Hooked on the Olympics

Claire Goldsmith

In the Goldsmith household, we often say that our family sport is sulking.

This is partially due to our conflicting personalities – without naming names, I’m just going to say that some of us are a little stubborn, and we have a shared tendency (maybe it’s genetic) to fume silently during arguments.

The other reason, though, is that we’re not particularly into big sports. My dad would rather watch regattas than the World Series, and my brother prefers Formula One racing. The Super Bowl is rather a tame affair at our house – you’ll never catch us playing team sports in the backyard like that iconic image of the Kennedy clan, but we’re just fine with that.

This all changes, though, when it comes to the Olympics. Whether it’s summer or winter, for those two weeks, we’re hooked. We become temporary experts, rattling off medal counts and predicting favorites for the various events.

Without knowing absolutely anything about the sports, my brother and I will get into heated arguments about the specifications of rhythmic gymnastics or the degree to which a diver’s toes are pointed.

I’ve defended the figure skating judges with all the strength I can muster and, minutes later, turned on them in anger when they dare to give low scores to my favorite competitors.

The Olympics have also taught me volumes (okay, assorted tidbits) about the hosting countries all over the world. In 2008, I learned how to say common phrases in Mandarin and watched far too many clips of pandas frolicking in the airtime between events. During the Vancouver Winter Olympics, I found out that 90 percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border, a fact I still manage to rattle off most times people mention Canada in conversation.

Yes, sometimes they’re absolutely absurd. The 2010 Opening Ceremonies had my mom and me in peals of laughter on the couch, although we assume the humor was unintentional. In the past week or so, I’ve been watching with some amusement – and rapidly increasing concern – as reports about unfinished construction and questionable accommodations in Sochi came to light.

Newscasters call the Olympics an event that brings the world together, and, although I don’t feel all that connected to viewers across the globe, I would agree in general.

Even though the figures in the snow on the television are complete strangers, watching this conglomeration of athletes from around the world brings my family closer together.

There’s a general sense of excitement that permeates the atmosphere. Whether or not you’re a white-water kayaking fan (it’s the best sport, in case you were wondering), you still feel like you’re part of something when you walk down the street and see televisions in every restaurant displaying the same dazzling feats.

So, in the next two weeks, you’ll find me with my friends and family, cheering outrageously for luge and cross-country skiing, and I suggest you do the same.