Every two years I lose two weeks of my life, as the Olympics comes to my room. A dozen-odd thoughts about the Summer Games:
- I use the term “stick the landing” when discussing matters other than gymnastics.
- I get cranky when I can’t easily find television coverage of equestrian events. I realize that dressage is not everybody’s cup of tea, but I find the marathon really boring, and they show that.
- I think I like badminton and table tennis better than tennis. Perhaps because I only get to see them every four years.
- Best uniforms: Chinese table tennis players, with a pink and purple dragon on a black background.
- I have a list of who I root for, and the USA is not at the top. I pull for individual athletes I like (Katy Ledecky, anyone on the US gymnastics team), athletes from the Olympic Refugee Team, athletes from odd little countries (Flora Duffy won Bermuda’s first gold medal in the women’s triathlon, making Bermuda the smallest country to have a gold medal; even better, San Marino (San Marino!) has both a silver and a bronze in shooting, making it the smallest country by population to have Olympic medals), Team USA, South Korea, the host country, the Canadians, and the Brits, and whatever athletes have interesting life stories. In that order.
- I hate to admit it, but I occasionally engage in sexist behavior such as ogling the male divers in small Speedos. I do wonder why the divers wear those rather than the longer suits worn by swimmers. I’m assuming it is for competitive reasons – maybe it makes it easier for the judges to assess their form? (Their diving form.) Women’s beach volleyball, ditto. I can see where the small bottoms can reduce the chance of getting sand in delicate places, which I can attest (having grown up in Florida) is distinctly uncomfortable.
- I am disturbed by the de facto segregation in sports in the US. Swimming is almost completely white; track and field, while not exclusively Black, is heavily so. This reflects a long history of segregation of facilities, both as a result of overt discrimination, and more insidious forms of racism. Even today, Blacks at swimming pools can be viewed with suspicion. (Not to mention that the international governing body for swimming has outlawed the use of swimming caps designed for Black hair in competition.)
- I am delighted that women’s gymnastics, once the exclusive purview of white women, seems to be less so. This year’s USA team is composed of two Black gymnasts (Simone Biles, whom I love, and Jordan Chiles) and a Hmong gymnast (Sunisa Lee) with Grace McCallum, Mykala Skinner, and Jade Carey (white gymnasts). Dominique Dawes (the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic medal) and Gabby Douglas paved the way, of course; and of the run of five consecutive gold medals at the Olympics in the women’s all around, three (Douglas, Biles, and Lee) are BIPOC. Props also to Laurie Hernandez, a Latina who was part of the gold-winning team in 2016, and who won a silver medal on balance beam.
- Speaking of Sunisa Lee, I have learned about the Hmong, an ethnic group I was heretofore unaware of.
- Seeing all the “my parents sacrificed everything so I could be an Olympian” stories makes me question my parenting skills. Of course, a lot of things make me question my parenting skills.
- Since watching the Olympics is how I learn about unusual sports, I wish cricket were in the Olympics.
- I am still in love with Megan Rapinoe.
In two years, I’ll write another post about my feelings towards the Winter Games, starting with my love of curling.