Geeking the Olympics

I not afraid to admit it - I love the Olympics. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all the issues with it - the cost, the possibility of "doping", the whatever-else-people-want-to-complain-about.

I know all that, and I still love them. I love watching the opening ceremonies, with everyone full of hope. I love watching the parade of nations (and trying to figure out how many of them I could place on a map). I especially love seeing the athletes from small countries - how amazing it must be to be one of a handful picked to represent your country at such a large event. I love watching the closing ceremonies, and seeing the athletes come together as one large group, instead of divided by country.

And I especially love being able to watch seldom-seen events. How often do you get to see badminton on TV? Or archery? Or discus? Do most people even know what the three day event* even consists of? Or what of the modern pentathlon* - a sport that seems to be designed for Hemingway-esque heroes (minus the drinking, of course).

The one thing I don't like? All the whinging I hear about how "that's not really a sport".

Equestrian "isn't really a sport" because "the horse does all the work".

Cycling, luge, bobsled, canoe, kayak, skeleton, rowing, sailing - all sports with "vehicles", without which the athlete would be, well, up a creek without a paddle (ha!). But it's somehow different because a horse is alive, and is somehow considered to be able to compete on it's own.

As someone who has actually ridden (poorly) a horse trained as a three-day eventer, let me tell you - unless the human on the back knows what he or she is doing, the horse is just going to wander around. Nibble some grass. Poop. Oh, yes, the horses are trained to an incredible level - but the horses can no more compete without a human as a bobsled can make it down the track without it's crew.

Beach volleyball "isn't really a sport" because... well, not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with the fact there are bikinis involved (oh, and not by choice - it's a rule in the sport, which was relaxed for London 2012 due to the possibility of inclement weather).

Have you ever tried running on a sandy beach? I mean in the loose sand, not the hard-packed stuff by the water's edge. It's hard - harder than running on a firm surface. On that basis alone, I'd say beach volleyball is more of a "sport" than court volleyball, which is never singled out as "not a sport".

Curling "isn't really a sport", because you can do it whilst drinking beer. Well, one could probably do most sports whilst drinking beer, if one was good enough. You'd run an unacceptable risk of spilling your beer in some events, but I don't think that's a great way of deciding what is and isn't a sport.

I've actually curled in two bonspiels - again, not at all well (even though I do have a trophy for winning one event. In all honesty, it was more that the other teams lost, but still. Trophy). Like so many other things, it's harder than it looks. And that's just the physicality of it - the strategy the world-class players have to have leaves me in awe.

I could go on and on about events labelled "not really a sport", but that's not the point of this.

The point is: it's not up to me to decide. It's not up to any of us.

Yes, there are events I'm not too keen on - but I won't say they aren't sports. There are events that you'd have to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks to get me to watch - but I won't say they aren't sports. 

There was recently a kerfluffle in the "geek" community about who can, and cannot, legitimately claim to be a geek. There were a lot of good articles written about the topic, but the take-home message was: whoever wants to.

If you want to call yourself a geek, you'e a geek.

And if an event is in the Olympics, it's a sport.

Now stop whining and go watch some!

*No, I'm not going to tell you - google it!

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