Thursday, February 22, 2018

Armchair Athletes

I like the Olympics. They remind me of all the things I could have done if I wasn’t so exceptionally good at being an armchair judge. That’s kind of like my husband’s version of an armchair athlete, except he actually understands the rules of the game. I just like the costumes. Or uniforms. Whatever.

I was pretty athletic as a kid. Or, active as a kid. The two are synonymous, right? I always got picked first in relay races and four square and dodgeball. Although, getting picked in dodgeball meant the class bully aimed a red rubber ball at my head in a thinly veiled murder attempt. It’s not really a compliment.

I never did like that girl.

But something happened when we moved away from that town where I was so athletic. We landed in a tiny village in an Arizona desert where girls played with jacks during recess instead of kicking soccer balls. Jacks aren’t really that aerobic, but it was a tiny village and there wasn’t anything else to do. I was still an athlete, though. With my killer instincts and competitive nature, I reigned supreme after about three months of practice.

I guess that’s when I burned out as an athlete. It was all downhill from there, so I swapped out participation for judging. It's a lot less exhausting.

Enter the 2018 Winter Olympics . From beneath my flannel blanket in my comfy chair in the family room, I know right away who’s going to bring home the gold with perfectly spun ice skating quads (the Russians). Which country has the best dressed two-woman bobsled team (the Germans and their orange jumpsuits). And who will be voted Most Likely To Win The Most Medals (Norway, duh—the place is an icy wasteland. Didn’t you see Frozen?)

Yeah. I’m that good at judging.

But one event has me completely stumped. My husband loves it. My big, burly, firefighter son-in-law loves it. It seems men all over America love it. Maybe even in the world, come to think of it. It doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not violent. It’s not sexy. I’m really not sure it’s a sport. But if it is, I think every man in America owes every woman in America a big, fat apology.

Curling is nothing more than sweeping on steroids. And we’ve been doing that for years. Without steroids. And without appreciation.

I’m telling you, Olympic curling is just cleverly disguised housekeeping—after all, somebody’s got to clean up the ice once the Russians get done with it. Just look at the terminology for this game. The sliding stones are sent to the “house.” The game is related to another one called “bowls.” And there are two “sweepers” with “brooms” who direct all those over-sized pebbles on the icy floor inside the “house.”

Players defend the sport by stressing it’s an activity that requires strategy and teamwork. Big deal. I learned the very same thing giving chore lists to teenagers. And let me tell you, nobody ever gave me a medal for doing it.

“What are they sweeping the ice for?” I asked my armchair athlete.

“Melting the ice helps them direct the stone.”

“Well, I think that’s cheating,” I armchair judged.

“How do you figure that?”

“It’s no different than that other Scottish game you like so much.”


“Yeah. That one. You told me golfers have to learn to read the course and let the chips fall where they may.”

“You mean the golf balls?”

“Whatever. Nobody’s allowed to run ahead of a golfer’s ball with clipping shears, trimming the grass so the ball goes the way they want it to.”

“That would be stupid.”

“Exactly. Not to mention, cheating. So don’t you think it’s stupid that they let players rub-a-dub-dub the ice in curling? They should just shuffleboard their little rocks and let gravity do the rest. No cheating. You know, take it like a man.”

Blank stare.

“And why do they call it “curling” anyway? Those granite stones look like giant egg timers to me, which is kind of appropriate since sweeping and boiling eggs are the basics of any good homemaker’s skill set.”

That’s when my husband turned off the TV and went to bed. See what I mean? The only place anybody appreciates the strategy and skill of housekeeping is when it happens on an ice rink with an audience and there are medals on the line.

Maybe I’m just disillusioned by the Winter Olympics. It’s only two more years until the summer version rolls around, anyway, which is plenty of time for me to get out of this chair and brush up on some rusty skills I haven’t used since the sixth grade.

I’ll bet you a dollar they introduce the game of jacks in Tokyo’s Olympics. And when they do,  I’ll be ready.

Once an athlete, always an athlete.

Thanks to David Wilson for allowing me to crop and use this photo of frozen people on a frozen sofa. And that's why I gave up winter sports. You can find David's original photo at:

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