golf on TV? Forget about the "human drama of athletic competition, people just want to see Sarapova play for the Russians. Make no mention of the fact she's an American. It all makes drag racing so much more attractive. Put it in the snow and it would be a great winter game.

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