Thursday Thoughts: Here we go again!

File:Paralympic Agitos Flag (7844521694).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, the opening ceremonies for the Paralympics took place. Like the other ceremonies, I flicked back and forth until eventually I saw my countries athletes enter. One of the highlights of the Olympic games for me was always how the torch was going to be lit. The most memorable ones were, Mohamed Ali in Atlanta, the ski jumper (Lillehammer?), and there was an archer who shot a flaming arrow (don’t remember where that was). I don’t tend to watch the ceremonies in their entirety.

There is not much live coverage of the Paralympics. With the Olympics, there was at least 5-7 stations covering events, so you could always find a sport you were interested in. Now, there are just a few hours of highlights with the occasional live event.

Broadcasting sports is all about money. There is a reason that the ACL, The American Cornhole League (I’m not joking, it’s a “sport”), is on ESPN 8—not ESPN 2, or 3, or 4…

There is big money in the Olympics. Not as much for the Paralympics. Why? Because less people watch it. Which is too bad because athletes are athletes no matter what the sport (except maybe Cornhole) and no matter what the ability.

I admit, I’m guilty of watching the Paralympics less that the Olympics—if the coverage was better, I’d watch more—but for the most part it is because there are less sports I am interested in. I do enjoy the track and field events, although more track than field. Triathelon is always fun to watch along with swimming and rowing.

It is always interesting to see how athletes adapt to their abilities and how the sports—and equipment—are modified to allow for the greatest inclusion and participation.  Some of the sports, in my opinion, are harder than some of the Olympic ones. The seated volleyball comes to mind.

Each year, the Paralympics gets a little bigger and receives more exposure. Hear that corporate sponsors?

—Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Thursday Thoughts: The Return – A Poem (and The Olympics – Part 10)

Last night, I was inspired to write a poem which I scrawled in the margins of the crossword puzzle I was doing.

The Return

I thought I caught a glimpse
Of you from afar
I don’t know how long it’s been
Since you graced my presence

Hoping for a visit
But hopes dashed
In a flash

I almost forgot your smell
And the sound of your voice
It may sound strange
But I miss how your coldness
Caresses my face

Did you remember?
Do you have a better place to be? 

I heard you outside
Your voice echoing off the trees
I would have come out to meet you 
I had just gone to bed
So instead

I stood on the balcony
Watching your tears paint the ground
The thirsty earth taking your essence away
As fast as you give
It’s not enough
I’ve missed you

Rain

Can’t forget the Olympics…

In the “That’s just mean” category, I was watching some of the 4X400m relay heats, and I noticed that once the front runners hand of the baton, some just stand on the track, forcing the slower runners to weave around them. C’mon people, really? Get out of the way. (I could have said that with profanity…)

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Weird Wednesday: The Olympics – Part 9?

Like everything in life, there is a hierarchy. So, in the Olympics there is as well. What is the premier event? If you watched the women’s and men’s 100m race, then your question was answered.

The lights go down. A hush fills the stadium (easier with no spectators). Light show, moving graphics on the track, and athlete introductions go on for…well, a lot longer than the 9 or 10 seconds it takes to run it.

Did I watch it? You bet. Next is the 200m. Wonder what they do for an encore.

“The Untitled”

“The Miniscules”

.

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Tuesday Tidbits: The Olympics Part 8: That’s just mean.

I noticed a few things while watching the Olympics.

To exit the stadium after racing in the heat and humidity, the runners are required to walk up 3 flights of stairs to the waiting media. If you have ever run a marathon, or for whatever reason done some all-out sprints, you will know the last thing you want to do are stairs. But, at least they give them water.

Sprinters are automatically disqualified if they jump the gun and get a head start. They used to have one mulligan years back, but now it’s one strike and you’re out. No one is trying to cheat (we hope), but when a race comes down to 100ths of a second, you don’t want to waste any time after the gun is fired.

There is no countdown, and the starter can hold the runners as long as they want, so being able to anticipate the start can prove to be the difference. Nerves are heightened, and it’s easy to get jumpy with so much on the line, so I think you should be allowed one false start.

Have you noticed anything that makes you say, “That’s just mean.”?

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Thursday Thoughts: The Olympics – Part 4: Tired of them yet?

If you are not a sports fan, then the answer is yes. For these people, their favorite shows have been preempted, and every channel seems to have somebody racing or competing. If you are a casual sports fan, then you are probably getting a chance to watch some interesting sports.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that there are some sports that I enjoy watching during the Olympics that I don’t get to see any other time.

  • Weightlifting – The strength it these athletes is just incredible.
  • Men’s Gymnastics – I don’t go out of my way to watch, but if I happen to catch the rings, I’ll finish watching. Again, the strength is what is amazing.
  • Mountain Biking – Yeah. You kinda watch for the crashes.
  • Triathalon

There are always demonstration sports each year, some that make it, others that don’t. These are included to reach new audiences, usually younger, many crossing over from the X-Games. Some people may not think of them as sports (Ballroom dancing), but each discipline requires skill and strength in some form or another.

  • Surfing – I watched a surfer waiting for the right wave that didn’t come. They lost.
  • Skateboarding – Didn’t I just see these kids in the parking lot? No different from when snowboarding was introduced, and it’s still around.
  • Rockclimbing – This is a challenging sport, I admit. When do they free climb?
  • Ballroom Dancing – I think they tried this in the 90s. It’s Ice Dancing without the ice (and skates).

In the future, we may see gold medal winners in the sports Ninja Warrior and Wipeout.

Maybe not.

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Weird Wednesday: The Olympics – Part 3

In most team sports winning gold and bronze are worth celebrating, but that second-place silver is a punch in the gut.

Watch the final game between third and fourth place and see an ecstatic group of players winning the third-place bronze medal. Then watch the gold medal game to see a dejected bunch of silver medal winners.

Second place is worth celebrating in most Olympic sports. You see smiles on the silver medal winners.

Is there a remedy? My solution would take longer and not but would make each medal a victory.

Top 4 teams are in the finals. 1st plays 2nd: Winner gets gold. Loser of that game plays 3rd: Winner gets silver. Loser of that game plays 4th: Winner gets bronze.

OK. I know there are massive problems. You will not be ending with the ultimate game and there is a possibility that one of the two top teams will play three times. But wouldn’t that bronze medal feel like an achievement?

Onto this week’s cartoons:

“The Miniscules”

“The Untitled”

.

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Tuesday Tidbits: The Olympics Part 2: Amateur vs. Professional

When the NHL decided not to send their players to the Seoul Olympics, there was a group that benefited: The amateurs.

For many, this was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Imagine playing in the minors knowing that making it in the big leagues was a long shot at best but getting the chance to compete on the world stage and win an Olympic medal.

There were some very happy Canadian hockey players holding bronze medals. Germany may not have had much of a chance to get a silver medal if it hadn’t been for the situation. The Russian team got the gold—not surprised by that.

Professional status was defined as making a living at your sport. That was a a goal for hockey/football/soccer/baseball/basketball players (and other popular league based sports), but for many other athletes, making money wasn’t a practical goal because of the lack of opportunity. You don’t see professional swimming leagues for example. The Diamond Track and Field league is one of the ways for some athletes to compete and earn on a regular basis.

Some governments pay (or did pay) all expenses for athletes, to field the best at the Olympics. Sponsorship use to negate your amateur status, but rules have been changing, and colleges are relaxing the regulations.

So, the line between amateurs and professionals is vague and often unfair to some. Do all athletes deserve a chance to show their skills on the world stage, and is it fair to deny them that opportunity? Do athletes in all disciplines deserve an opportunity to make money doing what they love and are good at?

It is important to show the best of the best, but should it remain the ultimate achievement of the amateur?

-Leon

Part One here: Monday Musings: The Olympics-Part One: What’s it all about?

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Weird Wednesday: Spectator Sports

From early on in history there have been spectator sports. Although are not all sports meant to be viewed by spectators? Why else would you go and chase a ball around on a field?

Watching sports is a personal choice. Some may see it as a waste of time (five hours times four days = I didn’t get anything done because of The Open golf championship), While others see it as a way to connect with co-workers (“That player was pretty good in that game, huh?).

I like some sports, but others—not so much. When the sport world ground to a halt because of that thing that should not be spoken, I watched a few of the re-runs, but eventually I got of the couch and went out for a run.

Since the Olympics will be starting soon (good idea or bad?), here are a few thoughts in no particular order or preference (I’ll make fun of my sports too):

  • Cycle racing (The Tour de France just wrapped up on the weekend): I’ll stand here for ½ and hour to see my favorite rider—Wait, they are all bunched up and look the same.
  • Nascar: Around and around and around…YAY! A crash! (that’s what you are waiting for, right?)
  • Soccer/Football: What an exciting game! What was the score? One Nil.
  • Marathons: Do I want to see them having fun (Mile 3) or not (Mile 25)
  • Hockey: There is an old joke, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”
  • American football vs. Rugby: Too much protection vs. Not enough?
  • Equestrian: I’ve always thought that the horse should get the medal.
  • Bowling: Amateur – Strike, spare, spare, strike, spare. Professional – Strike, strike, strike, strike, strike…
  • Basketball: Maybe they should have 4-pointers.

Finally, in the “Wait! What?” category:

  • The National Cornhole Association: Yeah. There is a sport called Cornhole.

Onto this week’s cartoons:

“The Miniscules”

“The Untitled”

.

That’s all the weirdness for today.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Monday Musings – Golf. Not as boring as Baseball?

Did you watch the US Open yesterday? Golf is an odd sport to watch. For the most part, it’s the same thing with different players, as the coverage switches from group to group until near the end of the tournament, there are less and less players on the course, so there are more and more commercials.

In other sports, when the opposing team comes onto the field/pitch/ice, the home crowd will boo and jeer their disdain for the players. In golf, it seems that everyone roots for whoever makes a good shot, lets out a disappointing “ohhh” when the ball ends up in a bunker/water hazard/ penalty area, and cheers in delight for the winner.

There are sports teams and players that people love to hate, but it is rare that a fan will publicly razz a golfer during a tournament. I suppose that the politeness and etiquette of the game contribute to the spectator’s behavior.

That being said, there are places where the crowd is more raucous. The mobbing of Phil Mickelson on 18 at the PGA Championship earlier this year is a good example. The stadium hole at the WM Pheonix Open (I believe it is the par 3 16th), where 20 000 fans will boo if the player fails to hit the green, is entertaining—and obviously sells more beer. What does WM stand for? Waste Management. Ha! During this Sunday’s round, a fan ran onto the 13th fairway and proceeded to hit a few balls. The empty case of beer beside the cart path probably explains that.

The first person to yell “IN THE HOLE!” after a tee shot started an annoying trend that isn’t funny anymore—especially on a par 5. If you mistime it, it really makes the player angry. The first time I heard someone yell “Dy-No-Mite!” when the golfer (not the comedian) Jimmy Walker teed off, I had to laugh, but thankfully that never caught on.

I assume that the PGA, like all sports, is trying to attract younger fans. But if you think that it does sometimes look like a scene from Happy Gilmore, you wouldn’t be far off (It is a pretty funny movie unless you don’t like Adam Sandler, but if you only have to watch one of his movies, this one is a good choice—or The Wedding Singer). Tin Cup is another golf movie that shows the less reserved side of the game.

While they may not be as entertaining from a sociological standpoint, there are tournaments that are more reserved than others. So, a few more weeks until The Open Championship and a return to a bit more civility.  

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!