High School English with a Twist

The musings of Susan E dot Cohen

Category: Sports

Will the Olympics just be an X Games with Golf?


Ice fishing wants in. Wrestling is being phased out. Softball was eliminated four years ago. Golf is in for 2016. Wakeboarding and climbing are possible contenders for 2020. The reason for these and other Olympic additions and subtractions comes down to viewers. The IOC believes that in order to keep and attract more viewers they have to stay current by adding “cooler” sports. However, the IOC’s decision to eliminate wrestling and its questioning whether other sports deserve to participate, demonstrates the organization’s lack of consideration for the tradition and history of the Games. Tradition and history are at the core of the Games. Without them, there is nothing.

Perhaps the IOC and its vision is not the only reason for change. Sports are lobbying to be admitted to future Olympics and when they lobby, the IOC sees another opportunity to mix things up and get more viewers. For sports that want entry, why? Do they see obtaining a place in the Olympics as recognition that the sport exists? Are there not honors and prestige outside of the Games? Will the Iditarod not be prestigious without an Olympic medal at the endEventually will the Olympics just be an X Games with golf? This is coming from someone who truly believes in and loves the Olympics. I am all for the IOC considering sports that are owed their due, but not when it comes at such a high price to other sports.

So what happens from here? I have no answers, but I hope that the IOC considers tradition over modernity.  Maybe the IOC should consider marketing classicism as the ultimate Olympic brand. They have the chance to reinvigorate what already exists through how they use the media. A campaign like this would attract younger athletes and viewers to sports like wrestling. For sports that cannot get in, let us give them their due on national television, in The Times, and by encouraging young athletes to pursue these sports Olympic medal or not. As a society, we must recognize that just because a sport is not in the Olympics, does not mean that it is less of a sport. Being the best is the best whether there is a an Olympic medal or a World medal on the line.

The truth is that not every sport can be in the Olympics and priority must be given to those already in the Games. The IOC needs to realize this or the essence of the Olympics will be lost. I hope they get the message.

17 Days of a Different Existence

For 17 days, I watched the Olympics and only the Olympics. The only exceptions during this period were for the local news, evening news, Access Hollywood, and two episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I watched the news and Access Hollywood to further my Olympic knowledge. I wanted access to the Olympics whenever possible. The Kardashians was my one non-Olympic television splurge. However, the show can be considered connected to the Olympics since Bruce Jenner was an Olympic champion. Minus the Kardashians, I would not allow my television to be on an non-NBC owned channel.

I was very focused during these 17 days. Like an athlete training to win gold, I had a goal of my own – to watch as much Olympics as possible. I believe I achieved my goal. I not only watched as much Olympics as possible, but I watched as many sports as possible. I discovered musical freestyle dressage and finally took the time to watch and appreciate rhythmic gymnastics. I enjoyed team archery and the pole vault. Beyond watching sports, I watched as much interviewing and commentating as possible. Bob Costas became my friend. Each evening he shared insights with me and wished me a goodnight.

More importantly, for 17 days the world had a different existence. I had a chance to be part of this different existence. For 17 days, I had the opportunity to watch human excellence from morning until evening. For 17 days, I participated in something larger than myself. For 17 days, I watched, learned, and cheered for people I had never met. I cheered for them to achieve their dreams. I cheered as they pushed themselves to the outer limits of what they knew possible. For 17 days, the world was a better place. This does not mean the problems of the world were resolved. Instead, the best side of us, of humans, was presented.

Last evening, as the Olympics came to a close, Dr. Jacques Rogue called on the youth of the world to meet again in four years. I am sure that youth of the world is currently in the gym, on the beam, training for that moment in the distance. I am sure that youth woke up today at 6:45 a.m. to go to the pool. I believe in that youth because I believe in the Olympics. I believe the best side of us comes forth during the Olympics.

I will miss watching the best side of us each day. I will miss watching human excellence. I will miss Bob Costas wishing me a goodnight. However, the end of one Olympics is the beginning of another. The Olympics are where dreams begin. So youth of the world, go chase your dreams. Believe in them because the world believes in them. Your dreams make the world a better place.

Make the world a better place on the beam and the bars, in the pool, and even in your own backyard.

Sign Me Up – I Want To Be Like Bob Costas

I want to be like Bob Costas. I mean it. I am completely serious. I want to be like Bob Costas and anchor the Olympics.

For many of you, this may be a new Susan dream. However, it really should not be a surprising one as many of you are aware of how seriously I take the Olympics (I watch the Olympic Trials). If you are not, let me share with you how seriously I take them. I take the Olympics so seriously that I check the online schedule before making plans. If possible, I watch the live feed to guarantee seeing the action as it unfolds. Even if I have seen the live feed, I still watch prime time NBC coverage for the commentary. As I said, I take my Olympics viewing seriously.

I am not sure at what point my Olympics viewing reached this level, but I can at least answer why it reached this level. The answer is simple. I always wanted to be an elite competitive athlete. I was a competitive athlete, but not an elite competitive athlete. There is a difference. An elite competitive athlete is trying to be a champion. I never reached the point where I could even try to be one. However, not reaching this point does not mean the desire was not there. It does not mean that the desire is still not thereI still believe there is a champion inside of me. A champion waiting to be unleashed. A champion who is inspired each time she watches an Olympian go from a competitor to an Olympic Champion with a hand to a wall or a stick on a mat

I want to be a champion not because of the title, but what is represents. For me, being a champion represents a love of one’s sport and the willingness to commit and dedicate oneself to the perfection of that sport. It means determination and discipline – two things I have always sought to acquire. It means a belief in oneself that is so deep that nothing can come between oneself and that belief. It means pushing oneself as an athlete, and more importantly than that, as a person. It means finding out what it means to be human.

I have always been fascinated by what it takes to become a champion. I have such respect for the pursuit whether or not it results in a gold medal. I should clarify. If Roger Federer is on the court then I expect excellence at all times. I think he would agree with that statement. In all seriousness, I believe in athletes and the process of becoming one. I think this is the reason I gravitate toward watching sports and sports coverage. I am a fan of the process.

For me, watching sports is a chance to be part of the process. I may not be there for the hard work, but I am there for the moments that work is put to the test. The moment the swimmer dives off the block. The moment a tennis player is down two sets, his opponent is at set point in the third set, and he comes back to win the match in the fifth. The moment Bob Costas asks the Olympic Champion how does it feel to be wearing the gold medal.

This bring me back to Bob. Bob Costas is not an elite competitive athlete, but he is part of the process of being one. He is the interviewer and every Olympic Champion must be interviewed. The interview is an integral part of being an Olympic Champion. One cannot be an Olympic Champion from the US without being interviewed by Bob.

If I cannot be an Olympian, the next best thing is being like Bob. I want to be an Olympic anchor. I want to be like Bob. I want to be part of the process. I want to be part of the NBC process. 

So NBC, if you are looking for coverage for the Sochi Olympics, I am available.

Figure Skating is My Winter Gymnastics and Gymnastics is My Summer Figure Skating

For the last week, I have been watching the US Olympic trials in diving, swimming, track, and gymnastics. As the previous sentence implies, I take my Olympics viewing seriously. So seriously, that I watch the Olympic Trials. I probably should be thanking NBC for the unlimited access (underwater swimming views) and of course, for Bob Costas.

The fact that I watch the Olympic trials should be enough to convince anyone that I am far from the average Olympics fan. I am not even sure I can be considered a fan. I am more a fanatic. My enthusiasm deserves the whole word and not the abbreviation. To understand why I am watching the Olympic Trials, one first needs to understand my relationship with the Olympics.

For two weeks, every two years, I watch the Olympics. That is right. I watch the summer games and the winter games. I am an equal opportunity Olympics fanatic. However, I must confess I do have two favorites. I love watching figure skating and gymnastics. Figure skating is my winter gymnastics and gymnastics, my summer figure skating.  In other words, if the winter olympics are on, I want to be a figure skater and if the summer olympics are on, a gymnast. The two sports, although different, are linked to each other through their artistry, power, and the flying factor.

In all seriousness, there is something about watching athletes perform at the highest level under pressure. There is something about watching their focus and how they take that focus, and turn it into a performance. The pressure, focus, performance trio, is a trio I can watch over and over again. Yes, I favor swimming over track, but give it a night or two, and I am the biggest track fan in the land. I have such admiration for any athlete who can overcome the pressure and perform. The chance to see that daily, over a two-week period, is incredible.

The pressure, focus, performance trio, is only part of the Olympics fanatic equation. In fact, it is only part of the Olympics equation period. What makes the Olympics so special are the athletes’ stories. Each athlete is more than their performance. They took a journey to reach this athletic feat. Knowing the athletes’ journey makes watching them more meaningful. That is where the Olympic Trials come in.

The Trials offer viewers the chance to participate in part of the Olympic journey. A chance to see the athletes achieve their dreams. Qualification is the dream. Without qualification, there is no gold medal. To see the athletes qualify, and the emotions expressed when they qualify, is incredible. Whether it is an athlete making her first team or in the case of Michael Phelps, his fourth team, the trials are special.

I feel privileged for the opportunity to watch the Trials. For a chance to join the Olympic journey. I look forward to continuing that journey later this month during the Olympics.

P.S. Never too late to want to be a gymnast. Well it probably is since I cannot do a cartwheel. There is after all, always figure skating.