I’m in contention for gold in the sport of spectating
Any mug knows not to do it. You don’t grab a beanbag and the wand of audiovisual entertainment and turn the Olympics on right when you are supposed to be going to bed.
Three hours later, your forearm is completely numb from maintaining a ridiculous Roman banqueting type position on the beanbag, you and the dog are both busting, and the prospect of a proper night’s sleep has become theoretical.
But still you stay rooted to the spot - transfixed, save for the occasional agonized groan or eruption of potty-mouthed patriotism. As you watch Australia slowly losing at a minor sport the rules of which are a mystery to you. It is the Olympics.
You finally call it a night when you realise you are about to watch Montenegro play water polo. You have heard of Montenegro, but until then you thought it was an after dinner drink.
It’s not just gay people that can struggle to come out of the closet. One of the hardest things for a young Australian is to stand up and admit that they don’t give a toss about competitive sport.
Once you have come out though, and admitted your disinterest, it’s even harder to explain why, for 2 weeks out of every 208, you still get all fired up about the stuff. Hard to explain why, when you really don’t care about spectator sports, a well-edited video montage of Olympic highlights is making you arm hairs stand on their own podium and can even give you “sweaty eyes”.
We don’t have a bill of rights in Australia, but that doesn’t mean that as a nation we haven’t turned our minds to the important things. Somewhere, it has been statutorily mandated that in the course of their education all Australian school children will do a project on the Olympics.
Applying the unalterable laws of mathematics this means you may do up to 3 projects on the Olympics in your time. Wearing your green crayon down to an inutile stub, and inadvertently jazzing up the kitchen table with spurts of golden glitter glue in the process.
Maybe it is during these early school experiences that the seeds of our mass enchantment with the Olympics are sown. I like my Ancient Greek history as much as the next person, but I don’t believe it’s the gut-busting story of the original Marathon man or the rich legacy of Olympia that draws us in.
And it’s not the uniforms, because the unalterable laws of aesthetics state that the only thing that looks good dressed in green and gold is a wattle.
Yet, every 4 years we have a new Age of Alightment as everyone gets on board the sportswagon. Maybe it is out of necessity. Otherwise how will you know what the hell everyone else is talking about for a fortnight. Easier just to join in than be a social leper for the duration.
I suspect that the zenith of my lust is behind me and my roving eyes grow dim. Nevertheless, I know buff when I see it. And there is more buff at the Olympics than a shoeshine station.
Certainly James Magnussen seems to be widely appreciated on a number of levels, most of which have nothing to do with goggles. But the Games are like a Baskin & Robbins of buffness. Why follow the crowd? Instead of lining up to pin up James may I recommend something Continental?
I saw the Italian water polo team the other night and they were as fine a sight as anything in the Uffizi. Which is not to say anything about their submarine etiquette. In making this recommendation, I am 100 per cent sexually objectifying these young Italians.
I am also confident that to this extent the team’s agenda and my own are aligned. Yes, perhaps all these shaved down superheroes from across the globe are sufficient reason to get on board.
At the end of the day though anyone can get sucked into the Olympics because, at a certain level, it has nothing to do with sport. It’s all about assertive behaviour, and satisfying a deep-seated animal desire for hierarchical dominance. Maybe it’s even a way to sate an otherwise unacceptable taste for international biffo.
And there are the Olympic values too. Unity, integrity, sacrifice, excellence – as fine a list of abstract nouns as you will encounter.
Mmm that crunchy shell of assertive behaviour surrounding a tender centre of the finest values does taste good, and so moreish.
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