leave your inhibitions at the door
It’s no secret that the only sport I regularly watch is football and I get grouchy whenever the temperature dips below 70 degrees. But there are many things about the Winter Olympics that I love. I love watching the pure speed of downhill skiing. How ski jumpers float in the air for what seems to be several minutes. The craziness of short-track skating.
Many of the sports are only ever televised during the Olympics – hello curling – so it makes them a little more special. And some of them are completely nuts – like luge. It’s one thing to hop in a car-like bobsled with your buddies and go down a curvy, icy track. It’s another to go down it on a little sled with hardly any controls and no protection at 100 mph. And some people do two-person luge.
And you know what’s even crazier? Skeleton. This is where someone decided that luge was too safe and decided to go down head-first.
I love how they’ll make an Olympic sport out of anything. But there is something that I don’t consider a sport. And I know I’m going to catch all kinds of hell for this – figure skating ain’t a sport.
Calm down, calm down, and hear me out. There are a lot of things I appreciate about figure skating. I appreciate the grace and tremendous amount of athleticism, skill, and dedication needed for success. It certainly is a lot more athletic than golf or baseball. And as a fan of fashion, I do appreciate the sequins and costumes and I’m dumbfounded why basketball hasn’t started using sequins. And I very much appreciate Tanith Belbin.
But sorry, it’s not a sport. A sport is where two individuals or teams participate in a fair competition to determine who’s better. The key words there are “fair competition.” That means that there has to be an objective system to determine who’s better. Racing events are definitely sports because the winner finishes in a shorter amount of time. Hockey, basketball, and football have strict definitions of how teams are scored. Basically, you need to be racing something or shooting something to make it a sport. Which makes biathlon – cross country skiing with rifles – a double-sport.
But figure skating? Points are assigned to competitors by a panel of judges. Two different skaters can land triple-axels, but one can get more points because the judges think he did it better. Granted the judges are experts and know what to look for but at the end of the day the athletes are at their mercy. It’s certainly not outside the realm of reason that a Chinese or Romanian judge hated his breakfast that morning and starts giving out lower scores because they were pissed. See what I mean by not fair?
Another thing that irks me about figure skating is that the routines the skaters do are choreographed ahead of time and even recycled from previous competitions. You’ll hear announcers talk about how so-and-so is up next and she did this routine in last year’s World Championships. WHAT?!? How’s that allowed to happen? And if a skater has awesome skills but the shittiest choreographer, that skater has no chance of winning. As fans, wouldn’t you want to see something new and spontaneous?
What I think they should do is have two giant boxes at the judges table. In the first box are hundreds of little scraps of paper with a different skating move on each one. Right before the skater takes the ice, he has to pull five pieces of paper and has to do those moves in a routine they make up on the spot. That way every routine is new and could be absolutely amazing to see when done correctly. Or it could be a complete shitshow. Either way, the fans win.
And in the other box? The skater picks out a piece of paper with the name of the song she will be performing to. A lot of the songs that accompany the routines are oldies – and by that I mean classical. But couldn’t they mix it up a little with some other genres?
How awesome would it be if Tanith Belbin had to do a routine to Ying Yang Twins’ Salt Shaker?
Or imagine the difficulty points that would go with Metallica’s Master of Puppets?
But seriously, wouldn’t Usher’s Yeah! make for an epic routine?
Yes, I know two of those songs have Lil Jon in them. And that’s why they’d make for great routines.
What’s your favorite Olympic sport? How much are you hating me now for my figure skating rant?