Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Relative Fun and importance of Rhythmically Chanting U-S-A

There is no reason to tell you, dear reader, how special the Olympics are. You know they are great. And not just the track, the everything. But especially the track.

I like the Olympics mainly because they include sports and I am a sports fan. More specifically, I like being a fan of sports teams. Being a fan of a sports team you truly care about is fun as hell. Especially this time of year when I get to look forward to NFL Sundays with wings and wing sauce stained Bengals jerseys, and yelling at a television in a bar full of less enthusiastic post-church brunch-eaters. At this point I'm even looking forward to college basketball starting and the inevitable ebb and flow of hope and despair, and depression, and crushing losses and unhealthy coping mechanisms. All the emotions that accompany every Cincinnati Bearcats basketball season for me. I love being a fan!

Every four summers, though, the Olympics represent an event that is like our American sports experience jam packed into 16 days of a nation's rapt attention. It is special. It's 16 days of sports ALL THE TIME. Like the entire 16 week Bengals season in 16 days. Like the entire Big East basketball season on 16 straight nights. My team is playing every night, and that gets me pumped.

I am a huge homer and always have been. I cannot fill out an NCAA tournament bracket without having Cincinnati win the whole thing. I can't play a fantasy player for the weekend if he has a game against the Bengals. Quite frankly, I'm lukewarm about sports in general if there is not an extreme emotion that hinges on whether one team/athlete wins or loses. In these unemotional cases, I'd usually rather watch Office DVDs.

Because I'm a huge homer, I want the USA to win/dominate/set world records every time (Beware of whoever doesn't want this. They are Communists). Naturally, this makes every event interesting to me (full disclosure: I have been having strong Usain Bolt feelings the last few months, but I know my Gay feelings will come to the surface soon. Wait, that came out wrong. I have my strongest feelings for Brazilian Beach Volleyball. That's right, I'm ALL MAN).

Being a fan creates scenarios where I get to cheer not only for my country but against an "other." I know that when the "other" loses, we, as a collective fan base, have proven that we are more bad ass than the "other." Albeit in competitions like fencing, footraces, and ping pong (rarely), but a win is a win. And no one had to die!

In the Olympics, of course, this comes across as "patriotism" or "pride in country" but mainly I want to prove that my guys are better than your guys. We all know the USA has a lot of faults and so do other countries, but for these competitions we get to trivialize those faults and use the games as a release of all the built up aggression, rather than the other way around. To me, that needs to happen. Boycotting an Olympics, for instance, is the last thing that will help relations with another nation. One country gets to actually say "we are the best at this" and pound their chest, which is something that humans really really like to do. It gets it out of our system so we can focus on those faults when the games are over. Plus, it's fun!

So, as track competition looms on the horizon, dear reader, you have been enjoying some gymnastics and some swimming and getting your Michael Phelps fanboy on. But, now is the time to hitch up your pants and get serious about this 2008 Beijing Olympiad. Be a fan out there, I know I will. Get drunk, punch a wall, let off some steam, throw out some good-natured stereotypes (don't forget to include America, you arrogant, prudish, wasteful cowboy you) and don't hold back when you yell at Matt Tegenkamp to "Kick, gahdammit. Go. GO. KICK!!" Because that shit is fun. And healthy.


Jesse said...

The "Team America" song would have fit nicely with this post.

The Track & Field Superfan said...

You guys: humor. Example: Stephen Colbert.

Me: bitter angry rant. Example: Hunter Thompson.

We see things the same, but you write better.