I’ve watched the Sochi Winter Olympics almost religiously these past two weeks and, well, it’s getting to me. Let’s be clear – I do love the Olympics. I think the sports are kooky and delightful, the commentators amusing, the stadiums architecturally fascinating. But in my forty-odd viewing hours, I’ve arrived at a few significant gripes.
1. It’s not actually winter there. With highs in the 60s, Sochi is actually experiencing a mild version of summer. People are swimming in the Black Sea for God’s sake! I want to see the athletes competing in Wisconsin winter conditions, where every moment spent outdoors is a fresh realization that Hell exists. That’s the real test of winter athletics – surviving.
2. The athletes are all terribly good-looking. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t recall the Summer Olympic athletes being so gorgeous. Every time an athlete skids to a stop at the bottom of the slope, he or she pulls back their goggles to reveal stunning blue eyes, a thick mane of sunshine blonde hair, and teeth that gleam like a Colgate commercial. Isn’t it enough that these people can spin three-and-a-half times in the air and land on a fast-moving strip of molded carbon? Do they really have to be so handsome as well?
3. Some of the sports look too easy. For example, cross country skiing: The competitors place their skis in the pre-dug grooves and then hustle around the track like a pack of roving wildebeests. Please, that’s hardly a race. And every event that takes place on ice gives me an unearned confidence in my own abilities to remain upright on slick ground. The missing layers of skin on the back of my hand speak to the absurdity of that notion.
4. I feel old. Some of these kids are my age and it’s their second or third Olympics! I’ve probably watched fewer Olympics than they’ve been in.
5. My parents really dropped the ball when it came to forcing me to take part in sports whether I wanted to or not so that I might someday become an Olympic athlete. Sorry, Mom and Dad, but I am blaming you for not ruining my childhood with forced athletics. I could be miserable and underpaid and in Russia right now!
6. Russia or whatever. I guess they have lots of human rights issues? And the Olympic stadium is 50% dead stray dogs, stacked up like bricks? Mostly, though, I wish Putin would even attempt to look like a human being with feelings and not a Terminator.
7. The same countries always win. I mean, it’s kind of hard for the equatorial nations to pull together a strong Winter Olympics team what with their living in perpetual summer. But still, you think the IOC could add some winter sports that are only sorta winter – maybe like fall sports or late spring sports, so that places like Brazil and Nigeria and Indonesia have a fighting chance. For example, quidditch always seemed to take place in rain, sleet, and snow in the Harry Potter novels. Maybe that could be the next Winter Olympic sport.
8. The events aren’t taking place in real-time. Where’s my American exceptionalism now? How am I supposed to properly chant USA USA USA when I have to wake up at 3 o’clock in the goddamn morning to do it?
9. The mascot is terrifying. Maybe you’ve seen the bear mascot (pictured above) haunting your dreams? He knows what you’re thinking about and he likes it. He likes your dirty, dirty thoughts. I imagine when he’s not busy molesting eyeballs on public thoroughfares, he stands motionless in dark utility closets, those dead eyes unblinking.
10. I have to wait 4 years before they happen again. Goddamn, IOC, don’t you understand that human lives are finite? We’ve only got so much time on this planet, why make me wait so long for the joyous act of rooting for my country in sports I barely understand and have only vaguely heard of? Besides, it’s really nice to have my evenings planned out for two weeks in February. Not a lot else going on.