Losing's no big deal in Olympics

February 23, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

I was watching a business program last week in which the commentators were discussing the Nielsen television ratings, and I was shocked to discover that some TV show I'd never even heard of was beating out some other TV show that I'd never heard of.

And that TV show was beating some other show, and so on down the line, and they were ALL beating the Winter Olympics, a grand sporting event that occurs once every four years on a mountain somewhere.

So far, the most intriguing sport in these games is watching NBC gallantly trying to make anyone care. And I am talking specifically about the athletes themselves.

I've heard no fewer than three U.S. athletes say, sure, it would be cool to win, but if they don't, it ain't no thang. It will spare them a trip all the way down to the Olympic Village for the medal ceremony.



Is that what this Olympics will be remembered for? That winning isn't everything? You're saying this is a watershed event in history, when the model of Greek achievement, the ultimate challenge of body, mind and spirit is replaced by: "Hey, I got eighth place; not too shabby. C'mon guys, let's celebrate with some beer and fried cheese."

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. If the only people who are going to take these games seriously are the Norwegians, what in the name of Zeus have we become? Heck, if the athletes themselves don't care, it's no wonder no one back home does either. This is the horrible state of things, especially when we have done so much in the name of pure victory.

We got the Russians to boycott. When other nations got good at the sports we were good at, we created new and bizarre sports that we could dominate for a few years until everybody else caught on. This was the American way. The winning way. And now? Everyone's chanting "We're Num-ber 5, we're num-ber 5!"

I blame two things, youth soccer and the fall of communism.

I tried to tell everyone this is what happens when, in kiddie soccer games, you don't keep score and "everybody is a winner." Be a good sport, play nice, don't be mean, here's your juice box, now get outta here you knucklehead, we love you.

People, there was a REASON we kept the nerds way at the end of the bench and never let them anywhere near the field of play. A place for everything and everything in its place. Hey, you don't see LeBron James out there pretending he can fix your computer do you?

So why should the geeks and the uncoordinated take valuable playing time and game experience away from the big dogs? And then at the end of the game you add to the delusion by telling them they're WINNERS? Not in this lifetime, Buffy. Now go back to downloading loser music onto your cell phone.

No wonder some of our athletes seem so comfortable with losing; this is probably the first Olympic generation that's been ingrained with liberalism's shining monument to mediocrity, the notion that winning is somehow less important than having a good time and making friends.

I am depressed. Even the dogs at Westminster stop sniffing each other's cabooses long enough to take some interest in the competition. If all they get is an honorable mention, they run away at the airport in disgrace.

But not these winter puppies. Winning is optional. And if we do win, it's in one of these nontraditional winter sports. Ice dancing? This raises expectations for the Summer Olympics, when hopefully the Americans can medal in lap dancing.

And what's the difference between sliding down the mountain on two strips of fiberglass and sliding down the mountain on one strip of fiberglass? The difference between skiing and snowboarding, that's what. It's the same sport, and I for one am not fooled. When we no longer could compete in skiing we invented snowboarding. When the foreigners catch up to us in snowboarding, look for us to invent a sport in which a guy slides down the mountain on his face.

I do, however, like that event where four snowboarders race against each other. That's cool. It combines all the best elements of skiing and NASCAR - graceful athletics and hideous crashes.

And if a kid hot-dogs at the finish line and goes tuchis over teakettle, losing the gold in the process? They all think it's FUNNY.

That's why we miss the Soviets. Would it have been funny if she had lost the gold to a commie pinko snowboarder? I think nyet. But because she was passed by some inoffensive Scandinavian (probably), it does not matter. No enemies, no competition, no interest.

You think the least the Iranians could do for us would be to field a curling team.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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