You can learn a lot from watching the Olympic Games -- and argue a lot – and that was certainly the case with this year’s Winter Olympiad.
Really, the Olympic games are the greatest things that the world does in concert. Some would argue the World’s Fair or World Cup but taken in its entirety it cannot match the pageantry or the sheer spectacle the games provide and besides, the World’s Fair ceased to be relevant at around the same time the ice cream cone was invented.
Also, a city chosen as a World Cup venue doesn’t feel the impact either economically or psychologically that an Olympic hosts city experiences.The only time you see the world come together, all at once, holding the flag of their country and smiling is at the Olympic Games. The only other time the human race comes together en masse holding a flag, it’s a war and they’re really there to shoot you.
And, unlike war a city’s aren’t pillaged. Most cities use the Olympics as a springboard to civic improvements. They attract businesses, they build parks and entertainment districts and they also get a bevy of sports facilities that they’d otherwise never think of building, such as a bobsled track or a cross-country track with a shooting range attached.
That track, by the way, is used for the Biathlon competition, a competition that strikes many people in America as being a bit weird. Curling, we already knew was weird, but it at least reminds us of Shuffleboard. For many, the concept of the Biathlon is just too foreign a concept. At least in some parts of the country or, as I learned a few weeks ago on a radio show I hosted, college campuses.
“The Biathlon is the most ridiculous sport there is,” charged the liberal, tenured professor aptly positioned to my left. “Skiing with guns. What’s next? Hand grenades and ice dancing?”
Having once dated a mountain girl, I reminded him that skiing and shooting were a perfect combination. I knew of hunters who cross-country skied while hunting grouse, for instance. There used to be a deer-hunting event in the Olympics, too. And there is little doubt that those in the biathlon are athletes.
“These are the best hunters in the world…if we lived near the ice cap, these are the guys you want to have with you…someone that can outlast their prey and take it down with one neatly placed bullet,” I observed, rather astutely. Plus, I argued, target shooting was very sporting and hunting was a great recreational pursuit.
“Well, I’m vegetarian,” said the young student on the discussion panel. “Why would we need guns if we didn’t kill animals?”
Well, duh...to fight wars. Silly question.
-- Mark Vasto (c) Hearst King Features Syndicate, 2010.