Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Olympic Fever

Every 2 years another showing of Olympic Games comes on the TV. One time it'll be the Summer Games. 2 years later its the Winter Games. Each time I fumble in my mind with the interruption of my regular TV watching schedule. I grumble that my show is not on. I miss several events. Eventually I sit down and watch something.

And then I am hooked.

I find myself watching everything. Right now I'm watching some sort of Nordic Combined event, which involves a lot of Germanic people on skis chasing each other, jumping off buildings, shooting things, and ultimate fighting, all while wearing skis and without dropping their poles. This isn't a perfect description of the event. Granted I have missed a good portion of it. I'm having to fill in the blanks on what came before. But I know that they have to do cross country skiing and they have to do the ski jump off that 40 story ramp. And the only people with any chance of winning are of a Germanic background. I'm including Scandinavians among the Germanic people. I don't know if that's offensive to anyone. But obviously at some point Hitler wanted German soldiers to mate with Norwegian hotties because he thought it would help create a super hot 'race' of Olympic skiers or something like that. Anyway, people thought the idea made sense at the time. And the children that did result mostly went on to be supermodels and flying squirrels, er, ski jumpers and downhill skiing maniacs who never crash.

German fashion models, er, gold medal winning athletes
The point I was trying to make is not about the Germans. It is about sports and the Oympics in particular. From the age of 6 I was an athlete. Immediately upon joining my first basketball team I was a maniac. My best friend and I would practice basketball ALL THE TIME. I had a goal at my house (in an age before 'cheater' goals that parents could lower for little kids) and my best friend had a goal at his house. Our dads had measured and set the rims at exactly 10 feet, as they should, and we spent all our daylight hours when we weren't in school or watching Batman on TV dribbling and shooting on those goals. I remember how hard it was to finally start making baskets. 10 feet is a long way up for a 6-year-old, but we made enough baskets to keep trying. I recall in the games we played with our basketball team the final scores usually were somewhere in the range of 20-30 points. I think if a team scored 30 that wasa considered pretty high.

Basketball led me into track and field. My basketball coach had been tasked with getting together a track team for a summer competition. He recruited me. We had been doing various running exercises in PE at school, but nothing quite as organized as this. The summer track meet included every event a normal track meet could have, minus the pole vault. You can't very well have elementary school kids trying to learn to pole vault at a meet, right? I don't know. Maybe you can. I don't remember there being a pole vault event. But at this track meet every event was open. Anyone could enter any number of events or just the ones you thought you'd perform well at. I entered them all. I sucked at the shotput (softball throw.) I jammed on all the running events. At the end of the meet when they handed out the trophy for best all around competitor my name was called. I won the meet! I entered it again the following year and won again.

I'm old now. I'm not on any teams anymore. I quit soccer after my last trip to the emergency room courtesy of a psychopathic midget who got sexual thrills out of hurting male players for absolutely no reason. I'd been to the ER several times and I was sick of it. More than that, I was sick of people like him. And I was angry that my own teammates didn't have my back at all. They'd done nothing while I was down on the ground. They didn't even say anything to him until he hurt another player on our team. Then they got mad. Yeah, hurt me and that's fine. Hurt the other guy who played my position and that pissed them off. So it was time to say 'goodbye.'

The thrill of victory doesn't always look like ecstasy

Now I'm sitting here watching a man from Norway crumpled on the ground trying to soak in the realization that he's just won the Gold Medal in his event. It's ironic that I said what I did up above because the final results are 1. Norway 2. Norway 3. Germany 4. Germany. Anyway, I had a point to all of this. I'm sitting here watching these dedicated athletes, the best in the world at what they do, and all the agony and the ecstasy depending on how the event goes for them, and I'm remembering what it was like to be so enthusiastic about something in my life. And to train as much a that. And to agonize over every little mistake that cost me a victory. Or to jump for joy that I had won. I remember all of that. And then I think, what the hell happened to my life? I never went to the Olympics. I didn't even compete in college. My freshman year of college I approached the track coach about trying out for the University track and cross country team. He informed me that he had just been told the University was canceling the track and cross country program. The team was eliminated. I had long since given up basketball in favor of soccer and track. I wasn't good enough at soccer to try out for the University soccer team, or so I believed. I ended up trying out for and winning a scholarship to be a male cheerleader.

There's no cheerleading in the Olympics.

I stand corrected. Sochi does have cheerleaders, but not in competition

Watching the Olympics makes me happy. But it also makes me wonder what might have been if I had been more focused and dedicated and determined to do something with my athletics. Several of my track teammates went on to the junior Olympics. I didn't even know about this until many years afterwards. How did I not know about this? What might have happened if I had entered? Could I have gone on to qualify for the US Olympic Team? Probably not, but its the "what if" that bothers me. I say probably not, but the truth is that I don't know. And now I never will.

What might have been?


  1. Yes, that's when you know for sure it's time to sy goodbye. Well, it's their loss. But a psychopathic midget who got sexual thrills out of hurting male players for absolutely no reason? Sexual thrills? Damn.

    Love those cheerleaders by the way, but I'm a dirty ex-muscle man slash athlete, so it makes perfect sense. Now, where's that remote....

    1. Blue, yes, the midget was a sex offender with short man syndrome. He was also a ringer, an illegal player from the U of M. I hope he's dead now. Seriously, I hope he's either in a lot of pain or dead. He damaged me for life and for absolutely no reason. I have a powerful hatred just for him.

      I don't know if I ever qualified as a muscle man, but I used to have a lot more muscle and a lot less fat than I do now. At one point I thought I looked pretty big, muscle-wise, but I may have been the only one who thought so. Either way, my fiancee wasn't impressed. She left me for a much smaller, weaker guy.