Saturday, February 18, 2006

Winter Olympics

I've never been nearly the fan of the Winter Games that I have been for the Summer ones, but there've been a few things worth watching this time out. Unlike Kevin Drum, who once again stakes his claim as being a closet conservative fuddy-duddy, I really like the addition of the X-Game-like events - the half-pipe and the snowboard-cross have become a couple of my favorite events. The people that are giving Lindsay Jacobellis a hard time about her board grab that cost her the gold are really not getting it. In fact they're getting it exactly wrong. Like Rick Morrissey in the Chicago Trib:
It probably would be a good thing if somebody explained to the snowboarders that once they decided to sit at the adults' table, they made the tacit agreement to play to win. They made the decision to act like Olympians, which now means to act professional.

It means trying your hardest to finish first. And part of trying your hardest means doing whatever is necessary to win. In this case, a little clear thinking would have gone a long way.

What the FUCK?!? I wish I didn't think this guy was for real, but I'm afraid he is (and it's one of the reasons that I've pretty much lost interest in the Olympics with a few exceptions). It's a sport, people. If it ain't fun, it ain't worth doing. She was out there because she's the best. She was having a good time and that's the way it ought to be.

JennySlash and I got into a long conversation about the definition of "sport" this morning - I'm of the opinion that if you have judges to decide the winner, it ain't a sport. Ice skating - not a sport. Half-pipe - not a sport. Snowboard-cross - absolutely a sport, as are curling, biathlon and skeleton (and darts and bowling). And hockey - it's just a really stupid sport. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with moguls or ski-jumping or ice dancing (okay, strike that last one) - they're fun to watch and involve great athletic skill - I just don't think calling them a sport is justified.

My normal routine during the week is to take a few minutes to eat a bite of breakfast and watch ESPN's "Sportscenter" before starting to work, but I tried to catch a little bit of the Olympic coverage this week, which usually meant curling. That was actually okay, as even though they're not doing well, it was fun to watch the Johnson sisters for the US women's team. I typically think of female curlers as, erm, somewhat less than cute, but this team might actually create some interest in the sport in places further south then Edina. If you haven't seen them, they go up against Switzerland tomorrow at 10am.


At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been having this same argument about what constitutes a sport. So far the best analogy I can draw is to ballet. The dancers are unquestionably athletes, and at the highest level, they're probably some of the finest athletes on earth--but I still wouldn't call ballet a sport.

If sports can have judges determine the winner, rather than some objective measurement, why isn't debate a sport? If all a sport requires is physical exertion and skill, why isn't carpentry a sport?

I think a sport has to have something besides a purely subjective determination of victory. And yeah, some physical exertion is also probably needed.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Tony Plutonium said...

I think we're in agreement - J asked about poker and I would say that while there's a clear winner, there's no physical prowess required (avoiding tells hardly counts) so I would call it a game of skill but not a sport. It's the physical aspect that gets darts and bowling and billiards in. But rhythmic gymnastics? Not a sport.

At 11:05 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If rhythmic gymnastics isn't then gymnastics isn't. It's still about the judging.


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