Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Perspecitve - The Winter Olympics Has Captured My Heart

By Rodney Hays

Hello, everyone. Hope you are having a wonderful winter and I hope that your life has been completely consumed these last few days in the Winter Olympics.

Because mine has not.

I do have to admit the Winter Olympics are my second favorite type of Olympics behind the Summer Olympics. But I also have to be really honest and say I just don't get the Winter Olympics.

It's probably because I grew up in Oklahoma. When I was growing up, we didn't have a whole lot of sports that even resembled the winter games. We didn't have any mountains for skiing. We didn't have any moguls to bounce around on. We didn't have any tracks for luging. And we didn't have any rinks for skating.

We did, however, have frozen ponds.

In the winter time, many of our ponds on the Box K Ranch would freeze and "we" would have to go around and break up the ice so the cows and buffaloes could get a drink. When I say "we," of course, I mean Doc McClure (who did most of the work) and me (who did most of the supervision).

Doc McClure was a man, a mentor, a teacher and a comedic genius. You've probably heard stories about guys who "lived in a van down by the river." Well, Doc McClure was that guy. He actually lived in an old school bus shell that was converted into living quarters for Doc and his family. And the guy knew his stuff.

He taught me how to stack hay in a barn and change out parts on a giant brush hog -- mainly since I was the one that caused the parts to malfunction in the first place.

He also made me laugh fairly regularly by the way he said "yeller hop" meaning "yellow hop" and the way he drank a thermos full of coffee even when it was 185 degrees in a barn in the middle of July. They don't make men like that anymore.


It was always fun donning my rubber boots and skating across a frozen pond. I oftentimes was able to do an axel jump, camel spin and a compulsory dance along the edges of the pond. But none of that was for points and would even really be considered sport -- especially by Doc McClure, who used to call me "fancy pants."

There was also a time when it snowed in Cromwell, where I grew up, and we sort of "skiied" behind Robert Moneypenny's Volkswagen Bug. We would tie a rope to his bumper, sit down on a trash can lid and he would pull us around the football practice field. And, yes, we did run over the high school principal's cat, but, no, it still was not a sport.

We didn't even get close to anything called "Nordic combined," where athletes do two special events: a ski jump and then they go skiing on flat ground in the middle of winter with a deer rifle strapped to their back.

And the only thing that got "curled" was the Pentecostal women's hair on Sunday morning.

This was Oklahoma.

Although I haven't watched more than five minutes of this year's Winter Olympics, I did sit through the men's short track racing the other day. It is kinda cool to watch those guys spin around that track with basically knives on their feet. And we have an American that actually wins medals in those events. He's name escapes me now, but he's named after a Greek god or something.

I would also like to point out that nobody should be subject to curling. That is not a sport, people. At worst, curling is mopping the floor. At best, curling is a game for people who get iced in, have a little too much schnapps to drink and some extra brooms in the garage.

I cannot for the life of me imagine our Greek ancestors in Athens "curling" for sport. I can see them running (while nude). I can see them throwing a javelin (nude). I can see them swimming (nude). And I can possibly -- possibly, mind you -- see them skiing across the flat land strapped with a deer rifle (nude, but it would be weird). But I can never see the ancient Greeks saying, "Why don't we go grab a big rock and slide it on the ice and see how close we can get to that target down there. You guys grab a couple of mops. We'll leave our togas over here."

The other guys would respond by saying: "Are you nuts? What is ice?"

It just wouldn't happen.

But I do know why the Olympics are important. They bring countries together to root for athletes that are dedicated to these sports for no other reason than they are paid millions of dollars in endorsement money.

That's a joke. It's actually billions of dollars.

Haha. Another joke.

The Olympic games allow people across the world to come together in a spirit of international competition to watch their favorite athletes come in fourth to the Americans, French and Chinese.

So, I plan on going home some time this week, setting down, flipping on the television and preparing to watch what might just be the most important television you will see this year: "American Idol."

What did you think I was talking about?

If there is anything I learned from Doc McClure it was appreciate life, drink plenty of coffee and keep your eye out for a nice old bus and a small piece of the American dream.

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