Why I hate sports but love the Olympics

How patriotism, politics and scandal can make sports exiciting

Some of Canada's most successful Olympians so far in Pyeongchang.
Some of Canada's most successful Olympians so far in Pyeongchang.
Credit: 
Photo illustration by Josh Granovsky

On the morning of Feb. 9, I ran downstairs from my bedroom to the living room and eagerly awaited the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics. My excitement was met by an equal amount of confusion from my housemates. Despite being upset by their complete lack of Olympic enthusiasm, their confusion was justified — I’ve never liked sports.

Growing up in a family of die-hard Raptors, Blue Jays and Canadiens fans, I was given many chances to enter the fandom of professional sports. While I can appreciate the talent and skill involved in an athletic career, I’ve never understood the appeal of following sports religiously as a fan. I don’t understand why anyone would willingly sit and watch sweaty people run around for hours or riot whether their team loses or wins.

In spite of this, every two years I find myself inexplicably exhilarated by the thought of spending hours every day for two weeks watching nothing but the Olympics. My essays in February are written with ski jumping playing in the background, my meals are prepared while bobsledding is streaming and my mornings begin by checking the medal standings I missed overnight.

From the moment the Canadian team arrives at the opening ceremonies until they leave two weeks later, my life is consumed with Canadian pride and a fascination with sports. I don’t care if it’s curling or short-track speed skating — as long as there’s a Canadian athlete competing, I’ll be watching.

Though I love watching Olympic events, my lack of any sports-related knowledge is often quite apparent. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for me to be astounded by an athlete’s impeccable skills, feeling sure they’ll come up with gold, only to later realize the judges strongly disagreed.

To compensate, I make an effort to learn about every sport I watch throughout the two weeks. By the end of the games, I often even find myself using specific terms for figure skating moves, snowboarding tricks and luge runs with an extremely unearned confidence.

Anyone who comes across my uncharacteristic Olympic spirit is always quick to ask what causes me, an unwavering sports-hater, to be such a die-hard Olympics lover.

We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded by the media with issues of conflict and hostility. It seems as if every two years the world just takes a breath for these two weeks. Instead of focusing on controversial political issues or the imminent threat of world destruction, the whole world comes together in a show of friendly competition.

Though the Olympics have occasionally been a venue for conflict and destruction in the past, they’ve been an even greater show of peace and unity.

Not only do the Olympics make me feel better about the state of the world, they also provide me with a strong sense of Canadian pride. Canada is so often overlooked as America’s friendly, somewhat insignificant neighbour but watching Canada succeed on the world stage in the Olympics proves we’re not to be ignored.

No matter how little I know about the different sporting events, I’ll always take pleasure in cheering on Canadian Olympians.

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