Essays from 116th Street

Self-therapy, since 2004...

Location: New York, New York

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The One Where Z Talks About The Olympics

I keep trying to watch the Winter Olympics, and I keep failing miserably. Why is that? I keep looking at this stuff on TV, and I'm always telling Joe how cool this stuff is. These guys come off a halfpipe on their snowboards and do like 75 different flips in the air before landing, and it is honestly pretty cool! I'm down with skiing and snowboarding and ice hockey and all of that, so the problem can't be the actual games themselves.
Maybe my problem is with NBC. I just want to watch another skier go superfast down the slopes, but they keep interrupting me with a music video for each skier, in which I have to watch them talk about themselves and how they love their sister, or how they re-dedicated themselves to their sport, and all I ever get out of these things is that Winter Olympians always seem to have really bad haircuts. The snowboarders are even more annoying; they come off like a bunch of rich teenagers trying to use hip hop slang even though they're blond and from Aspen ("Yah, I just want to send big ups to Shaun Keegan, he's my homey we were kickin' it in Colorado Springs last year! He couldn't make it cuz he fell off that halfpipe and broke both of his legs in three places, so I'm bringin' this flava for him! One!"). What's even worse is that after every single run, these guys have to snowboard all the way into the camera, stick their faces practically into my living room and flash suburban gang signs. The flips are cool enough, you really don't have to inform me that you are a member of the Tahoe Crips, Hans.
I think my biggest problem, however, is the figure skating. I don't really have a problem with figure skating, it's just that NBC feels a constant urge to interrupt whatever cool $#!+ they're showing with some ice dancing, or pairs, or men's short program or whatever. I could be kickin' it with a cup of tea and some ginger snaps, and see some speed skating on, and I'll be like, "Oh $#!+!!! There's speed skating on!" I'll get all comfy, getting ready for some Apolo Ohno stuff, then, 5 minutes later, without even seeing a full race, they'll be like, "Now, let's go back to the studio, where Bob Costas is ready to take us to the pairs final!" What a thorough letdown. Now I have to see grown men wearing sequins do spins in the air while wearing tight pants, when I was all excited to watch speedsters with aerodynamic helmets try to take each other out on the short track.
I know one thing, though; it's not my patriotism that's the problem, not with the attention I have thrusted in the direction of the U.S. Men's Soccer team. They are not in the Olympics, nor are they even still qualifying for the World Cup; they are currently playing a schedule of international friendlies, tune up games for June. These games don't count for anything, but serve the purposes of filling out the last available roster spots for the World Cup, getting in some meaningful action between now and the summer, and (hopefully) establishing a positive atmosphere and winning continuity.
After pasting Norway 5-0 two weeks ago and beating Japan 3-2 on Friday, the Yanks have had plenty of positives to pull from their January friendlies. First, Eddie Pope, America's dominant defender of the past 7 or 8 years, is finally healthy again and playing like his old self. Age and injuries had looked to have finally done Eddie in, but he's back and playing very well, which provides a major plus going into the World Cup. The emergence of Todd Dunivant at left-back and erstwhile-rapper Clint Dempsey at right-midfield have given Coach Bruce Arena possible starters at need positions. Dunivant's ball-control and crossing skills have impressed, while Dempsey, after having been tried at a few positions in midfield, seems to have found his comfort zone on the right. His dangerous runs wide and to the middle have frustrated the defense, and the number of fouls he has drawn show it (but, umm, "Deuce?" you don't dance as good as you rap).
The most positive sign for the U.S., however, has to be the play of much-maligned striker Taylor Twellman. Twellman, the reigning MLS MVP, has had some mediocre outings for the National Team, and many wondered if he would ever realize his potential at the international level. But he has busted out of the gate in 2006, bagging a hat-trick against Norway and scoring one and setting up two versus Japan. If Twellman can keep this up, the U.S.' World Cup chances could get a lot better.
Up next for the USA is a Sunday friendly against Guatemala, and the debut of some sharp new uniforms. A clean bill of health for striker Eddie Johnson, as well as midfielder John O'Brien, and a few meaningful matches for Manchester United backup goalkeeper Tim Howard are also on the wish list as the U.S. gets ready for June. I, of course, will keep you updated, so long as they don't interrupt me for figure skating.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

figure skating blows. except when they fall -- that's the payoff for sitting through it.

10:51 PM  

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