Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reflecting on the Olympics

click photo to enlarge
The other day someone asked me if I'd been watching the Olympics. I hadn't. I still haven't. I don't devote a lot of time to watching sport on television, but when I do it tends to be team games that interest me. The Olympics include these, but it also has many "sports" that were never intended to be watched by a large audience. And many are so technical it isn't apparent to the lay-person who won or why they won! Even athletic events like the 100m aren't, in my opinion, spectator sports. The camera and commentators spend far more time on the periods before and after that race than they do on it, action replays notwithstanding, and all to see someone complete a course a fraction of a second faster than someone else. It's lost on me!

I watch football (soccer) reasonably regularly on TV, and I often enjoy what I see. It occurred to me the other day that soccer gets the appellation, "the beautiful game", for good reasons. Firstly it is a game of almost continuous action, with few pauses, and those usually quite brief. Secondly, you can deduce most of the rules of the game simply by watching it. And thirdly, at the end of the game it's very obvious which is the winning team, or if it's a drawn match. These seem to me quite important attributes for any spectator sport. The Olympics consists of too many "sports" where these three qualities are absent.

The two variations of the French game, boules, namely petanque and boule lyonnaise, are not on the Olympic menu, though in 1900 it was, apparently, a demonstration sport. However, I think that if ice dance, BMX, handball, synchronized swimming and weight lifting qualify as Olympic sports, boules can claim a place. It is a game of simple rules, is easy to watch, easy to play, requires no specialist playing surface, and uses inexpensive equipment. An uninformed bystander can easily see who has won a game. And, it is a game that can be played by people of all ages, even the elderly. So let's start a campaign to include boules in the 2012 London Olympics. Vive la France and the entente cordiale!

Today's photograph is one of my reflected self-portraits. A new set of boules seemed the perfect opportunity for another in the ongoing series.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On