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Posted on 2004.21.08 at 11:20
How I feel about it all: contemplativejudgemental
Soundtrack: NPR - Car Talk
Hi, my name is Primrose, and I don't care about the bloody Olympics, or how hot Michael Phelps is. I'm not even sure WHO he is, and, well, see above.

I work the night shift (well, mostly), and so have been able to see a piece of the Olympics live; namely, the womens' gymnastics competition, which consists of teams of identical-looking 12-year-old girls young women in glitter eye makeup doing handstands and backflips and flipping around on parallel bars, even and uneven.

Oh, they're incredibly good, all of them...you can see that the training and coaching and myriads of workouts they've been through since age, oh, three or so have really paid off. You can also see the lost childhoods, the utter pressure on them to be just Perfect, their tearful shame and the humiliation that's heaped on them if they *gasp* don't do something right, thereby eliminating their Team from getting a gold medal. And the cameras...the cameras focus on the poor crying girl who missed a step and got a 9.464 instead of the 9.823, thereby preventing her whole bloody country from Revelling in Glory.

Of course, there are the ones who get it all right, flawless, perfect, and go on to win gold after gold and do commercials for large sportswear corporations...until they're Over The Hill at twenty-two or so, and then it's adios, Kansas.

I just don't see the draw. Of course, I do like the Winter Olympics, to a point (love that Jamaican Bobsled Team!), and I suppose that the pressure is just as bad on them. I mean, geez, people like Tonya Harding are made, not born.

I know, I'm just being cynical, and I'm sure there are a lot of positive things about being in the Olympics. I do like the team sports, because it's not about individual pressure. When they suffer, they all suffer together, and they triumph as a team. I don't understand why basketball is considered a summer sport, though. I'm sure they could find a sport that's actually played in summer *coughbaseballcough* to be their big draw. And for Zeus' sake, stop letting professionals play on Olympic teams. Isn't the whole point of the Olympics to allow amateurs to show their colours? Plus, I hate pro basketball. It represents everything that's wrong with sports, namely, EgoEgoEgo. Mneh.

I'd rather watch the Red Sox, where there's absolutely no pressure. Yep, yep. No Pressure at All. Er.


Ceci n'est pas une comic
clio_the_muse at 2004-08-21 09:27 (UTC) ()
Amen about the gymnasts. I mean, it's wonderful to be the absolute best at something, but it's also wonderful to be well-rounded and to have a life beyond one particular talent, especially one that has an expiration date of, say, 25 years. I always wonder how these girls get into the sport, because what 4 year old is really mature enough to decide upon that life style?
ishtar79 at 2004-08-21 10:10 (UTC) ()
Oh, I particulary agree on gymnasts. The demands they place on those girls are absurd, and a friend of mine who's a physiotherapists has also talked about how many of them have long-term damage from the pressure they put their bodies from a young ages.

Actually, the sports I most associate with the Olympics are the 'traditional' ones like running, but even with them the original meaning seems lost among the professional sport 'superstars', large salaries and advertising deals.
robinhoo at 2004-08-21 12:49 (UTC) ()
I confess that I watch Olympic swimming, diving, and gymnastics with something approaching religious fervor. Swimming and diving I really feel no guilt about, because the swimmers don't seem to be killing themselves, and it doesn't appear that anybody is out for blood if individual swimmers don't win a race (although I think if Michael Phelps had actually lost a race, or, God forbid (!), taken more silver and/or bronze medals than he did, we'd have been hearing about it for the next three months), and because the divers usually look like they're actually having fun (unless they brain themselves on the board or platform, a la Greg Louganis, OUCH) and they're also usually older than 13. Also, introvert that I be, I much prefer sports that focus on individual accomplishment to those that focus on team accomplishment -- individual athletes, at least ideally, do what they do to prove to themselves that they can, and I can really relate to that. But I also confess that I feel really guilty about enjoying the gymnastics as much as I do -- particularly the "women's" gymnastics. In no other sport is it so patently obvious that these athletes have completely fucked up their bodies. Even the ones who don't look prepubescent (Carly Patterson) look scary (Svetlana "Skeletona" Khorkina much?). I watch because I'm awed by what they can do -- they defy gravity as if it were nothing, and they're obviously so completely tuned in with where every body part is at every second (which is, like, the antithesis of my daily existence). But then I listen to Svetlana Khorkina say, "I want to win as much as I want to mother my own child," and I recoil. For one thing, holy crow, the priorities!!! I can't conceive of the lifelong pressure she's been under that has led to a statement like that. This was her last Olympics, because she's 25 years old and therefore all washed up, and she didn't win an individual gold, and I'm willing to wager massive sums of money that she will never have another completely happy day in her life because of it. The look she gave Carly Patterson when that child finished her floor routine was pure, untempered hate. And for the second thing, I look at Khorkina's body -- especially when she runs, and I'm expecting her femur to snap at any moment because she looks so anorexic and fragile -- and I think, "Honey, as long as that 5'9"-or-so body weighs only those 90-some pounds, not only are you not going to have won that gold, but you're not going to be mothering any children either." And then I look at the Romanian gymnasts who live in Nadia Comanece's shadow every single day, and who model naked for men's magazines just to pay for their gymnastic training, and I think, "Um, isn't that usually called prostitution?"

All these things mean that I should really stop supporting the torture sport by watching it, doesn't it? *slinks away*
The Foo Queen
erebor at 2004-08-21 14:44 (UTC) ()
I haven't watched the Olympics, really, since oh about the 1970's. No interest anymore. I respect the accomplishment these men and women have achieved but I don't put them on pedestals or make them out to be gods. I don't buy the line that the Olympics are non-political and never without any ulterior motives, that they are about something higher and nobler. I'll agree maybe they should be, but I don't think that's reality.

Nope, no interest. Whatsoever.
junesrose at 2004-08-21 16:59 (UTC) ()
Love your icon. I may steal it from you!
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-08-21 19:40 (UTC) ()
Love Pudge. Lovelove.
the day you left was just my beginning
patchfire at 2004-08-21 20:18 (UTC) ()
Gillian <3s Michael Phelps. I am thinking of writing him and asking him to send her an autographed picture, because she wants to swim again after watching him. All things considered, for that, I <3 him too.

They finally changed the rules - gymnasts must be 16 (Or maybe 15? But I think 16). Which is good, but there's still something frightening about it. We're not as bad as a place like China, which tests ALL kids at age three for potential. The girl that won the women's competition didn't start until she was *gasp* six. But it's rough.

The thing is, though, that most of that's true of any sport. Yes, they may peak later, and some of them manage to compete in more than one Games. But not many.

For my money, if you want a sport that considers 24 years old to be 'very young' and someone in their 40s to be a seasoned veteran who's a favourite, go with equestrian. :) Of course, the horses are the real stars. :D
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-08-21 22:21 (UTC) ()
Oh, Michael Phelps is a swimmer. I really didn't know that.

See, that's one of the good things about the Olympics...it makes kids want to move their bodies. Still, I bet if we took every electronic entertainment device out of houses with kids, there'd be a lot more of that, Olympics or no.
the day you left was just my beginning
patchfire at 2004-08-22 14:59 (UTC) ()
Actually, I don't think it necessarily makes kids wants to move their bodies. But I think it can serve as inspiration of the possible. Gillian had no idea that people could swim that fast, or that people could jump up in the air and flip around before they landed, or that people could run that fast. Yeah, maybe in some places, it's possible to seek out those kind of opportunities IRL, with a lot of work. But for the most part, it's not, and there are some sports that kids would never see otherwise (Like fencing. There are so many fencing exhibitions.).

I think that the problem goes deeper than 'just' electronic devices. It's a lack of community and community spaces, and how everything is regimented. There are no pick-up games of baseball, just Little League, and so on.

Of course, I don't know how you fix that, either.
stain my cheeks and smudge my eyes
_madhatter_ at 2004-08-22 10:46 (UTC) ()


I just saw this and had to make a comment on Michael Phelps...who is not even remotely hot. The only reason everyone is panting over him is because he wears his swimming pant thingy's disgustingly low. I don't know if i can explain in words how low. I really think he has to tuck his junk to prevent anything from peeking out and winking at the camera's. Even though the olympics are dreadfully boring you should just watch so you can laugh till tears roll down at how idiotic this guy looks with his ass hanging out (when the forget to cut the back shots because it really isn't appropriate for national t.v.) And then you can marvel at how he gets those things to stay up and how he stays in them!

*deep breath* ok i'm done.
robinhoo at 2004-08-23 14:59 (UTC) ()

Re: hehe....

It's not just Phelps with the ass hangin' out of the swim-thingies -- Aaron Piersol was practically falling out of his britches, too. I thought at first that they had gotten away from the Speedos because dudes were full-montying the crowds when the centrifugal force of their swimmin' sucked off their little weenie-sleeves, but then I saw these guys in their knee- or ankle-length swim-britches and thought, "Just because they come all the way down your legs doesn't mean they're not going to slide off your ass." And then today I watched men's diving, and the American dude was in the smallest Speedo I swear I have ever seen. The only reason he didn't get nekkid when he went in the water was because... well, there was stuff in the front holding it up. (Very sorry if that was too crude for anybody, but it's true.)
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-08-25 06:54 (UTC) ()

Re: hehe....

The only television I have is in the basement. My kids watch it, but I haven't turned it on except to watch my Babylon 5 DVDs in months. So I don't get to see the low-cut Speedo events.

*shrugs* I'd rather see a guy in a black cotton shirt over faded blue jeans, anyway. Speedo, schmeedo.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-08-25 06:59 (UTC) ()

Re: hehe....

I suppose the itty-bitty suits are for aquadynamics and not for the cameras, right? Suuure they are.

I must admit that I saw one event, or part of one, at work, and it broke my heart. I watched that 37-year old woman crash into the first hurdle in what was to be her last attempt. She'd competed in several Olympics, and this was her last chance. :( It was very sad.
peacey at 2004-08-24 14:06 (UTC) ()
For me, the Olympics began and ended with the 1980 USA hockey team. When you've gazed at Heaven, what else is there to see?
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-08-25 06:56 (UTC) ()
I think you're right...they were amateurs, IIRC. The whole dynamic changed when the Olympic Committee, or whoever, voted to let the pros in. It used to be that an athlete would be disqualified for doing even one commercial endorsing a product. Now pro basketball players are competing.

It ain't right, I tellya.
peacey at 2004-08-25 15:47 (UTC) ()
I agree regarding amateurs/professionals. I think ultimately amateurs represent the "Olympic Ideal" (whatever that is) better than professionals. Although, if all the countries that participate in the Olympics decided to send pro's, I'd have no problem with it.
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