The One That’s Not About Sports

Image

By John Winn

I have a confession to make: I hate sports. I loathe sports. I never played basketball, baseball, participated in only a few dodgeball matches in grade school, even won a first place ribbon for (I think) the hundred yard dash. In fact, I still have my ribbons all framed in a patriotic tricolor of red-white-blue that suggests the wholesomeness of Middle America.   

I’m actually from the South, but this post isn’t about my supposed redneck upbringing (however genteel it might actually have been). It isn’t about sports at all.  But it is about the news, and literature.

When we started this blog, we intended for it to be a lighthearted companion to our main website. The slogan says it all: light and easy with a side of bacon.  Despite being humorically challenged, we managed to succeed in a way, chronicling the Internet’s obsession with bird-women, making ironic observations about our craft–which Alex has done with gusto–and generally trying to stay on the light side of life. Yet it’s not so easy to be topical and funny at the same time–take it from this hard news guy.

The Olympics seemed like the perfect launching pad. It is and remains one of the premier spectator events–everyone gets to see the triumphs and defeats, the unstuck landings, the runners who don’t quite make it past the finish line. The intimate nature of the games means that everyone can get into it without having to know the stats and the players’ backstories and all the things required of certain sports fans back home (I’m looking at you, NFL).

The Olympics also happens to be the one event that intersects with all others and for a guy like myself, that’s a dream. You can talk about the politics of sports, the human interest angle (Wieber’s fall from grace, Bolt’s dominance on the track, Phelps’ swan song to the sport he loves), even how the games pretty much overshadowed every other story in the news–even arguably, the ones that should have been above the fold instead.

That much we (and I) set out to do. But like a gymnast who can’t quite keep her balance, we made obvious errors in our coverage, and mistakes like those would get major deductions in a real newsroom–and by deductions, I  mean pink slips. Even Jordyn would agree on that one. I guess we had chutzpah, but chutzpah and calculated risks are two completely separate things.

So without further adieu, I step back behind the curtain and let Alex and Brennon share the spotlight once more–for now, at least.

Social Media Coordinator (and managing editor) John Winn is Hennen’s Twitterer in Chief.  In addition to writing for Hennen’s, His work has been featured in A Twist of Noir, Lightning Flash, Racket Magazine, and plenty of other online magazines.  He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Advertisements

When Your Best is Not Good Enough

By John Winn

Sometimes, no matter how fast we run, how hard we push, or how graceful we dismount, the best isn’t good enough for some people. You could put your entire life on hold, sacrificing birthdays, Christmases, proms just to work towards a single dream–only for it to evaporate in a London minute. But you don’t have to be an Olympic gymnast to know how it feels.

Yes, Jordyn Wieber was done wrong, and even a clumsy, non-athletic aspiring writer could tell that the point system in gymnastics is messed up beyond all recognition, but what makes Weiber’s cut Sunday from the all-around competition semi-final so moving wasn’t how dramatic or unexpected it was–but it’s banality.

Wieber was (and is) the Hillary Clinton of the U.S. Gymnastic team in 2012–the front-runner, the odds on favorite, the girl who would be queen. This is a girl who consistently posted stats in the 59.5-60.0 range, who has won multiple gold medals in international competition, and is pretty much the reigning female world champion in her sport. So when she failed to advance, it was an upset, to say the least.

Wieber’s loss resonates beyond the world of sports. How many girls her age have applied to Harvard, Yale, Carolina or a bunch of other schools only to get turned down?  How many women have struggled to advance in their careers, only to see less competent men become CEOs, CFOs, and managers?  You could be the top of your class, have excellent employment histories, and still not Make It.

There are a lot of factors that led to Wieber’s loss.  Deductions, judging, the usual behind-the-scenes politics–take your pick.  But that doesn’t take away the pain. Wieber just got a knife in her heart, and believe me, those memories are going to stay.  It’s like Neil Armstrong being told he won’t be allowed to walk on the moon–you think you’d forget that sort of thing?

I agree with Bela–I think the rules system in Olympic gymnastics stinks, and is probably the biggest sham this side of The City. But I am not an athlete.  But pain and disappointment are universal regardless of what you play or what your nationality is.  Put me on Team Wieber.

[UPDATE: Looks like Wieber made good on her plan to net a gold for the Fab Five.  You can read the details here.]

Social Media Coordinator (and managing editor) John Winn is Hennen’s Twitterer in Chief.  In addition to writing for Hennen’s, His work has been featured in A Twist of Noir, Lightning Flash, Racket Magazine, and plenty of other online magazines.  He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.