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Friday, October 24, 2014

Column: Whatever they’re playing, I’m rooting for red, white and blue

Yeah, there are some pretty questionable Winter Olympic games, but that event with a gun is pretty awesome.

Feb. 12, 2014

I've been called many things in my life, but few have meant as much as to me as being called a “patriot.”

Granted, the only person to ever call me a patriot is yours truly, but the fact remains.

Besides, if you've ever set off enough fireworks on the Fourth of July to have your neighbors call the cops, you've earned the right to call yourself a patriot.

And as a patriot, you are required to love the Olympics. I have no problem with that.

The Olympics are a unique biannual event that allow us as a country to rally around athletes we have never heard of before as though we'd been following them for years. The events give validation to our athletes that yes, the years of sacrifice and their stunted growth were worth it (so long as they win, of course).

I have just one issue with the Olympics though, and it applies to both the summer and winter games: What the hell are some of these competitions?

There are two things I'm guaranteed to learn during the winter games, both the name of a country and event I've never heard of. While I'm happy for the country of Andorra, I'm confused as to what an event called the “skeleton” entails.

And upon further investigation, I'd like for someone to explain to me the difference between the “skeleton” and the “luge.” The only difference, as far as I can tell, is whether you prefer to go down the hill feet first or head first (a decision that anyone who has ever gone down “Suicide Hill” in St. Louis will tell you is a serious one).

That hardly seems worthy of two separate competitions. Why not simply combine the two and call the event “sledding?” You can even throw in bobsledding and call it “Team Sledding.”

The coolest competition the winter Olympics feature is, of course, the biathlon. Combining cross-country skiing with rifle shooting, biathlon demands both endurance and discipline from its participants. The first time you watch it, you have a brief moment of “wait, oh my god, why is he pulling out a gun?!” until you see the participant calmly nail five bulls-eyes in a row.

My problem with the biathlon has nothing to do with the biathlon. My problem is that cross-country skiing is still a competition in the games. The biathlon makes cross-country watchable the same way you make a Schwarzenegger movie watchable: Adding guns. No one wants to see Arnold without a gun, so why would you keep cross-country skiing without the rifles? Lunacy.

There's one competition that bothers me more than the rest put together: Curling. One person slides a stone down a runway of sorts and then two of their teammates feverishly brush in front of it.

Surely I'm not expected to refer to the individuals who partake in this moronic event as “athletes?” What about “cavemen?” Or “people who think shuffleboard is boring?”

Regardless, if the U.S. Team medals, I'll still chant “USA!” “USA!” Hopefully, Herb Brooks doesn't smite me.

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