Thanks to the vicarious adrenaline rush obtained during my frequent Olympic viewing, not only have I been retaining water (at eight months pregnant), but also endorphins. Two weeks after the fact, my Olympics recovery is complete. As happy as I always am for the Olympics to occur, I am equally happy to see them end. After the “Wow!” factor (to watch so many amazing athletes – so young and physically gifted – performing spectacular feats under so much pressure, and on a world stage) comes the “Whoa!” factor (the reminder that I possess no athleticism, am more than a decade older than most of these athletes, and that I have accomplished nothing spectacular on any stage, much less a world one).
Since I hit puberty, I’ve had all the athletic prowess of Bella Swan, the vampire-loving sourpuss of the Twilight saga. I’m not coordinated, I’m not graceful and I’m not fast. I can barely manage Frisbee with my five-year-old, and surely these days are numbered, too. But I like sports, both to watch and to play (if anyone will sacrifice and let me join their team). I know the basic rules of most of the major sports and, despite my own limitations, am perfectly capable of marveling at the abilities of others. Which is why I enjoy the Olympics so much, though often at the expense of my own self-esteem.
In addition to inducing a few more insecurities, I get frustrated with the Olympics because they claim most of my free time for a two-week period, as I religiously follow medal counts and watch all the drama that makes up the included sports (though Johnny Weir faced death threats for admiring fur, where was the outcry from bird-lovers over all the feathers adorning Evan Lysacek’s costume?!?).
Another thing that irks me about the Olympics is the analysis of performances. These know-it-all announcers bandy about the various sport-specific technical terms like every layperson in America knows the difference. We, as a nation, may be able to wade through the 31 flavors of Baskin Robbins, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who could tell you what a triple salchow, double mctwist or triple lindy is. Though I watch the performances with awe, the skaters, skiers, and snowboarders move so fast that I can’t even count rotations, much less determine proper foot positioning, grabs, landings, etc.
Then there are the sports that no one really knows anything about (see: luge, bobsled, skeleton, etc). I can watch them, but my only method of determining success was whether the individual/team was able to cross the finish line. When you’re talking about lying down on the equivalent of a big popsicle stick on blades and hurtling down an icy track, who’s to really know how much skill is involved? I’ve often wondered what would happen if you pulled “Joe Six-Pack” (Sarah’s greatest contributions to society will likely be her W-esque folksy colloquialisms) from the crowd, stuck a helmet on him and strapped him on a sled, and then sent him on his way. Assuming he crossed the finish line, and lived, would it result in a new world record? (And don’t even get me started on curling! Essentially shuffleboard on ice with a 40-pound stone, it was invented by the Scots around 1511; Scotch whisky dates back to 1495…Coincidence? You decide.)
Hence my new great idea. Since the Olympics are always strapped for cash, I think there should be a pay-to-play option. The world is full of crazy people, many with plenty of money to throw around. Why not do an Olympics-type reality show? I had initially thought of incorporating this idea straight into the Olympic games, but there would likely be too many liabilities, surely causing the International Olympic Committee more headaches than it already causes for itself. Plus, the professional athletes would surely suffer as a William Hung swooped in, talentless and clueless, stealing the spotlight and winning over the world (Oh, sweet, clueless William, where are you now?).
So, my show would go something like this…Professional announcers would be paired up with armchair viewers to comment on the performances. A brief tutorial would be offered at the beginning of each sport segment, so as to help all of America get a better grasp on what, exactly, it is we’re looking for when we watch the performances. I know that, from listening to my husband’s commentaries, uninformed comments, and the words made up to describe various maneuvers, are far more entertaining than the commentary offered by the people who actually know what it is they’re talking about.
For the winter Olympics, I figure we could safely include the following sports for your average American: the biathlon (for those not in the know: cross-country skiing and rifle-shooting…but only with blanks, of course), curling, cross-country skiing and, possibly, speed skating. Also to be included, but with additional physicals required and a few extra waivers of liability to be signed, would be hockey, figure skating and ice dancing.
The last grouping of Olympic sports that may or may not get green-light clearance from the lawyers representing the TV network would include the ones most likely to result in serious injury (or worse) to the participant: luge (on your back, feet first, no braking mechanism), skeleton (on your stomach, head first, no brake), bobsled (crouching in a pill-capsule that weighs a few-hundred pounds which, at least, is equipped with a brake), and all of the skiing sports: alpine and freestyle skiing, ski jumping and snow-boarding (for those in the know who might nitpick that I included snowboarding in a skiing category…I admit in full disclosure that I frequently have only a minimal grasp on the things I am discussing…it doesn’t stop Sarah Palin from having a national platform, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it stop me).
So, in summation, here’s the basic premise of the show: armchair commentators paired with professional commentators, reviewing two simultaneous athletic performances - one from a professional, one from, say, your mailman. Surely, there would be some laughs, some people would make some money, and, I would expect, America would come away with a new appreciation for the professional athlete (and the discovery of what embarrassing shape the rest of us are in).
Once my show is signed, I will happily take a guest spot. Though, unless Frisbee soon becomes a summer Olympics sport, expect me as an armchair commentator. I’ve barely recovered from the trauma of high school gym class…there’s no need to embarrass myself any further.