FLINT - I'll probably see quite a bit of the Olympics on TV the next few weeks but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
The Olympics have never been my thing. It baffles me why people suddenly get their shorts in a bunch over sports they otherwise don't watch. When, for instance, is the last time you planned your weekend around watching women's weightlifting or had the guys over for the big China vs. Japan badminton finals? ("My god, look at his forehand flick!")
I'll watch because the lovely yet formidable Marcia loves the Olympics and she has passed down that love to our 15-year-old daughter. Together they tend to set the TV agenda for the household because they're really, really good at glaring, especially at me.
So instead of watching the Detroit Tigers and the developing pennant race, I'll watch young women who weigh about as much as my left leg twirl ribbons on floor mats like chocolate crazed 6-year-olds.
I'll watch Michael Phelps swim for the glory of both America and the Subway sandwich chain. I'm not sure I'll feel any surge of patriotism when he wins, but I do predict that I'll suddenly feel the need for a meatball sub.
I'll even watch soccer, despite the fact that it is the single dullest sporting sport on TV, and I'm including golf, which some doctors, I'm told, are now using as pre-surgery anesthesia.
My beef with soccer is that nothing ever happens. You can watch soccer for seven hours and never see a goal. The only interesting thing about soccer is when a player gets bumped and falls to the turf writhing in enormous, soul-wrenching pain. As a viewer you think, "Jeez, he only got brushed and yet he's flopping around like a newly-caught trout. The poor guy, I wonder if he'll live." Then 30 seconds later, he'll pop up like nothing happened and resume play.
Some of the world's best acting is done on soccer fields. They ought to get Oscars.
Dullness is, in fact, the main problem with many Olympic sports. Everyone knows who's going to win the gold in men's basketball, for instance. American players probably spend as much time practicing to look surprised and tearful when they win as on their dribbling. Where's the fun in that?
Swimming events are decided by a hundredth of a second, which is so slim a margin that a victory might come down to who shaved their armpits closest. I can't see myself saying, "My money's on the U.S. this year - they're using Gillette."
Gymnastics is a complete mystery. Unless someone falls, I can't tell the difference between a good routine and a so-so one. They all look pretty good to me.
Call me a crass American, but I contend that a tweak or two would improve most Olympic sports. Take swimming. All they'd have to do to up the drama is put a great white shark in the pool. You wouldn't be able to tear me away from the TV.
Fencing would be vastly improved by just taking the little ball off the end of the swords.
And as my friend Moon Dimple likes to say about soccer, which he has always viewed as a communist plot, "There's nothing wrong with soccer that releasing a few dozen rabid wolverines on the field wouldn't fix."
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.