Like all Olympic Games, the 21st Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver is an event featuring a collection of athletic competitions. But are all the events sports competitions, or are some just events unto themselves? Maybe some are just games? Maybe disciplines?
It’s like that age-old question regarding cheerleading. Is it a sport or a discipline? I did a two-part feature to find the answer to the question while working at KIDK (CBS) in Idaho Falls a few years back. Let’s just say, I’m still searching for the answer.
Most parents told me cheerleading is more of a support group for athletic teams to escalate the crowds spirits. The cheerleaders told me the cheerleading team is, just that, a team just like the football or basketball teams they cheer on. They went on to say they, physically and mentally, work just as hard as any athlete at their school. They required practice to fine-tune their routines just like a basketball or football team requires practice to be successful on the field of play.
Many of you parents have a child that’s on a cheerleading team spending thousands of dollars per year so your child can be out-fitted properly and make all the cheerleading competitions around your area. A competition? Then cheerleading is a sport! My research indicated it’s become a billion dollar industry with some athletic gear companies dropping the “usual sports”, like football and basketball, to focus solely on cheerleading. Imagine that.
Here’s what I think. Cheerleading was an athletic support group that became an athletic discipline requiring excellent physical skills….like any other sport.
So, back to my Olympics question. The reason I asked….what, in humanity, is the winter sport known as Curling?!?! In an athletic sort of way, I thought curling involved a bar with two weights at each end to, when used properly, curling the bar up using your hands to strengthen biceps. The winter sport version involves slowly gliding a huge stone across ice while somebody sweeps the ice in front of it. If you’ve ever witnessed Curling, the participants look like they practice with pitchers of beer near by. A beer-belly seems to be a pre-requisite to be a Curler. And where’s the actual “curling” anyways? If this is an Olympic event you can medal in, why isn’t “janitorial sweeping & mopping“? For that matter, why isn’t Shuffleboard an Olympic discipline? That would enable senior citizens and/or ocean cruise vacationers to become Olympic Champions.
To me, participating in sports involves using muscles and physical skills you really don’t use in your everyday life. Hence, the endless hours of practice and working out. Skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, bobsledding, luging, speed skating…….and figure skating fit the bill. Wait a minute. Figure Skating? That’s dancing on blades on ice. Why isn’t “Ballroom Dancing” a Summer Olympic medal sport? Didn’t Olympic Figure Skating Champion Kristi Yamaguchi win “Dancing With The Stars“? So, did Olympic Short Track Speed Skating Champion Apolo Anton Ohno. Why isn’t Bowling an Olympic sport? You can have a beer-belly and pitcher near by, just like Curling, when you bowl. The Professional Bowlers Association is bigger than the Professional Curlers Association. Does the PCA even exist? There is a CCA and USCA.
How about No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker?!? That’s a physically and emotionally demanding discipline, especially when you have to sit at a table for hours, even days, on end. That’s become a billion dollar sports event broadcast on ESPN, the Entertainment & Sports Programming Network. Yup, that’s what ESPN stands for. What about chess?
If it involves big money, any game can become an Olympic sport or discipline. The issue is, most of these Winter Olympic disciplines, as well as some of the Summer ones, take seconds to complete. It’s not like basketball or hockey games which take many minutes to complete. Snow boarding and skiing are other examples of disciplines that take little time to complete. But, anyone can play those games for recreation. That’s why everyone watches every four years. Shaun White, Bode Miller, Apolo Anton Ohno, Lindsey Vonn. Couldn’t recognize them in a crowd. I can recognize Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. All of these names are those of Olympians.
Don’t get me wrong. I love watching, among others, the long and short track speed-skating, the snow-boarding, luging and the Winter Games signature event, the Downhill Skiing. Thank goodness the Olympic Games, Winter or Summer, are only every four years. That’s the novelty.
Can’t wait for the “Cheerleading Disipline” to become a medal sport….at least at the Summer Games. Can we just forget the Curling thing? By the way, I’m on my way to do some “curling”. That would be the one involving the bar and two weights on each end. Go figure.