We’re STILL waiting on you to join us, but in the meantime, we have the Winter Olympics to keep us entertained. This year, they are in Sochi, Russia. Every four years, we all gather around the television to watch the world’s best athletes in the world’s most obscure sports compete against each other. In most of these sports, it basically boils down to this. Fall down, and you lose. Or die. Stay on your feet, and you might go home with a medal.
I LOVE the Olympics. Anytime sports are on television 24 hours a day, it’s special. And I have to say that the Winter Olympics are unequivocally my favorite. The Summer Olympics are cool, and the World Cup is also exciting, but they don’t have the flair that the Winter Olympics possess. Swimming, running and playing with balls is something we all do all the time, so to see it on television isn’t all that enticing.
The Winter Olympics, on the other hand, are completely wacky. Ridiculous. Bonkers. Half the events involve strapping pieces of plastic to your feet and throwing yourself down a mountain, occasionally jumping across huge chasms of ice or shooting a gun. The other half involve putting knives on the ice, then putting yourself on top of those knives, and seeing how fast, how beautifully, or how brutally you can go across frozen water.
Most of the events from the Summer Olympics have their origins in war. Most of the events from the Winter Olympics have their origin in drinking contests.
Now for the cynicism. The most interesting aspect of the Olympics is not the competition between the athletes. It’s the competition between the countries. You see, Blue, we live on a planet where people like to draw lines and declare, “Everything on this side of the line is mine. We don’t care about the rest, only that this side is the best.” We call these lines countries, and every four years, all the countries with the richest people come together and try to figure out which country has the biggest…hat.
The games are secondary to this competition. The country lucky enough to host the Olympics spends billions of dollars to build stadiums, hotels and restrooms that will all be converted to restrooms for birds once the Olympics are over. They then spend more millions designing a show to show off their hat. Right now, the country with the biggest hat is China, because in 2008 their opening show was the most intimidating two hours of live television ever. Russia is the host country this year and they want so badly, SO BADLY, to have the biggest hat. Doesn’t seem likely.
Remember, though, Blue, that chasing things like power and prestige can make you look pretty foolish. Know why? Because for all those billions of dollars countries spend, it never fails that at every Olympics, the gold medal goes to the sprawling, burgeoning nation of McDonald’s. The silver goes to Coca Cola. The bronze to some car company. Those are your real winners of the Olympics.