The Russian Olympics: Observations of a Perplexed Spectator

My friend Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire, went to Sochi with his wife, Nancy. He wrote a long, fascinating account of their stay in Russia for Medium. He included lots of pictures.

“You are such a sports fan,” Nancy said to me, as though she just noticed it after 30+ years. I do love and hate being a sports fan. I’m conflicted. I’m not always sure why I like to watch sports — and it is as a spectator that I’m most intensely involved.

The conflict for me is that I really don’t care anymore who wins or loses. This is true in the Super Bowl, World Series and the Olympics. I don’t have a team I’m rooting for. I’m looking for something else and I think I realized what it is at the Russian Olympics.

It’s hard to watch the Olympics on TV in America because of the way they package it for Americans, trying to develop a sense that we are rooting for our country and making a connection to American athletes. So much is fabricated, and I wanted to see beyond that. I didn’t come to root for TeamUSA, although I do care what Americans are doing and how American athletes are competing. But it is not why I came to Sochi.

The Russian Olympics: Observations of a Perplexed Spectator

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  1. Wow. That long read was worth the time, no question.

    And I learned something that no one has ever been able to explain to me. I grew up before Title IX was implemented, plus had a non-normal childhood, so I have never understood the general passion for spectator sports. But here it is:

    Something extraordinary was happening, and I realized that I shared their emotion, not because I rooted for the same team or same country, but I could ride the lifting emotion and energy, and its sudden appearance was something we all could enjoy. That was it, I thought at the time. That’s what I came for.
    A spectator of sport looks to share in this kind of exuberance with others. It is not something a person can create by or for himself. It depends completely on a ritualistic event that invites our participation. It may or may not happen and its unpredictability only enhances the payoff. It is a raw experience of energy, like a fountain of youth. It is rare but this kind of experience is revitalizing.
  2. That Goggomobil: SQUEEEEEE!

  3. I believe the author of that post is saying they are female, and referring to the law.

    Prior to this, there was really no problem just never teaching girls about anything considered "not feminine," which includes a large number of sports. In other words, growing up in an environment where sports are considered something for "the other."

  4. Really? ZAZ copied the design of the FIAT 600 for the Zaporozhets, not the Goggomobil.

    And I would also love a Chaika- though what I'd really like is the KGB-special Volga with the V8 engine from the Chaika. Soviet muscle car...

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