Lies and Untruths

Peter Gillette

Last Monday Corin Howland, erstwhile layout editor of this newspaper and surprisingly affable curmudgeon, called my attention to The New York Times, and its photographs of several “ice dancers” tripping and falling in spectacular fashion delighted me down to my very soul.
I began to realize that figure skating – and its many bastard offshoots that clutter the margins of legitimate athletic pursuits – is a sport best rendered in still life. Everything I need to know about the world of figure skating I can discover from a photograph: Nancy Kerrigan crying, Michelle Kwan crying, Oksana Baiul crying, some Russian woman falling before, one presumes, crying.
All right, class. It’s time for the SAT analogy portion of this column:
Figure Skating is to a real sport what US Weekly is to James Joyce; what Dr. Phil is to, say, Richard Dawkins; what Mr. Wizard is to Robert Oppenheimer; what a dumb, tackily dressed, mascara-addicted drunk girl with a digital camera at a freshman party is to Ansel Adams.
Remember: Figure skating spawned the movie “The Cutting Edge.” It took the combined efforts of “Cool Runnings” and “Miracle” to redeem the Winter Olympics’ film legacy.
It’s my sister’s fault I loathe figure skating. Every wintry Saturday for almost a decade, she’d be in front of the TV watching figure skating. What really made me angry was when she wasn’t watching figure skating: she had programmed the VCR – during prime time – so that the TV was tied up by the exact same routine she watched and taped the week before.
And she taped over my “Animaniacs” time and time again.
Figure skating and ice dancing are the chick equivalent to NASCAR. I hate NASCAR, too. Like figure skating, NASCAR is ubiquitous. Also like figure skating, NASCAR is not really a sport.
In real sports – say, basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball, archery, curling, ultimate frisbee, football, etc. – points are not awarded for grace, artistry, or anything of the like. That’s why figure skating is illegitimate, except as a loathsome form of artistic entertainment. And NASCAR is not a real sport because the only muscles exercised are the right foot and the mullet muscle. Ever seen a driver jump out of the car and sprint the last lap?
The Winter Olympics ought to feature basketball, a good sport for sure. In HDTV Olympic broadcasts of the summer games, it is said that you can actually hear the deflation of Allen Iverson’s ego.
“Doping” provides most of the entertainment in Torino, wherever that is. The Super Bowl was terrible. Our two highest-rated sports are fake. Ask sustainable gardener and sports editor Alex Weck – the best sports, just like the best vegetables, are homegrown.
So turn off NBC, turn on WLFM – better yet, get to Alex (not Weck). 22 and 0, playoff excitement in the air, and no doping subplots in sight. Odds are, nobody will trip and fall.
Except maybe Carroll’s ranking.