In a spiraling, soulless America that I call home, I sometimes have trouble remembering all the stuff that I now boycott: Starbucks, Anheuser-Busch, boxing and MMA, resort fees, convenience fees, Pilates, new-age music, Facebook, the MLS aggregate-goal playoff format, airport restrooms, Velveeta, cryptocurrency, kale, Skip Bayless . . .
And, of course, the Olympics.
Frankly, I have determined the Olympics — vaguely reminiscent of my second marriage — to be too much commitment for too little benefit.
Note: As a de facto sports columnist who primarily watches sports on television, turning off the Olympics should be tantamount to professional suicide. Nonsense. I already committed professional suicide when I stuck with newspapers years ago.
Anyway, even if you don’t execute a full-scaled boycott — and, trust me, it involves a lot of negative emotional energy — there are still three good reasons to largely ignore the Winter Games just underway:
1. This whole Russian doping business. I like Russian athletes as much as the next Guy Fieri, but when your nation is involved in widespread, state-backed cheating — an orchestrated attack on the integrity of sport — there’s going to be collateral damage.
I mean, if the Russians also engaged in brazen meddling in an effort to, say, influence the result of a U.S. presidential election, there would be immediate and severe consequences, no?
Uh, maybe not.
So the International Olympic Committee bans Russia from the 2018 Winter Games because of doping at the 2014 Winter Games, but Russian athletes who prove they are clean can still compete in PyeongChang in neutral uniforms.
This would be like giving your kid a midnight curfew but letting him stay out until 2 a.m. if he insists he wasn’t drinking.
All of which means that 168 Russian athletes are at these Games, nearly three-quarters the total in Sochi in 2014 and just below the 177 who competed in Vancouver in 2010. It is unclear whether any of them voted in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
2. Where oh where is Bob Costas? For the past quarter-century, Costas has been the face of NBC’s prime-time Olympic coverage. Sure, I have had my differences with the little fella — he carries a Mickey Mantle baseball card in his wallet, I carry a Harrah’s Total Rewards card — but I’ve grown oddly fond of his diminutive authority.
They’ve replaced him with Mike Tirico. Now, Tirico’s a fine broadcaster, but every time I see his mug, I half-expect Hubie Brown to be sitting next to him.
Plus Tirico, like Costas, went to Syracuse University. What, this is the only school that can produce Olympic prime-time hosts?
Why not a Maryland grad? Heck, Tim McCarver hosted the 1994 Winter Games for CBS wearing a catcher’s mask; like Norman Esiason (U-Md., Class of ’84) couldn’t anchor this baby in his sleep while simultaneously doing his obnoxious, tone-deaf New York morning-drive radio show?
3. The wide world of sports at the Winter Olympics is a precious few. Most of us did not grow up in Stowe, Vt., or Trysil, Norway, so we are not familiar with halfpipes, moguls and giant slaloms. I grew up near a 7-Eleven, and as much as I loved Slurpees and Slim Jims, I hated going there if the sidewalks were too icy.
No offense to the athletes involved, but some of these sports are contested by maybe 93 people worldwide, which gives you a decent chance of medaling if you own a down jacket.
Here is a partial list of sports in play at the Winter Olympics: cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, snowboarding, ice dancing, biathlon, curling, bobsled and skelton.
Here is a partial list of games available at Dave & Busters: Pac-Man Battle Royale, Zombie Snatcher, Star Wars Battle Pod, Fishbowl Frenzy, Candy Crush Saga, Dark Escape 4D, Dance Dance Revolution A and Pop-a-Shot.
Dave, tell Buster to get my cheesy spinach dip order ready!
Q. Instead of increasing the number of officials at NBA games, why not decrease the number of players? Violations would be easier to see, the game would be easier to follow, and tickets would be cheaper. (Seren Hrachian; Athens, N.Y.)
A. I believe you are describing boxing (but if it’s a Floyd Mayweather fight, tickets would not be cheaper).
Q. Speaking of draining the swamp, are Eagles fans homo sapiens? (Adam Goldman; Chicago)
A. At this point, I realize that jabbing at Eagles fans is like shooting fish in a barrel — or, I guess, eating horse poop off the street — but they have earned their reputation.
Q. Do you feel Eli Manning, with his commercial, outperformed Tom Brady in the Super Bowl for a third time? (Walt De Bell; Troy, N.Y.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Do you think the Cavaliers have started to plan their Isaiah Thomas tribute yet? (Dan Cantwell; Albany, N.Y.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. If I wear one of the new speedskating suits, will the Olympics go by faster? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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