Look, I want to get excited about the Winter Olympics. I really do. I want to spend February binge-watching jingoistic competitions with athletes that have prepared their whole lives only to fail in their biggest moments. I want to root against Russia. I want to make myself set a 4 am alarm to watch women play a tense game of ice shuffleboard.
But I can’t. I can’t do it. And you know why?
Because the Winter Olympics stink.
The Winter Olympics are a watered-down frozen-over version of the Summer Olympics we put on every four years to make Scandinavia feel better about itself because they can’t keep up with the rest of the world at real sports.
The Summer Olympics are must-see plan-your-night-around-it appointment television. They’re Michael Phelps and Simone Biles and the Dream Team. Summer Olympics are athletic competition at the highest level. The Winter Olympics are a glorified X Games. They’re a novelty. They’re lol-what’s-this-sport-I-haven’t-seen-in-four-years-so-sure-I’ll-watch-15-minutes.
1. There aren’t enough big Winter Olympic moments.
What are your favorite Winter Olympic moments? Which moments do you remember most?
The Miracle on Ice, if you’re old enough. But what else?
Nancy and Tonya was a big moment. There was the Jamaican bobsled team. You probably remember a few big skiing accidents. So outside of the Miracle on Ice, the biggest Winter Olympics moments are… failures?
Every Summer Olympics are a veritable One Shining Moment reel of highlights. Michael Phelps slapping on the water, urging his teammates forward. Usain Bolt’s relaxed smile as he breaks the tape in stride. Kerri Strug’s determined grimace as she lands on one leg. You could come up with 15 more summer moments without even trying.
Where are the Winter Olympics moments? How many things will happen in the next three weeks that will have everyone talking around the water cooler the next day? Will anything?
2. Winter Olympic locations stink.
Recent Summer Olympics have been held in Rio, London, Beijing, Athens, and Sydney. They’ll travel to Tokyo, Paris, and Los Angeles next. These are some of the world’s great cities (and L.A.!!), places anyone would be lucky to travel and take in all the sights and sounds.
The Winter Olympics send us to Korea, to Sochi, to Vancouver, Japan, and Norway. The coolest place the Winter Olympics have ever been held is probably Turin, and Turin isn’t even a top-five city in Italy.
Even the U.S. Winter Olympic locations suck: Salt Lake, Lake Placid, Squaw Valley. Would you even know where these places are if not for the Olympics? Quick, where’s Squaw Valley? Liar.
And do you know why the Winter Olympics are all in such crappy locations? Because they’re the Winter Olympics!! We have to put them in cold, nasty places. That’s literally the point.
Half these places are fake winter news anyway. Remember how they import fake snow and build fake ski hills, and how some years there are events delayed because the course melted? Come on.
3. There’s just not enough of everything.
The Summer Olympics are bigger and better in every imaginable way.
The 2016 Olympics saw 206 nations compete. Know how many countries will compete this winter? Just 92. Spoiler alert: it’s not really snowy in Africa.
There are 102 Winter Olympic medal events. The last Summer Olympics had 306. That’s literally three times as much Olympics!! The whole point of the Olympics is to stop paying attention to our lives for three weeks and be over-saturated with jingoistic goodness. How are we supposed to do that if there’s only a handful of gold medals given out each day?
Remember all the American golds at the Summer Olympics? Katie Ledecky won a bunch. Simone Biles won nearly everything. We won 46 golds in all.
Do you know how many golds we won last Winter Olympics?
The all-time American record in the history of manifest destiny was ten golds at Salt Lake City. Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in Beijing ALL BY HIMSELF.
There just aren’t enough Winter Olympic events. You could name at least 20 Summer Olympic events without even breaking a sweat. Gun to your head (that’s called biathlon!), how many you got for winter?
Skiing, skating, bobsledding… that’s pretty much it. Everything else is basically some version those three.
Stick a person on a thing, put the thing on ice: Winter Olympic sport. Yay.
4. There’s no enemy to root against.
No one needs to tell you to root against Russia and China in the Summer Olympics. You’re an American. You were born into it. You know who leads the all-time Winter Olympics medal count?
They have 329 medals, which is only like six more than Michael Phelps. We’re second. The Soviet Union is still top-four, and they haven’t even existed for three decades. The rest of the top ten is littered, and I do mean littered, with such luminaries as Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden.
Who gets fired up about beating a bunch of tall Scandinavians? Not me, that’s for sure. Usually, we at least get Russia, but they took that away this year, too. Sports need rivalries. Norway isn’t a rival. Bring us some real competition.
5. The United States is just better at summer stuff.
Bet you don’t need two guesses to figure out who tops the all-time Summer Olympic leaderboard. It’s us, with 2,522 medals. We have more gold medals than anyone else has medals. Suck it, rest of the world.
The Summer Olympics are better because we are better at Summer Olympics.
No red-blooded American is tuning in to watch us lose a badminton match. We are only addicted to watching swimming and gymnastics because we win. You wouldn’t tune in to watch Katie Ledecky swim laps if she was going to finish sixth.
Ever been to the grocery store when there’s snow on the way? It’s like the apocalypse. Americans PANIC at the first sight of winter. We skate on dates and ski when we’re rich. That’s it.
We run and swim and play basketball all the time. We’re just better at that crap.
When the Summer Olympics come around, you plan your entire life around the key moments. Phelps races. Usain Bolt sprints. Basketball and soccer gold-medal games. All appointment viewing.
What Winter Olympic events are can’t-miss? Maybe an ice skating final? Anything else? Perhaps a hockey gold-medal match?
There’s another problem — not enough team sports. Summer Olympics has basketball, volleyball, handball, water polo. Winter Olympics is pretty much just hockey, and we’re not even sending pros anymore so that stinks now, too.
7. The Winter Olympics are sexist.
I’m sorry you had to find out this way.
There are 53 men’s-only events at the Winter Olympics and only 46 for women. Uhh… anybody ever heard of Title IX??
There are three men’s ski jumping events but just one for women. There’s a thing called Nordic combined that leaves women out altogether.
Why can’t women be counted on to ski jump? Are we afraid of breaking their tiny osteoporotic bones? Are we still living in the 1800s?
8. The athletes are less identifiable because they’re buried under 17 layers of clothing.
Quick, name three athletes you’re looking forward to watching at the Olympics. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Heck, how many American Winter Olympians can you name ever?
You got Shaun White and Apolo Anton Ohno. Who else do you remember from the past couple decades before you start dropping Brian Boitano and Scott Hamilton references? You remember Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, but not because of what they did on the ice. That’s like 25 years of memorable American Winter Olympians in one paragraph.
And would you even recognize these folks if you saw them in the supermarket? Or would you need to see them in a sleek bodysuit or a bunch of layers to figure out who they were?
Winter Olympics just don’t offer many memorable competitors. And the “winter” part is a big reason why.
9. The athletes are less identifiable because they just don’t win that much.
You know an easy way to recognize Katie Ledecky when you run into her at the mall? By the five gold medals she wears around her neck at all times.
Athletes win multiple medals all the time at the Summer Olympics. Our best swimmers are practically drowning in medals.
Winter Olympians just don’t win multiple gold medals. Eric Heiden won five golds at Lake Placid. Bonnie Blair won each in ‘92 and ‘94. Irving Jaffee and Jack Shea won two golds each in 1932, probably because Jesse Owens wasn’t allowed on the ice yet. That’s it. Five Americans in history have won multiple golds at one Winter Olympics. No wonder we don’t know them!
Wouldn’t you think Shaun White must’ve won like four or five medals in Sochi? Nope. None. He finished fourth in his lone event.
The all-time American winter medal leader is Apolo Ohno with eight. Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in one week! He has TWENTY-EIGHT medals. Our entire 300-million-person nation won 28 medals last Winter Olympics.
10. At the current rate of climate change, we can’t possibly have more than two, maybe three Winter Olympics left anyway.
Can’t say we’ll miss ‘em…