Along with our miserable weather, we now have one more thing to add to the Worst Summer Ever: The Olympics.
Athletes began arriving at Heathrow yesterday, making it the busiest day ever at the world's busiest airport. Not even the prospect of getting off this gloomy island would make me venture anywhere near the M4 exit for H'row now.
Likewise, traffic lanes leading into London have been designated "Games Only". Ordinary mortals and their ordinary cars must keep to the slow lanes, which will undoubtedly move slower than the passport control line at Heathrow. Wait times for the Underground are predicted to be an hour in some places. I can't even imagine what it will take to get a table at a restaurant. Probably a medal of some sort.
And it's not as if I even like sports. My anti-competitive nature is repulsed at the idea of humans pitted against each other in a game involving athletic skill. Perhaps I'm resentful because I possess no athletic skill myself: I'll never forget how that "D" in PE class brought down my GPA.
Serious injuries can occur in team sports. When my daughter played basketball, I always brought a magazine and dark sunglasses to her games, so no one would see me cry whenever one of the girls went down. That part where the opposing team's fans clap when an injured player walks off the field? Makes me want to curl up in a ball and weep at the sheer goodness of humanity. The emotional highs and lows of sports—who needs it? I'd rather watch a soap—there's less melodrama in Hollyoaks than in any Wimbledon match with Andy Murray.
I used to be a fan of college sports—in particular the Lady Techsters, my college women's basketball team, who were perpetually nationally ranked. I remember shouting myself hoarse when they came to play in Austin while I lived there. Later, I felt silly. Especially when they lost the Final Four. Who cares, anyway? It was just a game. A silly, stupid game, and winning it isn't important, it's how you watch the game. Or something.
After that I gave up sports altogether. Living in England, it's easy to hate sports: I don't understand the rules for most of the games they play here. Add befuddlement to my general loathing of competitiveness and I end up with plenty of free weekends, when I can shop in peace while the locals gather in front of TV's to watch overpayed men adorned with corporate logos kick a ball around something called a pitch.
Women here are too smart, apparently, to play any team sports. Or maybe it's the lack of a Title IX, which guaranteed girls in the US equal opportunity to sports in school. (There's a lack of a written constitution here, too, but I notice someone did bother to write down the rules of croquet.)
I was pleased to read that Saudi Arabia is finally sending female athletes to compete in the games. Two women will be arriving with the Saudi team. They'll be the only ones dressed appropriately for the weather.
I don't even want to think about those beach volleyball players, freezing in their skimpy costumes at the Horseguards sand pit. Temperatures haven't broken out of the sixties here since our warm-ish spell in May, and rain has become a permanent component to our atmosphere. Even when it's not actually raining the air is damp, clinging to your skin like a sweaty O2 jersey.
I might watch gymnastics, if there's an underdog to cheer for. Some kid who hasn't been training under some dire coaching regime, a natural talent from a poor family in a sunny country where athletes aren't supported by corporations or a repressive government. Does Greece have a team? Portugal? I made it a rule to only root for PIGS countries during Euro2012, the European football/soccer tournament that recently ended.
That's because I've replaced a love of sports for a love of politics, and instead of admiring a team's strategy I admire a country's economic pluck. So, while you guys watch the games and admire the athletes' skill, speed, and ability to attract corporate sponsorship, I'll continue to worry about important stuff, like who's winning among Ohio female voters in the important 35-50 demographic. And whether or not Hollande has arm-wrestled Merkel to defeat in Brussels.
But if those Saudi girls come on TV, someone let me know, okay? I'll be happy to cheer myself hoarse for them.