Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Olympics

I like the Winter Olympics. I always have. I remember watching Peggy Fleming thinking "Wow! I could do that!!" Of course I couldn't do that. Most people can't. I didn't know that then, but thirty minutes on figure skates made me absolutely positively sure that people who could fly across the ice and leap in the air and LAND ON THEIR FEET were something special.

In comes controversy in the form of Bryant Gumble....I am not sure why he feels this way, but I will let you judge for yourself.
Now I am not an expert in sports. In fact, I could be called something of a klutz, but it seems to me that anyone who can go down a mountain at 95 mph must have some sort of muscular skill and strength behind that feat. Ditto snowboarders that flip and go down the hill. Or speedskaters that flash by on the ice with unbelieveable speed. Even the figure skaters have to have courage speed and skill plus enormous control to do what they do. So why does Mr. Gumble ramble on about this not be the "real" Olympics?" There are two schools of thought. One says that Mr. Gumble is a purist and thinks that the Winter Sports are only skills to be learned, that anyone could do it and excel. This POV says that true athleticism comes from "pure" strength or "pure" speed. I would like to have Mr. Gumble define what the word "pure" means in this context. Another school of thought is that because the games are largely Asian and European in nature-that is, the main body of athletes come from nations where it is cold and where many of them are not African heritage, that the claim that they are the best in their sports is tainted.

I have been to skating rinks and ski resorts. There are plenty of people there of a variety of ethnicities that are doing the winter sports. We have even had a gold medal contender that was an African American woman. I don't think the Olympic Committee would bar anyone of any persuasion that could ski or skate quickly from joining the ranks, but to date, nobody has made a run for it. I think that the Olympic Committee would go nuts and overboard if someone that was a minority was able to compete at that level.I don't think that the answer is to denigrate the sports of the Winter Games. The answer is for well fixed people who desire to have a Person of Color in the Winter Games, to support, fund and provide the abilities for an athlete to join the crowd. While Mr. Gumble is totally entitled to dislike or like whatever sports he wants, that doesn't give him the right to pull the accomplishments of the winter Olympians. It would seem that by his narrow vision of sport, a true athlete can only run, jump and wrestle. No offense, but running bores me after the first lap, and wrestling is just odd to watch which leaves us with jumping, which isn'treally something that someone can sustain for more than a split second due to gravity. Plus, if we apply those narrow guidelines to all sports, then would true stars such as Arthur Ashe and Tiger Woods be left out because they use clubs and rackets? Would baseball players be lesser beings because they use a bat? If he really REALLY wants the Olympian Ideal, then maybe we should return to naked men running around scraping grease off each other. That would bring the Olympics down to the level of cable TV. And I don't want to even think abou the "Euwww Factor."

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