What? The Olympics Ain't Good Enough For Ya?

As the summer games in Sydney just ended, I thought it would be good to comment and reflect upon the thrill that is the Olympics. The thrill of Women's Trampolining; the agony of the Modern Pentathlon (five events molded into one megaevent: shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and running. Seriously); drug test after thrilling drug test; and at the close of the games, the question that burns at the fiber of each fan's soul: Why, all of a sudden, do we care?

Why is it that once every four years, everybody decides that the Pole Vault is an integral part their lives? Why, all of a sudden, in years ending in even numbers, do people get extremely interested in the Biathlon?

When I question the significance of the Olympics, people always say, "People like to watch the athletes representing their respective countries in athletic competition." To which I say, "Who cares?" After all, the Olympics only come around once every four years. There are World Championships every year. Much like the Olympics, people run around a lot, there are shiny metal objects awarded, and world records are broken. The only difference is, you don't get Hannah Storm and you don't have to wait four damn years.

Aside from the fans' spontaneous interest, the thing that really irks me about the Olympics are the coaches. The first thing the athletes do is thank their coaches, which, in some sports, I can understand. In the pole vault, for example. There are a lot of aspects that go into making a pole vault good. How fast you run, where you plant the pole, your upward momentum when planting the pole, etc. However, there are some sports where I don't see the point in having a coach at all. Sprinting, for example. Do you really need a coach in the 100 meter sprint? What could a coach possibly say to you after you race? I expect that this is probably the kind of conversation an Olympic coach would have with a runner:

Michael Johnson finishes the 100 meter sprint in 9.93 seconds.
Coach: Uhhhh... that was good. But next time try to go faster.
Michael Johnson: OK, Coach!
Michael Johnson runs the race again. This time is time is 9.84 seconds.
Coach: Well, Michael, that was better. But maybe you could try and go even faster next time.
Michael Johnson: OK, Coach!

It seems to me like it would be a downward spiral from there. What the athletes really should do is have their agents coach them:
Michael Johnson finishes the 100 meter sprint in 9.93 seconds.
Agent: Michael, baby! You gotta slow down or the kiddies will never see that Nike™ Swoosh Logo we have shaved into your head!
Michael Johnson: Good thinking, coach.
Agent: Also, Valvoline and B.F. Goodwrench want you to wear these patches on your uniform.
Michael Johnson: What?!?
Agent: Michael, baby! What are you going to do after the Olympics are over? Run for a living? Now get sewing, baby!

9 October 2000