HORIZONS- Olympics deserve some respect

Each Sunday night I make it a point to sit down and watch one of my favorite local sports shows. I’m not going to say what that show is because that would give away the person I will refer to shortly.

A couple weeks ago, I sat down to watch that very show, and one of the hosts proceeded to go on a rampage about how worthless the Winter Olympics are and how they don’t deserve the media coverage they’re getting.

I was kind of disappointed by this host, as he is typically one of my favorites. But I’d like to offer my very different thoughts on the Winter Olympics.

One of the biggest reasons I enjoy the Olympics is because it is an event that seems to unify the world for 17 days. It gives President Bush and his media advisor a chance to relax a little bit because he doesn’t want to risk picking any fights during a worldwide event. Hopefully, he’s taking the time to enjoy some of the events the Olympics have to offer. Second, I enjoy the Olympics, particularly the Winter Games, because it’s a chance to see some sports that we would never otherwise get to see, especially in Kansas.

Yes, we have an ice rink in Wichita, but I have a feeling there are no curling clubs in the area. I know as a fact that we have no bobsled or luge courses in the area. Heck, this winter we haven’t even had enough ice to think about something like that.

I’ve developed a theory concerning Americans and the Olympics. I’m beginning to believe many Americans don’t like the Olympics because there’s a chance another country might actually beat us-that USA might really have weaknesses. I think we’re so stuck on ourselves that we let our stubbornness get in the way of enjoying some of the world’s finest athletes doing what they do best.

I also think one of the reasons people don’t give the Olympic Winter Games the recognition they deserve is that people, especially in the Midwest, can’t relate to the sports involved. We get too caught up in football, basketball, baseball, track, wrestling, softball and other traditional sports that we don’t learn to appreciate the fine skill involved in ski jumping.

I mean seriously, of all the people from Kansas who take spring-break ski trips, how many would even consider going down a ski jumping ramp? The biathlon baffles some people, but think about it. Way back in history, how did people in the extreme northern reaches of north America get their food? They had no choice but to ski across the country with a gun on their back.

I’ve enjoyed the past few weeks of the Olympics. Some of the stories that came out of Torino have been interesting. I’m glad Bode Miller didn’t come within reach of a medal. Anybody who takes advantage of an Olympic trip only to party the night away and let Team USA down by saying he doesn’t care deserves to have some negative light, even if Nike is sponsoring him.

I also found it fitting that Apollo Anton Ohno finally won an undisputed gold medal in short track speed skating and displayed great sportsmanship in doing so. His sportsmanship alone displayed what so many American athletes in today’s society are missing.

I felt so sorry for my favorite Sunday night sports show host. Here he was talking about how worthless the sports in the Olympics are, but how much does he really know about the very sports he was bad-mouthing?

Did he even know the rules of curling? Did he know how far ski jumpers really jump?

More important, did he even begin to realize how fun it can be to actually watch an Olympic event knowing that each and every athlete-with the exception of a few Bode Millers here and there-is giving everything they have for the love of their country?

Sure, America is dominated by football, basketball and baseball. I understand and realize that as well as anybody else. But I hope you’ve had as much fun watching the Olympics the last few weeks as I’ve had. If you didn’t, I’m sorry. Maybe in four years you’ll look at them with a different heart.

On a different note, I’ve been doing some recruiting work for the women’s basketball team here at Southwestern, so I know it’s substate basketball time. I hope all the high school basketball athletes competing this week treat this tournament as their Olympics.

Regardless of which school you represent, I hope you leave everything you have on the basketball court and make your school proud.

Good luck!

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