Only one thing could get me to watch the Winter Olympics

    I hate the Winter Olympics. And the events arenít even the worst part.

    For starters, my wife Liz and I played a two-toed version of the Little Piggies: She went to the Olympics and I stayed home. Now, the explanation for this has something to do with her being invited and me not being invited. But still.

    If she had just gone to the skating, skiing and jumping, I could live with that. But my hurt runs much, much deeper than that. Liz got to meet Ė and have her picture taken Ė with Marie Osmond.

    I love Marie Osmond. In my next life, I want to come back as one of her teeth. My wedding vows included a phrase after the for better or worse part which stated "unless Marie Osmond comes to her senses and consents to marry me."

    This is no television crush along the lines that I have for Marcia Brady, Laurie Partridge and Mary Tyler Moore (The Dick Van Dyke show model). Nosiree, when it comes to Marie Osmond and her a little bit country self, Cupid hit me with a howitzer.

    Iíd even put up with Donnie for a brother-in-law. Maybe not Jimmy, though.

    Yeah, I know Marie has more emotional issues than Shirley Maclaine in all her lives combined. But like I said, Iím willing to accept Donnie, so how much worse can the rest of it be?

    Anyway, back to the Olympics. Theyíre awful. Sure, all the stuff about the nations getting together for peaceful competition is great, and the participantsí discipline and dedication to their training is inspiring and all, but the events are boring.

    Just about everything except hockey is timed or judged so you rarely get to see any head-to-head competition. If it werenít for the little timer the network thoughtfully puts in the corner of the screen, could most of us really differentiate between one slalom run and another?

    The biathlon is sort of interesting. If youíve ever done any shooting you know itís hard enough to hold a rifle still without just having skied a mile or two. So there is quite a challenge in this, even if the participants do shoot something that looks like a Carlos the Jackal autograph model sniper rifle.

    The big thing this time around is halfpipe, which, I have learned, is not something you smoke. Itís a course for snowboarding. This is one of the events organizers added so that the Games would appeal to a younger audience.

     This trend has potential. Perhaps in another four or eight years, we could see some dramatic improvements to bobsledding. Iím thinking a good start would be a bobsled course which allows for all the sleds to come down at once, with drafting and bumping allowed. Goodbye ennui, hello NASCAR.

    And maybe a little injection of the WWF would help figure skating. Put everyone out there at once and allow body slams. Sure, youíd lose some artistry but you would certainly gain those young hipsters in the viewing audience.

    A "last one standing gets the gold" would be a lot more accurate as a means of judging than the current system. And I think we could count on Tonya Harding getting back into the game.

    Speaking of figure skating, even this, which used to be my favorite part, has lost some of its luster. What could be better than watching lithe young women salchowing around in short skirts? But the thing is, as Iíve gotten older, these girls have gotten younger. Ogling 15-year-old girls is only fun if youíre a 16-year-old boy.

    Michelle Kwan at a barely-legal 21 is about as far down as I want to go. Nowadays, Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill look good to me. If she were still alive, Iíd probably demand Sonja Henie get more air time.

    I have the same problem with gymnastics in the Summer Olympics. When I ws growing up, the gymnasts would be these fully-grown, tall and graceful, twenty-something Russian women. Then Olga Korbut came along and ruined everything. And then there was Mary Lou Retton who was all teeth, but not in a good way like, say, . . . Marie Osmond.

    Sigh. Marie Osmond. Iíd do anything for Marie Osmond. Even watch the Winter Olympics.


February 18, 2002