Game it out

Sport Review #162

I always feel like I’m missing something.

Flipping through the Sky Sport Now menus trying to find the good stuff has been an obsession over the last week. For a while, I just couldn’t get things right. Hungry for some sweet sweet archery, handball or judo, I kept hitting medal ceremonies or people walking around empty stadiums just, like, preparing things. Boring.

I was aiming for a form of Olympic mindfulness - drinking the obscure sports, taking in the New Zealander’s medals, and appreciating the uniforms. Becoming one with the Olympiad like a stolen afternoon drinking gin and tonic in the bath.

But I was drawn into watching the big, traditional sports - football, sevens, tennis. And made no apology. We’ve been doing bloody well.

As a dad who used to get Rad, I was pretty hyped for the skateboarding, but Olympic skating is a far cry from what I remembered or indeed enjoyed. Riders lining up on scorching hot moon-like white concrete to try and fail at tricks one after the other is a stilted vibe, a far cry from the soul of the sport. No empty swimming pool, booze or Led Zeppelin soundtrack to be seen. I saw grizzled vet Tony Alva on Instagram saying the Olympics needed skating more than skating needed the games, and he’s right.

The first week is generally pretty desperate for medal-obsessed, per-capita table riding NZ fans, with our powerhouse sports like rowing and kayaking coming into the medals through the middle weekend and home stretch.

Back home, there are more parents than school disco pick up. Every athlete’s mum and dad has been rounded up and deposited in the Cloud so they can scream and shout and weep for the nation on cue. It’s staged and awkward - how would you like to be stuck in front of the cameras and be asked to produce tears on demand like some twisted water cooler? But everyone seems happy to play along, so I’ll allow it for now.

At least the NZ reporters are looking more relaxed with actual sport to talk about - the COVID situation seems under control roughly like a cat trapped in the cupboard under the sink, but at least talk of the games being cancelled seems erm, cancelled.

If you’ve missed them, the Black Ferns Sevens post-match interviews are now must-see TV of the highest order. ‘Just be honest and funny’ is golden advice for life, but especially for athletes. It’s no wonder people love them like no other.

The plan for the rest of the games? More of the same, but with better remote control management. The nagging feeling you’re missing out on the good stuff on other channels won’t go away. But I’m entirely focused on relaxing and enjoying the Olympiad while it’s here, because like leftover cake in the office kitchen with an all-staff email, it will be gone fast.

Thanks for reading - Richard

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