By the end of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, I found myself asking ques- tions about America—questions like, “Did Abraham Lincoln ever ski?” “Does Barack Obama ever ski?” “Did that movie about the Jamaican bobsled team actu- ally happen or was that all just made up because that would be so weird if it ac- tually happened, it’s so hot in Jamaica.” I know that last one isn’t about America, but I still asked it.
After pondering these queries, I went online and looked up the overall medal standings for the games. I was shocked to find that not only did America not win the Olympics; we got a measly fourth place, behind Russia, Norway, and Can- ada, only beating out Germany by the closest margin since 1945. I didn’t ac- tually watch any of the Winter Olympics, but I was outraged. If America can’t beat a bunch of frostbitten white people at being cold or whatever they do in the Winter Olympics, then what can we do? Besides, if the rest of America has the same kind of weather as New Haven, we should be destroying other countries at snow-based sports.
I began to ask myself, “What is America still good at?” The first things that came to my mind were spying and maintaining an awesome military. Then I remembered that we were just caught spying on pretty much everybody on the planet (also, did you know that James Bond is actually British? That threw me for a loop). As if that wasn’t enough, this past Monday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the reduction of the U.S. Army to its smallest size since World War II and the retirement of our entire fleet of A-10 Warthog fighter jets. While I’ll admit that we’ve gone down- hill since the days our fighter jets were called “Mustangs” and “Lightnings,” what a shame to lose all those Wart- hogs! How are we going to win events like freestyle snowboarding without over- whelming air superiority, which is how I assume we win that event since I don’t actually watch the Winter Olympics.
To add insult to injury, I read that the Sochi Games were the most expen- sive Olympics in history. Since when did it become okay for other countries to spend more money than America? Is that not how we won the Cold War? I know that’s how we won the Cold War because I took John Gaddis’s class called “The Cold War.”
Still, I thought, maybe it’s not that America has lost its edge but that people just aren’t excited enough for the Winter Olympics. Everybody’s always so down on curling or krababbing or tabawonking or whatever it is they do at the Winter Games. Maybe we just have an enthu- siasm problem with winter events. But then I remembered that pretty much ev- eryone I know loves sledding, so I ruled that out.
What, then, is keeping Americans from getting pumped about the Winter Olympics? Like most answers in my life, I found this one in the conven- tional wisdom of what my father calls “the real estate industry”—location, location, location.
Think about where the last three Win- ter Olympics have been held. Can you imagine a more obscure list of hard-to- pronounce, foreign cities? Sochi? To- rino? Vancouver? I don’t even know how to begin saying some of these. It doesn’t end there. Guess where America will be sending—and then not paying attention to—its athletes in 2018: Pyeongchang, South Korea. How can we expect Ameri- cans to care about the Winter Olympics when they’re always holding them in places that are so dang hard to say?
I believe it was Shakespeare who once said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Either Shakespeare or the Bible. Those two guys sound kind of the same a lot of the time. But seriously; what’s in a name? Rather than wasting all our energy trying to figure out where our athletes are doing whatever they do in the Winter Olympics, why not just make the names more American? Sochi? Try Sockville. Vancouver? How about Vantown? Pyeongchang? Well…that one is kind of hard to mess with. Maybe just call that one “Asia.”
The Olympics have always been a time for the world to unite and appreciate both our shared culture and the unique heritage of the host country—which is exactly why we keep stinking at them. So let us all, as Americans, get back to what we’re best at and start pretending it’s all America.
That’s all for me. See you in Pyeong- Cha—I mean—Asia!