Most of everything in the universe is average.—
Tom B. Taker (@shoutabyss) July 29, 2012
Always eager in my quest to be a furry little lemming, I’ve decided to microblog the Olympics. I have my microbeer in hand. I am microready! (That sounds suspiciously like popcorn. Oh well, such is my fate.) Grab your butter flavoring. It’s go time.
This is my Olympic movement. Or, as I sometimes like to call it, a Movement for the Common Man.
I’m sure most of my reader have evacuated by now. Looks like it’s just gonna be you and me.
So, what is/are the Olympics? Perhaps the simplest definition (and the one found in the Demotivational Dictionary) is: an average throng observing and celebrating the spectacle of their own outliers.
Wikipedia says, “In statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data. Grubbs defined an outlier as: An outlying observation, or outlier, is one that appears to deviate markedly from other members of the sample in which it occurs.”
In other words, the Olympics are the sporting version of the universe telling you, “On the bell curve you’re the dingle dangle that hangs down on the bottom. The cling clang thingie that gives the bell it’s special sound.”
Yes, without the average, the outliers would have nothing to outlie from to set themselves apart. Think about it. That’s perhaps the deepest thing I’ve ever said. It’s an outlier of thought.
In other other words, the Olympics are all about watching the select few who have won something known as the DNA Lotto.
“Hey, you. What’s the greatest thing you’ve ever accomplished?”
“Yeah. I’m sure that took a lot of effort on your part.”
Why do we, the average, celebrate the outliers so much and live vicariously through their achievements? Aside from statistical variation, what, if anything, is really so interesting about them?
The movie Rudy was supposed to be a touching tale about determination and achieving dreams and such. It even starred that Samwise Gamgee fellow. I watched the movie and had to admire the kid’s grit and determination. But, at the end of the day, he was merely someone who couldn’t see the writing on the wall because he was too busy beating his head against it. (That should probably endear him to me.)
It seems to me (and I’m speaking now as a proud recipient of the “participant” ribbon) that sports is a combination of two things: gifts and effort.
Let’s stay old-fashioned here and use a scale of 1 to 10. Any scoring system that requires calculators is for the birds.
Olympic gold medals are usually awarded to people born with gifts of 9 or 10. As far as gifts are concerned, Rudy was born with a 5. His effort may have been a perfect 10, but, as the movie proved, that simply wasn’t enough.
Some people are born so gifted, already at 10, they can coast to the gold with very little effort on their part. We call this “greatness.” I call it boring.
More often people born with gifts of 9 work their way through with effort and a bit of luck to take home the prize. That’s a little more uplifting.
Sometimes people born with gifts of 10 have approx. the same amount of motivation as your guru here. In other words, they squander and take everything for granted. I call this the Ryan Leaf Syndrome. That name may be unfamiliar to you, but at one moment in time he was actually considered to be equal or even superior to Payton Manning in the NFL draft. Manning, of course, has a perfect 10 in effort and determination and went on to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Leaf had maybe a 1 in effort and went on to do absolutely nothing. Yet he was considered by some to have outranked Manning in the gifts department.
The bottom line is that we seem to really enjoy 10′s being 10′s or 9′s being 10′s. Every once in a while an 8 might rise to the level of a 10. But that’s pretty much a once in a lifetime story.
Sometimes 8′s and 9′s think that effort alone isn’t enough. They resort to performance enhancing drugs. Those can be the equivalent of a +1 to the gifts department and far too often the users get away with it. As an audience enthralled with suspension of disbelief we eat it up like candy. We celebrate these people like they are heros.
My point is that we go ape shit about 10′s performing at the level of 10′s. Or +1 or +2 incremental improvements, but only as long as they occur at the upper end of the scale.
What about the rest of human experience? What if a 2 became a 6? That would easily dwarf just about anything that ever happened at an Olympics, but we could give a shit less, since, after all, it involved a lowly and freakish 2. A mere 2! Fuck ‘em.
If I’ve been successful, even with the shitty words I have chosen here, hopefully I have communicated why the Olympics are of little interest to me. Do I win the gold?
The level of difficulty for this post was 4.2.