Armchair Decathletes

What is it with some sports at the Olympics? For four years, little attention is payed, but as soon as a new host city brings the biggest sporting amalgamation to town, we cannot leave the couch. Canoe Slalom, Trampolining, BMX, Modern Pentathlon, suddenly we cannot get enough.

I can honestly say, I am a sports nut. I cannot get enough of it. With the Olympics, I suddenly I have a smorgasbord of sports in front of me for the next two weeks and I love it, but what has really tickled me with the Olympics is being able to watch high quality sport of a nature I have never experienced before. I have felt like this before, becoming engrossed in the Snowboard Cross and Ski Jump competitions during Vancouver 2010, and now, my obsession has grown. Just like a kid in a candy store, I have to have it all. If it’s on, I’ll watch it, and I’m not the only one.

I see the appeal that keeps us glued to the screen is the Olympic magic. This seems to be a phrase thrown around by the media at this time of year, but there is an allure. Why else would myself and 50 other college students wake at the ungodly hour of 5.30am in the middle of Bush Week to watch the opening ceremony. Yet there we were, and didn’t we love it.

Furthermore, we Aussies are known for supporting the underdog. The sports that we have never really had an interaction with draw us in, and we cannot help but support it. We are more than happy to sacrifice sleep, and seeing another McDonalds ad, to watch the Australian women’s water polo team on their charge to the final, or cheer Jessica Fox as she won silver (yes another one) in the final of the Women’s Kayak (K1). This is in our DNA, and there doesn’t even have to be an Aussie in the competition, as I was engrossed by the team archery battle between Mexico and Italy.

It’s not even the obscure sports that draw us in. Only twice since the Olympic Games begun have I witnessed the TV in the common room not switched over to one of the eight glorious Olympic channels Foxtel has provided us with. Firstly to watch the Super 15 final on Saturday night, and secondly so the latest episode of Toddlers and Tiaras could be watched (not supported by this writer). This blatant obsession on everyone’s part typifies the magic surrounding the games. Never before has such compliance been seen in front of the TV. The debate over Lifestyle You and Fox Footy has been quelled, at least until August 13, as athletes are cheered. When a member of our postgrad community took to the waters of Eton for the final of the men’s pairs (rowing), the common room had standing room only, as a large number gathered to view the event. In my short time at college I haven’t witnessed such national support. It was incredible.

The question shouldn’t be why we enjoy obscure Olympic sports so much. It should be why do we love the Olympics so much? The spellbinding allure of the games keeps us there, and all that I can adequately say on this matter, is that, for this writer at least, the couch will not be vacated until the 13th August. Then…bring on the Paralympics!