Friday, August 3, 2012

The Other Sports

The Oympics is unique in that it is the only sporting event in which Americans will ever get the chance to watch sports on TV other than baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, and soccer. So, I've really embraced this chance to get to watch the other sports, the sports we never get to watch other than during the Olympics. And below, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite (and least favorite sports) that have come up in the Olympics that I'd never previously seen. Hopefully you get a chance to watch some of my favorites. Seize this chance during the Olympics, because you will never get a chance to see these sports until Rio 2016.

Favorite: HANDBALL
I've already expressed my love for this sport in another earlier post, but it's time to praise it once more. The game is absolutely enthralling, yet it seems as if anyone could play it. The objective is simple, throw a ball in a goal, but from what I've deduced, players cannot hold the ball for longer than 2 or 3 seconds and can't enter a 2 meter radius crease in front of the goal, so the game features fast-paced movement and throws from players who are airborne with wildly contorted bodies. While watching it, I can't help but think that if the US played this sport, we would completely dominate. If only it was popular in this country. But it's not, so the Olympics are your only chance to get a glimpse of this sport on TV. Seize it.

Not Favorite: BOXING
Usually boxing is an exhilarating sport, but in the Olympics, the judging is seemingly arbitrary and it really detracts from the overall viewer experience. The other day, I was watching an Indian boxer who was obliterating his opponent, a boxer from Brazil, yet the Brazilian boxer won by one punch. To the viewer, it felt like a total misjustice that the Indian boxer lost, but that's how the judges ruled it. If the boxing was judged fairly, maybe I would watch it more, but the judges are extremely arbitrary in their judgments.

Favorite: ARCHERY
I fawned over this sport as well in my previous post, but it really does deserve all this praise. The sport really wows spectators because we all know we could never hit a bullseye, but these archers can do it in outdoor, windy conditions. There was one match that was even in the London rain, yet the archers continued to pound the center of the target. Amazing. Not to mention the games are always close, within 3 or 4 points, which makes for excellent, down-to-the-wire action.

Not Favorite: JUDO
Unfortunately, this sport loses favoritism points from me because I simply cannot understand how points are earned. It seems to me like judokas (that's the technical term for a judo fighter) earn points by bringing their opponent to a hold on the ground, yet I've seen instances where the judoka has done just that and still not earned a point. And a lot of the time, both judokas are standing there grabbing each other's uniform and waiting for someone to make a move. Although the sport sounds captivating, it's just not as interesting as it has the potential to be.

For some reason, I like this sport, possibly because I tend to like sports that I know I have no chance at being good at. I like the 6-person-per-team version more than the beach version, but both are fairly fun to watch. I enjoy watching the volleyball players miraculously dig spikes from the other team that most would have no chance of touching. Then another teammate sets the ball up with their fingertips and the third slams it over the net to another side. It's truly amazing to watch the spectacular digs and kills that go on during a game.

Not Favorite: FENCING
There's so much potential entertainment that goes to waste in fencing. The action simply never lasts more than 3 or 4 seconds. Both fencers lunge at each other and then pump their fists as if they have earned a point although there is no certainty. It's kind of boring. If only the fighters could sustain some action  by constantly fighting even after one is touched and then a scorekeeper could simply keep track of touches; that would be a fun sport to watch. If only...

I've played badminton before, so I thought I knew what I was going to see when I flipped on MSNBC at the start of the Olympics, but Olympic badminton shocked my mind. The speed at which they slam the shuttlecock was much more than I anticipated. The game became an intense back-and-forth slugfest and it was truly a lot of fun to watch. The event has undergone some controversy due to the intentional losing of matches by some female teams, but that does not take away from the inherent excitement of the game. Viva badminton!

There you go, 4 new sports for you to watch and three sports that you might want to avoid. Hopefully, you can find some new sports from the vast palette which is the Olympics that you enjoy watching. I certainly have done so, and I will continue to watch these sports until the games conclude.

These Olympics are truly a blast. Enjoy!

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