In addition to discovering that I am a rabid free-market capitalist (after responding to a push poll paid for by Cablevision, the bane of my existence), this weekend also proved that I am an utter and complete sap. And it had very little to do with the feast of St. Valentine (though let me say, Devoted Partner brought me breakfast in bed and added to my collection of Alessi decor and for that he should be universally praised - also there was a Carvel milkshake and Dune). While other, less sentimental types were focused on themselves and their ephemeral celebrations, I was glued to the couch (big surprise, I know) watching the Olympics.
When first the Olympics did their special-interest bs coverage of the athletes, they were hamfisted about it. Their cloying interviews and soft-focus montages frankly blew. And I was pissed that I saw fewer events and more stories about people's moms driving 59 hours a day to and from practice for little Johnny Ski Jump. But Olympics coverage has improved. Drastically.
Now the coverage of individual athletes is shorter and more strategically targeted to your heartstrings. And they're running more of the events - even the boring ones like 15k cross-country. And I am lapping it up.
You see, once you take the time to scrape the black black plaque from my heart, I want nothing more than for the Chinese pairs skaters who have come out of retirement to win gold to, well, win gold. And the ski jumper with the older brother who has cerebal palsy? Yeah, give him a medal too. But it's not just the medals. The kids from countries that barely have two nickels to rub together who sold all the goats in all the villages so they could send one athlete to Vancouver? I love them. I want to hug them and make them cupcakes. The teenagers who might be contenders 4 or 8 years down the line? I love seeing their smiling, holy-crap-I'm-competing-in-the-Olympics faces. The earnest interviewees who might actually believe the I'd-like-to-buy-the-world-a-coke idealism they're delivering to jaded NBC broadcasters? Could someone please give them lucrative sponsorship deals?
Yes, it's true, Michael Phelps did nothing for me (possibly because I could almost hear his mother screaming, "sing out, Louise" from the sidelines), and I don't really care how far anyone had to drive to go to practice. But if you blew out your ACL, or broke your back, or, like little adorable J.R. Ceski, slashed your own frickin' thigh with your skate blade down to the bone in September and then won a bronze medal on Saturday? Holy fothermuckin crap I am so in love with you.
I think idealism is a fairly passe concept; people who get idealistic about saving the rainforest, making our political process not about money, banning naughty words in music videos, don't realize those ships have sailed. So, much like getting nostalgic for indigenous peoples who still live bronze age lives, the Olympics is an opportunity for us to (for the most part), see what sportsmanship is like (obvious exceptions are pro-hockey and basketball players and drug abusers), and what dogged pursuit of pure goals look like. It fills me with a kind of happy usually reserved for documentaries about the space program.
So while my gut reaction is of the Go USA! variety, in truth, I want them all to win. All the countries, all the athletes, everyone. And the little part of me that hides most of the time, comes out at Olympic time and really truly believes that just competing at the Olympics is an epic, epic win.
3 weeks ago