Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Favorite Perspective on Olympic Events: "An Unsung Olympic Sport, Archery Really Hits the Spot"

After watching synchronized diving and men's gymnastics last night, I opened today's Boston Globe, and found a really good article. I was annoyed last night for two reasons:
  • The person providing commentary about synchronized diving was clearly knowledgeable, but very annoying. These are some of the best synchronized divers in the world (I've never heard of the sport before, so they may also be the only synchronized divers in the world -- but that's not germane to this post), and pretty much everything they did -- according to the announcer -- was wrong or bad.
  • The commentary for gymnastics was better, but judging is always flawed.
That's why, when I opened up Bob Ryan's column in today's Boston Globe, I smiled: "An unsung Olympic sport, archery really hits the spot."
  • For the Globe, it was a very witty headline. (The Wall St. Journal's headlines are typically very well written.)
  • He makes an important point about Olympic sports:
Archery is my kind of sport: no judges. Pick up the bow. Pull back the arrow. Fire. You either hit the target or you don't. You add up the points, and the archer, or team, with the most points wins. No muss, no fuss.
I think people like swimming because there are no judges: either you finish first or you don't.

But there's another reason to like archery, according to Ryan:
It's one of those Olympic sports that doesn't exactly threaten to muscle football, baseball, basketball, or hockey off the American front pages. But it's one of those sports that produces an interesting mix of competitors. Take, for example, the three-man American men's team, which consists of 52-year-old five-time Olympian Richard "Butch" Johnson, 32-year-old three-time Olympian Victor Wunderle, and 19-year-old Olympic debutant (as the Brits would say) Brady Ellison.
In the synchronized diving competition, some of the competitors were not just teenagers -- as they are in women's gymnastics -- but early teens. Shouldn't they be playing GameBoy or something?

Meanwhile, here's a two-minute excerpt of the classic Harry Shearer-Martin Short SNL skit about men's synchronized swimming:

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