Jennie Lay: Olympic obsession

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It's hard to find anything more entertaining than the Summer Olympics.

The feats never cease to amaze. I could swear some of those humans have flippers instead of feet. There are people with unbelievable spring and speed in their steps, women with incredible power and men with unfathomable flexibility. Anyone with the guts to flip blindly through the air from a board, a beam or a bar deserves some time on the airwaves for their artistic insanity.

It seems a pity that we really only get to see this stuff every fourth year -- but maybe that's part of what makes it so mystifying and special. The beauty and the rarity of all that Olympic sport is certainly one of the only justifiable reasons I can think of to become a certified couch potato. Personally, I think the Olympics should be declared a national holiday so we can all stay home and watch the games on television.

With that said, please don't subject me to another profile of the Athens security program or the failure of ticket sales or the story of how the Greeks struggled to pull this extravaganza together.

They did it. Touche. Congratulations. It's positively brilliant, whether there is lawn outside the arena -- and who needs Kentucky bluegrass in that hot, dry, rocky country anyway.

I want to know who the heck are the individuals who reportedly turned down free tickets to Greece for the games so newscasters could announce, "They couldn't give tickets away!" Are they insane? Nobody asked me, but I assure you I would have been on a plane in a millisecond.

Alas, I'm watching the games from the comfort of my couch. I, someone who generally is annoyed by the inane flicker of that mind-sucking box, am gleaning hours of excitement, entertainment and good fun through the wee hours of the morning with nary a catnap between commercial breaks.

The Olympics is the only time when you'll find a substantial group of people who typically aren't TV sports freaks act as if they are. What people like me really want to see is more profiles of athletes dedicated to obscure sports that will never garner them a Nike endorsement or a report on the evening news. I love seeing the pride of victory at any point in the competitive bracket from athletes who hail from less wealthy, struggling or war-torn countries. I love to see strong, beautiful female athletes who are truly worthy of supermodel status as they kick butt in any arena. I love seeing women's sports on television, period.

It's brilliant to watch the media's less luminary athletes working so hard, giving their all and getting some kudos.

This brings me home to the Yampa Valley, where another low-profile but high-intensity event reflecting dedication and sportsmanship is going on this week. It's Routt County Fair week -- our local Olympiad of rodeo wrangling, pig-rearing perfection, hair-raising horsemanship, pickling prowess and an all-around testament to agricultural agility.

Might I suggest a jaunt out to the fair between Olympic broadcasts this weekend?

In Hayden you can meet the dedicated contestants face to face, take a whirl on a carnival ride and get in touch with our relatively long local history.

Just as Olympic archers, fencers and javelin throwers have honed their skills, Routt County residents have worked hard all year to be able to proudly show off their well-tuned livestock and wares. The common thread is in the glory athletes and agriculturists get from being part of the competition and still having a place to compete in traditional skills that keep a spot of honor in the world arena.

We need Slovakian javelin throwers just like we need serviceberry jam competitions -- they keep life, and community, sweet.

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