AI: Olympics

The Olympics started last night. Unfortunately, due to our local NBC station’s wimpy digital TV signal, I’ve missed the opening ceremonies, and will only be able to see the few events streamed online. I have to say, it was kind of fun watching people tweet last night’s festivities. I now have this vague collection of images forming a picture of what really happened in Vancouver last night, and it mostly involves a giant polar bear and some technical problems, boring and exciting people in roughly equal numbers.

While I’m generally bummed about missing it, what really makes me sad is that I’ve missed Squatchy’s debut. I mean, after all we’ve been through together, the least I could do is be there for his big night. I’m so sorry, Squatchy. Can you ever forgeeef me?


Sorry. I’ve let my emotions get the best of me.


What do you think about the Olympics? Do you watch them religiously, tune in sporadically, or ignore them utterly?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

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  1. I tune in sporadically. There are just a couple of events I actually plan to watch. Over here in Finland most events come late at night / during the night so mostly I’ll tune in to the events that doesn’t disturb my day too much.

  2. During the last winter games, my roommate watched religiously and I became fascinated with curling. I think it was initially because I thought it was funny watching shuffleboard on ice but the more I watched, the more I became interested in the strategy of it. I’ll be sure to tune in again this year. Other than that I’ll watch the other sports if they’re on and I’m available, but I won’t make it a point to watch/DVR them.

  3. I ignore them utterly. I didn’t even know there were winter olympics until a few years ago because I live in a tropical country.

  4. One vote for ignore utterly. Today I’m rearranging the pantry, writing a new class for managing dialog windows, preparing pepper and bean burritos for lunches next week, and making some of the best sour dough Belgian waffles ever. The secrets are: 1/2 cup yogurt helps to keep the inside moist, one tablespoon honey makes the outside dark brown and crispy, and a thin batter with thoroughly whipped egg whites makes them as light as a feather.

    All of these trump anything the boob tube has to offer especially watching a bunch of teenagers who’s single-minded obsession with sports is more sad than praise-worthy. Seriously. If these boys and girls spent as much time on any other single subject we’d view them as candidates for serious psychotherapy. In sports, however, we quite literally give them medals. I find anyone holding down a job and/or raising a family of for more value to society than a person who can get down a hill 1/100th of a second faster than someone else. Our culture has inherited and perpetuated a really screwed-up value system.

  5. My wife is a rabid Olypics watcher, so it’s usually on as much as absoultely possible in our household.

    The opening ceremonies were quite something. Very impressive. They did a really lovely job with the interior light show. I wouldn’t have thought that you could simulate textures like they did on that floor with just projectors. The choreography lovely, and well put together.

    A lot of the people ‘welcoming’ the olympians during the cultural ceremony were dressed in traditional garb of native peoples who live in the area that Canada encompasses, which was a nice gesture. I don’t, obviously know native peoples themselves feel about the games.

    They had a major malfunction with the Olympic cauldron at the end, but it was only a issue for about a minute and a half, and they carried it off just fine.

    [Aside: Apparently the men’s luge track is the fastest ever, dangerously so. A luge racer from (country of) Georgia flew off the track and died from the collision. Which is sad and a reminder of the limit-pushing aspect of the games. And should be appropriately commemoratedd in the broadcast. However, whatever lame-brain producer who decided to open the broadcast with TEN FUCKING MINUTES of coverage of the accident including multiple run-throughs of the footage of the fatal accident should be fired. That was insane and awful and there’s relaly no excuse. But that has nothing to do with the Olympic games.]

    I expect figure skating will be in heavy rotation. Some of the speed skating is fun. Wayne Gretzky, one of the final torch bearers, was interviewed early in the broadcast today. He said that the best outcome for north american hockey would be for the USA and Canada to face off in one of the final rounds, ideally the finals. If that happens, we might watch, but otherwise don’t think we’ll bother.

  6. I really like watching curling. I find it fascinating. Epic sweeping and people yelling “hard!”. It’s so funny and exciting. I mean how cool is a sport where you sweep?

  7. I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about sports on this site!
    I ignore the Olympics utterly, too, except that the luger’s death made national news.

  8. I only watch for the figure skating. I’ve been working on my jam skating moves ever since my town’s local skate rink reopened, and I think that’s made figure skating and ice dancing really interesting to watch.

  9. @Advocatus Diaboli: I mean how cool is a sport where you sweep?

    Of all the winter sports I haven’t tried I think I’d like to try curling next. Among other things it tugs strongly on my OCD tendencies. Tragically my google for “Front Range Curling” only turned up hair salons.

  10. Like old people having sex and animals escaping from traps, I wish the participants well, but I don’t need to watch.

  11. I feel so at home here! I thought my husband and I were the only people not whipped into a frenzy by the Olympics! We watch no sports in this house (except car racing when my FIL visits–NOT Nascar!) and that is fine by us.

    I will not watch the final hockey game as a matter of principle since the IOC decided to let professionals in. US and Canada teams are players who earn millions of dollars, competing against amateurs from Belarus. It’s like we can’t take the risk that our amateurs might not totally cream the other team? Doesn’t make any sense to me. The Canadian pros are also eligible for “medal bonuses” of up to $20 000. They probably spend that much on socks in a year.

    Also, “pure sport” and “sport for sport’s sake” are a joke. Over 30 athletes have already been thrown out for having performance enhancing drugs in their systems.
    I was slightly impressed that a group of homeless people who had been moved out of Vancouver’s Lower East Side in an “improvement” reminiscent of the Beijing Games, held a giant protest. They made the Olympic torch run detour with their slogans along the lines of “Homes, not Medals”.

  12. T’aint for me. I’ve little desire to watch a 2-week celebration of physical over-achievers, and I don’t want to watch other people enjoy the winter while I could be outside doing much the same thing. The Olympics have so far cost $6 billion to put on, as media and corporate leechs ooze their way to the city to make billions more, while the people who paid for the damn thing (via taxes) don’t see any return beyond some vague sense of “nationalism” (as though that is something to be desired). Add to that, the city of Vancouver has been bending laws and writing new ones to make sure that the homeless, and the working poor are kept as far away from the video cameras as possible. Do a search for “Vancouver Olympics Homeless” for an idea as to where my rage-on is coming from.

    $6 billion to watch a celebration of fit people who wave my flag in my face? There are three things in that sentence I don’t care for.

  13. @Some Canadian Skeptic: T’aint for me.

    Well then here, have some taint.

    Actually, pretty much agree with everything you said (except the wanting taint part) – I consider the Olympics an enormous waste of resources at the local, federal, and global level. It’s shameful to think of the money that’s wasted in advertising, etc., when there’s so many other things in the world (poverty, medical research) that desperately need the resources.

    Beyond ignoring the Olympics utterly, I rather despise them.

  14. I don’t have any TV service but I wanted to catch the curling since my brother is part of the Philadelphia Curling Club and is shooting for the Olympics, himself!

  15. The winter games are an hours drive north of me and given the price of tickets there’s no way I’d even consider attending. I watched some of the opening ceremony and thought it was fairly dull. I’ll watch the ski racing because I enjoy the speed and spectacle and I’ll also watch the short track skating, again because its fast and dramatic. I personally do not enjoy any of the skating that involves “artistic” scoring. Same with the summer games, I like races, no judges scores please.

    And I fail to see much of anything special about the local aboriginal/tribal cultures.

  16. @Zoltan: Strongly agree with Zoltan. The emphasis placed on sports on every level is nothing short of ludicrous. It’s bread-and-circuses for the 21st century. Even my hometown rag of a newspaper, which normally has about sixteen pages, devotes at least three pages to sports. The only thing more ridiculous than playing sports (unless it’s purely for fun) is watching them.

  17. The sports slamming on skeptical websites is fairly amusing. More people play and watch sports than any other social activity. If you don’t like watching sports then good for you. I personally think playing computer games is a total waste of time… for me. You all do as you wish and enjoy yourself. And as for the money being spent on the olympics I agree it’s a lot. But if it’s not spent on the olympics the money will not magically be available for something else.

  18. I’m only watching the hockey and I have to watch most of that online.

    Belarus has 4 NHL players on its team and every men’s team playing has at least 1 NHL player on it. with Norway having the fewest (1) followed by Latvia and Switzerland with 2 each. While I also don’t agree with letting professional league athletes participate in the Olympics, it is what it is and I can’t bear to not watch hockey for two weeks, its hard enough just getting through the summer waiting for hockey season to start.

  19. I really like watching the Olympics (both summer & winter) as it allows me to watch sports that I would never get to see otherwise, particularly the Winter Olympics.

    However, living in Australia, you can always rely on the Olympics being shown at really odd hours so it a matter of luck of what you manage to catch and what you miss.

  20. @DisGRUNTled
    I suppose that makes sense, since the NHL has players of all nationalities. As I said, I don’t follow the Olympics, do you know if it required a rule change to get NHL players in? I always thought the Olympics were supposed to be strictly amateurs, that the athletes could have endorsements and sponsors, but not jobs where they used their skill. That’s why all the ice dancers join “Disney on Ice” after their Olympic careers are done. I seem to recall similar controversy with Basketball’s “Dream Team” several years back when the U.S. team was made up of mostly NBA players.
    Just curious about the rules.

  21. @canadales

    According to the wikipedia atricle the IOC allowed professional players to play hockey in 1988 but the NHL didn’t allow its players to participate until 1998. Other professional leagues were permitted to send their players to the Olympics prior to that sometime between 1976 and 1984 ( wiki wasn’t too clear on when that exactly took place.)

    The majority of the rosters consist of players from these other professional leagues, there are very few, if any players on any of the hockey rosters that could be considered truly amateur

  22. @DisGRUNTled: If I remember correctly (that does happen occasionally), after the US basketball team lost the gold medal match for the second time in history, the hue and cry pressured the IOC into allowing pro athletes. The effect has been that Olympic basketball has become entirely boring (who really cares that NBA all-stars can beat teams made up of NBA and European league players) but hockey has been the big beneficiary of the new policy. Olympic hockey has never been as competitive as it has been the past several Olympics.

    @James Fox: Very nice point. It’s the same reason I’ve never liked the leftist critique of professional sport.

    @James Fox: I agree completely. If the result involves judges scoring, then it is not a sport. This leaves boxing in a gray area, but I can live with that.

  23. Oh, and to answer the question. My unwillingness to deal with the local cable company and my apartment building keeping me from satellite TV leaves me with far too much figure skating for me to watch all that much. See above.

  24. @James Fox:
    `And as for the money being spent on the olympics I agree it’s a lot. But if it’s not spent on the olympics the money will not magically be available for something else.`

    True, but that 6 billion might not have been spent at all, and now that it has, it has driven Vancouver, BC, and Canada further into debt. And the leftist critique would further this by saying that all the taxpayer money got spent to bring an event that disproportionately rewards the media and financial interests that did not have to invest a dime.

  25. @Some Canadian Skeptic: The Olympics are certainly no benefit for the host city (at least for the majority that live there). In Atlanta, we demolished a number of public housing projects and treated the homeless shamefully. Most local businesses suffered (a small few did do remarkably well). The fault for this lies with the economic and political structure, not with sport. The leftist critique of sport I take issue with is that which treats spectator sports as nothing more than a distraction for the masses to the benefit of the ruling class. I should have been clearer.

  26. Until roller derby makes it into (I guess the summer) Olympics, I could really care less. I’m not for or against them, necessarily, just kind of meh. I find sports to be generally entertaining, but I play derby, so I’d rather see a sport I’m physically invested in, rather than something I can only watch.

    Also, while I agree that spending tons of money on the Olympics while ignoring the poor is shitty, I also watch movies. The amount of money and resources spent on movie-making is absolutely ridiculous, and helps no one in any meaningful way – so really I have no room to say anything.

  27. @carr2d2 – you can download the opening ceremony of course, despite IOC/NBC trying desperately to prevent this.

    I really liked it, it was intimate, and respectful, and not as silly as some of the other openings have been recently. The use of music was nice too, with 2 very moving pieces; Both Sides by Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen’s Halleluja performed with emotion by KD Lang – restoring it to its rightful place after various soulless renderings by talent show starlets.

    As a True Dutchman[tm] I will of course follow all the speedskating religiously. Gold #1 has been secured already.

    Further I take any excuse not to do any chores around the house, so yes, I’ll be watching everything for the coming 2 weeks.

    Sport is the one thing I can unashamedly be patriotic about. Every other flagwaving display of patriotism makes me gag.

  28. I’m not really a big sports fan. For me, the Olympics is about the pagentry I do enjoy it because I love the idea that these people worked hard for years to be able to be there competing for their country.
    Mostly I love watching the individual sports. I’ll watch the figure skating because I always have and I love it. I’d also like to watch the bobsledding if Jamaica is competing.

  29. I used to care, especially about winter games and being Canadian, especially about them being in Canada. But between the move to allowing pros to come back (which makes everything boring and predictabl) and living in the US now (which means having to endure torturous how-this-athlete-struggled-to-get-here-rah-rah-USAUSAUSA stories and generally bad/ignorant US commentating), I don’t even pay attention anymore.

  30. @James Fox:

    And as for the money being spent on the olympics I agree it’s a lot. But if it’s not spent on the olympics the money will not magically be available for something else.

    If the money were purely private I would agree with you. But a lot of that money will be put in by government agencies, and those contributions need to be evaluated like any policy programme. I have a hard time believing that an elaborate sporting festival is a good use of public money.

  31. I seem to be caring less and less for professional sports, and I didn’t care all that much to begin with. I might watch part of one event or the other if I accidentally tune in at the right moment, but I won’t be checking broadcast schedules or make plans to watch anything.

  32. Wait, the Olympics is this year?
    No, seriously, I wasn’t aware. I think I heard it mentioned, but I guess this shows how much attention I’ve been paying to the news lately…
    What else have I missed? Has nuclear war broken out in Antarctica? Have we discovered evidence of alien life? Has the Earth been split asunder in a cosmic cataclysm?!

    I generally ignore the Olympics (and sport in general) except for a few events. I particularly enjoy the luge, if only because it seems like a sport that started on a dare:
    “Hey, I bet you £50 you won’t dare go down that bobsled run on a tea tray.”
    Oh, and ‘Skeleton’:
    “Ok, now do it face first.”

  33. *sigh* One more thing where I break away from the skeptic community.

    Love the Olympics. We turned off our cable several months ago since most of our shows are downloadable (including Survivor, which appears to make me the Lone Skeptic in All the World who doesn’t sneer at it). But until we bother to get a big antenna, we miss a lot of live stuff. Including the Olympics and the other lowbrow stuff I enjoy, like college football and the Oscars.

  34. I love the Olympics. However, I’ve really come to hate NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

    They show you the lone Americans participating in a sport – maybe a qualifying run, two if you’re lucky. The rest of the sport is ignored so you can see yet another interview with Shaun White or Lindsay Vonn or Bode Miller. Or the heroic figure skater who overcame a bunion.

    I want to see the competition on the big old HDTV, not on my standard monitor configuration. Besides, Silverlight is an abomination and glitchy – it takes forever for stuff to load and my firewall hates it.

  35. @FledgelingSkeptic: Jamaica unfortunately does NOT have a bobsled team this year. I believe they only have one athlete, but I forget what he’s competing in.

    I love the Olympics. I realize it’s tainted, just like every other human endeavor, but the idea of global competition is just cool. Warms the cockles.

  36. @phlebas: naw, you’re not completely alone…
    i, too, love the olympics. i understand the rationale behind all the haters’ arguments, but what can i say? i’m human, and i enjoy sports. competition is in our dna, and i think sport is as good a vehicle as any for channeling that impulse.

    yes, a lot of money is spent to fund the olympics, but that is also true of art, science, film, and numerous other pursuits whose value is not universally recognized.

    you balk at my mention of science, because all of us in this community have been drawn together by our appreciation of that pursuit, but i’ve known and worked with many people who fail to see its value, and would much rather see taxpayer dollars go elsewhere.

    and yes, i think it’s safe to say that science has more objective value that sport, but art, well, that’s another story entirely. i tend to think sport and art are fairly comparable in objective value, in that many people value either or both for various subjective reasons and find them necessary to a good quality of life.

  37. Normally I wouldn’t watch any of the games, but this year I do technically sponsor the US Speedskate team, I’ve only provided 0.01% of their overall funds, but I’d be happy to win 0.01% of a gold metal. GO TEAM!!!

  38. I too love the Olympics, though I won’t get to watch as much this time due to the time difference. I prefer the Winter games to the Summer games as I enjoy watching a greater percentage of the sports involved therein.

    I hear the complaint about the Olympics not being only for amateurs any more a lot, and it puzzles me. Does anyone really think that in this day and age an amateur can become successful? If there were no professionals, the Olympics would have less of an attraction to me. Plus true amateurism is almost impossible, and it’s more a case of it being shamateurism. Top Rugby Union players were making money from the game for years before it became professional in the mid-90s. Better to keep it out in the open.

    I agree on the comment above about the judged sports – if it’s 100% judged, it isn’t a sport. I can make an exception for partially judged sports, such as ski jumping, but figure skating ain’t a sport. It’s an athletic activity that takes a lot of skill to master, but then so is professional wrestling.

    I enjoy sport because of the drama it’s capable of providing, which is often much more interesting than any screenwriter can come up with. The story of the Afghanistan cricket team, who have come out of a war torn country and gone from being one of the lowest ranked sides in the world to qualifying for a world cup in less than two years is a wonderful story.

    Of course, I earn a small percentage of my income from being a semi-semi-professional sports journalist, so I’m hardly likely to come down on the anti-sport side!

  39. @James K: I fully agree that the amount of public money is way out of proportion to the benefit. I personally think there should be a movement to make the Olympics simpler and more intimate and lower expectations for uber-grand facilities.

    @phlebas: I’ll be watching nearly every day. My wife and I love the races and my wife and daughter enjoy the figure skating. I’ve got some good books going for when that’s on.

  40. @Chasmosaur: We’re lucky ducks in our little county on the border. The local cable package is the only one in the US that includes CTV for good live Canadian coverage.

  41. @James Fox:

    Rub it in, James, rub it in. I’m just too far south of the Canadian border where I am in Wisconsin to merit that. I know CTV consistently has fabulous coverage.

    In the meantime, I get to see all the soft-focus inspiring life stories. Aren’t you jealous? ;)

  42. I understand the logic behind 100% judged events not being sports, but I think it’s important to note that the judging rules are fairly strict. In gymnastics (I know it’s a summer sport, but it’s also the judged sport I know most about) there are objective requirements and values- different vaults start from various maximum points- and the deductions are standardized. That’s why most judges are within a couple tenths of a point window. The sport comes from the decisions athletes make based upon other athletes’ performances: deciding whether to risk a 0.5 point deduction for a fall in order to get a 0.3 point bonus by doing a harder skill. The scores may seem arbitrary to a casual observer, but to people involved in the sport the final scores are not often a surprise.

  43. There are tremendous amounts of science going into alot of winter sports. The speed skating suits, the bobsled, the skis, everything is tuned to perfection.

    Also, many advances in recuperation techniques for accident victims have been honed in sports recuperation.

    So come of your high horse you sportshating ppls.

  44. I’ve always watched them religiously – except when I lived in the USA because the TV coverage was so unremittingly awful it was easier just to forget that the whole thing was even happening.

  45. I’m a Canadian living in the USA, AND a former figure skater. Both of those attributes go a long way to forming my opinions of the Olympics, and of NBC’s coverage of them in particular.

    This is the first time I’ve watched the Olympics in any foreign country, and I can only hope that the American Olympics experience is a unique one. Vastly different from watching in Canada… and I really would lose a lot of faith in people if it turned out that most of the world is like this. A few observations:

    – The commentary is so NEGATIVE when it comes to any athlete who is not an American. Blows my mind that the commentators can be so catty and negative and still have a job. Makes your country look bad, IMHO. Have the class to speak well about your competitors, it really does say a lot. Saying “I can’t believe this person did well..”, making fun of their appearance, dragging one’s side job into the light in a really negative way… the whole broadcast has been a huge turn off for me.

    – Already seems to skip showing medal ceremonies when any other country wins. Usually being too busy talking some stupid “Rahrahrah!” fluff piece on an American athlete at the time.

    – Skipping over the vast majority of the competition, focusing on American athletes and a small handful of top non-yankee athletes.

    – Very sensationalist. I’ll never get used to how tabloidy the news is in this country.

    – TACKYTACKYTACKY! I cannot believe the coverage they gave on the luge fatality right before the opening ceremonies. They showed the accident, him DYING, several times. So disrespectful to the family, friends, and peers of that athlete. Very crass.

    Augh. I could keep going, but I won’t. Something else I want to say: I CANNOT believe that I read “figure skating is not a sport” on a site of supposedly reasonable-thinking people!

    Have you tried it? It makes me really mad when someone who hasn’t invested the 8+ hours, daily, for years… cutting, bruising, breaking, spraining pretty much anything that CAN be injured, sacrificing any kind of a normal life for a sport that you LOVE, only for some armchair quarterback to proclaim it to not be a sport. To sum it up and judge us based solely on the conduct of the judges in our sport is extremely rude, dismissive, and disrespectful. We hate it too… but it doesn’t make us any less ATHLETES, or it any less a SPORT.

    They’ve made huge changes to the judging in the past years, going so far as to take a lot of fun out of the sport. You are judged on a point system, where EVERYTHING you do has a starting point value, and deductions are made for screwing up, or anything short of perfection. FAR less subjective. Subjectivity still comes in slightly on a few points, but for the most part, it’s all very clinical.

    Comparing it to professional wrestling is pretty much the most disgusting thing I’ve read about in awhile. Too pissed off to even go there at the moment.

    Yay! Excellent way to start a morning.

  46. Oh, and further.

    In figure skating, the only equipment you have is your skates, which really don’t vary THAT much from person to person.

    Your performance isn’t dictated by access to specialty rigs (luge, bobsled, ski jump), or by who has access to the best equipment, and there’s really not a ton that you can tweak, other than YOUR OWN PERFORMANCE. I have far more respect for more “pure” sports like figure skating – which really come down to the athlete itself – than anything that requires a lot of tinkering with external equipment / factors.

    We have to be stronger, faster, and more in shape than hockey players. While many sports in the Olympics are “set it up and go” for the most part, we have to do insane things like fly through the air and land on a super thin edge of a blade, on one foot, maintain balance, etc.. while our hearts are RACING. It takes a lot more effort and concentration than, say, racing around a track or chasing a puck.

    And we have to do it in skimpy spandex, with no pads, make it all look effortless, and do it all while SMILING.


  47. @TyphoidMarie:

    As one of those people who said it wasn’t a sport, I guess I should defend myself at least a little.

    Firstly, whilst I may not have made it clear in my comments, I fully accept that figure skating is an incredibly difficult skill to master. Top figure skaters are extremely talented athletes, perhaps more so than in many other events at the Olympics. It’s not my thing, but I have incredible admiration for anyone who devotes that much of their life to pursuing any goal.

    But saying that, I simply can not accept that an event where the outcome is based solely on the opinion of a panel of judges is as much of a sport as one where it isn’t. I appreciate that there are strict criteria to judge by, and that things have improved since the scandal at the 2002 (I think) Olympics, but I had these opinions before the scandal. I have the same opinions on diving and gymnastics, to name two events.

    Have I tried it? No I haven’t, the one time I laced up a pair of ice skates I fell on my arse within five seconds, but this doesn’t mean that I can’t express my opinions on it.

    My comparison to professional wrestling wasn’t meant in a negative light, and I’m sorry you took it that way. Despite the choreographed nature of the contests, the wrestlers are still (in the main) very talented performers who also sometimes have to fly through the air and land in exactly the right spot in exactly the right place, and if they don’t, they can seriously injure themselves or others. It was in this context that my comparison applied.

    I’m sorry if I’ve offended you in saying what I think of figure skating’s claims to being a sport, but I certainly didn’t mean to disparage the effort that any figure skater puts into their craft.

  48. Ya know, at 30.. I have the body of an 80 year old. I can assure you that I didn’t get this way for a “craft”.

    It’s not the judging of it that determines whether it is a sport or not. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears- LITERALLY – years of abuse, and the competitive DRIVE that makes it a sport. It’s the hunger to COMPETE, a burning in your heart, in your gut. It’s *life*. It’s a freedom that most people are completely incapable of comprehending. It’s not an “art” or a “craft”, it’s a badass, bloody, sweaty, nasty, sometimes violent sport.

    Yes, I really do think that one has to have trained in it to have any sort of “right” to call it anything other than a sport. All you know of it is the 2-3 minutes per person that you see on TV. How are you in a position to judge, exactly?

  49. sport (spôrt, sprt)
    a. Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.
    b. A particular form of this activity.
    2. An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.

  50. @Chasmosaur: I find that annoying too. It IS a world competition but you wouldn’t know that from NBC’s coverage.

    I love watching the various forms of ice skating. Sport or no, it’s beauty in motion and (I can only imagine) damned hard work to get there.

    I love watching the joy on the winner’s faces. I tear up at their honest emotion as their flag is raised and their anthem is played. I’ll never have a moment like that of my own. Too bad we don’t get to see/share many of those moments because of crappy coverage.

    Personally I don’t think team sports should be in Olympic competitions anyway. The Olympics should be about the best of individual skill in individual sports. Any sport that has team of over 4-5 people gets boring and meaningless.

  51. @TyphoidMarie: “Yes, I really do think that one has to have trained in it to have any sort of “right” to call it anything other than a sport. All you know of it is the 2-3 minutes per person that you see on TV. How are you in a position to judge, exactly?”

    I have to be trained in something to express my opinion on it? Bullshit.

    I’ve not trained in medicine, does that mean I can’t give my opinions on the medical industry? I’ve not trained as an astrologer, does that mean I can’t give my opinion that it’s a load of hokum? I’ve not played cricket at a high level, does that mean that the four years I’ve spent writing about it are completely invalid?

    I’m certain that a number of people who commentate on figure skating haven’t trained in it, does that mean their opinions are as invalid as mine? Or do you only think that when people disagree with you?

  52. Actually, Andrew… you come across a lot like Jenny McCarty, commenting on vaccinations.

    Does she have a right to an opinion? Sure. Does her status as a “celebrity”, with no real experience with what she’s talking about make her points valid or at all respectable? No.

    Same goes for armchair commentators who haven’t trained in it themselves.

  53. @TyphoidMarie:”Same goes for armchair commentators who haven’t trained in it themselves.”

    But only when they disagree with you, right? Had I agreed completely with you, would you still attack me in the same way? Would you still say that I shouldn’t express my opinion because I hadn’t trained in it? I don’t think you would. As I said, some of those who commentate on it for TV won’t have trained in it.

    Valid probably wasn’t the right word for me to use. But trained in something or not, I have the right to have an opinion.

    The funny thing is, I agree with you in almost everything, except one point. I have heard some people disparage figure skating as nothing more than dancing about on ice, and when I’ve heard that, I’ve stuck up for figure skating. Believe it or not, I even enjoy watching it on occaision.

    I just have a problem with outcomes being decided only on opinion, that’s all.

  54. Well, would any skeptic have a problem with Jenny McCarthy if she was standing up *for* innoculation?

    No one said that figures skaters themselves don’t have a huge problem with the way it’s judged, either. I’m pretty sure I said as much in an earlier post. It sucks, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a sport.

  55. @TyphoidMarie: Yup, yup, yup. That’s why I don’t watch here.

    I heard a rumour a few years back that CBC did a poll and found a lot of northern Americans watching their coverage instead, if they could get it by antenna. I would totally watch if I could get CBC coverage. It was always way more neutral and cheered the WINNERS, regardless of country.

    But I haven’t been back home to see coverage on CBC in over a decade so I suppose it’s possible they now suck too.

    And yeah, totally, figure skating is a sport. As someone who tried it as a kid and was phenomenally bad at it in many ways, I heartily agree that those who excel in it are as athletic and skilled as any other athlete. That’s why Elvis Stojko was such a joy to watch, because he came to skating from martial arts, and was a thorough athlete. Not that many Americans will know that, since his routines were frequently cut out of the NBC coverage. The commentators even pooh-poohed his record-breaking jumps and snarked that it wasn’t fair that he was effectively setting the bar higher for future competition. Pah-leeeeze.

    I can’t even hear the soundtrack to Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story without remembering Stojko’s fantastic routine. *happy sigh*

  56. I can’t hear Dragon without bawling my eyes out. Elvis was an amazing roll model, and I can’t see there *ever* being another man like him in skating :(

  57. Love the Olympics, HATE the constant commercial breaks. Argh! I try to catch as much as possible when I am home, but the commercials drive me nuts. One ski run, then some stupid comment from the hosts about another US athlete who has overcome some hardship, then commercials. (I have a nice big LCD TV, so I find watching on my computer very disappointing).

    For all those commenting on the NBC coverage, right on the mark! If I was pleasantly surprised that they actually showed a Canadian gold medal ceremony (for men’s moguls), that was the exception to the rule. I would love if I could watch the Canadian feed, but it’s not available in my area.

    @TyphoidMarie: Great defense of figure skating as a sport, but still have a problem with the whole “judging” thing. That “shared” gold in Torino, was bullshit! The Canadians were better. Period.

  58. Yup, the judging is bullshit.. but aside from determining the outcome, it really is completely outside what the actual athletes are doing. Not fair to judge us/ skating’s “worthiness” as a sport, based on some bad apples.

    The thing is, you can find bullshit about any sport. There was a thing on the news today about the different technologies available to the athletes, and it mentioned that some super secret type of bobsled blade technology was ONLY available to the American team. Many others are expensive, etc.

    I guess I’m not big on sports where the make or break comes down to money or politics (technology only being made available to the company’s home country). I don’t see how technological advantages are all that much different than subjective judging, really.

  59. I like the comparison of professional wrestling and figure skating, and I agree they both require a lot of training and fun aerial moves, not to mention the amazing costumes and enthusiastic fan base. And for me the interest level is the same, about ten seconds and I’m looking for a book or starting to clean the fridge. But both are absolutely sporting events regardless of whether the Mad Brain Crusher or little Katrina from Kiev wins!

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