I know it. You know it. We all know it.
When it comes to sporting events, February is about as exciting as the alligator exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo. Other than the occasional devouring of children, it is monotonous and bland, offering spurts of curiosity only to tease us and revert back to its dreary, clock-watching ways.
Sure, when you first glance at the calendar for the month, you think you can get through it easier than a triple-scoop ice cream sundae. There’s Bill Murray Day — otherwise known as Groundhog Day. There’s the Super Bowl, which is watched more for the commercials than the game. Then there’s the NBA All-Star game, which is one of the few events where the days leading up to it outshine the day itself .
Yet these are just three days of sunshine in a month when most of the country is buried under four feet of snow. (Speaking of which, where did Maryland go?)
Well, fear not sports fans, something has come to save us this year. Is it Ted Williams? Nationwide health care? Bruce Willis?
No, it’s the Winter Olympics.
Now, many people think of the winter games as the annoying little cousin that won’t leave you alone at family reunions. There aren’t as many sports as the summer games and just about all of them were invented in some place other than than the United States.
Another common complaint is that nobody knows who they are watching. That downhill skier looks exactly like the dude who just went, except he has on a different jacket. For all the viewers know, he could’ve gotten to the bottom, changed jackets on a lift to the top and skied down again.
And contrary to what Subway might have you believe, Michael Phelps is not competing in these games. Very few household names are. Other than Carrot Top’s brother Shaun White, that girl who tried to do a trick at the end of her snowboarding run last Olympics fell and lost the gold medal, the hot snowboarder named Lindsay Vonn who was in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue recently and that hockey player who beat up a cab driver in Buffalo over 20 cents, very few faces (and bodies) are recognizable on TV.
However, the Winter Olympics is the best thing to happen to sports aficionados in February since … well, since the last Winter Olympics.
Face it, beggars can’t be choosers. Would you rather watch a fan coach the Nets (yes, it’s gotten that bad), the UConn women’s basketball team (whose only chance of losing plays out in the movie Armageddon) or skiers crash into the side netting at 120 mph? I thought so.
This is not meant to be disrespectful to Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger who died during a training run Friday after he lost control of his sled and hit a steel pole. Nobody wishes for that to happen, and it’s one of the saddest moments in sports in recent history.
Yet as much as I hate to admit it, that accident is another reason to watch these games. There’s no doubt spectators love the thrill of high adrenaline sports. Nobody watches NASCAR to see if Jeff Gordon will ever age. It’s the 200 mph, jaw-dropping, metal-crunching, car-flipping, fire-blazing crashes that keep people entertained. Don’t think so? Just ask Michael Bay.
Despite Kumaritashvili’s tragic accident, the athletes race down the track at deathly speeds, literally. The luge is worth watching solely for that incredible display of courage.
There’s also the snowboarding halfpipe, an event which has taken out two of the top five competitors in recent months. White almost had his head knocked off in February after nailing his neck on the lip of the tube, but amazingly he got up and won the event. With almost every move becoming a thing of the past, boarders are coming up with tricks that can only be done by mashing the buttons on the Nintendo 64 game 1080 in a bid to out-do one another.
That competitive spirit is always on display in short-track speedskating. Who could forget eight years ago, when American Apollo Anton Ono took the last turn toward gold, only to crash with three other competitors, leaving the Australian Steven Bradbury as the Olympic champion simply because he was so far back that he wasn’t involved in the fray?
These aren’t events you see everyday, and that’s precisely why the Winter Olympics is so intriguing.
So don’t watch an NBA game for the 60th time this season — instead flip on hockey, a sport which has grown in the United States during the past couple of years. But the story isn’t the American team, it’s Canada’s. The favored Canadian men’s team has so much pressure on it to win gold — something it’s only done once since 1956 — that, if it doesn’t, the nation might explode.
Now that would be worth watching.
“Spittin’ Sports” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.