Enjoying winter Olympic 'events'

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By Geoff Hamill

I’m an outdoor guy. I enjoy the warm, sunny days that come along with baseball season, and even the cooler days that bring the college and NFL football seasons.

That’s why even I have been surprised to find myself enjoying the winter Olympics so much this year. Other than basketball and hockey, I’d rather be playing an outdoor sport, or even watching one played outdoors. That’s just me. But this whole winter Olympics thing has found me sitting in my chair with, well, let’s say, other events on the TV.

I’m using the word events, because as much as I’ve enjoyed watching them, I find it hard to call some of the things I’ve been watching sports. Now before you start thinking I’m knocking the competitors, I’m not. Sure, there is athletic ability, dexterity, or at least skill required to do some of these things, they just fall short of my definition of sport in some cases.

Have you ever watched the biathlon? Me neither. Until Saturday. I flipped over to NBC to check out the Olympic coverage before heading out to the movies with my wife, and sure enough, there was the biathlon.

If you don’t know, the biathlon is a combination of skiing and shooting a rifle. I knew what it was when I saw the event on TV, but I wasn’t sure where it came from. Then I got a history lesson from the commentators, who said it started as an ancient activitiy of vikings in the 18th Century. Somewhat interesting, but in my book, not really a sport.

At least the winner of the biathlon is determined by the competitors, and not a panel of judges who could vote one way or another based on what they see in the competition, or perhaps even based on the mood they happen to be in as the event takes place. This is where my real problem with so many winter Olympic events comes into play. Judges.

I’ve never claimed to be a fan of figure skating, ice dancing, or similar sports, uh, I mean events, and it has nothing to do with the athletes. My problem is with the judges.

The skaters are very athletic, and they work tirelessly to perfect their routines. I respect that, and as unmanly as some may find it, I enjoy watching it with my wife. Yeah, that’s why I watch it, because my wife does. Yeah, that’s the reason.

As someone who grew up playing every sport available to me as a kid and a teenager, I love to compete. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that. If it’s a competition, I’ll take anything seriously, and I will not let anyone win, and that includes my son. You want to win? Fine, then win by your own ability and determination, not by having someone give it to you.

That’s where my whole dislike for the judges was formed. Scoring competitions just takes the sport right out of some of the Olympic games and makes them events.

I want to watch a game where I can tell by myself who is winning, without having someone else decide. Nobody has to tell me what they thought about the Kentucky basketball game or the Yankees’ baseball game to determine a winner. There’s a score, and anyone watching knows that score throughout the game.

If you’re going to complain, I guess you should have a solution, right? Well, I don’t have one. And even though I don’t like the judging of these events, I will still watch them. With my wife. Just don’t make me listen to another announcer tell me this competitor or that is the greatest in the history of the sport of ice dancing.