The Olympics Are Odd

Olympics are odd

The Olympics have the unique power to make people care about things they would never think about at any other time. If someone walked up to you and said, “I can do three backflips on a beam three inches wide,” you might respond with, “That’s great, Susie. Can I have an order of fries with that?”

It’s also odd in that there are so many events. They have cool names like “shot put” because that sounds better than “throw this heavy piece of lead” and “javelin,” which sounds far more impressive than “stick throw.” It seems like the track and field events were the beginning. How fast can you run? How high can you jump? You know, the basics. Then there had to have been some sports marketing genius who figured out that it would be cool to add things to jump over or a long stick to jump with. Who was the first person to say, “Sure, you’re fast, but can you jump this high eight times while running?” I think all the Olympic events started as dares.

Eventually, there was an odd need for the Olympic competitions to pair a cause (something to run or swim or jump for) with a villain (someone to defeat). Enter politics, and exit innocence.

Over time, we found more sophisticated (but still odd) ways for Olympians to measure themselves against each other. At some point, someone decided that taking a stick and trying to hit a rock so that no one could catch the rock would be a good game. On that day, Olympic baseball was born. Tying strings to a branch, then hitting a ball over a net and inside some lines with it would be interesting toota-da: Olympic tennis.

Olympics soon became a big business (not odd at all—follow the money), something for people to watch and oddly feel a part of. A host country was designated where athletes of different backgrounds could gather in peace, play games, and make NBC almost relevant for two weeks every four years. Now, we all can enjoy the televised events paired with relevant commercials, such as for carbonated beverages, Frito Lay, and La-Z-Boy recliners. I am going to take a wild guess that the athletes don’t drink carbonated beverages, eat Frito-Lays, or recline much, but I could be wrong. Nah. Uncle Cousin Craig is never wrong. Host countries pay billions to be able to host these events and build cathedral-like stadiums while their citizens don’t have enough to eat or access to clean water.

When you are a business, winning becomes more important than ever. Some countries allow professional players to compete. The old standard of championing the amateur status of the games has now become “bring us your best pro,” resulting in seasoned veterans’ crushing talented young athletes who can barely find the money to survive and train. Other countries turn a blind eye to steroid use, human growth hormones, and other chemical cheats and allow their athletes to become more than human.

However, despite the Olympics’ shortcomings, I love that during the Summer Olympics, we cheer on 207 nations, 11,551 athletes, and 306 events in 28 sports. For 17 days, we focus on our common love of competition, celebrate the underdog, and watch young athletes strive to turn their long, brutal hours of training into gold, silver, and bronze medals for their countries. We set aside our political differences and shake hands with each other. It’s like a scene in the gang movie The Warriors (Google it) in which all the gangs are together and the leader says, “We got all these gangs together in one place, and nobody is wasting nobody.” In the movie, of course, he is shot dead shortly after that.

OK, maybe that’s not a perfect analogy, but my point is that at the Olympics, the Germans and the Brazilians can come together in peace, and the Americans and the Canadians can stop the hate and compete as friends. Tiny nations such as Trinidad and Tobago can compete and have the opportunity to be the best in the world in their events, and best of all, nobody is wasting nobody. That’s pretty cool. Can you dig it?   


We didn’t waste nobody!  And there were some amazing first and feats brought to us by the Summer Olympics.

  • The incredible Simone Biles. One of my favorite quotes: “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”
  • This year, the Olympics had its first ever refugee team, representing not a country but the 65 million people displaced by war and persecution.
  • Usain Bolt smile as he won his third straight gold medal.
  • Kyle Chalmers’ grandparents…If you didn’t see this video…you must!
  • And of-course Michael Phelps. . .

Yep, Cousin! I dug it! Thanks for sharing your witty, odd Olympic thoughts with us!

Old Loves Company,

16 thoughts on “The Olympics Are Odd

  1. I usually spend more time with the winter olympics. But I did tune in this year and was surprised how much I enjoyed the events. And it was good to see that the few spoiled brats didn’t redirect the attention. Usain Bolt and Michael are two of my (and everyone else’s) favorites and I can’t even blame watching gymnastics on my daughter once I tuned into Simone I couldn’t stop following her.
    Did you see the cruise ships the American’s were sharing with the Australian’s?
    Played golf until it rained today. Didn’t watch much Olympic Golf. Bad to admit but it bores me.
    The Warriors. Are you old enough to quote that movie?

    • Yes, I too am casual watcher of the Olympics – We had something like 23 athletes from our school competing, which makes it more interesting still. I heard about the US athletes, and others, staying on boats to avoid trouble. I guess that plan was good, but the execution was not Lochte’d up tightly enough.
      I am old enough to have seen that movie but not old enough to have seen it in the theater. I think I first watched it on Video Disk! “Warriors! Come and to play-e-ay!”

  2. Funny post. The Olympics are odd on so many levels.
    I’ve enjoyed watching in the evenings. I wish they would add back in more of the back stories about the athletes. It always interests me. Loved the video of Kyle’s grandparents. So proud and rightly so.

    • Something about it is fascinating. I like the stories about the kids, but I think they’re also a bit sad. I mean, when you hear that this kid has been swimming for 4 hours a day every day since he was 5 you begin to wonder, no matter how much success he or she has, is it worth it? And how many worked just as hard to come in fourth or fifth? Hey kid, here’s your one chance for greatness at age 20 – it’s all downhill from here. I have to be honest though, I admire them and think of the opportunities they have gained must be somewhat equal to the sacrifices. Thanks for reading!~

  3. Did you have a favorite event? I may be odd but I found myself watching ping pong. I started to play with a friend and it’s a fun game. I was hoping to pick up a few tips but the way those balls fly there is no way.
    It is nice that we can all get along once in awhile.

    • Ping Pong is far beyond my capacity to follow. Those people are astounding to watch! I like to watch curling in the winter Olympics because there’s usually some unfit person, wearing his stretchy slacks that are working overtimes, competing in the Olympics. That guy is having a beer after the curling match tonight BECAUSE he is in training. I don’t have any favorite events in the Olympics – whatever story catches my attention and sucks me in I watch. I do love football – I probably understand it the most, but I love softball, baseball, and especially soccer. I didn’t get to the game until I was 30 but there is something about the world cup every four years that I love. I record every match and go through to pull out the goals for our soccer team. I enjoy people testing themselves against one another – I don’t want to go too religious on you, but I do know Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

      Also, it is nice that sometimes the games and the spirit of them rise above the competition and just make me feel that maybe the world will be okay.

      “Can’t we all just get along” is one of my favorite things to say at football practices, right after a scuffle. I’m a tiny bit of an instigator . . . tee hee – just like my cousin

      • Cole has the same love of the World Cup and would love someone to text around some conversation. I watched Cole play soccer for so long that I learned to understand the sport pretty well—yes even offsides but I still can’t hold my own in a conversation about it for very long. I just keep saying, “Wow that Massi is something else!”
        I love instigating….so much fun. 😀

  4. How Odd that we’d both write about the Olympics today!! Nevertheless, you did a great job. Today’s just been FAR too beautiful to stay stuck inside watching TV, but perhaps the closing ceremony will hold my attention!

    • It was odd! I noticed that too. I loved your take but read it on my phone where I find it difficult to comment but I will be back! We’ve been outside ALL day.More of this weather, please!

    • I read your piece and enjoyed it. I like to think that sometimes just being as good as you can be at something can be pretty special. If one is not a naturally talented runner for example, one can still compete against themselves, against their best time. For myself, I try to go as many days as possible in a row without putting my foot in my mouth.

      I’ll let you know if I ever get past to one . . .

      Thanks for reading!

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