Monday, February 13, 2006

Olympics, I

And here I am, trying to get through the day despite several setbacks, and just an overall bad day. This was not helped by the fact that clocks and schedules are a more or less an abstract concept to the CTA, something to be grinned at slyly before abandoning them all together.

But avoiding subjects of school for a moment, I'm amazed at how effective NBC's presentation of the Olympics is in getting me to pay attention to sports that are far, far outside my interest zone. For example, last night I found myself enthralled by short-track speed skating (watching mostly because I'd heard that something had gone wrong with Apolo Anton Ohno's run, whoever that was). Before yesterday, I'd not realized there was a short track speed skating event, or how it might be different than regular speed skating, or what the point of doing 13.5 laps around a track was when the first eight appear to be somewhat of a throwaway, pace-keeping event. And then, five minutes in, I'm already cursing the commercial breaks for separating me from the EVENT. Six minutes after that, speed skating's been bumped for snowboarding (Curses!) and a few minutes thereafter, I'm an avid snowboarding fan.

Basically, what NBC's done (which I'm quite sure they've done for the other Olympic games) is to compact a sport I'm unfamiliar with into short enough blocks to satisfy my attention span without actually having to know anything about the sport. It speaks to the level of impatience and indifference that likely persists throughout society today, but I'll leave the commentary about the relation of fast-food to fast skating out for now.

Two more things, also about the first few days of the Olympics:

1) I'm not really sure what my position is on snowboarding. As a member of the generation that was subjected to an endless supply of commercials for oddly yellow soft drinks and the prefix "X-", I have what I believe to be an innate attraction to things that combine the ancestry of the Olympic games as a cultural phenomenon with "Ten in 2010" by Bad Religion. Still, I can't really see how this is much different than figure skating, which I'm not particularly interested in, if only because my limited schedule allows for very few events and watching someone in a leotard flipping around on the ice doesn't make the cut. Both are performance based events that are judged by six people who, I presume, have some sort of expertise, and I can't really separate them, other than to say that one involves big bulky snowsuits, while the other involves commentary by Scott Hamilton.

2) Grandma Luge, the sole participant from U.S. Virgin Islands, broke her wrist and won't compete. She wasn't going to medal anyway, but I'm all for 52-year olds going down a slide at 80 miles per hour. That, also, rocks.

No comments: