Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog - I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Sports Page 1 of 2

Superstitions and Ornery Boys on the Ski Slopes

Sticky post

My superstitious traditions didn’t protect me when I went skiing with my brother last week. I know, I know, superstitions are ridiculous. I’ve stepped on a lot of cracks and never broke my mother’s back. But still…

On Thursday my brother and I headed to the mountain. I like skiing with him because he’s as bad a skier as I am. On the hour and a half ride to get to Timberline, there are two things we always do because, I don’t know about him but for me, I think if I don’t do them something unfortunate might happen on the slopes.

If you’ve never skied, let me assure you, it’s dangerous. You’re going way too fast on snow and ice with your feet strapped to two boards that could turn on you at any minute. One board could go into a track left by a previous skier and follow that line, or you can “catch an edge,” while the other board keeps going straight. You’ve probably seen it happen in cartoons. Usually you can force the wayward ski to behave, but if it won’t, you fall. Which can hurt, but mostly it’s just a LOT of work. Picture a walrus in the Arctic trying to get up on an ice floe, grunting and swaying and bellowing. That’s like one of us struggling back up from a fall, covered in snow like a powdered donut – well, not really, because a walrus is more graceful. Also you can get hit by a beginning snowboarder who’s going too fast and hasn’t learned how to stop yet except to ram into you and flatten you like a steamroller.

That’s the reason traditions/superstitions come into play. We want all the help we can get. The first thing we do, on the way up to the mountain just past the town of Sandy, is salute a metal sculpture. My son started that one when he was just a toddler. On a road trip going toward Mt. Hood he spotted a metal sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley in someone’s side yard. He shouted, “Skelekos Rider!” because that’s the best he could do at such a tender age. So every time we go on Hwy. 26 and we pass that sculpture, we raise one fist in the air like the man on the Harley and say, “Skelekos Rider!”

This sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley with his hand raise up is cool in itself, but I liked the old car and tow truck in the background, too. Not to mention the "Harley" sign.
This sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley with his hand raised up is cool in itself, but when we pulled over to snap this picture, I liked the old car and tow truck in the background, too. Not to mention the “Harley” sign.

Scary Beavers and Ducks

What a fantastic day for football in Oregon. Both the Oregon Ducks and the Beavers won their games today. I got to enjoy the Beavers game in person.

I think it is amazing, however, that the two most competitive colleges in this state could not come up with more fierce sounding mascots than Ducks and Beavers.

The Oregon State Beavers at least try to make their mascot seem ferocious. On the giant scoreboards, the cartoon Beaver has a chainsaw. When the other team gets a third down, the Beaver fires up the chainsaw and starts cutting down trees one after the other with a determined look in his eyes.

At least the Beaver can get a little respect because, even though he’s a water dwelling varmint who makes his living gnawing on trees, he’s smart enough to use a piece of kick-ass equipment to shred his opponents – at least psychologically. Whenever the chainsaw starts, the crowd roars and this, in turn, psychs out the opposing team.

But what about the University of Oregon Duck? What’s he going to do to his adversaries? Quack them into begging for mercy? “Oh please Mr. Duck, please don’t quack at us any more.”

Or perhaps the Duck could slap them around with his webfeet. I’m just not seeing it. A duck does not bring fear and trembling into my heart.

That Duck is nothing to mess with, though. When the team scores, he gets down and does pushups for the number of points scored. He had to do 51 pushups today in the game against Stanford. The crowd counts along to keep him honest. That’s got to be one strong Duck, even if he doesn’t go all the way down.

Speaking of going down, I’m taking a PE course and they wanted us to do a physical assessment on the first day. I thought I could do about 30 pushups, but I’ve apparently been doing them wrong because I could only do seven the way the PE teacher wanted them done. She made me go all the way down so that my elbows were at a 90-degree angle. Do you know how hard that is? It’s really, really hard, that’s how hard. Try it if you don’t believe me.

But where was I? Oh yeah, at the game today. We sat down in our seats and were smacked with a waft of BO that hit me like the breath of a garbage-eating dragon. It was really acrid. There was a gentleman sitting upwind of us who was spread across the seats of two men. My husband said, “I bet that’s where it’s coming from.” Now this might have been a mean thing to say, but I think that was precisely where the foul odor was coming from.

“Have you got anything aromatic in your backpack?” I asked. My husband dug around but all he could find was a roll of Life Savers. I rubbed a cherry one just under my nose so I could smell cherry instead of armpit. It was somewhat effective.

The day was fun, I got to each a ton of potato chips. I love chips. There can be a table full of exotic foods and I’ll just sit beside the potato chips and gorge on them the whole time. I’ll eat the exotic foods, too, but I’ll continue to graze on the chips all day and night. There’s just something about that salty crunch that I cannot get enough of even when my stomach aches from way too many.

Well, I guess that’s enough excitement for one day. I’ve covered Beavers and Ducks, pushups and potato chips. I guess I’m going to have to live with the fact that Oregon’s mascots are not jungle predators, but are peaceful little creatures minding their own business, at home in the rain we’re famous for and the beautiful outdoors. But tell you what, you don’t want to mess with them, because one might be packing a chainsaw – and the other’s bite is way worse than his quack. GO OREGON!!!

Sometimes Losers Do Win

I have another sports story to share. This involved my son’s high school snowboard team a couple of years ago. Since snowboarding is not a school-sponsored sport, the team is run by volunteers. I was in charge of the whole shebang, which meant I hired the coaches, collected money from all the members, paid for the buses, processed all the release forms and other paperwork, etc. Plus I went to all the competitions, practices, and state competition. Riding the bus up with these kids 10 times during the season (2 hours each way), I got to know everyone pretty well.

I inherited coaches the first year, but the next year I hired three new ones, keeping only Juanita. One of the new coaches was a pretty fun guy named Justin. He was full of ideas, most of them crazy but the kids thought they were cool. Justin would find fallen trees, pack the tops with snow, and have the kids snowboard across them as a way to practice balance rather than starting out on the metal rails. I didn’t totally approve because I’d ski around the five hours we were there patrolling for kids in the trees smoking pot or doing inverts (front or back flips) or not wearing helmets. Once I watched a string of kids flying across a  “tree rail” as Justin called it that was seven or eight feet off the ground. They sailed off the end of it, landing hard about twenty feet down the mountain. I couldn’t watch for long – I just pictured them falling off sideways and breaking their necks. All of them. They broke plenty of other stuff in the three years I was in charge, but never on these little side adventures Justin took them on.

We were having a kick ass season, and then the injuries started piling on until we looked like the Portland Trailblazers – many of our best snowboarders got sidelined with broken wrists and dislocated shoulders – the most typical snowboard injuries. One girl broke both wrists at one time.

State was coming up, and we needed people who could qualify for the boardercross team – a six man group that races down the hill together and tries to get the best average team time. Only the top four times are used, but you were supposed to send six guys down.

Two weeks before state my son broke his collarbone. Then a couple of other guys got injured. Luckily I had fixed it so that a ton of kids got to go to state because we rented a huge house and I wanted as many people as possible to pitch in on expenses. Plus I wanted the new people to get the experience. We allowed up to three alternates to come along with all those who qualified so we ended up with about 25 kids.

The night before the boardercross, one of our fast boarders said his back hurt too much to compete, so that left us with two fast boarders and the rest would have to be alternates who had shown themselves to be anything but speedy. At first Justin tried to talk my son into doing the run with his sling, but I nixed that immediately. With that hope dashed, there wasn’t any way we could finish anywhere but last, which had the two fast guys bummed, and the slow guys felt bad because they knew they weren’t good enough to make a difference. All our heads were hanging low.

Then Justin came up with an insane idea. “If we can’t be the fastest, we can be the coolest,” he said. When he said it, I didn’t realize he meant that literally. He met with the dejected six and explained that the only way they could redeem themselves from finishing last would be to go down the mountain in style – and by that he meant bare backed – no coats, no shirts, no nothing.

“No way,” I said. “You are NOT going to catch pneumonia on my watch.”

They all gathered around and begged. “We won’t catch cold. We’ll take everything off just as we get ready to load in the gate and Justin will carry our stuff down and be there when we get to the bottom.”

“No. End of discussion,” I said. But I was starting to warm up to the idea. They were so enthusiastic, and I could see that it would build team spirit. Plus it would put an end to their moping around, which was depressing everybody. I let them beg and plead a while longer, and then I grudgingly gave in. “But if anyone gets sick, I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Oh we won’t. We won’t,” they said, adding, “You’re the best!”

The next morning was overcast, windy, cold, and miserable. The boys were beside themselves with excitement, and it had infected all the rest of the kids and the chaperones, too. Someone told someone in the crowd, and before long people were coming up to me to ask if it was true that the boys weren’t going to wear shirts.

“Fraid so,” I said. “They’ve made up their minds, and what can you do?”

When it was our school’s time to go, the crowd was cheering like crazy. I was midway down the course, and since it twisted over hills and through trees, I couldn’t see the starting gate but I had an official two-wary radio and heard the crowd up on top get really loud so I knew they had taken their shirts off. I was bundled up for Siberia and was still freezing, so I couldn’t imagine what that cold mountain air felt like on bare skin.

“They’re on their way,” one of the officials said over the radio, “AND THEY’RE NOT WEARING ANY SHIRTS!” We could hear the wave of cheers coming down the mountain. When the first guy rounded the corner, he had his hands over his head, pumping his fists and yelling, “Woooooooo.” The people loved it. I got my camera ready and snapped a few shots as they flew by. They were scattered – the fast guys passed in a streak and the slower ones came into view like they were just moseying along. They all had their arms up to show what tough guys they were, and I got chill bumps when they went by – and not from the cold.

Soon after the last guy passed, two of the coaches snowboarded down, arms loaded with coats, shirts, and fleeces. “Hurry,” I yelled, “they’re going to freeze to death.” Justin grinned like a mule eating briars. “Don’t worry. Those boys are SMOKIN!”

The team came in a distant last, but they did it with style. If any of them got colds, they had the good sense not to tell me about it. When I got home I wrote up a play by play of the race for all 90 kids and their parents and emailed it to them with the pictures. I called it, “The Bareback Boys Win the Crowd’s Hearts at State.” I got a standing ovation at our end-of-season banquet – all because I let those boys turn a bunch of lemons into lemonade.

Powder Puff Power Play

I promised I’d tell about the powder puff football game. Last fall the junior girls were pitted against the senior girls, and it was pre-determined that the seniors would win.  That’s only fair, my daughter explained, because next year when she was a senior she’d get to win.

“How do they manage to guarantee the seniors will win?” I asked.

“Oh, the refs give the juniors a bunch of extra penalties and stuff,” she said.

At first my husband tried to get out of going to the game. “I don’t want to watch a bunch of little girls playing flag football,” he said with disgust. But my friend Gina had a bunch of us over for dinner and we went straight to the game, so he came along.

While we were scrunched in the stands trying to keep warm, waiting forever for the game to begin, one of the dads called out, “Did anyone bring a boda bag?” We all laughed (and secretly wished someone had yelled, “Over here!”)

My daughter’s prom date, Johnny, was the junior’s head coach – chosen by the school’s football coach. It looked like he had gotten eight or nine of his friends as assistants.  They were all wearing the forest green t-shirts with “Juniors Rule” scrawled in sloppy white paint on the front that the girls had made for them.

When I compared the size of the junior girls lined up next to the seniors, and saw all the talent on the junior team, I thought, those poor seniors don’t stand a chance.

The juniors got the ball first. My daughter’s job was to call everyone into the huddle. They plotted for a few seconds, then the two teams faced each other on the line and squatted down just like real football players except they weren’t wearing shoulder pads. The junior’s center picked up the football and stood up, saying, “Hey, they gave us the wrong ball.  Look at this, it’s the wrong ball.”  She turned and handed it to the quarterback.

The quarterback hollered, “Yeah, hey this is the wrong ball.” She looked at Johnny on the sideline and bellowed, “Hey, coach, you gave us the wrong ball.” She started walking toward him, calling out, “We can’t play with this ball, this isn’t the right one, there’s something wrong with this ball.”  Everyone else just stood there, waiting for someone to fix the screw up. I thought, this is going to be one long game.

The quarterback was almost to the sideline, still ranting about the ball, when Johnny yelled, “RUN!” She took off flying down the field, chased by a befuddled pack of seniors, and scored a touchdown on the very first play of the game.

You’ve never seen such carrying on.  Girls were bouncing up and down like they were on a trampoline, ponytails flying in the air, hugging and flailing their arms and squealing with delight.

“Was that legal?” I shouted above the cheering parents.

“Johnny found it online,” Gina shouted back.  “He ran it by the athletic director first to make sure it was legal, and he said it was.”

The seniors sulked and accused the juniors of cheating, and even though the athletic director/referee squelched their grumbling, it’s probably the reason the game got a little rough.  It was supposed to be flag football, but juniors were getting tackled, especially Gina’s daughter, Julia, who was like a cheetah on the field.  She has broken school records in track. The quarterback kept handing the ball to her, and she’d run toward the sideline, gaining several yards before literally getting knocked out of bounds.

Once my daughter ran off the field crying and holding the splinted finger she’d broken in gymnastics. Another time Julia limped off, crying, after being tackled. And several girls stayed down on the field after plays. When it happened, both teams got down on one knee, but since it would take awhile for the injured girl to get up, some of the juniors started whispering. If it went on for a few seconds my daughter belted out, “SHUT UP!” loud enough for all of us in the stands to hear. She later told me that Johnny thanked her and finally told her he’d call the game if the girls did it again.

The seniors scored, then the juniors scored, then the seniors scored again and it was a tie game with a couple of minutes left on the clock. My daughter rushed two times in a row and snatched the senior quarterback’s flag, which led to them turning the ball over when they missed getting a first down.

A couple of quick plays got the juniors in field goal position with two seconds left on the clock.  To make sure the juniors didn’t score and win the game, the referee put the ball way off to the side of the field so it couldn’t possibly go through the goal posts. Nobody could make such a kick.

Aleeta, the six foot tall soccer queen, got in position to kick. We were screaming in the stands, blowing frosty steam and jumping up and down. Aleeta ran up to the ball and gave it a good solid soccer kick at an impossible angle, and it flew like a homing pigeon right through the middle of the goal posts to win the game.

The whole junior class raced out on the field like kids on the last day of school – jumping, screaming, and waving their arms. Parents went down on the field too, though we were totally ignored for the longest time until our daughters came tearing out of the massive hive of kids and nearly knocked us down with excited hugs,  “WE WON!  WE WON!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, WE WON!!!!”

“Did you like the game, daddy?” my daughter asked when she caught her breath.

“Best game I’ve seen in a long time.  Beats most college games I’ve seen,” he said.

The next day my daughter was still pumped up.  She was so hoarse from screaming that some words didn’t come out. She showed me all her bruises, and there were plenty because she had played both offense and defense.  “This one senior hit me right in the face,” she said, “and she hit Hannah, too.  And they were pulling girls’ hair from behind when we were running with the ball.  I’ve got this giant bruise on my thigh, and feel this one here on my arm, it’s sticking up.  And one of them grabbed my splinted finger and twisted it. They were really mean, mom.”

After school on Monday my daughter reported that the seniors mumbled the word, “Cheaters,” a lot.  “They need to just let it go,” she said.  “It wasn’t our fault we won.  We just did our best.”

The juniors had a secret weapon. It was Johnny who won the game for them – with that incredible first play. That’s the kind of guy he is. Smart and clever and sweet.


I had the great good fortune to attend the Portland Trailblazers playoff basketball game today against Phoenix. We whooped them, and that was exciting. I’m hoarse and worn out from cheering.

Watching the game, I noticed a few things. One was that every player who fouls someone is completely surprised when the ref calls a foul. 100% of the time they raise their arms to say, “Who me? What did I do?” Then we see the instant replay on the gigantic TV screen and see the player push or trip the someone. Yet they all act innocent and even start a fight with the ref.

Another thing they do is push each other when they think the ref isn’t looking. It’s like a constant power struggle going on out there on the court. I saw one player shove another one hard while everyone was running down the court. They’re like little boys on the playground except they’re practically eight feet tall.

When the dancers come on the floor during time outs, all I can think about is that they’re great candidates for chiropractic care. They shake their heads around so much that surely they get whiplash. They’ve all got long hair, and the hair always ends up in their faces as they sling their heads from side to side or in circles. They can’t move the hair off their faces because they have to keep their arms in sync. The TV cameras zoom in on their faces and they have hair in their mouths. It drives me crazy.

I used to think the girls looked so sleazy, but now that I’m going to lots of the games I’ve gotten used to their sexy outfits and camel toes. The shock factor is gone. They’re just girls who have bad taste in clothes. Who wears shiny red bathing suit tops with low-slung black bell-bottom pants with sequins sewn on the waist? They look like models from Frederick’s of Hollywood.

I’m so happy I got to see the game, got to comment on the girls’ outfits, and saw a few jabs that the refs didn’t catch. If I hadn’t gone to a margarita party after it was over I’d probably write more and not hit so many typos.

Go Blazers!

Learning Basketball the Hard Way

Speaking of basketball games, my son played basketball in 5th grade for a club team led by a pretty sharp coach, and the boys on the team were quite intense. They were very good players and got in the habit of winning.

My son, however, seemed to avoid the ball. He was a good shooter when we practiced at home, so I suspected he was afraid of making a mistake. He was great at blocking, but when his team had the ball, he would hide behind other players to avoid having anyone pass the ball to him.

I thought I was a pretty smart mom, and I also thought I could fix the problem so he could live up to his basketball potential. First I tried encouraging him to get the ball and shoot, but he never did. Finally I had the great idea to give him $2 every time he got the ball and tried to make a basket.

At the next game he was all over the ball. He rebounded and took a shot, and made it. I would have been ecstatic except that he was shooting at the wrong end of the court. When his teammates were running down to the other side, he stayed behind and shot – and made two points for the other team.

The ref blew the whistle, and our team got the ball. He got a hold of it and immediately turned and put a basket right through the net. Another two points for the other team.

Clearly he did not understand the mechanics of the game. His coach called a time out, and the team huddled together. When they got back on the floor, every  time someone on his team got the ball, they immediately passed it to him. He looked like a deer in the headlights. He’d shoot and miss, they’d rebound and pass it right back to him and he’d have to shoot again. Finally he made a basket.

I could tell he was miserable. The other team scored, and when we got the ball, he couldn’t hide – his teammates hunted him down like stalkers and passed the ball to him. He’d shoot it, miss, and they’d rebound and fire it right back to him. I felt so sorry for him because the ball refused to go in the basket the first few tries. Finally he scored again. After that, the team went back to normal. It was obvious the coach had told them to let my son shoot until he got the points back he’d given to the other team. Thank goodness they won the game or no telling what they would have said to him.

Surprisingly, my son wasn’t terribly embarrassed about the whole thing when we got in the car to go home. “I just didn’t like everybody passing to me, mom. It wasn’t any fun. Oh, and you owe me $20,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“I shot ten times, so you owe me $20.”

From then on, I decided I’d stay out of his athletic endeavors.

Why I Won’t Be at Geoff and Steve’s TCU Appearance

Geoff and Steve, those really cute guys from the Science Channel’s Meteorite Men, are going to be in Ft. Worth on Saturday, April 10th at TCU’s Monnig Meteorite Gallery from 3 to 6 p.m. Wish I could be there but (a) I have to stay in Portland for my daughter’s track meet and (b), I’m mad at Texas.

I went to a Trail Blazer game tonight against Dallas, and those Texas boys were just plain mean. The second the refs’ heads were turned, they’d smack Brandon Roy or somebody, and then the ref would look around and see Roy spitting nails and call a technical against Portland. Portland got 4 technical’s, which is outrageous, and maybe one was deserved but the others were a result of taunting by those nasty Dallas oafs – and really awful officiating.

I’ve rarely seen such lousy refs. It wasn’t just me. The whole crowd started chanting, “These refs suck.” I certainly don’t condone that kind of rudeness, but in this case they had a good point. Most of the time I can’t see when a foul is made, but the giant screen always shows replays and everyone can see that there was no foul. Was the ref hallucinating? Do they call things for spite when the crowd starts booing?

At one point the players almost got in a fistfight and both teams rushed out on the floor. It was exciting. And one spectator was inciting the fans to keep chanting about the sucking refs, so he was escorted out of the arena by security guards.  When he left everyone cheered their support, so another couple of guys took up the fight and they got ejected. I have to admit it was one of the best games I’ve ever been to as far as entertainment goes.

Also at halftime they had a percussion band playing drums made out of recycled or everyday materials because it was Green Day (not the band, the occasion). The Rose Garden where the Trail Blazers play is the first sports facility in the entire universe to earn an LEED Gold Certification for sustainability. I’m just prickly with pride for Portland! I’m sure they picked this band because the drummers played on everything from upside down plastic tubs to ten-foot ladders, and they were darn good at it.

All in all is was one of those evenings you’re happy that you were there, except that Dallas played a dirty game, so I’m mad at Texas. But if I weren’t, I’d certainly be at TCU meeting Geoff and Steve and watching their slide show and getting autographs and checking out one of the world’s biggest university collection of meteors. Next time I’m in Texas, I’m going to spit on the pavement to show that Dallas team just exactly what I thought of their shenanigans tonight.

Can’t Do Attitude

I wrote yesterday about those crazy Olympic athletes who risk their lives flying up in the air on skis or racing over the ice, and how their parents should have stopped them from these maniacal pursuits. Then it dawned on me that the parents were probably encouraging their little tikes all along.

These parents must have demonstrated a “Can Do,” attitude to their children. Here’s a normal response to a small child wanting to race down a hill full speed on a couple of boards: “Are you crazy? You’ll kill yourself.”

Here’s the response from Olympic parents: “Not only can you fly down the hill like a blur, I will buy you all the expensive equipment and lift tickets, and drive you two hours to the mountain every weekend.”

That’s a can do attitude, which I think is probably essential to any potential neck-breaking activity. But it’s not just limited to sports. A can do attitude carries over into all walks of life.

Which is why I think it’s so sad that I seem to only have a Can’t Do philosophy. I tried to keep track of how many Can’t Do’s I say in a given day, and it’s about a zillion.

Here’s a sample list:

I can’t see without my glasses

I can’t reach the clock to replace the batteries

I can’t stand waiting in lines at the grocery

I can’t walk that far

I can’t remember the subject of this blog

These are self-imposed limits I put upon myself that keep me from being as rich as Warren Buffet and as talented as Meryl Streep. My can’t do attitude is the only thing keeping me from the successes I know are out there waiting for me to pluck them like low growing fruit.

I’m taking a stand right here and now. I’m not going to play second fiddle anymore – even if I could play the fiddle, because I now realize that I, too, could be great in way more ways than just shuttling kids around and shouting at them to be quiet. Perhaps I could aspire to swim the English Channel, or climb Mt. Everest.

There’s only one problem. What busy adult has enough time to practice at being great? You can’t just walk up to the base of Mt. Everest in your flip flops and start moseying up to the top. There’s equipment to purchase, and hours of hikes and exercises to get ready. You have to have Shirpas! How can I, a woman without visible means, work, have a family, and do all that?

The answer is, I can’t. Oh crap. I didn’t mean to say that. The answer is, I could if I really wanted to, because I’d make time and I’d earn the money, by golly.

But now that I think this through a little more, maybe this is why Olympic athletes are all young. Their parents are their athletic supporters, and they’ve got all the time in the world to practice.

While I, sigh, may not be able to pursue dangerous, death-defying dreams of my own at this juncture in my life, I can still keep a can do attitude about my everyday activities. I can push away that brownie. I can get to appointments on time. I can exercise when I’d rather be sleeping in.

And I can see without my glasses, if I put the zoom up to 300%. I feel like a champion already!

Crazy Olympians

I have been watching the Olympics with awe. I think these athletes should receive all the admiration and accolades we can give, whether or not they walk off with a medal.

That being said, does anyone besides me realize how insane these people are? Look at the halfpipe competition. The snowboarders are going up a wall of ice that is 22 feet straight up, and they’re trying to go as high into the air ABOVE that as they can, AND do flips and twists while they’re up there, then come back down and land on that same sheer wall. Shaun White went 18 feet above the wall to win the gold medal. They kept showing a video of him at an earlier competition coming down and smashing his face against the lip of the wall. His helmet flew off, his head snapped back, and it looked like it wouldn’t be an injury anyone would walk away from, but he did.

I’ve skied in a halfpipe. It’s scary just going straight down the middle. You’re in a tunnel, and we’d make a little ripple over the base of the wall; just enough to go up in the air slightly and then come back down. Scared the crap out of me. I heap an avalanche of praise on all the snowboarders who compete on the halfpipe.

Then there’s downhill skiing. These lunatics go 80 mph and more on ice and in fog as thick as gravy. I’m afraid to go that fast in an automobile.

The people doing luge, bobsled, and skeleton are certifiable. My view of these sports is obscured by my fingers. I watch them like I watch a horror movie – with my hands in front of my face so I won’t see something too awful for too long. I just saw a women’s team doing bobsled where the back teammate was flung out of the sled and went the rest of the course sliding down the track on her back going 35 mph. What possesses people to want to do this?

The ice skating stresses me out when the athletes jump into the air and do triple turns and then land on a blade that looks thinner than a fingernail file. These people must have bruises all over them, because they fall even in competition, so you can imagine what they do in practice. Ice racing is frightening to watch, too, because when a racer goes down, (s)he takes everyone else with them, with those razor blades on their feet going in all directions as they skid across the ice on their backs.

Freestyle skiing, snowboard cross, ski jumping – all of these are so dangerous looking. You’ve got to wonder, who are these athletes’ parents? When that little five year old came up and said they wanted to ski and win the a medal in the Olympics, why didn’t their parents lock them in the closet for a few years until they grew out of it? If my child were one of these crazies, I don’t know how I could sleep. Of course I’d be proud, but I would wear out my welcome with the good Lord praying for my child’s safety night and day.

The only winter sport I’d ever want any child of mine to aspire to would be curling. It is both a safe Olympic sport and an entertaining one – and by entertaining I mean hilarious. Those sweepers with their frenetic brooms intently swishing in front of the stone as it works it’s way toward the target – in a covered building with no hills in sight – are the perfect demonstration of athletic prowess. So what if they are such a powerful contrast to Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White. At the end of the day, they all stand on the podium as equals. As a mother I could brag just as much about my curling athlete going to the Olympics.

I’m so proud of all these athletes, and they are an inspiration to all of us to not spend so much time in front of the TV and get out there and live – after the Olympics are over, of course.

Super Bowl Relief

Super Bowl Sunday – the day we gather with friends or food or both and enjoy a game of watching grown men run around the field holding a ball and being chased by other very large men who want to stop their progress, and if they’re lucky, drag him to the ground and create a human pile on top of him that weighs in excess of 4,000 pounds. And after they slowly climb back off, everyone lines back up and does it all over again.

As much as I enjoy football, I have to wonder what kind of crazy person plays this game? We see one man go down who doesn’t get back up. Another limps off the field, supported by men on either side. We watch in slow motion as men get hit from behind, their heads snapping back unnaturally, hitting the ground on their shoulder, flipping over and over before other giant men dive on top of them.

Everyone knows they play for the money, and the money is huge. But these guys didn’t start out playing in the Super Bowl. They started in grade school or high school, where there wasn’t any cash to motivate them. The players weren’t as big, but it was all relative; they were still getting knocked down, still getting piled on, and still getting back up to play some more.

Men will make fun of women when we go shopping all day in high heel shoes, or wrap our hips in suffocating elastic to appear slimmer, or wear curlers to make our hair pretty. But women have enough sense not to play football.

Today’s game was great, closely played, and with a good outcome. Some of the commercials were funny. My team won, and the food was ample and tasty. People stayed to help clean up, which was a real treat. I know they’re celebrating in New Orleans, and the Saints have become that much richer and probably are very thankful for the opportunity to play on the winning Super Bowl team.

Their headaches, twisted ankles, stubbed fingers, and aching elbows are probably distant memories as these players celebrate. And I have my own little celebration, because my son found other athletic entertainments growing up besides football. I know I would be proud of him if he were part of a winning Super Bowl team, but I would not enjoy the day knowing what might happen. So here’s to Super Bowls, and my selfish hope that I never have any of my relatives playing in one.

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Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Olsen