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A Mad Fan’s Diary 2014.02.19: Games We Play

sport (noun): a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other

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Let me start by directing you to this article, written two years ago by Y! Sports’s Dan Wetzel, on the controversy in the Women’s doubles badminton round robin stage: Link.

In the course of the article, this asshole has the gall to repeatedly take shots at not only the Olympic athletes involved, but the sport’s governing body, the sport itself, and badminton players everywhere. Some quotes:

“Thomas Lund is that secretary general. He hails from Denmark and seems like a thoughtful guy. He was there to announce the final verdict on one of the scandals of these Olympics.

No, not that badminton is an Olympic sport in the first place – although Lund was later asked to defend that, too. And, no, the scandal isn’t that the United States never won a medal in this sport even though most Americans have smacked a birdie (“shuttlecock” in official parlance) over a backyard net a few times in their life – at least against their niece, sometimes even when they were sober.”

“Either way the game of badminton, which again we repeat is the game of badminton, was a farce. Go figure.”

“In truth badminton is one hellacious game played by real athletes, at least when they are trying to win and not lose. Then again, if horseshoes aren’t in the Olympics, I’m not sure how strong the case for inclusion really is.”

Hey guy, listen, fuck you.

It’s that classic, bullshit, playground argument.  “Soccer isn’t a real sport, it’s for girls.” “Gymnastics? ew.” “Fencing? haha, what a joke.”

On what grounds can anyone say those things? On what grounds can a sports writer for a major webpage dare to say these things? What gives random jerk-offs the right?

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And where do you draw the line?  You’re going to say badminton isn’t a sport? Are you going to make the same accusations of table tennis? Of Archery? People in the states like their right to bear arms so goddamned much, so surely you’re not going to say shooting shouldn’t be an Olympic sport? Hell why should track be an Olympic sport? Everyone walks/runs with their feet to get around, it’s nothing THAT special. Who cares how high someone can vault using a pole?

Ridiculous. And think about it, what spawns this line of thought? Is it because Americans aren’t good at these sports? Is it because they aren’t as commonly played in the states? Does someone like Dan Wetzel see a bunch of Asians excelling at certain sports and think “It’s too weird, it’s gay, I don’t get it, get rid of it.”?

No, seriously, Tennis and Badminton aren’t that far off from one another conceptually, how can you in good conscience write one off just because it’s not mainstream America?

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These are Olympic athletes we’re talking about here. How can you possibly try to take anything away from them, considering the high level of competition, the relentless training and effort it takes just to get to that stage?

The answer to that rhetorical question, is that you can’t. They’re Olympic athletes and they deserve your goddamned respect.

The Olympics puts the spotlight on several obscure sports that we only hear about every four years, and the media likewise bombards us with a set of homegrown heroes donning the red, white, and blue who we also likely won’t hear about outside of this two week span of the Olympic lifecycle.  But just because these things aren’t familiar doesn’t mean you can write them off.

What does any sport boil down to anyway?  Hitting a ball with an instrument into a field, over a net, onto a table, against a wall, in between poles. Throwing a ball as far as you can, into a hoop, into a goal, to other people, running with a ball.  Running in circles, skating in circles, it’s all athletic competition. (NASCAR is kind of the one thing that I don’t really accept as a sport though, is that hypocritical of me?)

Particularly in the Winter Olympics; nobody blinks twice at bobsledding, skeleton, luge, or Snowboarding, or Skiing, but all this hate gets directed towards the highlight “non-sport” of the Winter Olympics. Figure skating. “It’s not a sport, it’s a competition.”

“I don’t consider anything that involves subjectivity to be a serious sport.” “It’s dancing on ice.” People are pathetic. You have no problem with glorified sledding just because you’re interested to see who can get down a mountain the fastest, but you’re going to pass judgment on people who pull off the most incredible things using nothing but their own two legs and a pair of skates?

I’d like to see anyone who shits on skating try 1. just simply skating without falling, first of all. 2. Jumping while skating. 3. Jumping and spinning a gajillion fucking times while skating multiple times in the course of only a few minutes. Go ahead. Be my guest.

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Anyway, Women’s figure skating starts tomorrow, and my eyes will be firmly fixed on Queen Yuna. Long may she reign.

If my other posts on this topic weren’t enough, let’s be clear here; these Olympics are going to be a traumatic blotch in my life as a sports fan if Korea’s darling doesn’t defend her title over the course of the next two days.

I’ll love and support her, gold medal or not, but regardless of the outcome, I’ll probably be heading to lunch on Thursday with tears in my eyes. — G.K.

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