Monday, March 01, 2010

C'mon over, we're playing badminton

I admit that I only follow most sports for two weeks every four years. I save up all my spectator enthusiasm for intense biannual bursts. This means that I really keep up with my Olympics but miss out on what's going on in the sports in "off years."

So I've heard that Lindsey Vonn is good. And I noticed that she won a gold medal in Vancouver. But I really don't get the hype.

Four years ago, in Torino, it was very popular for Americans to hate Bode Miller. Apparently, he was a let-down and a failure for not winning a gold medal. Much was made of his "washing out" over and over on the slopes.

From what I saw in Vancouver, Vonn isn't so different. She did win a gold medal, it's true. And a bronze. But she wiped out in more events than she finished in this competition. Worse were her comments to interviewers. Vonn was scheduled to compete in five events in Vancouver. But when asked about the remaining events immediately after winning her first, Vonn replied, "I don’t care. I got what I came here to do, I got a gold medal."

I just kept thinking of other, less famous U.S. skiers, maybe alternates who didn't quite make the team but who really really would care to compete. I also like to think about athletes who think about team and country in addition to personal glory in the Olympics.

Interestingly, it's Bode Miller who helped put Vonn's performance - if not her comments - into perspective. To get the dramatic wins, you have to ski right on the edge of control, he suggests. You have spectacular successes . . . or spectacular failures.

But somehow Vonn is a media darling while Miller was a joke until his "surprise" comeback as a "more mature athlete" this year.

Of course, Vonn is hot. She's an extremely attractive young woman who races with make-up and styled hair, and has taken off nearly all her clothes to pose for a glossy men's magazine. But I'm sure that has nothing to do with the price of tea in, oh, nevermind.

P.S. Thank you, NBC for the wonderful Mary Carillo fix. She's still fabulous!

(Watch the video. Seriously. You won't regret it. Carillo's producer must be just off camera saying, "stretch it! stretch it!" What starts out as a boring description of badminton becomes a hilarious treatise on garage cleaning.)


tina said...

Ohmigosh - yes that is what Lindsey Vonn said, but I think you are taking it a bit out of context. She was extremely emotional at the time, it was amazing to see her. So joyful, excited, tearful. It wasn't even a sure thing she'd be able to ski with her shin injury and then to win the gold???!!! But, yes, she accomplished her main goal - the gold. I would imagine that everything paled after that. In a later interview she did talk about doing her best in ALL events.

I don't consider Sports Illustrated a "men's magazine". Yes, she posed in a swimsuit, as did other olympians, dancing with the star performers, and models. It was the SWIMSUIT issue. I will say that it showed me these women had strong bodies they had worked for all their lives. Something to be proud of. I didn't find it sexist or show-offish at all.

Sarahlynn said...

Tina, I think we'll have to agree to disagree about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. :-)

To clarify, I didn't call SI a "men's magazine" because it's about sports but rather because more than 78% of the readership is male. (Not to mention some of their editorial choices, including that swimsuit issue.)

The swimsuit issue . . . well, I have lots of thoughts about that. The models pose in "swimsuits" that are frequently not even real swimsuits, certainly not athletic swimsuits, and frequently aren't even made to get wet. A dusting of sand? A few strategically placed sea shells?

The swimsuit issue is what it is. What it's NOT is an exposition of "sport." Nor is it a fashion magazine which women peruse to see the latest swimwear fashions for summer. (See above re: readership. Also look at the comments readers make about the issue. They're not exactly about fashion or sports.)

No doubt, Vonn is an incredible athlete with a strong, gorgeous body. She has the right to pose in whatever she wants to wear for whatever publication she chooses. Certainly doing so has brought a lot of attention to her career.

flatflo said...

Omg! Loved that clip & want to know the story behind it. Thx for sharing!

Sarahlynn said...

Flatflo, me too! Someone should ask her in an interview sometime.

I Tivo all of Carillo's segments during the Olympics because I think she's fabulous. After I heard this one, I brought Paul in to watch. Then we recorded it to VHS and carried the tape around with us for a couple of years, forcing family and friends to watch. Eventually, the VHS tape stopped working. Sadness. Then the clip showed up on YouTube. YESSSSS!