Commentary: Do African-Americans Care About the Winter Olympics?

WHISTLER, BC - MARCH 20:  Chris Williamson of Canada competes in the Men's Visually Impaired Super Combined Slalom during Day 9 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics at Whistler Creekside on March 20, 2010 in Whistler, Canada.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Commentary: Do African-Americans Care About the Winter Olympics?

Start of Sochi Games is not resonating much in the minds of many Blacks.

Published January 24, 2014

I’m not sure what to make of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Ordinarily, I would have some interest in the Games — marginally, at least. But I await the opening of these 2014 Games on Feb. 7 as I do the return of Halley’s comet.

Since it’s not due back into the Earth’s orbit until 2060, I give not a thought to the comet — Halley’s or anybody else’s. That’s how I feel about Sushi — ah, I mean Sochi.

But I don’t seem to be alone here. I mentioned the Winter Games the other day to a Black friend, and he shrugged. The man cared as much about the event as he did about the politics of New Guinea.

He didn’t know who Simon Dumont was, although he wasn’t about to confuse the U.S. skier with Simon Cowell. Bode Miller, a leftover from past Winter Olympics, isn’t a familiar name to my friend either.

Isn’t that how most of these Olympians are to many Americans?

And for those of us who are Black, the Winter Games hold almost no allure. Television networks can flood the airwaves with coverage if they want next month, but one demographic TV execs won’t capture a big share of are Blacks — young and old

I know; I know … it sounds like a stereotype, much like the one that claims Black folks can’t swim. But is this alleged hatred of cold weather really a stereotype or hardheaded realism?

Deep into a polar vortex, I don’t know any of my friends who live in the Midwest who are crying to watch anything with more snow and subzero temps. Throw in the fact that the skin color of the Winter Olympians worldwide is whiter than the snow, and I see no reason Blacks would care.

It’s hard to care about strange sports like luge, curling and biathlon, which draw media attention once every four winters. They are sports not common to urban Blacks, who aren’t likely to know (nor care) that “chowder” is a term for snow and not soup or that a “kickin chicken” ain’t referring to fowl but the flailing legs of an airborne skier who’s trying to regain his form.

Look, I’ve tried to appreciate the Winter Olympics. I can’t; I simply can’t. They just don’t matter to me. They don’t matter because I never played a single sport in the lineup of sports at the Games; they don’t matter because my Black friends never played those sports either; they don’t matter because my friends’ children don’t play those sports.

A couple of years ago, a cousin of mine was in a Black ski club. Every year, he would follow the group to some exotic ski resort to the West, and my cousin would come back with stories about how much fun it was.

As I remember, my cousin stopped going on those fun, exotic trips to the slopes when he crashed and nearly killed himself.

So fun?

What’s fun about tumbling down a slope and breaking a leg or cracking your noggin? What’s fun about frostbite? What’s fun about spending a month’s wages on bindings, skis and lift fees?

For what reason — to pretend you’re Bode Miller or trying to meet Lindsey Vonn in the ski lodge?

So pardon me if I don’t know a thing about the Sochi Games. What I do know is cold weather, and it’s too damn cold outside these days to spend a second watching cold on television. 

My mind is on a roaring fire, one of my late grandmother’s patchwork quilts and a Hot Toddy, and anything that doesn’t make me think of warmth interests me not a lick.

So let the Sochi Games begin! But let 'em begin — and end — without me.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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Follow Justice B. Hill on Twitter: @jbernardh

(Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Written by Justice B. Hill


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