COLUMN: ‘Let the 2010 Winter Kid-lympics begin

This is my weekly column for the (Super) Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. A version of this piece was featured on a recent episode of “Between You and Me” on KAXE.

Let the 2010 Winter Kid-lympics begin
By Aaron J. Brown

Next week the Winter Olympic games open in Vancouver. I’ve said this before, but I sure miss the Canadian TV station. Several Iron Range city cable systems still feature Canada’s CBC network, owing to a mapmaker’s error or else some remnant from a colonial cable commission that endured the War of 1812. Five years ago we moved from Hibbing out to the woods and switched to satellite, which doesn’t carry the CBC. I guess typical American satellite customers wouldn’t understand the appeal of curling and parliamentary politics. But I do. I actually called DirecTV about this, but they gave me the same old run-aroond.

The situation is made worse because now I have to watch the Olympics on NBC. The National Broadcasting Corporation deliberately loses money on the Olympics games every two years and forcibly ruins them by pumping raw sugar through the tube into our eyes. The American Olympic team is no longer selected for talent alone, but rather as the product of a complicated formula that calculates speed, endurance, common-man appeal, childhood cancers and then multiplied by the number of family members who died tragically before their time. By the 2014 games we’ll field a team comprised entirely of fast orphans who were laid off from combine factories. NBC is already stockpiling licensing agreements for sad, trendy songs that have yet to be written.

So I might watch a little less of the Olympics than I used to, and that’s not all bad. After all you don’t watch anything for long in our house, dominated the way it is by three small boys. But I do think the little guys will enjoy watching some of the events, when they’re actually on, especially all the ones that resemble sledding. Doug and George are 2 and a half this winter and Henry’s 4, so we’ve been out on the sleds more than last year. On the maiden voyage I sent my beloved children down a small hill not realizing that their collective weight was some sort of gravity to friction magic number. Their super velocity sent them shooting into a brush pile six feet into the woods by our house. Good news! No impalements! So we get to categorize this as adorable. The boys don’t slide together anymore, though, and I don’t blame them.

I recently grew to understand the appeal and challenge of winter sports. My limited athletic routine is usually entirely devoid of physical activity from November until about March. But sledding with the boys ends up being grueling at times. A couple weeks back I had the bright idea to pull the three of them across the lake near our house. At first I enjoyed the thought that one of the boys’ earliest memories might be the view of a sprawling forest seen as a panorama from the center of the lake. That’s such a Minnesota thing. Then I realized that distance is easily distorted on a snowy frozen lake and that I was about a mile from the house with three increasingly disgruntled young boys in a sled. My arms and back hurt for a week and I had newfound respect for sledding as cardio.

Yes, I just might have to sneak the family into town someday to see the proper Canadian coverage of curling. If I ever follow through on my dream of learning how to curl it sure would be nice to have three boys who know their way around the pebbled ice to round out my family rink. Sledding is fun, but we might be pushing our luck if we overdo it.

Aaron J. Brown is a columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune. Read more at his blog or in his book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range.”


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