The Angry Olympiad

Never before have so many gotten so little enjoyment out of a spectacle by choice. Despite the second-best medal haul in memory, the American performance in Torino was a debacle. By the time Blowhard Number 12 in the NY Post was lambasting the hot-dogging-then-blew-it snowboarder chick the rancor moved from excessive frustration to pathology. Why the fury?

Back in the day, it was always easy to root for our guys against the Soviet athletes because the Commies were the product of a machine: plucked away to hone their skill from childhood, trained, fed regularly like a stud horse, injected with substances, now spurted onto the ice and snow on your TV; precise, emotionless, expert. Our athletes were always humane—practicing skiing while at high school and giving a shout out to the people watching back in the dorms at UCLA.

Now our athletes are a capitalist version of the old Soviets: they are trained by the market and are expected to develop a compelling storyline and a sparkling, marketable reaction shot, and to behave like a good product. Sure there is less funding for some obscure sports, but the athletes for the marquee events join the national team at an early age, get sponsored by corporations, and are tossed freebies throughout.

So when the product fails we get mad. We aren’t watching the show that was previewed, the demographics wanted one storyline but no version of it is occurring and we’re too grumpy to invent a new one, all the peevish people who took a piece of someone like Bode Miller-to bask their endorsements in his afterglow-are not getting the return they were promised on their investment.

This all feels too familiar. As Iraq stampedes into Civil War aren’t we watching the ultimate product, the thing that so many so foolishly endorsed, not turn out how we were promised? Deep inside, doesn’t everyone feel that Bush is exactly like that picture of Miller drinking with a playmate and flipping the bird when he should have been resting to get ready to deliver what we have invested in him on the proving grounds? (Except that Bush is a dry drunk and his wife looks like the Joker)

Some other Olympic thoughts:

The best athletes were definitely the goober snowboarders. Sure they are sponsored like everyone else, but they still had that eating a PB&J in dad’s backseat on the way to practice authenticity. I’d be content blowing it for only a silver (gasp) medal too if my job was to, essentially, be a character in a Nintendo game.
How annoying was it to see the coverage surrounding the Hockey Tournament turn into a Ranger$ asskissathon after the charismatic megafauna from USA and Canada were KOed?
Speaking of hockey. Laviolette and Waddell are morons. What were Parrish, Grahame, Knuble, and Hedican doing on that team? Where were Brian Leetch and Ryan Miller, to say nothing of Jamie Langenbrunner?
Somehow, the guy who won the men’s skiing moguls was from Australia. Also, he started an Internet company to finance his skiing and is now a millionaire and an Olympic gold medalist. He is twenty-one years old. No one should be allowed to get laid as much as this guy certainly does.
I’ve never understood the obsession with figure skating, but I think i finally get it. Figure skating is the athletic equivalent of a High School play or talent show.