Monday, February 27, 2006

A Tale of Two Athletes and the Meaning of Sacrifice

Ohno was a class act.


  1. Good article! How does someone as much a loser as Bode Miller (and he follows ChestertT's name rule: never, ever ever give your kid a name that'll backfire someday) ever get as far as the Olympics? I guess you can carry an act only so far before it goes *splat* right in your face.

    Love the name of the othe guy. I gotta wonder if, once he sleeps it off and kicks the Playmate to the curb, Miller will see this article and shout, "Oh no!"


  2. That one Canadian figure skater who didn't like to practice should give him a call. Maybe they can watch Comedy Central together or something. I made a parable of him, which applies to Miller too, about how Canadians (and Americans) want to maintain a welfare state without having the children whose taxes will have to fund it. Chesterton's definition of sentimentality comes to mind.
    One thing that disappointed me about these Olympics was how poorly Japan did, after cleaning up two years ago. All of their athletes train the way Ohno does (is his name Japanese, by the way?).
    Japanese sports fiction (books, comics, movies, anime) is really different from ours. For one thing, the whole point is devoting oneself to the sport; half the time the hero's team loses--no Mighty Ducks, Bad News Bears, Rocky IV endings. For another thing, both in fiction and in real life, Japanese athletes train their brains out. There's an expression in every other swordfighting movie in Japan: Oni ni naritaa, kenjutsu no tame ni. "He has become an ogre for the sake of swordsmanship." It partly has to do with how cruel, or inhuman, a skilled swordsman often becomes by focusing so exclusively on fighting, but it more generally means that the swordsman has abandoned normal life (or "humanity") for the sake of perfection. The modern Japanese train for baseball or the Olympics the way their ancestors trained to fight the battle of Sekigahara.
    Which, I suppose, doesn't explain their one gold medal this time around, but as another Japanese saying says, "even water spirits sometimes drown."


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