The Wider World of Sports

    With football season over, I made a conscious decision to expand my sports viewing horizons. March Madness is a few weeks off, and the NBA regular season has become laborious. I can hardly watch more than a few minutes at a time. How to fill the void?
    The Winter Olympics was the obvious choice, but then I got even more brazen: I decided to take a look in on NASCAR. Both were a bust.
    First, the Olympics. I know everyone from late-night talk show hosts to Bryant Gumbel have weighed in on them, but I’m told this is what blogs are for.
    The first problem I have with the Olympics is cultural, or experiential, or something. I tried to ski once, as an adult. It was disastrous. And I can't skate. And I'm sorry, but I just get the heebee-jeebees looking at skinny, heavily made-up men in sequin-studded, form-fitting outfits. (And it has nothing to do with homophobia, or at least very, very little to do with it; ask my gay friends — I'm quite the gay-friendly cat.)
Beyond that, though, I have a couple of tough-to-shake prejudices. First: If a sport involves judges, it's a tough sell to me. (All boxing matches should end in knockouts.) Those mogul skiers, bouncing down the hill like bobble-head dolls, ruining vertebrae with each punishing jolt, are an intrepid bunch, for sure. But then I found out that the speed at which they get to the bottom counts for only about a quarter of their score. The rest is up to the judges. WTF?
    Even the downhill can get tedious. The new camera angles add a visceral element, but after the 14th contestant, they all become a blur, and, to quote B.B., the thrill is gone. The one Winter Olympic sport that did impress me this year — I don't know what it's called — involved dudes snowboarding down a winding course. First to the bottom wins. That was some pure shit.
    As for NASCAR, I've never been to a race, but on TV it doesn't grab me, even on my 57-inch HD. The big screen gives a bit of the speed feel, but the standard, from-the-pressbox camera angle is just so damn dull.
    My favorite point of view is the one where you're looking forward from the cockpit, as if you're driving. Gives you a sense of just how hairy it is out there. So why is NASCAR so stingy with that angle? They'll show you cars coming up from behind, as if you're looking out the back window, for three minutes at a time, but that doesn't offer the same sense of speed and danger. For some reason, open-wheel Grand Prix races are fond of the driver's seat angle, and for that reason, I'll always tune in for a few minutes.
In all, I didn’t care if Junior’s car was loose or Tony was an asshole out there. And, per the Olympics, I didn’t care if Bode tanked, because on the course, Bode was the same as Sven and Boris and Hans. I didn't watch two seconds of the closing ceremonies — that's the worst part of any Olympics — but I celebrated anyway.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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