be cynical. I’m glad I didn’t have to be the one to balance all the special
interests of millions of viewers. Sure, it could have been better, but with
all the other sources of information and websites carrying every conceivable detail, I found I really didn’t need the TV coverage as much as in past
years. The lessons were there for the taking.
Take these lessons as a cure for a post-Vancouver hangover BY BILL MCCOLLOM
Lesson No. 1: You’ve got to try really hard to be good at anything. Hey,
statements of the obvious can be the most profound. Bode Miller mentioned
in an interview that he decided to make an “emotional investment” in the
Games. That kind of commitment entails giving each event an uncompromising focus and taking on the kind of risk that, more often than not, results
in a trip to the emergency room instead of a trip to the podium. As Bode
had already discovered in 2006, nonchalance provides emotional insurance
coverage, but will never yield results.
Lesson No. 2: You need to be willing to up the ante. “Swifter, higher,
stronger” has never been more in evidence than at all the Olympic events.
Egads, the women’s downhill race was pure carnage; the speeds on the luge
track were closing in on 100 miles per hour; and Speedy had to unleash the
“hurricane” — a jump so insane that no one can even count the number of
revolutions he spins — in order to land a medal. All sports just continue to
evolve. If you’re not going forward you’re going backward. Just when you
think you’re the hottest ticket in town, someone such as Shaun White will
come along and do it better.
HAVE THE 2010 Winter Olympics come and gone, leaving you staring at
a blank TV screen? Do you long for the drama and emotion that coursed
through your TV screen only a few short weeks ago? You may take some
solace in that you can catch up with Jack Bauer’s body count on “ 24,” but
a one-hour adrenaline rush can’t possibly fill the void that remains with
the conclusion of the Olympics. Post-Christmas letdown might be an apt
comparison, but at least on the day after Christmas, you get to play with
your new toys.
Well, snap out of it. It’s time to face reality. The Games are already a
compilation of statistics, just so much history.
Not all is lost, however. A masters ski racing friend of mine argued that
the Olympics were fun to watch, but there wasn’t really much carryover
to what we (very mortal, aging, amateur athletes) are trying to learn and
achieve through sports. Upon ruminating on the subject, I beg to differ.
Both goats and heroes, as well as mothers who knitted scarves to earn
funds for their child to participate, will soon fade into some remote corner
of my brain already littered with forgotten names and dates. But what
does have staying power is the collection of Olympic lessons that sprouted
up every day at every Vancouver venue. What makes these lessons special
is that they are applicable to anyone, regardless of age or ability. These
lessons from athletes offer a formula for achievement, regardless of the
endeavor — which could be as diverse as throwing a curling stone, throwing a double Mc Twist or throwing a great run down the race hill.
I can’t come down too hard on NBC for its Olympic coverage, or lack
thereof. Sure, I would have liked to see more alpine ski racing, and if I
never view another Turkish figure skater, that’s fine by me. But it’s easy to
Lesson No. 3: Be resilient. These Games were overflowing with heartwarming stories of redemption, overcoming injuries and defying the odds.
But one has to remember that in order for there to be something to redeem,
something has to have gone hideously wrong the first time around. There
was room for only three on the podium in 2010, just as there was in 2006.
Doing the math, that means for every story of redemption there are 10 times
as many stories of disappointment for which another round of redemption
will have to wait until 2014. That’s a long time to wait. But as Lindsey Vonn
(who seems to finish every season wrapped in plaster and swaddled in bandages) or Miller or the nordic combined team has demonstrated, nothing of
value comes quickly or easily.
Lesson No. 4: There are no free lunches. World-class talent, good intentions and compelling personal stories aren’t worth a solitary, soggy mogul
if one isn’t prepared to commit to a single-minded goal. Hannah Kearney’s
training log tells the story. I get a migraine just thinking about the rigors of
each training regimen. And yes, athletes have to love their respective sports;
there’s no faking it. Otherwise, jumping off the ramps until you’re waterlogged, or pounding down mogul runs until your fillings fall out, or coping
with the g-forces of the bobsled run until your jowls are dragging alongside
your ankles, will get very old in a hurry.
I miss the excitement of the competition, the stunning scenery, and all
those nice Canadians in Vancouver, but I’d like to think I’ve taken something of lasting value away from these Games. The only question that remains is how to apply these very simple lessons to my everyday pursuits.
Hmm, I think I’ll ponder the issue for another four years, and maybe then,
I’ll have the answers. It’s a good thing I don’t waste any additional time
wondering why I’ve never become an Olympian.