Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Charlie don't surf, Spartans don't ice dance.

The original Olympics were a celebration of military virtues, with events directly relating to warfighting skills like spear-throwing, running away, sword fighting, and beating the crap out of people with your bare hands. There was no "synchronized swimming" in Ancient Greece.

Putting aside the fact that the entire concept of the Winter Olympics is suspect, with the exception of the Simo Hayha Memorial Biathlon (which should use Bolshevik silhouettes as targets for the sake of authenticity,) what the heck is up with an event that includes a "kiss and cry" area? Not even the Theban Sacred Band would be caught dead in a "kiss and cry" area.


Anonymous said...

My personal criteria is that if the event has a "style" value, a "style" judge, or requires the wearing of a theatrical style costume, it ain't an olympic event. I don't question the athleticism of the participants, but it ain't olympics.

Unknown said...

Shall we include the ritual sacrifices to Zeus, while we are at it?

Marja said...

Catch a moose on skis or get a bear out of it's winter lair and then kill it with a spear? Okay, maybe not military stuff but anyway... nah, the Peta people would go nuts.

Tam said...

Sacrifice? I'm down with it. It would be worth it to see the reaction from PETA.

global village idiot said...

So with "Curling" but I'll go even further with that. It's remarkable that the Scottish, who make the Klingons look like so many milquetoast Long Island accountants, invented the twin Pointless Pursuits of golf and curling. What would the Klingons think of curling?!

Unlike curling, at least golf can make a claim to athletics; any activity you can perform with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth is NOT athletics.


WV: Comorr - the mythical village in the Orkney Islands where curling is played year-round.

Jim said...

You just be careful there, gvi. The only thing I've seen so far to justify teeveed olympics is the Japanese girl curlers.

og said...

Leonidas is spinning in his grave. I suspect it's a double axel.

Stephen said...

The original olympians also competed nekkid. Imagine for a moment, the greates spear chucker in all of Athens, coming into the arena in a sparkly tight little costume, trimmed in lace. Uniform Fail.

Brian J. said...

I'd count the Battle of Salamis as synchronized swimming, but given it wasn't officially the Olympics and it was not the Greeks that were swimming, I have to concede the point.

Ygolonac said...

Relatively random comment: My own group of IRC malcontents has dubbed the biathalon as the "Finnish drive-by".

Bram said...

It never occurred to me but Anonymous is right. I don't watch any events which the winner is picked by judges. I've even given up on Olympic boxing.

Biathlon, the various ski, skate, and sledding races, and hockey. I consider those Winter Olympic events.

The rest is a Broadway show on ice or childish stunts.

Ed Rasimus said...

I blogged on it yesterday at ThunderTales. I also commented on the "extreme" sports additions like ski-cross, half-pipe, free-style and large caliber biatholon...oh, that's for next year.

I particularly like the modification of event names to suit American education. The 70 and 90 meter ski jumps are not the "Normal hill" and "Large hill". I think they need to emphasize that large is bigger than normal to insure comprehension.

GuardDuck said...

I don't know,

Moving 10,000 Greek Phalangites around a battlefield, and the blood and mud they swim in can certainly be a distant cousin to synchronized swimming.

Plus I'd think any Spartan barracks would qualify as a kiss and cry room.

Lucas Darr said...

But the ice skaters are so pretty!

Anonymous said...

Spartans don't ice dance? Are you certain?

The Spartans had many dances, many were like Chinese wuyi forms, done empty handed and with weaponry. Spartan's most famous dance, the pyrrhike, was more a conditioning form.

Heck, the Spartan women even had their own dance forms that combined yoga, gymnastics and beating the crap out of someone. (That kicking dance the women did I thought would make a killer workout program and put Turbokick or Crossfit to shame).

Spartans were great dancers, they just had purpose other than playing dress up with mommy's clothing because daddy does not spend time with them like the current crop of ice dancers.

Shootin' Buddy

Drang said...

I was waiting to see if the Korean speed skaters were going to try and see what their blades would do to Apollo Ohno's throat...

Joanna said...

I had to explain to my dental hygienist today why the biathlon is such a taxing event -- how heart rate, breathing and all that affect aim and timing. She then asked if they used real guns. I would have facepalmed if I hadn't had a mouth full of metal sticks with hooks on them.

Joel said...

What would the Klingons think of curling?!

It's a little-known fact that the Klingons and not the Scots invented curling. Their playing surface involved the leaky bodies of vanquished foes rather than ice, but the games are otherwise quite similar.

wv=gronses - Klingon for "put out the cigarette or join the playing floor."

Timmeehh said...

The Spartans were gay.

Bram said...

They sure reamed the Persians hard at the Battle of Plataea.

Tam said...

"The Spartans were gay"

Probably, but that's open to debate. The Theban Sacred Band certainly was, but they were all manly men who enjoyed doing manly things with other men, and would have had no truck with the sequined costumes used for curling. Or ice dancing. or whichever "sport" it is that uses sequined costumery.

Jason said...

We've got an entire thread on snowmobile-based mortar biathlon going at one specific gun forum. It comes complete with Finns, no less. Sure it might not be really athletic, but who wouldn't want to shoot mortars while dashing through the snow at 75 miles per hour?

The figure skating part might be better if everyone had to use "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" in the compulsories. I'm not entirely sure, since I still wouldn't be watching it.

aczarnowski said...

The Olympics always stir a rant out of me. If there is a judge it is NOT. A. SPORT. Athletic maybe, but not sport.

Figure skating? No.
Half pipe? No.
Moguls with the twirly jump in the middle? No.
Cross country 10k? Yes!
Ice dancing? Are you f*cking kidding me?
Curling? Let me think a bit about sport vs game and I'll get back to you in four years.

To me, the Olympics are about sport. Mostly of the individual variety. How ice dancing is now an Olympic event I will never understand. Well, OK. I understand but I don't agree with it.

And take the damn iPod off while you're competing for cry'n out loud!

Skip said...

What games?
Am I missing something?

Mark B. said...

"Putting aside the fact that the entire concept of the Winter Olympics is suspect . . . "

Ya think, Tam?

The I.O.C. essentially admitted as much when they awarded a second set of gold medals for the pairs figure skating to Jamie Salé and David Pelletier of Canada a few days after the finals of the event. The French judge got logrolled by the Russian and downscored their presentation marks so the Russian pair would win, even though Salé and Pelletier skated what most objective observers believed was a technically and stylistically superior long program when leading the competition after the short program.

Figure skaters are remarkable athletes, but it ain't a sport.


Ed Foster said...

The later Spartans certainly were gay, to the point of basically disappearing due to the declining birth rate.

The early Spartans were still quite mad for the ladies, as evinced by all the nasty things that happened repeatedly to Helen at various rather young ages at the hands of Agamemnon and his brother.

Interestingly, Epaminondas and his bros in the Sacred Band were probably semi-straight/"reformed" gays, as the Thebans and Boiotians hewed to the Athenian ideal of homosexual experimentation in their teens and early twenties, then heterosexuality and loyalty to their wives after becoming family men. Overt homosexuality among heads of family would have been a public disgrace.

But still, when Alexander's charge broke their lines, they went back to back and died in pairs. All of them.

I suspect sex had very little to do with it. A lifetime's friendship and trust doesn't always have to do with sharing the big tickle, especially 20 or 30 years later.

Different times, different mores, but courage remains a constant, and not one of them threw down his shield.

Ed Foster said...

Hey Global V.I., Do they even curl in the Orkneys? They belong to Scotland, but last time I looked, they were about lily pure Norwegian by blood and language.

Presumably, that means they are possessed of a bit (well, O.K., a lot) more common sense than your typical Highlander, who probably started curling to have something to do with all the severed heads hanging around.

For reference, the Scot side of the family is from Perthshire, so I'm discussing relatives, many of whom still have rather traditionally scary attitudes.

Anonymous said...

Curling may or may not be a sport. But, it is a prelude to massive amounts of drinking. Anytime I have ever been dragged kicking and screaming to a curling event, I have ended up drinking like a Scottish Lord, er, Laird at some point in the evening. The next day is always a bad hangover.

So, even if it isn't a sport, it still is quite awesome, if not for the game, then as a pre-drink ritual.

Anonymous said...

1. sequined costumes used for curling. Or ice dancing. or whichever "sport" it is that uses sequined costumery.

That would be figure skating, no mistake.

2. Anything with a judge isn't a sport.

3. GVI obviously has never curled. Do an entire game sliding up and down with a teflon slider on one foot and see if you want to repeat that remark, sir.


George Hedgepeth said...

"Plus I'd think any Spartan barracks would qualify as a kiss and cry room."

After the lamps are out, all bets are off.

What did the spartans do besides kill and die? What great works did they leave? I respect there martial skill, but not much else of there ethos...

By the way, I am not a fan of Ice Dancing, but I have no illusions that I could do it either.

Geodkyt said...

I don;t mind a "judge" -- if you mean "referee under a different nomenclature". Sometimes, a human being has to decide how gets the points, when it isn't as cut and dried as "did the ball go in the net?"

But if "How cool you did it" has ANY part of your score (as opposed to "How MUCH did you do"), it ain;t a "sport".

I'll give curling and golf "sport" classification. They require physical performance, and how pretty you look has ab-so-tive-ly nothing to do with your score. (Remember, curling haters -- shooting is ALSO a sport. . . curling, like shooting or golf, is more about precision than power.)

Snowboard cross? DEFINITELY -- it's a bloody race. As long as you don't break the rules, all that matters is whether you're the first guy across the line.

Ski jumping? Style points, not a sport. Cool looking game.

Halfpipe? 100% style based, not a sport. Cool looking game, though.

ICE DANCING? ANY of the figure skating? Not even "games".

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you can learn more than you really wanna know around here.

Larry said...

Now if all the ice dancing teams were on the ice simultaneously, with the only contact allowed between opposing teams being slashes and kicks of their skate blades, that might be worth watching!

[word verification: hakkan!]

And I've got my doubts about whether or not ancient Greek warriors like the Sacred Band wouldn't have gone ga-ga over sequins when out of armor, if only they had had them. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

Ed Foster said...

I think they were more into leather.

I'm suprised there haven't been any kilt jokes.

Why do Scotsmen wear kilts? Sheep can hear a zipper miles away.

Why do Englishmen wear pants? English sheep are deaf.

Abby said...

My Army buddies and I have come to the conclusion the winter games would be far more interesting if wildlife native to the host nation were involved.

Ice Dancing? Boring. Ice Dancing with polar bears on the rink? Freakin' AWESOME.

Ski cross? Meh. Ski cross with packs of wolverines at the curves? Now THAT'S a sport.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

I flipped on the TV last night and it was on NBC already... caught just enough olympics to watch one of the American(?) figure skaters in the... short form? anyhow, she bloodied her nose through sheer G-forces alone.

Thought that was a bit impressive myself. Then I got up and walked off and eventually got into the basement/lab and emerged a couple hours later with a pneumatic tabletop geyser. Must be something in those airwaves...

(yes, serious about the geyser. DrStrangegun combo post later today and planning to use the camera.)

Matt G said...

Damn, I was just about to invoke the Thebians, when you beat me to the punch.

Anonymous said...

Some scholars/thinkers claim that the Spartans gave us civilization by finding a way to harness young male energy from gangs/packs into teams. Teams will defend society, as compared to the average gang/pack behavior. So the Athenians get style credit and the Spartans made civil life possible. Or so Lee Miller and a few others.
LittleRed1 (who is just not seeing sequins on bronze armor, for some reason)