Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why I Won't Be Watching the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics begin in 2 days, in Sochi, Russia.

There are 2 reasons for me to watch the Winter Olympics:

1. The Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremonies.
2. Hockey.

That's it.

Here are some reasons for me to NOT watch the Winter Olympics:

1. Vladimir Putin. He's acting like an old-style dictator, and these are his Olympics, just as 1936's were Hitler's, 1980's were Brezhnev's, and 2008's were the that of the old men of China. Frankly, I don't know why he's so ticked off at gay people, but even if he weren't being (if you'll pardon the choice of words) an asshole about it, he's still acting more like a dictator than President Obama is in the Republicans' wildest fantasies.

Speaking of which, Mitt Romney is so bitter about losing to Obama in 2012 that he's begun fawning over Putin, to the point where, if he's true to his antigay principles, Putin might not even want to let Romney into the country (if, that is, Mitt wants to go).

I am, however, impressed with the reaction, thus far, to Russia's antigay hysteria. But I wonder when the "Olympic flame" jokes will start.

2. NBC. They can't do the Olympics! They've proven this time and time again since 1988. ABC did them so much better. At least they've stopped screwing up the Parade of Nations: At least twice, they went to commercial and missed Poland. Now, this might not concern you, unless you happen to be someone of Polish descent. I am.

Bob Costas may be short, intelligent, and love sports, but he's no Jim McKay. Costas does baseball very well, but he does not do the Olympics well. And he still covers it better than anybody else at the Peacock Network. Stick to sitcoms, cop shows and medical dramas, 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

3. The time difference. Sochi is 9 hours ahead of us, meaning that everything that airs in North American prime time is going to be tape-delayed, giving NBC plenty of time to screw things up with spoilers. And our group stage hockey games will start at 7:30 Eastern Time. That's 7:30 in the morning. To adapt an old saying, I only recognize one 7:30 per day, and that isn't it!

4. American representation. There's no other sport in these games, besides hockey at which America excels. None worth watching, anyway.

Figure skating? That is not a sport. Athletic, yes. A competition, certainly. A sport, no way. You might as well call dancing a sport. You might as well call calisthenics a sport.

Speed skating? Unlike figure skating, you actually do see the competitors competing alongside one another, although they can't "play defense" -- that is, there is no way, within the rules of the competition, for them to prevent their opponent from doing what he/she has to do. But how often does an American do especially well in it? There was Eric Heiden in 1980, and there was Bonnie Blair, and the gripping story of Dan Jansen. But Apolo Anton Ohno? I'd never even heard of short-track speed skating until he came along. And it looked like roller derby on ice. It looked like a good way to get yourself killed. And his first Gold Medal only came because the guy who actually won got caught cheating. That's not a good story.

Skiing? Bobsledding? Luge? Skeleton? I admit, these are fun to watch, but how many competitors in each event do you have to sit through until the American performers start their runs? Look, I have nothing against most countries in these games (although I still, as both an American and a Pole, have no love for the Germans or the Russians), but do I really want to sit through the Austrian and Swedish skiers, and the German and Swiss bobsledders?

So, no, aside from the Parade of Nations and the U.S.' hockey games -- and maybe the Gold Medal Game if Canada makes it and we don't -- I won't be watching the Winter Olympics.

It's been a long time since the Olympics were, as NBC used to put it, "Must-See TV."


Days until the Super Bowl returns to the New York Tri-State Area: Probably never, and if that turns out to be true, I'm fine with it. Even a Seahawks fan, who had his team's parade today, has to admit that, however thrilling the event was for them, competitively speaking, it was a horrible game.

Days until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: 2.

Days until the Devils play again: 2, Friday night, home to the Edmonton Oilers.

Days until Arsenal play again: 3, Saturday afternoon (7:45 AM our time), away to Liverpool.

Days until the Devils next play a local rival: 24, on Saturday afternoon, March 1, away to the New York Islanders. We play away to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, March 11; home to the Rangers on Saturday night, March 22; away to the Islanders a week after that; and home to the Islanders on Friday night, April 11.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 28, on Wednesday, March 5, a "friendly" (exhibition game) vs. the Ukraine in Kharkiv. Just 4 weeks. I suspect that there will be another tuneup match or two between the end of the European club season in May and the start of the World Cup in June.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 31, on Saturday, March 8, 7:30 PM, away to the Vancouver Whitecaps.  Just 1 month.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 39, a Premier League match, on Sunday, March 16, at White Hart Lane. Under 6 weeks. It had been scheduled for Saturday, March 15, but was moved back for TV reasons.

Days until the Yankees play again: 55, on Tuesday, April 1, at 7:10 PM, away to the Houston Astros.  Just 8 weeks.

Days until the Yankees' home opener: 61, on Monday, April 7, at 1:00 PM (well, 1:07 or so), vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 64, on Thursday, April 10, at 7:00 PM (well, 7:07 or so), at Yankee Stadium II.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 66, on Saturday, April 12, 2:30 PM, vs. D.C. United, at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington.
Days until Arsenal could win the Premier League title, presuming it goes to the final game of the season: 95, on Sunday, May 11, with a 10:00 AM (our time) start, away to Norwich City, of East Anglia.

Days until the FA Cup Final, for which Arsenal is still eligible, at the new Wembley Stadium in London: 101, on Saturday, May 17.

Days until the UEFA Champions League Final, for which Arsenal is still eligible, at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon, Portugal: 108, on Saturday, May 24.

Days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 127, on Thursday, June 12. A little over 4 months.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 206, on Saturday, August 30, away to Washington State, at whatever the Seattle Seahawks' stadium is going to end up being called next fall.  Under 7 months.  Why we're playing "Wazzu" in the University of Washington's territory, I don't know.  Maybe WSU, in the eastern part of the State in Pullman, wants to boost their recruiting in the Western part.  Either way, it will be Rutgers' first game since losing the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl to Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium II, finishing the season at 6-7.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the schedule has yet to be released.  Most likely, it will be on the 2nd Friday night in September.  If so, that will be September 12, therefore 220 days.

Days until Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut: 221 days, on Saturday, September 13, time to be determined, against old enemy Penn State.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 296, on Thursday morning, November 27, 10:00 AM. Under 10 months.

Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 944, on Friday, August 5, 2016. Just 2 1/2 years.

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