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The Competition Is The Thing

by Tom King

:04 a.m. by Tom King

Read a great piece in on grantland.com yesterday by a writer named Charles Pierce. He's written some excellent stuff before but this one really got me. His premise was that those of us who grew up watching "The Wide World of Sports" on ABC have a deeper appreciation of the Winter Olympics. That we cherish and relish great competition even its in a sports we know little or nothing about. If you grew up a sports fan in the United States you feel you know baseball, football & basketball. Message boards and call in shows are filled with "experts" who know why coaches are morons and which players should be drafted where and the intracacies of the Cover Two defense. But those of us who watched Wide World on Saturdays were also exposed to ski jumping and bobsledding and barrel jumping and demolition derby and cliff diving and on and on and on. He believes and I do to that Jim McKay would have loved shor track speedskating and snowboarding and skeleton. The idea of Wide World was that competition is competition no matter if you even know the rules of the particular sport you are watching. Which brings me to my Saturday afternoon this past weekend. I was hunkered down watching Olympic Hockey (a sport I know a bit about) when they switched over to nordic skiing (which I know little about). Al Trautwig proceeded to tell me that the womens nordic ski relay was probably going to be a win for Norway. They hadnt lost a relay race since 2009 and were the heavy favorite. But they fell behind on the second leg and never caught up...but that wasnt the story. When Charlotte Kalla, skiing the anchor leg for Sweden started her segment, she was 25 seconds behind the leading skiiers from Finland and Germany, with their rival Norway in 4th. She was basically skiing for Bronze...but she wasnt going to settle for Bronze. With the King and Queen of Sweden looking on Kalla began her pursuit which cut the deficit to 13 seconds with 2.5 k to go. As they came to the final curve she was still 3rd but the leaders were running out of gas. She moved into first with a burst of speed that actually brought me out of my chair and brought a Holy Sh#* to my lips. And won. Competiton...from people I had never heard of before Saturday actually brought me out of my chair. That's why I love sports. And thats why I love the Olympics

BTW-Al Michaels compared the Norway-Sweden rivalry in Nordic skiing to the Packers-Bears or Red Sox-Yankees. To put things in perspective Norways biggest newspaper labeled the day the Greatest Disaster in Sports History. Oh, and the Swedish men beat Norway and everybody else to win Gold on Sunday.