Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snowboarding in the Winter Olympics

Sitting at home watching the snowboarding halfpipe final in the Winder Olympics. I've never been skiing let alone snowboarding but this sport is interesting, not for the sport but for the competitors and spectators.

In most Olympic sports the athletes are so focused and so dedicated that they almost seem devoid of emotion and humanity. Everything around them is planned and organised so they live in a bubble of concentration and focus where normal humans cant reach them. Snowboarding is different, the competitors want to win and are competing hard but they also seem to enjoy the event. Sometimes it almost seems like they are taking the piss a little and have snuck into the arena while the skiers were on lunch. For example the Finish competitor Antti Autti turning off his mobile phone while standing on the start line before doing his second run. The American competitors including the winner Shaun White messing around like school kids when the camera was on them and Mason Aguirre searching for music to listen to on his MP3 player while on the start line. Maybe they don't perform as well as they could if all those things were carefully pre-arranged and setup, but they seem to have more fun and appreciate the event as being more than just the result.

The spectators seem to break down into two groups, the traditional Olympic spectators, respectful and quietly taking their turn to wave their flags and cheer, and the ones who just came from the shopping mall carpark with their skateboards under their arms. Many kids would never dream of watching the Olympics because none of the sports appeal to them, but sports like snowboarding do.

The Olympics could do with encouraging more sports like this, fresh blood and new excitement. There was a discussion in the Olympics about dropping some sports to shorten the schedule and alter other sports to make them more TV friendly. I don't agree. Any sport that can field competitors from several nations should be considered for inclusion in the Olympics. The event should be about being the greatest showcase of sport, and not just producing the greatest TV ratings.

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