Sunday, 5 August 2012

Random olympic thoughts

In no particular order, some thoughts I had while watching the olympics this week

-I missed watching the opening ceremonies, but for a very good reason: I got married that afternoon. Nevertheless it's such an in-the-moment event I'm afraid to watch them now. Maybe I will see them later, maybe I won't.

-on CTV there's a weird 1812 commercial reminding Canadians we 'beat' the US that year (paid for by the government of Canada). I have no idea if this is to insinuate some olympic-based patriotism, but either way it's a stupid weirdly timed ad.

-CTV's results/schedule interactive graph is really well done. It's intuitive and considering how many sports go on at once easy to navigate. Once you find a sport of interest there are streaming videos linked, the start times are listed for each event, and the results are posted immediately.

-I've noticed swimmers have been getting a tad younger and track athletes older (not to mention cyclists and trampoliners). Consider that from the 100m sprinters to the marathoners, both male and female, those ages 30+ are quite numerous. The trend in older athletes was pointed out in this Globe and Mail article. By contrast swimmer Michael Phelps is retiring at the 'advanced' age of 27. My theory is that swimmers have such crammed-in schedules with multiples races and qualifying rounds that peaking is favoured by those with quick recovery times, i.e the young. Runners have by contrast days between trials, often competing in just one event; slower recoveries but faster times is a typical route to victory.

-On the same note, commentators will remark than an athlete is 'only 17,18, or 19 years of age'. Minutes later they'll note with surprise that someone is 'still at it' at any age over 30. What this implies is how narrow the 'optimal' age is for running, i.e. in their 20s. But since there's so many exceptions it's really not a very useful rule of thumb.

-Why aren't the Olympics longer than two weeks? I Googled this question and found no satisfactory answer. Consider the inconsistent replies to this curious person on a forum:
-(I) suppose it would cost a lot too put on with health and safety issues, security etc etc - and chaos as everything will need to get back to normal for September.  
-I have always wondered the same thing. The football and rugby world cups go on for a month or more and they just cover one sport so it seems strange that the Olympics (which includes football!) is only for 2 weeks. 
-you would have to spreadout the athletics too thinly, have too long a period before the athletics starts

-As much as I love football, the World Cup does kinda drag on a bit! 
There is no good answer, obviously. The same reason there's no good reason the dressage event exists anywhere outside our minds. It's merely a tradition. If pressed, no one could explain why the Tour de France or the World Cup can be twice as long as a multi-billioin dollar event. I can only think of good reasons to extend the games: more total TV coverage, less pressure to schedule events next to each other (which leads to faster competition times), less pressure on public transportation means money saved by the city (i.e. fewer emergency measures employed). There will be more ticket sales, or a least more filled seats, since one person can in theory watch more events with the padded timing. Weather-dependent sports can be more comfortably re-scheduled. Those who argue hosting the games for a whole month is 'too expensive' must admit the Olympics are inherently unprofitable. I bet those same people supported the initial bid because it would be 'good for business'. Oh the hypocrisy.

[Above rant continued; feel free to skip]: Knowing that the Olympics is a month also means tourists can visit the games for a sane, intermittent period of time, not fearing the clusterfuck that is travel for those 16 too-crammed days (hence why tourism never increases as much as expected during the olympics). Team events also need a month for a proper elimination stages, hence why team Olympic sports are a complete joke. Yes, the scheduling situation makes no sense, unless it actually the case that fewer than 20 events per day will leave viewers bored. Or perhaps could remove team sports entirely, which could be a legitimate option, as hypothesized by John Lofranco.

-Why are the Paralympics not placed before, instead of after, the Olympics? Usually you save the premier event for last, not first. The Paralympics are a great opportunity to test out the facilities and often overlooked athletes can catch a bit if that olympic fever. As it stands it's like they're treated as an afterthought.

-Oscar Pistorius had to petition the IAAF to qualify to run in the Olympics. Given the current general lack double amputees winning 400 meters at the elite level, was the IAAF worried that young, impressionable runners would saw off their legs in an attempt to improve their sprinting times?

-In an alternate universe, the Star Trek Deep Space Nine theme would have made for a decent musical Olympic fanfare.

-Dylan Armstrong said in a CTV interview that he spends $150 on food...every day. No idea how even a 9,000 Calorie diet could cost that much. I'm just guessing at his caloric intake, but can I eat a very healthy 3,500 Calories a day for less than $10 (It's actually quite easy). Vitamins can't be the reason, as no-one but a fool would spend more than $1/day on them (assuming you even go that route).  What can he possibly be eating? Buckets of caviar?

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