I know Shaun White never had a chance with me, even if he wasn’t an obnoxious, harassing tool. 20 years ago, snowboarding was forced into the Olympics so Americans could win an event for once. They mostly did, White did most of that, and he’s been bothering us ever since.
Much like figure skating, the issue I have with it is that it’s still all based on some people’s opinions, which doesn’t really make it a sport. It’s a competition. But that’s not even it. There are people who enjoy it, I guess, and I have plenty of friends who snowboard.
The thing about White was that he was forced upon us, and they kept telling us he had a personality, which he very much doesn’t. He has the appearance of one, because he was the face of this new sport when he was very young and it sprang into the mainstream. He was supposedly the face of a new generation of athletes, or Olympic athletes at least. What he was was a vehicle for the IOC and NBC and their sponsors to try and connect the Games to a generation they wanted to sell ads for. It didn’t matter that he was a vacuous turd, because in the eyes of NBC and the IOC, every one under the age of 30 who wasn’t already watching The Games was a vacuous turd. He was basically sports-Poochie.
White says this is his last Games, and he’s certainly got enough money to do whatever he wants. Just as long as he does it where no one else has to watch. He had nothing to offer, was a grating presence, and was basically used to sell Pepsi. Enough people pretended to care every four years about his exploits, and he would get another series of endorsements off of that before the cycle began again. All the while looking like he should be hit with a toilet badly. The only loss was that he didn’t come off one of the jumps and land in one of the decommissioned nuclear plant smokestacks in Beijing. That would truly have been a crowning achievement.
Oh, and I have no doubts his band sucked ass.
The U.S. women’s hockey team made it as interesting as they could last night in their quarterfinal against Czechia. The game was 1-1 midway through the third before the U.S. finally found a way to take the lead. They had fallen behind on Czechia’s first shot of the game…which came in the second period. The U.S. would go on to win 4-1, and outshot the Czechs 59-5.
There’s been more of a hullabaloo to this tournament thanks to a click-baity Toronto Star article at the onset questioning women’s hockey’s place in the Olympics considering the U.S.’s and Canada’s dominance (the two countries have won every gold, contested every gold medal game). Yes, the tournament essentially is a one-game coin-flip. That doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary as a goal or target for burgeoning programs and young players around the world.
On the flip side, it’s hard to disguise a quarterfinal, not just some group game, where one team puts up more than 10 times as many shots as their opponent as anything but an awkward look. This is the balance women’s hockey has at the moment. It’s a hard road to negotiate, but a necessary one.
That’s the thing that the Toronto Star article didn’t want to bother thinking about. The path to greater competitiveness in the Olympics and women’s hockey in general is paved with blowouts like this one. And Czechia was only a few steps from probably the greatest upset in Olympic hockey history, men’s or women’s. Such is the nature of the thing.