copyright Bil Lepp 2014
It used to be that the Olympics inspired me. I remember watching the 1984 Summer Games. I ran track at the time. I was a distance runner. Distance running is one of the most unglamorous and unheralded sports in the whole sports cosmos. To save you the trouble of looking it up, distance runners are those folks who run all the way around the track more than once. Really good milers can run a mile in around four minutes, but hardly anyone has the stamina to watch someone run in circles that long. Sure, sports fans can watch the last two minutes of a college basketball game for ninety minutes, but they can’t watch a miler run around a track four times.
The only thing more boring than watching distance running is watching distance swimming.
I watched the 1984 Summer Games and thought, “If I buckle down I could run in the ’88 games.”
I did not compete in the 1988 games, nor any subsequent Olympic games. I would have mentioned it earlier, and often, if I had competed in the Olympics. I’m pretty fast, I still like to run. I hold the record for the mile on the treadmill at the YMCA , but so far I have not developed the fire to compete on the world stage. I’m not even positive ‘Mile on the Treadmill’ is still an Olympic event.
I was 14 years old in 1984. Now I’m like… 22 years old, or some multiple there-of. I’m aging out of my chance to compete in the Olympics.
It is a bad sign when the Olympic announcer says, with awe and reverence, “At thirty-two years old she is by far the oldest competitor in this event.” I can’t help but think, “Thirty-two? I’m three Olympics older than she is!”
I watched the Dark Knight trilogy enough times to make it clear why I wasn’t in the 2012 Summer Games. In those movies Bruce Wayne does approximately twelve pull-ups and eighteen push-ups to be cut and toned enough to be Batman. I wish I had that kind of drive. If twelve pull-ups and eighteen push-ups can make you Batman, I bet half that many will get you into the Olympics. But when would I have time to do six pull-ups? Plus, the Summer Olympics are hot. And the Winter Olympics are cold. Is there a Spring or maybe Early Fall Olympics?
Even if I take up Skeleton sledding and become a citizen of East Timor there is no guarantee I will medal. Part of my problem is that I don’t want to do it if I don’t medal. What truly moves me watching the Olympics is seeing the athletes on the stand, bending down to have someone hang a medal around their neck. That is so cool. It speaks of accomplishment, hours training, a dozen pull-ups, and the culmination of a dream. It also bespeaks of peaking too soon. If you win your first Olympics at twenty, what then? People are going to have huge expectations for you. You can’t just become a car salesman after that. Sure, you can sell plumbing fixtures at Lowes while you are training for the Olympics. That’s noble. But, if you are still selling plungers twelve years after you medal you may have not only peaked too soon, but over focused.
I don’t over focus, and as far as I know I haven’t peaked yet. I’m still on the up-slope, I hope, and medaling in the Olympics would only dispel any illusions of success I still harbor.
Another part of my problem is that I have a Johnny Fever attitude toward sports. I want to be in a lawn chair way out in right field with an umbrella giving me shade, and another umbrella floating in my drink. Of course, if Johnny fever ran the Olympics I think the slogan would just be Higher Faster.
Last Olympics I discovered I have a deep affinity for curling. I’m not sure I had even heard of curling before the last Winter Olympics, but I watched with all the fervor of a fresh convert. It is just another sign that I am getting too old for the Olympics when the sport I most anticipate is also the sport most like shuffleboard. If I start training now, and move to Djibouti, maybe I can curl for the Gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.