Look, I’m all for jingoistic flag-waving, even if this doesn’t exactly seem like the best time to be shouting our patriotism from the international mountaintops. Admittedly, I prefer to get my quadrennial, stars-and-stripes-clad "USA" chanting fix during the World Cup, but since the U.S. soccer team pooped its pants in qualifying last year, that isn’t going to happen.
Still, I am not just going to watch the Winter Olympics for the sake of watching something or pretend to care about it because it’s February and NBC is broadcasting the stuff ‘round the clock. My esteemed coworker, pop culture editor Matt Mueller, who sees every movie that gets made appears to be arguing that just because something exists means that it should exist and is good. I say nay. Of all people, he should know there are literally 14,000 other things I can watch on TV that are better, more interesting and more entertaining than speed skating or halfpipe.
That’s great if people like the Winter Olympics – or if they like the idea of liking the Winter Olympics, global unity and elite competition, even if they change the channel four minutes into alpine skiing to watch a rerun of "The Good Doctor" – and I don’t begrudge anyone. But that doesn’t make them compelling.
I get the amusement appeal of "LOL what is this wacky thing I only see once every four years? Holy crap those skeleton racers and lugers are crazy! Ha-ha isn’t it funny that shuffleboard on ice is an Olympic event?" But that doesn’t mean they should comprise an international sporting event. Like ice fishing or sledding down St. Mary’s Hill and avoiding a tree, they’re fine activities, especially if you can do them without getting hurt.
There also aren’t enough compelling human stories; I’m supposed to be inspired about the skiers and snowboarders who, through sheer force of their parents’ check-writing will, were able to overcome the adversity of the fact that there are very few high-level competitive skiers and snowboarders who do it long enough to make the Olympics? I’ll take Simone Biles and the entire Dream Team.
I like sports and I want to be excited about the Winter Olympics, really. But they’re basically the X-Games, a gimmick, an obligation to manufacture enough fake snow in some random outpost like Sochi every four years so that Norway can feel athletic. Feel free to @ me. You’ll care passionately about this for a minute today, then forget about all of it – my #hottake, this dumb argument, that Wisconsin sibling curling duo and the Pyeongchang games completely – by March.
Also, global warming. Enjoy the Winter Olympics while they last.
Meanwhile, Matt has the opposite opinion. We discussed our feelings in this Facebook Live video:
Embrace debate. Sports!
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.