I can’t stop watching the Olympics. I don’t what’s going on – I’ve never really been a fan of the games before – but recently I’ve been sitting around watching things like men’s gymnastics at 11 p.m. with a drink and the TV turned up loudly so I can hear the analysis (as if I’m somehow going to understand the technicalities behind pulling off a great “pommel horse” routine).
It’s just been constant entertainment. From the obscure sports to the seriousness with which the people take their obscure sports, the whole thing just blows my mind. These people decided they wanted to be the best in the world at sports that literally have no following whatsoever, and they’ve devoted their entire lives to to doing it. I don’t know if that’s super impressive or super strange or some combination of both, but here are a few moment/observations/questions from the first few days.
1. Water polo is awesome
Did anybody else watch the United States-Montenegro match (game?) over the weekend? First of all, I had no idea that Montenegro was its own country, and I certainly had no idea that Montenegro is one of the best water polo teams in the world, but that’s what the announcers (including Doc Emrick) were telling me.
Second of all, how do those players get in the air to shoot and block shots and what not when they aren’t jumping off the bottom of the pool? They’re just treading water the whole time, so where does the lift come from? Beats me. I also learned that you can only defend with one hand in the air, that the US goalkeeper’s name is “Moses” and that it’s appropriate to celebrate important goals by screaming “PUSSSAYYY!!!”
Ah, you’re skeptical about that last one. Watch this video – which is the highlight of the entire Olympics so far, by the way – and tell me that this coach is not screaming “PUSSSAYYY” loudly. And yes, if you’re wondering, this video was filmed at the EPT World Headquarters. It came right after the US took an 8-6 lead in the aforementioned match with Montenegro. We re-watched it 100 times right after it happened. The comedy is off the charts.
Whoever that coach is, he loves water polo and he loves…well, never mind.
2. The US didn’t qualify in men’s soccer…but these countries did:
Gabon, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal and Belarus.
Belarus is a country with a population of under 10 million people, and I have honestly never even heard of Gabon. I don’t even have a joke here…
3. The vault is the most absurd piece of competition I have ever seen
I mentioned that I’ve been watching a lot of gymnastics, and I have just been completely dumbfounded by what goes on in the vault. After I learned the intricacies of pommel horse, I watched the TV cut to these small, jacked people running down a strip towards a spring and some sort of big cube that they use to fly in the air and do a bunch of flips before landing. It is absolutely absurd.
The whole thing takes about 5 seconds, but they do quadruple flips and get high enough to “John Tucker Must Die” a basketball without any problem. It’s scary. When they’re in the air it’s hard to watch because your’e scared they’re going to fall (like one of the American gymnasts did on Monday, badly).
How do you initially learn to do that? You can’t just go and practice it, because you’ll fall and break your neck. It’s hard to go up gradually, because there is no alternative way to do it. You have to go really high in the air, do a flip/spin of some kind and then land on your feet. I don’t get how that is taught to anybody, or how anybody has the balls to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll give that a shot,’ but I guess that’s why I’m not a world class gymnast. Well, that and the fact that I’m not 5-foot-1 with clown-sized biceps.
4. There’s only so much swimming I can watch
Competition is competition, so I like watching anything that seems compelling on the surface. Olympic swimming, for whatever reason, gets more attention than just about any sport in the entire competition, so I figured I would at least give it a shot.
And I have…but it’s really boring. Nothing happens. Whoever is in first initially seems like they always win, no one gets excited at the end of the race (even though they’re medaling in the Olympics) and the U.S. guys can’t seem to win anything. It’s an extremely underwhelming sport. Everyone looks like they’re ding the same exact thing, too, so there’s no room for breaking anything down or providing any real analysis. You just swim.
I know there’s more to it than that, but for somebody who is just casually watching the Olympics, swimming is a lot like watching day time TV – the previews make it look exciting, but it’s really just for old people and sick kids staying home from school.
5. Those guys are good at badminton
Of all the sports I’ve watched, I think the badminton players are better at their individual sport than anybody in the rest of the games is at their own sport. The badminton players are just ludicrously good. They’re uncomfortably good. I can’t turn away when they’re on, because they just fly in the air and hit the “shuttlecock” so hard that it’s hard to keep track of where it is. Oh, and they always return it. Shots that should be impossible to send back over the net get returned with ease. Points last forever, making it extremely gratifying whenever one team wins a point.
I’m telling you – if you haven’t seen badminton yet, get there. You will not be disappointed.
6. Tape delay doesn’t work
I get the idea of trying to put the big events on television in prime time, but we live in an age where the results are available immediately after they happen. Unless you live underground, there is no way you’re not going to find out who won the Lochte-Phelps showdown prior to it being shown eight hours after it happened by NBC on tape delay.
It’s not feasible. There’s no real way to make it work. They really should just show the stuff live and then show it again on tape delay, so people can have the choice of watching it when they want. There’s not a whole lot of drama in a race where everybody already knows the complete order of finish.
7. Hope Solo is kind of a you-know-what?
Relax, Hope. Brandi Chastain isn’t out to get you, you big-handed lunatic. Calm down.
Now, go enjoy yourselves by watching some badminton and water polo.