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Angst and victory during a week of sports

The 24th Winter Olympics brought their usual mix of poetry and sadness. I grew up watching the summer and winter games, Dad being the family athlete. I watch in awe of those who invest so much of themselves into perfecting a sport, then agree to endure the pressure of competition at an international level in a strange, communist country.

I watched the women’s final free skate tonight. It’s my favorite winter event and always brings me to tears, usually from the sheer beauty. But my heart broke for everyone concerned, even Kamila Valieva’s teammates who took gold and silver and should have been rejoicing. The adults who were in charge of poor, victimized Kamila, a powerful butterfly on ice, should be held accountable for dashing her dreams and for the atrocious doping that has unfortunately become Russia’s MO.

I enjoyed women’s freestyle skiing, where they lift off like solitary kites and soar and spin and grab their ski, somehow landing upright, most of the time. I’m right there with them, spinning in cold space. When they have a successful run, I keep a tissue handy, whichever country they represent.

I rooted for Shaun White, the (shorn) Flying Tomato snowboard phenom, and so wanted him to nab one more medal on his way out the door, this being his last Olympics at age 35. Some snowboarding dudes sailed 20 feet above the halfpipe. I wish I could dream that level of exhilaration, at least.

I can say I watched the Super Bowl — at least the last quarter and a half, which means I missed what many are hailing as the “best halftime show ever!” Now, I realize that those making the claim may not have been around when Ella Fitzgerald and trumpeter Al Hirt performed “Mack the Knife” for the 1972 SB in New Orleans. Al and his horn made the grade for several bowl appearances.

Also, hip-hop enthusiasts might have been in rompers when Michael Jackson gave us “Billie Jean” at the Rose Bowl in ’93. The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top, and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, combined for a halftime wowzer in ’97. From 2005 through 2010, halftime entertainment was provided by the following megastars: Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones (with their giant tongue logo as the largest SB stage), Prince, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and The Who. I mean, need I say more?

Before rock and pop stars became the expected dish in the ‘90s, college marching bands and drill teams took the field, which, honestly, I miss a little bit. The Grambling State University Marching Band, a historically Black university in Louisiana, starred in quite a few of the early celebrations. They must have been extra good, and I’d like to see them strut their stuff again.

Not having witnessed “old school rappers” Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Dr. Dre and the rest last Sunday, I can’t honestly say whether I would have enjoyed the show, but some referred to it as nostalgic. Nostalgic? “Leave it to Beaver” is nostalgic. The Double Mint Twins are nostalgic.

I felt like asking my nieces and nephews to translate the commercials for me. After one particularly loud and confusing display of extravagant spending, Lane and I turned to one another, like, what? Did you get that? What did it mean? I longed for a reference booklet — something to help make a connection with life as I know it on this planet. I suppose I felt something like my folks did when they covered their ears and watched Mick Jagger striding around on a giant tongue, or even more like Betty and Barney Hill when they were abducted by aliens. This happened a lot in the ‘70s.

The football game itself appeared to be one of strong defenses, much like the political atmosphere of the day. Lots of muscling against the other team, but low score. We have more of an LA connection, so we whooped for the Rams when they pulled it off.

As Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds sang, “winners and losers are two of a kind.”

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.