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This is one torch with no fire

Josh Bogorad

By Josh Bogorad
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday Feb. 6, 2002

The Winter Olympics start Friday and it's a good thing, too. The world was starting to go through a withdrawal since the games in Japan were held in 1998.

How cruel of the Olympic committee to only allow the Winter Games to be held only once every four years. Where is the avid ski jump fan supposed to get a fix in between?

Wow, the Winter Olympics are great.

They include so many fascinating sports - luging and curling and figure skating, oh my!

My favorite thing about the Winter Olympics, though, is the biathlon. For those of you who don't know, the biathlon is a grueling event in which competitors must ski along flat terrain while stopping along the way to shoot rifles at targets plotted throughout the course. I don't know about anyone else, but when I think about sports, the first two things that come to my mind are cross-country skiing and shooting targets. Oh, I can almost taste the excitement of the Winter Olympics almost.

The Olympics are regarded worldwide as a collection of the greatest athletes competing in the most prestigious venue. Yet the fact remains that most sports fans do not enjoy the Winter Olympics. This is because of two major reasons.

First of all, the Olympics aren't geared toward sports fans. They're geared toward the average "Oprah" viewer. Just take a look at the opening and closing ceremonies. These are four-hourlong shows that are void of any athletic activity. People walk in circles around a track. Choreographed dances take place, and then they light a giant candle. It sounds like something that would take place at a sorority initiation.

Most sports fans can't bear to sit through a 15-minute halftime show, let alone this unnecessary, drawn-out ceremony. For crying out loud, NBC had to show Playboy playmates walking across tight ropes that were 100 feet off the ground just to give football fans something to watch during Super Bowl halftime.

The Olympic coverage also masters the art of over-dramatizing everything. Every athlete is profiled and their lives are turned into a tabloid sob story.

One member of the Swedish curling squad has a second cousin, once removed, who is blind, mute and has a terrible case of gonorrhea, and the Swede promised the trooper that he'd bring home the gold. Any of this sound familiar?

Sports fans don't want to hear about these things. They want the actual sport to be the showcase.

The second problem with the Winter Olympics is that the events are simply boring to watch. With the exception of ice hockey, the events lack excitement, tension and direct competition - three things that are essential in making competitive sports fun to watch.

But rather than just complain, I thought I'd offer up some suggestions that might help make the Winter Olympics a tad more exciting.

  • During the downhill skiing competition, release starving bears onto the mountain.

  • Make all those competing in the biathlon drink heavily prior to the competition and then force them to wear targets on their backs.

  • Move the figure skating competition to an outdoor, frozen pond that is only an inch thick and rests above shark-infested waters. That way a fall might cost the skater a little more than a tenth of a point.

  • Design a course where the bobsled and luge tracks intersect. That should make for an interesting rivalry between the two.

  • Have the ski jump lead right onto a mountain with moguls. You can even use the bears on this one too.

  • Obviously, these suggestions come a little late, so it may be difficult to implement them into this year's games in Salt Lake City. However, it's something to keep in mind for 2006. If they do implement some of these changes, I can't guarantee there will be as many participants in the closing ceremonies as there are in the opening, but I do guarantee that it will make the games a lot more exciting.

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