Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Perspective on Michael Phelps

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past couple weeks, a cave outside of China at that, you've probably heard that Michael Phelps has set the Olympic record for most gold medals with 8. Now, that's a lot of gold medals. He could probably melt three of them down and buy, um, a jet-ski or something, and still have a fairly impressive mantel. Commentators have called this the most impressive Olympic event, and I'm pretty sure I heard someone call it the most impressive event in the history of sport. I think it was Strawman McHyperbole, who's a color commentator on MSNBC. I'm not an authority on swimming (or anything), but I think these are questionable assertions.
Michael Phelps is unquestionably the most amazing swimmer in Olympic history. He is doubtlessly far ahead of the competition, which includes such lauded heros as, Mark Spitz, um, that Australian guy with big feet, or the French guy who thought his relay team was going to win. Sorry, swimming is just not one of those thing I pay attention to when the Olympics are not going on. And even then, an American has to be kicking ass for me to care. I don't want you to get the impression that I'm knocking Phelp's stellar achievement; if Aquaman were to go rogue he's the first person I'd call.
My problem is that swimming, as something I'm bad at, just doesn't impress me. Let's look at Phelp's record breaking time in the 200m freestyle: 1:42:96. Now, I'm sure I couldn't swim 200m in anything under an hour and a half, but on land, I could beat that hopping on one leg. It's just hard for me to put swimming achivements in perspective. Usain Bolt's chicken nugget fueled rampage through the 100m and 200m sprints is just easier to contextualize.
Sorry, Michael Phelps, you chose to excel in a sport I don't care about. Your loss, buddy.

Bonus: Other Olympic Thoughts
-Why isn't there a biathlon in the summer olympics? Just combine a steeplechase with machine pistols and you've got yourself something twice as bad-ass as badminton
-Badminton is pretty bad-ass. But when they say that the shuttlecock is going 206 mph, they're full of shit. Sure, it's going that fast when it leaves the racket, but the thing is a tiny parachute. Those things are still going damned fast, they're just not going to kill the opponent if they miss.
-It's good to see USA basketball asserting themselves on a world stage. Vince Carter's dunk over Frederic Weis is still the gold standard for U.S. dominance, but this year's had a few moments that've gotten into the same ballpark.
-I wonder how London will top the Beijing games. They'll probably have to raze an orphanage to make way for an artificial lake.
-In a similar vein, I wonder what wars will break out during the next Olympics. My bet is Canada vs. New Detroit.
-Having events tape delayed for the west coast sucks. I'll get up at 4:30 to watch Chris Bosh stick it to Germany 7 days a week and twice on Sunday.
-Rowing events would be considerably more fun to watch if you could ram opponents boats.
-Why do they have baseball in the olympics? Does anyone outside of Cuba and Japan care about this?
-Having 16 year old (or however old they are) gymnasts competing is ridiculous. Any sport where you peak pre-puberty is not one I can fully support. I'm not even sure if raising the age would help, since you're still training kids well before they have much of a say in the matter. And I'm sure this happens in tennis and a host of other sports, but it just seems a little sick. Then again, I'll probably force my kids to play frisbee and halo until their tear ducts malfunction, so who am I to complain?
-I was really disappointed to find out that the hammer throw does not involve throwing a hammer. My training in this event is now for naught.