JENKINS: Olympic Games are sports for non-sports fans

Photo by Ginny Sampson 

Photo by Ginny Sampson 

At the risk of committing sacrilege, I have to ask: Am I the only one who's pretty much done with the Olympics?

Of course, by the time you read this, we'll all be just about finished with the Olympics, literally, as the closing ceremony is this afternoon.

But surely I won't be alone in welcoming the merciful end of the 2012 Games. Surely I'm not the only one who's tired of the endless hype, the 24/7, wall-to-wall coverage of teenagers competing in sports that, for 206 weeks, you couldn't pay people to watch.

Speaking of which, did you hear about the professional synchronized diving league that's coming to Atlanta? Or the rumor that Gabriel Douglas is "taking her talents to South Beach" for a reported $18 million a year?

No? That's because there is no professional synchronized diving league. No one would watch it. And Gabby may be headed to South Beach, but only to film a sports drink commercial -- after which she will make the morning talk show rounds, grace a cereal box, and then disappear until 2016.

That is, unless she's supplanted in the next Games by some now-13-year-old, patiently waiting in the wings and lusting for the spotlight.

It's not that I don't appreciate the athletic ability on display in gymnastics, diving, and some of those other sports. I DO appreciate it -- for two or three days. After that, in all honestly, I find that I just don't care.

I think most real sports fans would agree: The Olympics is just something to watch when the Royals and the Blue Jays are not playing on ESPN 4. For that matter, data show that the vast majority of people who watch the Olympics hardly ever tune in to ESPN.

The Olympics, then, are sports for non-sports fans, more reality TV than athletic contest. Perhaps that's why those of us who can't go to bed before checking out "SportsCenter" find the games oddly unsatisfying: we feel like we ought to be interested, but we're just not.

Or maybe it's because we refuse to take seriously any sport in which the process for determining a winner is so utterly subjective. Two times in this Olympics, gymnasts' scores have been overturned because their coaches objected to the judges' decision.

In one case it was an American, Aly Raisman, who was elevated to third place and won a bronze medal as a result of her appeal. Good for her.

But can you imagine a baseball umpire reversing a bang-bang call at home plate in response to some dirt-kicking manager's profanity-laced tirade? Or an NBA referee saying to Kevin Durant, "You're right. You were fouled on that last play. Let's go back and shoot the free throws."

No, real sports fans can't imagine any such thing. And that's why the Olympics leave us with one burning question: How long until football season?

Rob Jenkins is a freelance writer, a college professor, and now a pariah. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter@rjenkinsgdp.


Lou1982 2 years, 11 months ago

More reality TV than athletic contest? Really? You're a fool and Americans like you make us look like idiots to the rest of the world. Just because a sport isn't apart of the big 3, doesn't mean it's any less of an athletic endeavor. This article is ignorant and just a shame.


biker83 2 years, 11 months ago

You're right, Rob. The Olympics aren't the same type of "sports" you place in such high regard. To quote an overused bumper sticker slogan: "My sport is your sport's punishment." Your sports are based around games. The Olympic Games are a bit of a misnomer--most of them are ATHLETIC EVENTS. You know what that means? Athletes participate. You know...ath·lete [ath-leet]; noun--a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill. So go ahead and bitch, moan, demean and misspell these Olympian's accomplishments. Hell they only beat the best in the world to be called champions. That's way too much work when in a "game" you can be crowned World Champion by simply winning a one-country Super Bowl or World Series. As a writer, I know you're just trying to rile people like me and Lou up to bump your little story to the top of the AJC Twitter feed. You're pathetic but I'll let you have your little games. It's people like you on the opposite end of the spectrum that make the Olympics (and, well, walking to the mailbox) as impressive in their accomplishment as they are.


SportsFanMan 2 years, 11 months ago

Did you mean to sound this smug and narrow minded or did it just come natural?


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