Yes, their commitment to excellence is inspiring, their tenacity is beyond comprehension, their personal stories are (occasionally) fascinating. And there’s that whole agony-of-defeat thing from which we seemingly just cannot turn away.
With all the statistics, superlatives, and medals, does nobody notice—these men and women are good-looking!
Viewing this fortnight’s competition out of Vancouver, there are bodies for every taste—short and tall, wide and narrow, Nordic, African, Asian. We even have competitors from the planet’s genetic melting pots, such as Mongolia, Nepal, Montenegro, and Israel.
But with all the enthusiastic commentary (and equally enthusiastic blather) coming at me in High Def, I’ve yet to hear, “Now that is a gorgeous young man,” or “Wow, she is a really attractive young woman,” or “Oh my, I think I’m in love!”
True, many competitors are bundled up in snowsuits. But those tights are so tight that you can tell which of the men are circumcised. Besides, what about the figure skaters? A small army of designers makes a fortune imagining outfits that will be very, very sexy—while judges, commentators, and audience deny that that’s the intent.
Yes, yes, of course we’re admiring these people for their performance, not their eroticism. But are they really so separate? Surely, health, talent, youth, and performance under pressure are erotic. And just as surely, any emotionally healthy athlete relates to his or her body erotically, just as non-athletes do.
It wouldn’t be worth mentioning if it weren’t so blatantly absent. And it wouldn’t be worth mentioning if it didn’t seem so…inappropriate. Inappropriate, somehow, to acknowledge that the world is watching some of the sexiest people alive, and no one is talking about sex.
Let’s notice that for 14 days of international competition, sexuality, like a foul-tempered teenager or untrained puppy, is hidden in the garage—lest the wholesome, refined atmosphere of the event is spoiled by unrefined words or sounds.
Most thoughtful people periodically bemoan today’s sex symbols—talentless buffoons, celebrities who offer nothing but cosmetic surgery, corporate-created dummies who are gone moments after we learn their names, TV wrestlers and porn actresses.
I say let’s celebrate the erotic side of the Olympic ideal, and the erotic reality of today’s Olympic athletes.
We can start with that beautiful winter blush-in-the-cheek they all have.