As the world prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics, I find myself revisiting the same question I have every time I witness a sporting event: Why do athletes fall?
If a football player kicks a ball, why is it acceptable for him to miss? If a skier is supposed to be the best, why is she allowed to fall on the slalom? But most of all, why is it okay for a figure skater to fall when he is supposed to be executing a triple socked cow? (Please enjoy the mental image.)
If a dancer cannot perform her choreography, she will be replaced or fined. A skater has a costume, music, and choreography, but tons of them fall every Olympics. We all hang our heads like it’s tragic, but really we expect it.
Now let’s say, for instance, you personally aren’t impressed by thirty two fouette turns en pointe or perfect tap dancing. Then what about the Cirque du Soleil performers? They do some of the most amazing physical feats, and they don’t fall. They perform perfectly every show. They are athletes and artists.
Is it the fact that it’s a competition that gives skaters the forgivable margin of error? Where does it stop being a sport that is exciting to the spectators because someone falls and start being a form of art where perfection is expected with the ticket price?
While I am not a figure skater and can barely make it around the ice rink, I do hope that in your time off from watching the Olympic games, you choose a live performance to see. Pick a Beyonce concert, or New York City Ballet, whatever makes you feel happy, but if fifty percent of the performers fall on their butts, ask for your money back.
Olympic athletes may train for years, but we do eight shows a week with the expectation of perfection. If you can’t go to Russia to see the games, go see a show wherever you are. Appreciate the athletes in the sequins and dance shoes. And go Team USA. May you win all the gold medals with grace and dignity!