I Just Can’t Take It. Suffering Through the Olympics

I can’t do it. But I can’t NOT do it, either.  LOOK—it’s even making me use double negatives!


My trademark pose for watching the Olymmpics…get a dog and hide your eyes behind her/him.

For me, watching the Olympics is like driving past a really graceful car wreck. You know…don’t want to look, but you just can’t seem to look away either? Granted, it’s a wreck between really beautiful, shiny, high-end sports cars.

OK, I know. The Olympic Games are in no way the same as a car wreck. OR ARE THEY? I’m telling you. It is so stressful for me to watch. I almost dread seeing this date roll around every two years. Winter, summer—it doesn’t matter.

Why you say? How can I not be ready, willing, able, and chomping at the bit to cheer for the good, ole US of A athletes? It’s simple, really.

While the thrill of victory is…well…thrilling, the agony of defeat is just too much for me to bear.

I do not mean to come into this thing with a negative attitude, but am I the only person who watches the various events through my fingers, holding my breath most of the time?

These kids, and most of them are just BABIES, have spent a good deal of their short time on this earth preparing, training, practicing, sacrificing, not-playing-in-the-dirt-with-Barbie-and/or-GI-Joe for this ONE moment. This ONE chance on the Olympic stage. ONE here and gone in a blink of an eye moment.

For those of us sitting on the couch watching, it’s all about cheering the victories—and there are many stunning victories—or doing the that hiss-of-dread sound followed by “ohhhhhhh” when someone crashes down in defeat. Then you eat another nacho, have another slug of beer (or DDP, in my case), and move on to watch the next event.

But that kid? The one who just fell? Well, at a very tender age, a lifetime of preparation just crumbled. It’s not as if a nacho and a first sip of beer are going to make it all better.

And this is why I just can’t bear it. I mean, did you see the one speed skater who supposedly false started twice and was DISQUALIFIED in the qualifying rounds? DISQUALIFIED BEFORE SHE EVER EVEN SKATED ONE LAP IN THE COMPETITION?

I say supposedly, because I could NOT for the life of me see the alleged minuscule movement of her right arm before the starting gun sounded. Even in the super-duper slow motion replays. If that had been me, I would have put on a display of protest that would have made even John McEnroe cringe.

I mean COME ON! Ask the other skater in her heat if she noticed. I guarantee she didn’t. What are they supposed to do? Stand there in that weird little skater-about-to-take-off pose while willing their circulatory and respiratory systems to just freaking freeze until that wait-for-it-wait-for-it-wait-for-it crack of the starter’s pistol?

I don’t even know what country this skater represented. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that after years of hard work, that girl skated quietly off the ice, eyes cast down in disbelief. I JUST CAN’T STAND IT!

And then there’s the “older” athletes. You know, like Shaun White, the legendary snowboarder. There’s no denying that he defines the sport. He’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist who, at the ripe old age of 27 (you know, OLD for an Olympian) was still favored to come in and show all of the whipper-snappers how it’s done. Except he didn’t. He fell down and went boom.

We can all whine that the Sochi halfpipe was in poor condition, but everyone was using the same darn pipe, so that kind of takes the steam out of that argument. And now Shaun just falls into my “you should have quit while you were ahead” category. I’m not suggesting that he’s not still an amazing athlete and competitor—he is. On any other day he could have won the whole damn thing. But going for that third Olympics…well, you’re just asking for the agony-of-defeat curse to hit you.

Shaun, buddy, you would have been a GREAT color commentator. I doubt I would have understood one single word you were saying, but it just would not have mattered one tiny bit. I would have been entertained and your Olympic record would have remained untarnished. But I guess kudos to you for going for it. Is that what I’m supposed to say here?

And then there’s figure skating. This event just kills me. The difference between national hero on a Wheaties box and just another washed up athlete who is destined to work in a factory (perhaps I exaggerate…perhaps not) comes down to one slip. That’s ONE slip while dancing and doing gymnastics on cold, hard ice while wearing knives strapped to the bottom of your boots. One “bobble” and the world comes crashing down.

How much longer do I have to endure this beautiful, talented torture? Until February 23? (Deep breath…roll shoulders…do a couple of those twists at the waist that I see athletes do.)

Ok. I’m in. I can do this. If you dear athletes can put yourselves out there like this, the least I can do is cheer you on…hiding under my blanky…peeking out from behind whichever dog has taken cuddle position on my lap.

I’m here for you, dammit, I’m here. But please, I’m begging you…




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