Seeing it on the radio

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It doesn’t take much to spark my interest in a new sport. The 1994 World Cup here in the U.S. made me a soccer fan, and I’m counting the days to the 2010 World Cup and especially June 12 — the U.S. vs. England.

In the same way, just much more temporary, when the Olympics roll around each four years, it’s great to be a devoted curling fan. For a host of reasons, though, when curling, skiing and the luge move on in a few days, it won’t be long before I’m ready to move on to March Madness; I won’t exactly be counting the days to Sochi 2014.

Even the one Winter Olympic sport, ice hockey, that isn’t just a once-every-four-years event, took full advantage of a really big stage Sunday night. I’ve had a few folks, who are sports fans, but by no means loyal NHL followers, text or tell me how exciting the U.S. vs. Canada game was.

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I agree, not necessarily because the U.S. won — although that always helps — but because of how the game was played.

Often in Olympic and World Championship tournaments involving teams of highly paid pros, the contests become glorified all-star games. The teams and players are still trying to win, but often the most important goal seems to be to avoid doing anything that could cost yourself, or even your opponent, the next eight-figure contract.

Throughout this Olympic hockey tournament, the hitting, aggression and speed have been all-out; no one’s playing it safe or playing at 90-percent speed. It’s entertaining and impressive, even for Americans.

Driving home on Monday night, though, around 11 p.m., I found radio play-by-play of ice dancing and, even for me, it required too much effort to take it seriously.

Nothing against the athletes and the talent and nerves it takes to be an Olympic ice dancer, but I don’t get fired up about a sport I can watch at full attention and still have no clue what separated a gold medal from a silver medal from 24th place. It was beyond my understanding as I was listening to four routines during my 25-minute drive home.

And no offense to the announcers giving it their best shot. I do my best to describe a sporting event I saw to readers who mostly didn’t see it themselves, so trying to see (pun intended) how an announcer would describe ice dancing over the blank slate of radio waves was the main reason I stayed tuned.

Sadly, through each routine, the play-by-play wound up as, “and there’s beautiful dancing here, and the Slovakian pair is setting up for a lift, and there’s the lift, oh, how nice, and now they are dancing across the ice…”

So that’s it for my appreciation of ice dancing until 2014. Maybe next time, especially if I can use more than my ears and my imagination, it will leave a better impression.

ANDREW GIERMAK is sports editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at