Shit We Love: The Olympics

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post said that the inflatable Lord Voldemort He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named featured in the Opening Ceremony was 40 feet tall. He actually stood at a whopping 100 feet tall. We blame this first error on an unconscious refusal to believe that Voldemort could be larger than life.

Every four years, the world stops. The entire human race directs its attention toward a city in which athletes from all corners of the Earth (including Brown) battle it out to be considered the best in the world. Some leave with soaring egos; others leave with their hopes shattered and their dreams crushed. For 17 days, every major US television network apart from NBC might as well not exist. Simply put, we love this shit.

Why? For one, Team USA is stacked, runs deep, and boasts hundreds of insanely talented (and beautiful) athletes across dozens of sports. There’s nothing more invigorating than cheering on American athletes who are way more talented than we’ll ever be… or rooting against others who try stand in their way. Here are some more reasons why we just eat this shit up.

Eye Candy: It should come as a surprise to exactly no one that lots of athletes are pretty damn attractive. Sure, it would be fun to watch insane gymnastics stunts and nail-bitingly close swimming races regardless of what the competitors look like, but the fact that many of them are gorgeous is definitely an added benefit. Like Ryan Lochte, for example. He may not be as decorated as Michael Phelps, and he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s basically the personification of the word “hot” (#shamelessobjectification). And then there’s British diver Tom Daley — don’t worry, at 18 years old, he’s legal (but just barely). And we can’t forget about the women, many of them in uniforms that leave little to the imagination.

Women’s Gymnastics: Most of us can barely do cartwheels, and most of us are over 5’0”. But women’s gymnasts are superhuman and often nuggety (e.g. Gabby Douglas, the “Flying Squirrel”; the Chinese and Russian teams), and their intensity is through the roof. The sport is so thrilling to watch, and luckily for us, the US women’s gymnastics team has been killin’ it since they got to London. The Fab Five — Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, and Kyla Ross — are not only all-around all stars (except for Jordyn Wieber…womp), but they’re adorable, love each other (at least on the surface), and have often made us so nervous that we’ve bitten our nails off. We’ve been watching McKayla Maroney’s near perfect vault over and over, and clapping along to Aly Raisman’s floor routine to Hava Nagila. Also, is it just us, or do the Russian gymnasts do more crying than they do tumbling?

Anglophilia: It might just be a consequence of growing up in the Harry Potter generation, but let’s face it – Great Britain is pretty awesome. And thanks to London’s hosting gig, we get two and a half weeks to revel in the quintessentially English. 100-foot-tall Voldemort? Check. Shakespeare recited by Gilderoy Lockhart? Check. Royal corgis? Check and check. We can keep going, too – Will and Kate, James Bond… and did we mention the Spice Girls are reuniting at the closing ceremony? As the Brits would say, it’s all bloody brilliant.

Bob Costas. The man, the myth, the legend. The NBC Olympic Experience is anchored by Bob Costas, the familiar face and voice of Olympic sportscasting. He provides a sense of constancy every four years amidst the conditions of an ever-changing world — the man has been commentating at the Olympics since Barcelona 1992. As you’ve aged and cultivated a greater interest in Olympic competition, he’s allowed us to hold the Olympics in the highest regard as the most magical, dramatic, and, of course, lovable of shit. That same, boyish face (sure, there’s speculation that he’s gotten plastic surgery, but whatever, it’s better for our psyches), those perfectly deep vocal tones, and those weirdly adorable bug eyes have always grabbed our attention, sucked us in to the television, and made us want to cheer our heads off for Team USA; when he’s around, time stands still. Another reason why he’s awesome: he called the little (and now golden) nugget Gabby Douglas “Gab” in an interview with the Fab Five after they snagged the gold in the Team Finals. We’d kill to be on a nickname basis with him. At 60 years old, this man’s a boss and… (Ed.- This is getting a little weird, so I’m going to cut it here.  Moving on…)

Headlines Going for the Gold. Most news sources are covering the Olympics… Duh. They’re always on, and they make for good journalism: the crème de la crème of the world’s most athletically gifted, classically-Roman-sculpted bodies competing for their country’s honor. What that means for us plebeians: constant entertainment and reminders of our inadequacy. So news sources toy with our emotions and lure us in with enticing headlines, such as “British Diver Tom Daley Got Twitter Pregnant Last Night”. Some get cattier, like that one time “Abby Wambach punched by Colombia’s Lady Andrade, gets revenge with a goal.” And thus comparing headlines becomes its own Olympic event.

As always, the meme opportunities. The London Olympics are MADE for interweb inside jokes: (a) Millions of viewers watch identical footage, (b) Attractive people do weird things, (c) The Queen of England is always sassy and hilarious.

  • Bored Queen
    The Queen was not impressed by the 100 foot Voldemort.
  • That Time the Mayor of London Got Stuck on a Zipline
    You really can’t make this shit up.
  • Gifs Gifs Gifs Gifs
    Infinitely rolling corgis.

    “The Industrial Revolution” as represented by dapper dancin’

    Independent athletes are cooler than you are.

    McKayla Maroney completes the most epic vault.

    The judges’ jaws drop; Maroney killed it.

    Ouch!!! Sorry China.

    Kim Un Guk from North Korea is super kawaii.

    Michael Phelps’ mom awkwardly thought he won gold when he didn’t.
    His sister has to mouth “He got second.”

    A cameraman has journalistic priorities.


  1. anon

    Since there are both summer and winter olympics, this actually happens every *two* years. Winter olympics is awesome too, with sports like speed skating and athletes like Apolo Ono and Shawn White.

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