Because another day of watching curling (even if they do have hawt babes) would have set me on a murder spree. Another day of the Lindsey Vonn soap opera might have induced a coma. Watching a bunch of homosexuals leap around on ice skates holds absolutely no interest whatsoever. The constant, relentless display of Canadian Political Correctness, right down to the contrived Inuit-themed symbology, is enough to make you want to pluck out your eyeballs.
These Olympics had but one redeeming quality, as, alas, all Winter Olympic Games do:
Hockey, at least, is a real sport. Not like that collection of slacker games with snowboards and pot-smokers. Not like those batshit-crazy stunts that involve little sleds and, unfortunately, dead Georgians. A sport is defined, by me, as a competition in which there's an opponent, that opponent plays defense, the two competitors are likely to make physical contact in which bones may be broken, there are a set of definite skills that doesn't include the ability to wear sequin-covered spandex, and which doesn't depend upon gravity in order to propel the competitors; they're using their own muscle power.
Now, I have to say this: the hockey in these games was absolutely awesome. Even the Women's Hockey, which I thought was a joke (I still think it is. How can you play hockey without body checking? Children play this way.), but I have to give those ladies thier props; they put in a tremendous effort, they work so hard, and they displayed an awful lot of skill and guts. So much so, that it was almost not-so-weird to watch women playing hockey. I wouldn't go out of my way to find a women's game again, but it was rather entertaining.
As for the Men's hockey, well, how much better does it get than watching Alexander Ovechkin flatten an old and fat Jaromir Jagr at center ice?
(Ed. Note: I tried to upload a video of that open-ice check, but the International Olympic Committee has copyrighted the image. So much for the games being about the spirit of competition, and not money, right?)
The Russian team disappointed me. The Czech Republic intrigued me, and was, if I can admit to a guilty pleasure, my favorite team (I'm a big fan of Patrick Elias), and the combination of Zach Parise/Jamie Langenbrunner for the U.S. Team was everything I love about the sport (Hey, did you notice something? The three players I've named all play for the same team...I wonder, could that be MY favorite team, mayhap?). The Swiss Team was great. The Swedes left me shaking my head. Even watching Germany and Latvia get crushed, there was still some great hockey being played on that ice.
Am I happy that the Canadian swept the Gold Medals in hockey? Hell no. The Canadian Women deserved their medals, I think, and so there's no beef there. The Canadian Men, however, got extremely lucky. Today, all over Canada, newspaper articles are being written about the "greatness" of Roberto Luongo, just as they have been for the last decade (why the Press in Canada continues to beat the drum for a goalie who has always choked in big games is beyond me. Team Canada;s best goalies were on the bench) but the sad truth is this: Roberto Luongo is a loser, always has been, always will be, who was bailed out by one of the top three skill players in the world -- Sidney Crosby.
Sid the Kid...well, I hate him with a passion -- because he's the biggest crybaby on the ice -- but you have to admit that he plays a real pretty game of hockey. That guy has got game. And it's appropos that when the gold medal was on the line, that Canada's greatest player since Gretzky should score the winning goal. Congratulations to Team Canada, Monsieurs and Mademoiselles.
There is the possibility that we won't see professional (at least not NHL-professional) hockey players in the Olympics again. Personally, I can seee why they're here in the first place; I guess with no more Cold War there has to be some sort of draw to make the games interesting and to justify the expense. The current Great World Conflict -- between Civilization and Islam -- can't fill the shoes of the Old U.S.-Soviet ideological conflict, if only because Saudi Arabia doesn't field a hockey team, and you can't do a triple-Lutz in a burhka, hence professional players in what's supposed to be the amateur arena.
I think the league should reconsider that proposition. It's talent, spread across every team in the competition, could get no better showcase. And yes, even if you do have to stop your season for three weeks to accommodate the Olympics, it's worth it because you have no real national television contract in the United States, but people will watch Olympic Hockey, and they'll become fans.
Just like I did in 1980. I grew up in a city that had both the New York Rangers and New York Islanders in their heyday, and as a child played roller hockey in the street, but never watched a hockey game on TV religiously until Al Micheals screamed "Do you believe in miracles?" I've been hooked ever since. Most people who have never watched hockey or followed hockey become fans in much the same way; I can't tell you how many hockey fans I know who weren't until they actually went to a game and saw it close up and personal for the first time.
Anyways, perhaps we could just drop all the bobsledding, cross-country skiing, and 10-year-old, anorexic girls on skates, and 42-pound stones and brooms, and just make the Winter Olympics a three-week-long hockey tournament? Because that was awesome!