'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
FIGURE SKATING TOO GLAM FOR THIS SPORTS FAN
We are now in the middle of the Winter Olympics, that quadrennial frozen festival where four full days of athletic competition are packed into a 16-day period.
As we speak (well, we’re not actually speaking—I’m typing and you’re reading, but you know what I mean), the most exciting and glamorous event of the Winter Olympics is building to a crescendo: the figure skating judging scandal.
No wait, that was the last Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Hopefully there will be no judging controversy this time around (which is kind of like saying at the start of a Super Bowl game, “Hopefully there will be no rough tackling today”).
With any luck, the main focus this year will not be on figure skating judges who are corrupt, but instead the main focus will be where it belongs: on pouty prima donna figure skaters who accuse the judges of being corrupt.
Personally, I have a problem with figure skating being not only the premier competition at the Winter Olympics, but being classified as a sport in the first place. Let’s face it, any “sport” that requires the competitors to wear make-up and sequined costumes is simply not a sport. (This goes for the women, too.)
Now before you start screaming, “Figure skating is an incredibly difficult athletic activity!” or, “I’d like to see you try it, Dunn!” let me just say, no, you really would not like to see me try it, especially if sequined tights are involved.
I’m not saying figure skating is not difficult. I’m not saying Olympic figure skaters are not some of the most athletic and graceful and dedicated people on the planet. And I’m certainly not saying any old schlub like me could do just as well. (That’s only true with Curling.)
You can count the number of times I’ve been on ice skates in my whole life on one hand—the last time being during Lyndon Johnson’s Administration when I was a kid. I fell down so often that day the bruises on my hip just finally healed.
The reason I don’t consider figure skating a real sport is the fact that it reminds me too much of the Miss America Pageant on ice. (This goes for the women, too.) Appearances count way too much in the final scoring.
In real athletic events, only performance matters. Appearances count for nothing. For example, no points are deducted because the Red Sox’ Trot Nixon looks like a wino who just crawled out of a cardboard box. If he drills a fastball into the bleachers it still counts as a home run. And no one cared that hall-of-fame fullback Larry Csonka looked like a diesel train with a bad mustache. As long as he plowed into the end zone like a diesel train, it was a touchdown.
Just imagine if one of the Olympic figure skaters went onto the ice wearing baggy sweat pants, an old sweater, and no make up. No matter how perfect the actual skating performance, you know the judges would deduct points because of the unglamorous appearance.
If you’re still not convinced figure skating is more a beauty contest than a sport, I have two words to say: stuffed animals. I’m sorry, but any activity that requires its contestants to sit in a “kiss and cry” area and wait for the judges’ scores—WHILE HUGGING STUFFED ANIMALS—is simply not a real sport.
If anyone ever handed a stuffed animal to Trot Nixon or Larry Csonka, they’d probably bite its head off.
Finally, one last observation: Oooh, it just won’t be the same without Michelle Kwan!
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