I’ve always wanted to visit British Columbia, justifiably touted as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Over the past few days my wife and I have been watching our Canadian neighbors hosting athletes from all over the world at the Vancouver Winter Olympic games. It is a shame that the games started tragically with a luge fatality. Fingers will be pointed for months and months concerning that accident, but this doesn’t negate the fact that our neighbors to the north have done a splendid job of planning and executing these Winter Games. How fortunate Americans are to have such friends up north.
This week I was listening to the radio and ESPN host Colin Cowherd proclaimed the Winter Olympics a place where rich people play games. Furthermore, he indicated that these rich folks come exclusively from countries with “money and mountains.” Finally, Cowherd proclaimed that Winter Olympians were not “real athletes” like basketball players, baseball players, soccer players, and football players. He cited a pregnant curler as an example of the non-athletic nature of Winter Olympic athletes.
Cowherd has a point when he speaks of countries with “money and mountains.” Olympic sports are expensive, taking place on ice rinks, luge tracks, and ski hills. If the athletes don’t have money, they must be sponsored by donors who do. In rural Zimbabwe a kid can kick a soccer ball around and conceivably play in the world cup. He’s never going have enough coin to rent ice time for $100 an hour.
Cowherd’s contention that Winter Olympians are not “real athletes” is ridiculous. Granted, curling doesn’t probably require abs of steel, but I’ve seen a few relief pitchers in major league baseball that are a bit “chunky” to say the least. Sorry, Cowherd, but cross country skiing, speed skating, and hockey require true athletic ability and years of training. While many consider snowboarders a bunch of “kid misfits”, I’d say that Shaun White (snowboarding half-pipe gold medal winner) is one hell of an athlete. That goes for most Winter Olympians.
From a marital perspective, I’m extremely pleased that the Winter Olympics are on television every four years. My wife turns into a couch potato for the entire duration of the winter games, completely addicted to figure skating, downhill skiing, ice dancing, etc. You name it, if it is a Winter Olympic sport, she watches it. Her two-week absolute television obsession with the Winter Olympics is my only defense when she chides me the other four years for watching too much baseball or football.