Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Become An Olympian (if you dare)

After a week and a half of watching Olympic competition, we have all become experts in sports most of us had never even hear of a month ago. The average viewer can now identify how many rotations a platform diver completes, discuss the strategies of handball and dispute the scoring of a fencing judge. However, becoming an instant expert in everything Olympic also has a downside; we are too jaded by excellence.

Aly Raisman Olympic gymnast leotardAthletes are now all such finely tuned competitive machines, it is impossible for the average person to comprehend their physical prowess with TV coverage. We lose touch with reality as there is no real frame of reference for the viewer. The person who comes last in the final looks like a bum compared to the winner, yet is in better condition that 99.999% of the rest of us at any time in our lives.

average runner Olympic track
This is easily remedied. For the next Olympic Games in Rio, let's leaving one lane, position or seed available in every event to be drawn at random for a participant from the audience. Having Joe and Jane Public line up alongside the likes of Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin or floor exercise following Aly Raisman would bring into sharp focus how amazing these competitors are. No longer would we dismiss the last place 800m runner as a disappointment when the normal human being is still struggling down the back stretch.

Plus there would be a spin-off benefit by increasing the tension in the audience with everyone hoping they don’t get selected. People would pray to get picked for events like Archery and Table Tennis instead of, oh I don’t know, Heavyweight Boxing or the Marathon.

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