February is traditionally a huge sports desert for me. I don’t enjoy basketball, I don’t watch hockey on T.V. and it’s early enough in the golf calendar that the tournaments are more about the pro-am than the final round. So usually I stare across the wasteland stretching between the Super Bowl and March Madness thinking I’ll improve my XBox skills or catch up on Netflix shows.
But this year has been different. My oasis this year has been the Sochi Winter Olympics. For those of you who are traditionalists, the XXII Olympic Winter Games. The Olympics are always full of wonderful stories of athletic sacrifice, family support through thick and thin, and comebacks from training accidents/surgeries. Stories like Nate Holland, who has tried and failed to make the podium in three different Olympics, after a tremendously successful X Games career in snowboarding. Nate’s quote after falling in the Snowboard Cross semifinals told the story for a number of athletes: “The Olympic rings, these five rings, they don’t agree with me exactly, apparently,” he said. “Every Olympics has ended in a fall and I felt great in all of them. They give me a lot of drive, a lot of joy while I’m here, but also a lot of heartbreak at the end of the race.” Oh, Nate.
But this year’s Olympics have added an additional layer of exciting stories. Stray dogs wandering the city and the Olympic venues; heartwarming alert – US Hockey player, David Backes’ organization in St. Louis is rescuing as many of the strays as they can and transporting them to the US for adoption. Twitter photos of brown water, broken doors, stuck elevators, and complaints about the Olympic village food. Warm temperatures and rain during winter sports. Vladimir Putin glaring during visits to other country houses and at every event he’s attended. And of course the infamous snowflake that stayed an ugly snowflake instead of maturing into a beautiful Olympic ring (sorry Hans…).
Oh, I know, there are always negative stories about the city, the food, the venues; it’s a part of the Olympics. In fact, if I went by just the reporting I’ve seen on T.V. instead of the additional social media layers of Twitter and Facebook, then I wouldn’t know about any of these miscues, except the dysfuntional snowflake. I would see the beauty of Russia, the fabulous new venues on the Black Sea, and two weeks full of good natured, competitive sports with exciting split-100’s-of-a-second endings. So I’m choosing to put on my rose-colored glasses (red for Russia) and looking at the XXII Olympic Winter Games as a huge success. Because, after all, it’s rescued me from a dry, hot desert bereft of sports.
I agree this time of year is bad for sports watching for us. The winter olympics does help. The sports are diverse enough to find something compelling enough to enjoy. But I must say that I find it totally appalling that I am sitting here with my wife watching and discussing the strategies of curling. That’s hard up!