Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Need for Speed: in Defence of the Winter Olympics

A few days ago I read this, and it got me thinking about how the winter Olympics stack up to the summer ones.  Obviously, being a Canadian and given that I'm sitting here looking out my window at the early stages of a 10-15cm snowfall, I'm a bit biased.  Still, being human we all are, so on with the show.  And, rather than write a rambling post filled with all the weird and wonderful things about winter sports, I'll respond to those 10 items point-by-point.

10) Founders’ intent.
The point here is that the founders of the Olympics never intended for winter sports to be included.  My counter is, with respect to the modern games, that they also intended for them to be for men, who were white and rich, alone.  With respect to the original Olympics, they too were male dominated, and not open to all.  And, how much snow would you actually get in the settled bits of ancient Greece?  Not much.  Heck, the original founder, Heracles - not whom she had in mind - is hardly someone to look up to.  In sum, argument fail.   

9) The Winter Games just doesn’t draw the same crowd.
Fair enough:  fewer people watch it than the summer ones, and yes there are far more countries who participate in the summer ones than the winter ones.  Point conceded.  Still, seeing the thronging masses in downtown Vancouver for the gold medal mens' hockey game 4 years ago or the 40,000 or so in the cold at the base of the ski jump hill in Lillihammer 20 years ago it's hard to get a bit of a chill watching the Winter Olympics...

8) Almost every Winter Olympic event can be summarized as follows: Someone is on a plane of snow or ice (it can be flat, or inclined) and that person falls down or does not fall down.   
I think this argument fails itself.  And, a ridiculous amount of skill goes into each and every one of those events.  How much skill is involved in running straight for 10 seconds?  Or doing a pirouette and then chucking a little metal ball?  Have you ever tried skiing downhill at speed on skis and then jumped dozens of feet in the air, done a host of flips, and landed perfectly?  Now how about going downhill backwards?  And jumping facing backwards?  And landing facing backwards?  In sum, argument fail.

7) The Olympics is supposed to be a world Games, not a Snow-World Games. 
See 9) - she's repeating herself.  Still, point conceded.  Cost is an issue and Canada is a rich country.  

6) Even the weakest summer sports are more interesting than some of the strongest winter sports.
Seriously?  Most winter sports are faster and involve a great deal more skill than a great deal of the summer sports.  Yes, curling doesn't appeal to all.  But archery?  Or shooting?  Or any running event?  How are those better than their winter equivalents?  In the winter games you not only shoot, but you shoot after cross country skiing.  If you fall while speed skating, well, that's just part of the sport.  If you fall while running in any sprint you're an idiot.  To reply using her own language, if I wanted to watch someone run and be entertained, I could watch someone run down the sidewalk, bags and hair flying, towards his or her bus as it speeds off.  In sum, argument fail.

5) The barrier to entry is lower.  
Again, see 9) and 7).  3 of her 10 points essentially say the same thing.  Point conceded but overall argument fail.

4) You can’t tell if the participants are attractive or not because everyone is wearing layers that make them look like either those dancing windsocks outside used car dealerships or Power Rangers. 
Really?  Last time I checked Olympic sport was about athletic achievement rather than the sexuality of the participants.  In sum, argument fail.

3) In recent memory, the Opening Ceremonies at the Summer Games have been infinitely weirder. 
I don't know.  The closing ceremonies to the Vancouver games were very entertaining.  With that said, I tend not to watch these.  So...undecided.

2) Star caliber. 
This is all relative.  Yes, Usain Bolt is undoubtedly more famous than any athlete from the winter games the world over, to give one example.  But in Canada the members of the men's hockey team are more famous than just about any athlete from the summer games from any country, to give another example.  I'm going to go with a draw with this one.

1) Curling.
Nearly every track and field event.  In sum, argument fail.

In conclusion, the Winter Olympics come out on top 5-1.  There were 2 draws, and 3 possible arguments for summer games were actually just variations of 1 argument.  Even if we count all of those, winter still comes out on top 5-4.  I'll count that as another gold medal for Canada.  

No comments:

Post a Comment