Ah, the Winter Olympics return. I confess that I haven’t watched this year’s Olympics at all-not the opening ceremonies, none of the events, not even any of the tragic news about the now-deceased luger. (The only way I know about the Olympics is from second –hand reports from my family and the occasional report on ESPN from the TVs in McKinley’s.)
Maybe if I spent more time watching TV or reading CNN online, or if I was more interested in the biathlon, figure skating or speed skating, I’d be able to provide some insight; but it seems I’m just not motivated enough to keep up. Or perhaps my terribly uniformed state is a testament to the relevancy (or irrelevancy) of winter sports-indeed, a significantly smaller amount of countries participate in these Games.
At the most basic level, this is how it’s always seemed to me, from the time I was forced to watch figure skating with my mother when I was about six to my current, tender old age of twenty: the Winter Olympics just aren’t as cool as the Summer Olympics. (Though they are cool, as my very astute and quick-witted roommate noted.)
I’m sure I’m biased. I love the track events, and truly, none of the Winter Olympic events captivate me. But to me, the Olympics have always represented the pinnacle of human devotion, diplomacy and civility. The games transcend not only political and geographical borders, but time as well.
I’ve always found that to be cool: the idea that, hundreds, even thousands, of years ago, people were playing and running the same events that are featured in the Summer Olympics. This was seen quite explicitly, I think, in the 2004 Athens Olympics, especially when the marathon was run on the original route that the messenger Pheidippides ran almost 2500 years prior.
And though I am sure there are quite a few winter sports apologists who contend that winter sports do indeed transcend racial, political and economic barriers, the one thing that cannot be contested is that snowboarding, figure skating, or luging don’t hold the same resonance as most of the sports seen in the Summer Olympics. For that reason, I think the Winter Games pale in comparison (though Shaun White is freaking awesome.)
Now, am I just being ignorant? Probably. If the relevance and importance of the Winter Games – of anything – comes down solely to longevity, then I suppose we could say that George W. Bush was a better president than, say, Abraham Lincoln or John Kennedy. But who knows? Perhaps history will smile on our 43rd president – and when that happens, maybe I’ll be ready to smile on the Winter Olympics.