I Run From the Olympics

I still remember watching television and listening to the commentators call the action during Franz Klammer’s 1976 gold medal Olympic run. Before that day, I didn’t know a thing about downhill skiing and I certainly hadn’t heard of Klammer. But I had no problem staying glued to the television set throughout that year’s Winter Olympics, hoping for just one memorable moment.

I won’t remember any moments from this year’s Winter Olympics. And it’s not because there aren’t any great moments. It’s just that I’m no longer patient enough to wait around for them to arrive. The delayed coverage, the commercials, the preliminary rounds, the impossibility of avoiding the results before NBC shows me the action — all of it leaves me unable to sit and watch for hours.

I won’t wait for Klammer anymore.

A friend of mine recently told me that he can’t believe anyone sits through an entire televised regular season NBA game. Yet, he used to do just that all the time.

Parents tell me that their teenage kids never really do one thing anymore. The only movies they enjoy have big enough action and a small enough plot that they can be absorbed along with another activity taking place on a laptop or iPhone.

Another friend, who is a professional online poker player, recently sat down in a casino card room in Vegas and lasted only about 45 minutes before becoming frustrated with the slow pace of a live poker game. You know how long it takes these guys to shuffle real cards?

Remember when you used to have to watch a half hour of dialogue to get to the good part of an adult movie? That era is long gone. These days, my experience with porn is almost as fast as my experience with real sex.

We all want it now. Shorter sentences. More immediate resolutions. Quicker bursts of information. Read it, tweet it, read it, tweet it.

The content is not changing. But maybe our ability – or willingness – to sit through it is.

Back when Franz Klammer downhilled his way to Olympic fame, I’m not even sure I owned a remote control. Today, watching an Olympic event without my laptop open, a remote in one hand and an iPhone in the other is totally unthinkable. For me, a decathlon is watching the Olympics and doing at least nine other things.

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