Home > Sports > USA! USA! US…hey, we really suck!

USA! USA! US…hey, we really suck!

Since my beloved Tar Heels are squaring off against NC State tonight (in a gamed termed a “backyard brawl” on a hyperventilating local TV promo), my thoughts naturally drift to the plight of Team USA at the Winter Games in Torino. Why? Because Billy Packer is the color announcer. If I wanted to listen to a cranky old guy complain this much, I’d go hang out at the senior center.

Anyway, the disappointment of Team USA has been bandied about in the media for the past week and a half. It started with the cursory “What’s wrong?” columns after Bode Miller apparently lived up to his boast of skiing drunk. Then, a few medals rolled in, and “The best is yet to come” articles appeared at the end of Week 1. Well, now I’m seeing people depressing the proverbial panic button once again. Ah… the media. The last bastion of reaction.

Sure the US does great at figure skating, snowboarding and a couple of other sports. But, I think the larger question is: are there sports that we should be better at? Take men’s hockey. In the US, basically every metro area with more than a million people (besides Vegas, and Gretsky’s wife ruined that idea, didn’t she?) has an NHL franchise. This is like getting beat in basketball in the Olympics. Oh wait… that’s happened, too.

So, let’s take a look at the winter sports, and try to figure out why we’re not dominating at least a few of these. Along the way, we’ll come up to some solutions that nobody will care about, and it will make me feel better. Let’s dig in.

* Biathalon — You ski, you shoot, you ski, you shoot, you ski. Isn’t there a huge contingent of folks up in Montana that could do this? Sure, they are distrustful of the government, non-automatic weapons and, I’d imagine, wearing a skin-tight bodysuit. Worth a shot (pardon the pun). And isn’t there a mountain division of the US Army that we could use? Well, they’re probably all deployed, stretched thin, and nonsensically acting as MPs in Iraq. Let’s move on.

* Curling — My girl Lil’ Bit calls this “shuffleboard on ice.” She also wants bocci ball to make it into the Summer Games. I agree. But, according to my research, we’re already a perennial favorite in curling. That’s craptastic!

* Hockey — Let’s break down this sport in detail. We’re doing OK at speedskating… and why? A lot of the current US champions started as in-line skaters. So? Well, every kid in my neighborhood seems to play roller hockey. Is there no carryover? Do we have to keep getting our ass kicked by Slovakia and Finland? Can’t the NHL fund something? In the name of Mike Eruzione, a 1-4-1 appearance at the Olympics is horrid. I don’t even like this sport too much, but I don’t want to become the Vanderbilt of this sport every four years.

* Ski jumping — Can’t we pass this off as another extreme sport and have Mountain Dew have a bunch of teenagers screaming “Cowabunga” as they take off on the 120m hill? Seriously, it has to be a real rush. Let’s market that. And the current generation doesn’t remember the whole “Agony of defeat” segment from the intro ofWild World of Sports. This should be a no-brainer.

* Luge, bobsled and skeleton — We’ve had some limited success in these events, although one of the current members of the skeleton squad apparently was discovered when he did the tourist slide at Lake Placid. If we’re still finding “world class” athletes in this way, we’re still not to the level of the Europeans. Are we finding the next Picabo Street on the bunny slopes? This doesn’t make sense. But, the US can produce great movies like Cool Runnings. We’ll call it a wash.

Well, I didn’t quite solve our Olympic program, but whaddya expect. The blathering on TV is soooo distracting. Billy Packer is one lost brain cell away from ordering tapioca pudding from courtside. Any more of his commentary, I’ll be ready to join him.

Categories: Sports
  1. exnygal
    February 23, 2006 at 9:57 am

    I’m playing devil’s advocate for USA Hockey… Not sure we can expect a whole lot when you put together players that spend 8-10 months of the year despising each other and checking each other against the boards. Then we expect them to come together for two weeks to bond and share team strategies to compete against other players in the NHL. When we know in the back of their minds, they are more worried about coming back to the US in March to kick a$% for the Cup.

    On another note, I had a discussion last night with two guys about how they thought some of the USA Women’s curling team were really hot. Then the debate came— do you have to be really athletic to curl? There are stay at home moms that can sweep just as fast as they do. And really, isn’t there anything else to air in the middle of the day!

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