Connecting to the real Olympic gold | TheUnion.com
Diane Dean-Epps
Special to the Sunday Express

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Connecting to the real Olympic gold

Are you guys watching the Olympics? I am. Every ding-dong night.

I didn’t know I still possessed that kind of television viewing commitment, though I must admit I was an ’80s, tuned-to-NBC-on-Thursday-nights devotee. Maybe it’s like riding a bike and you never forget the skill.

I actually sat through the entire opening ceremonies for the Olympics, which rendered me “verklempt” at times. With the program’s inspirational thematic imagery about one world, what wasn’t to love?

There were swimming whales, flying seekers of wisdom, rolling prairies, talented Canadian singers that we Americans have TOTALLY been taking credit for and then the culminating lighting of the torch.

I could only imagine what the apex would be after all of that, but then I had yet to watch aerial ski jumping – the height of athleticism.

For a woman who has to chant, “right, left, right, left,” when she walks, it’s mindboggling to watch this sport, let alone consider participating in it. The funny thing is, I can dance like nobody’s business, but being a bit accident prone, I can’t seem to walk without mishap, bruises, or a multitude of “excuse me’s.”

Many is the time that I’ve been meandering along, minding my own business, often carrying a much-anticipated meal when I hit some sort of particle in the air and “Whee!” off I go, losing my balance, bearings and $4.99 lunch special, all in one fell swoop.

And swooping is just what these aerial jumper folks have perfected in a sport that I just may have invented, in view of the many times I have lofted into the air. In their case, they are graceful athletes who earn medals by going helmet over keister, twisting into orbit (I did see stars above their heads) and then they land gently and softly, as though they’ve simply hopped off a low wall when someone yelled, “Dinner!”

The emotional charges I love are present in this Olympics, though the coverage seems a bit sanitized, forcing me to rely upon Yahoo news to know that there were unkind comments about ice skating costumes, a crying curler when the crowd got “raucous” and an ice skating Don Juan who is in love with … wait for it … another ice skater.

Where were these Olympic moments in the prime time coverage? I even had to get the bleeping transcript from bleeping Google to see what the bleep Shaun White and his bleeping coach had bleeping said.

Reminding me that color commentary is a gift all its own, I have been privy to some play by plays that have been not-so-much-helpful like, “It looks as though Bode is really going for the gold,” and when one of the skiers fell, “Well, her dreams for gold have been dashed.”

Now, putting aside my good-natured sarcasm, what I do adore is the back story about the athletes, drawing me into their world with an intimate look at just how many obstacles they’ve faced in order to even arrive at the Olympics.

I was truly brought to tears when I viewed the stories about the recovering alcoholic skier, the terrible crash that kept a well-liked, talented snowboarder from competing, and the young female ice skater whose mom just died.

To be privileged to hear their stories and what it is to be truly challenged is an honor which serves to connect us all to this human experience.

And that is what the Olympics is really all about. Connection. Issues like ice dancing costumes, off-camera profanity and bizarre claims over another skater’s Olympic gold? They don’t even rate a place on the podium.

Diane Dean-Epps is a comedienne and writer. Contact her at http://www.dianedeanepps.com.