10 Reasons Why Americans Should Love the Winter Olympics
There is nothing better than sitting back, grabbing a cold one and watching a weekend crammed with playoff football, March Madness, or The Masters.
But the Winter Olympics?
Why in the world would you want to watch a bunch of Canadians push a rock down the ice while other people frantically sweep the ice with brooms?
I get the piont, but I don't agree with the notion.
The Winter Olympics give us a chance to watch some of the world's greatest athletes compete in events we have never tried to experience. They defy the laws of physics and they display their national pride for the entire world to see.
Maybe the Americans aren't going to reel off a bunch of gold medals, but who cares. There are plenty of reasons why you should watch the 21st edition of the Winter Olympics.
And if you need a list, well then here ya go.
No. 10: Luge
I like to sled, you like to sled, and your neighbor's kids like to sled.
There is something about hoping on a saucer, inner tube, or sled and going down a hill that fascinates us. I don't know what it is or how it started, but we like to do it.
Well those who compete in the Luge do it and they do it fast.
And they don't do it on fluffy snow or go straight downhill. They saddle up on a skinny little sled looking thing and race down on an icy track with turns and slopes in an attempt to get to the bottom of the track as quickly as possible.
How many of you want to get on one of those things and give it a whirl. We wouldn't have the first clue about how to do it, but it sure looks like a damn good time.
By the time you are done watching you want to know where to sign up for your local Luge circuit.
No. 9: Ski Jumping
Okay, sledding down a hill is a fun, but flying is even better.
Man has been preoccupied with flying for centuries and those who compete in ski jumping may have found the most intriguing way to do it.
They go racing down a hill and launch off into the horizon for what must seem like an eternity to those who actually do it.
After gliding through the air they land like a butterfly with sore feet onto the frozen, packed in snow. I don’t know how they manage to make it look so easy, but they somehow find a way.
This qualifies as a sport that you love to watch, but would never have the guts to pull it off, which leads us to...
No. 8: Courage
These athletes do things that most of us can't fathom doing.
I always found that sports were a great way for common person to live vicariously through someone else. We may have always wanted to try something a little risky, but we never had that inner strength to go through with doing it.
Sure we all take risks, but not like these athletes.
I mean we may open an e-mail from an unknown sender at work and get a little rush out of that, but we're not exactly putting our health on the line day in and day out.
You may think the Luge and Ski Jumping are lame, but you have to at least respect the fact that these athletes have more courage than most people.
No. 7: Story Time
There is always a good story at the Olympics and usually centers around some nation whose people have probably never seen a snowflake and are yet somehow they are being represented in the Winter Olympics.
Enter Robel Teklemariam from Ethiopia.
He was at the Olympic Games in 2006, but he only showed up to try and, "open my eyes and hopefully the eyes of other Ethiopians."
Well, he’s back this year and competing in cross country skiing. Stuff like that makes you realize how important the Olympics can be to an entire nation.
Often times in America we take it for granted that our country will be represented on the world's biggest athletic stage. But after we hear stories like this it makes you realize how special it is to represent your country.
No. 6: Hockey
It is tough to follow the Olympics because sometimes we don't know who the athletes are. We often find ourselves saying, "Who is this and where did they come from?"
Well since NHL players are allowed to compete in the Olympics you should recognize a handful of players.
And the best part about Olympic hockey is that some of the greatest players in the world get to play on the same team.
It basically shakes down to be a fantasy hockey team.
Some of you think hockey is great is because the Miracle on Ice, but that was only great because we sent amateurs out on the ice against professionals from the Soviet Union. Oh and the whole Cold War thing too.
But now hockey has become a showcase of talent and a chance to watch the best players compete against each other for national pride. The game is open and offers the potential for a ton of goals and spectacular play.
No. 5: The Blunders
Remember the whole deal about courage?
Well we also like to tune in to watch people mess up.
Face it, you kinda secretly want to see a skier go careening off the mountain or watch a figure skater get dropped.
You're not wishing bodily harm, but a good blunder every now and then is either comical or captivating. And sometimes it is both.
With all of the Olympic Games occurring on some sort of slippery surface you are almost guaranteed to see some sort of horrific spill.
No. 4: Controversy
Speaking of figure skating, there is nothing better than a little International controversy to keep you glued to the old boob tube.
Is the French judge gonna hold something against us? Is the fix in?
As much as we like to see train wrecks we love controversy even more.
It gives us a chance as sports fans to offer opinions even if we don't know a damn thing about the sport.
When was the last time you laced ‘em up to go figure skating? Do you even know what a triple lutz is?
I didn't think so.
But when a judge messes up the scoring you can rest assure that everyone is an expert on the subject. It gets the blood flowing and it makes you want to see the athlete get redemption. It sort of adds a little built in rooting interest for a given sport.
No. 3: Underdogs
Americans love underdogs and there is no denying it.
Even if we don't have a shot at winning gold we can always latch on to some other nation and find a way get enjoyment out of sport we may otherwise suck in.
The underdog angel basically gives us a rooting interest in every sport. I don't care what event it is, you can find an underdog. And when they finally deliver you get a little satisfaction out of it.
It may even lead you to say, "I told you he was going to win," even though you secretly thought that about the previous 20 underdogs that didn't come through.
It's okay though. Give yourself a pat on the back and get ready for the next event and another dog that can possibly come through in the clutch.
No. 2: The Opening Ceremonies
I don't know why they are so intriguing, but they are.
We sit around the TV and watch all of these different nations parade around with their flags and the athletes enjoy soaking in the moment.
Even though it only lasts a couple of hours I think we actually believe that World Peace can actually exist. It becomes a feel-good moment for everyone watching.
There is usually a tribute of some sort and a halfway decent musical performance by some washed up band that represents the host nation.
It all gets topped off by a really cool light show then a creative way of lighting the Olympic cauldron.
Even if you don’t like sports the Opening Ceremony is enough of a reason to tune in.
No. 1: Bobsledding
Call this the "Cool Runnings Syndrome," but bobsledding might be the greatest Olympic event ever.
We all want to drive one of those massive metal beasts or take cover and go along for a ride.
I think it sort of relates to the inherent love we have for sledding. Luge is cool and all, but this feels like bobsledding is adult-sized fun.
It has all of the elements. There is speed, the risk of crashing, the thrill of winning, and potential for an upset.
We don't fully comprehend how one sled can down a hill faster than another, but we don't care. We love watching the splits in the bottom corner of the television screen to find out how much time a given team has lost or gained.
We love watching to see what team gets off to great starts and which team handles turn seven the best.
We wonder how someone even gets into this sport and tries out for it. Everything about it looks awesome.
The paint jobs of the sled, the uniforms worn by the athletes, and the amazing camera shots of the athlete’s heads getting bounced around like a Plinko piece on the Price is Right.
Somehow the sleds defy gravity and remain parallel to the ground while racing through turns that apply enough G-force to make you a lightheaded.
You may miss every event in the Winter Olympics and not care. But if you miss the bobsled event you will be kicking yourself and you know it.