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The Back Forty: Where were all the spectators?
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

Television ratings for the Winter Olympics in Turin took a plunge. Ratings for this year’s Olympics were well below the 2002 games in Salt Lake City and 25 percent below the 1998 events in Nagano, Japan.

Even worse, athletes are concerned that nobody is showing up to watch them compete. It seems the Italians haven’t gotten into the spirit of the whole thing.

We can’t blame them, really. When the games agreed to come to Turin nearly everyone thought curling was something you did to your hair.

I just think the Winter Olympics have lost their personality. They still have their weird events like the luge and the skeleton (whatever that is), but they’ve lost the fun people who made things interesting. The games need some real amateurs - like the guys who practice on their barn roof or try to slide down the hill on a grain shovel.

They need people like the Jamaican bobsledders and Eddie the Eagle. Those guys made the Olympics fun.

The last time I saw the Jamaican bobsledders was in Calgary. They were pulling their sled up the hill and muttering, “We’ve just gotta get some skids on this thing.”

I don’t think the Jamaicans ever saw a snowflake before they got to Calgary.

And Eddie the Eagle? Whatever happened to Eddie?

Readers will recall that Eddie was the ski jumper from Great Britain who became famous for his unorthodox style. Whereas other ski jumpers tried to land on their skis, Eddie couldn’t be bothered with that. He just landed wherever he pleased.

Eddie would go flying off the ski jump and land flat on his back, elbows over teakettle, or right on his head. What should we expect from a country that doesn’t have any hills?

The last time I saw Eddie he was laying on the ski slope with a broken arm. When the medics rushed over to check him out, Eddie said, “I think I may have damaged myself.”

Maybe the Olympics need some new events to spice things up. The summer Olympics realized this and introduced beach volleyball to help attract viewers who don’t really care about sports. Maybe the winter games should try something like that.

I remember when they added snowboarding for the games in Nagano, Japan. This attracted a younger crowd and a whole different group of people.

There was some controversy when the gold medal winner tested positive for marijuana, but they let him keep the medal. The committee decided the boarder didn’t actually smoke the dope: He just inhaled someone else’s smoke.

The last time I heard that story it was the other way around. Those marijuana folks seem to work together. Some of them smoke but don’t inhale, and the others inhale but don’t smoke.

I don’t know where the Olympics will be held four years from now, but I hope they pick a country with a sense of humor. There’s no point in sliding down a mountain on your backside if nobody comes out to laugh at you.

This farm news was published in the March 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.