TRUE CHAMPIONS FIND
A SPORT NO ONE PLAYS
Two of my kids were over for dinner the other night and after
their free meal was consumed we turned on the Winter Olympics. It seemed a
good time to let them know I was very disappointed in how their lives turned
"What did we do now?" asked my 27 year old son as he
watched a snowboarder do a ridiculous quadruple somersault while hurtling 50
feet above certain death.
"It's not what you did," I replied. "It's what you didn't do.
You could have been on worldwide television right now and securing
endorsement deals as an Olympic athlete."
"I get nauseous just watching somersaults," said his
slightly older sister. "I don't think snowboarding is my thing."
They didn't get it. I didn't want them to be snowboarders, ski
racers or even figure skaters. There are way too many talented people out
there doing those mainstream sports. They'd never have a chance. I wanted
them to excel at obscure sports, where they could rise right to the top.
"You would have been incredible at Curling," I
suggested to my daughter, referring to the weirdest Olympic sport in the
world. "You can push the pucky thing (I guess they're actually called
stones) on ice, and you've always been a good sweeper. You really blew it by
not taking up Curling years ago."
"It's your fault," she replied. "All those hours
on the soccer field and basketball court when I was a kid. What a waste. We
could have been at the Berkeley Ice Rink practicing Curling. I could have
been a champion if I didn't have a father who was so short-sighted."
"I'll take some of the blame," I admitted. "But
it's really your mother's fault. She's the one who is Canadian. Curling is
in her blood, and yours, too. She's the one who should have inspired
Her mother wasn't buying it, mainly because she apparently had
never curled (if that's what you call it) while growing up in Quebec. Good
choice. It's way too popular there.
In the Bay Area, though, my daughter would have been a big fish
in a very small pond. In no time at all, she would have been the best curler
within hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles, and the next step would have
been the U.S. Olympic team, which has come in last place in Curling for the
previous two Olympics. They would have begged her to compete.
Katie Couric would have come to our house to do a segment on
how Curling became an obsession in our household and how my daughter
overcame geographic disabilities and a lack of opponents to beat all odds
and become an Olympian. I would modestly and selflessly tell her of our
trips to the Berkeley Ice Rink, where I'd watch my daughter pursue her
Olympic dream by sweeping the ice for hours on end. Tears would be shed.
"What about me?" asked my 27 year old son, tiring of
hearing of my daughter's dashed Olympic hopes. "I could have been a
"That's your sister's domain," I replied. "You
blew it by not becoming a great bobsledder. While you were playing Little
League and CYO basketball, you could have been bombing down hills in our
"Don't you need snow?" he ignorantly asked.
"With an attitude like that, it's clear why you're not an
Olympian," I responded. "Shaun White and Chloe Kim, who just won
gold medals in snowboarding, grew up in San Diego and Los Angeles,
respectively. Last I looked, it doesn't snow there, either."
"You're fast and you're strong," I continued.
"You would have been perfect for the four man American bobsled
He was warming to the idea. "I do have an aerodynamic
body," he humbly said, visualizing himself on the podium. "And you
only have to run about 20 steps before you jump in, put your head down and
enjoy the ride. As long as I don't have to drive, I'm in!"
I knew he'd be excited about the lack of exertion part.
It was right up his alley. I began to wonder if there was still time for him
to become an Olympic bobsledder, despite all those wasted years playing
mainstream sports. He has a way of getting things done when he sets his mind
We discussed it a bit further and excitedly decided a course of
action for him to become an Olympian. It entailed marrying a woman from
Morocco, moving there and gaining citizenship. Then he would organize a
four-man Moroccan bobsled team, hopefully with a good driver. That's what
the Olympic dream is all about.