Are you aware, sports fans, that we are on the precipice of a monumental, worldwide sporting event?
Yeah, it sort of snuck up on me too.
But no one would blame you if you didn't have Friday, the day the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver, circled on your desktop calendar long ago. In fact, it probably makes you part of a majority of people who ho-hum this jamboree of frozen athletics.
One could make an argument that compared to its much sexier Summer counterpart, the cold-weather Games are a distant second -- and that the difference between gold and silver is stark.
In fact, do we even care about the Winter Olympics or are they just a glorified two-week succession of made-for-TV human interest stories? Cynical as it may be, it's a valid question.
As sports fans, should we care about the athletes who sacrifice so much for this one shot at glory? Why can't we get as emotionally invested and entertained?
Maybe you do. If so, bless your heart.
You're able to appreciate the artistry of the figure skating, every little nuance to a record-setting luge run. You're able to appreciate these non-traditional sports for what makes them different.
But for many of us, there's just no connection to the niche sports that permeate the Winter Games. We've never tried a double axel or taken a life-threatening aerial off a ski jump. The sports lack a certain connectivity that we see in the summer.
Running, jumping, throwing, swimming. These make sense on a very primal level.
We understand the impossibility of what Usain Bolt does with his legs and what Michael Phelps does in the water because we've been there before. It connects deeper, both physically and emotionally.
We understand that when a sprinter crosses the finish line or a swimmer touches the final wall, they win. Understanding the artistic integrity of an ice dancing performance is much harder to grasp.
Perhaps it's an indictment of our inability to stretch outside the comfort zone. It's human nature to like what one is used to. The Winter Games challenge us to learn new rules, new methods of scorekeeping, to assess sports that are completely foreign all together.
Without looking, try to remember where the 2006 Games were. Now the 2002. Try to remember the remarkable events that happened. Try to remember which athletes networks an advertisers hope we'll drop everything to watch.
Not so easy, is it?
Even if you were able to get the answers (Torino, 2006, and Salt Lake City, 2002), combined they flat-out lack the panache the Summer Games of 2008 in Beijing had (Phelps, Bolt, the new Dream Team).
Sure, there will be big names in the hockey, where some of the NHL's best will be on display. But as an editor pointed out, the contest lacks the intensity that made the 1980's miracle in Lake Placid so transcendent. No Cold War, less intrigue, he points out.
Perhaps this is an overreaction.
Then again, maybe not. Unscientifically, it sure seems like there has been an obvious lack of buzz surrounding the Vancouver Games. NBC, which paid $820 million for the broadcasting rights, is expecting to lose a couple hundred million bucks on the endeavor.
As a public, we can hope. Hope that they exceed our expectations and deliver dramatic moment after dramatic moment. Hope we learn a new appreciation for a new event. Hope they can be as sexy as their Summer counterparts.
Even if they snuck up on us.