Category Archives: Sports

Thursday Night Football

I tried to stay up and watch all of the Thursday night football game on ESPN2, but I kept nodding off and decided to just give up and go to bed. As much as I love college football, the night games are not the easiest to be able to stay up to watch, and as I said yesterday, it’s been a busy and exhausting week. I plan to get some rest this weekend. I won’t have much football to watch on Saturday. Auburn is the only one of the teams I watch that is playing on Saturday. Alabama is not playing this weekend. Auburn has been less than great this year, much less, actually. So, I doubt I’ll pay a lot of attention to the game.


Out Gay Male Skaters at the Olympics

Adam Rippon in Rolling Stones

In 2018, American figure skater Adam Rippon became the first openly gay man to qualify for the Olympics. No openly gay figure skaters competed in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, and there were only three, including Rippon at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. At the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, there are a record eight out gay men competing in figure skating. This increase is due to the greater level of acceptance in society and sports, according to skaters who have come out, with social media being a big driver. Jason Brown, who competes in singles, is Team USA’s only gay figure skater competing this year, though Team USA’s pairs skater Timothy LeDuc is the first non-binary skater to compete. LeDuc is a pairs figure skater, who competes with their teammate Ashley Cain-Gribble.

Kévin Aymoz

France has Kevin Aymoz completing in singles and Guillaume Cizeron in pairs. Canada also has two out gay men competing this year: pairs skater Eric Radford, who skates with Vanessa James, and Paul Poirier, who skates with Piper Gilles in ice dancing. Also in ice dancing, Lewis Gibson of Great Britain skates with Lilah Fear, and Simon Proulx Sénécal of Armenia skates with Tina Garabedian. Finally, Filippo Ambrosini of Italy skates with Rebecca Ghilard in pairs figure skating.

Guillaume Cizeron

But what accounts for this record number of out gay men in the Beijing Olympics? Chad Conley, a Canadian junior nationals silver medalist who now coaches and is gay, was asked what accounted for the increase in the number of out male skaters. He said, “I do not think there is a change in the numbers of gay men in figure skating. In fact, I find there are more straight males finding success in figure skating.” Conley said that skaters feel more open about coming out because of the chance to make money on tour as opposed to being blackballed from the sport. “What is easier than it was even 15 years ago is that skaters who are open about their sexual orientation are now able to get postseason contracts with ‘Stars on Ice’ and more commercial sponsorships,” he said. “This is considered a recent evolution.”

Filippo Ambrosini with Rebecca Ghilard

Filippo Ambrosini never had a public coming out moment, but his Instagram account has numerous photos of him and his male partner, making it seemingly obvious that he is LGBTQ. When asked for confirmation by Outsports, Ambrosini said, “Yes, I identify as gay and I’m out.” The same goes for ice dancer Guillaume Cizeron of France, who came out in 2020 by posting a photo of him and his boyfriend. In response to the Instagram post, Cizeron said, “I would not consider myself in the closet before posting this, so I don’t really consider it coming out. Even though I have never spoken publicly about my sexual orientation, I am one of those who think that it is not something that [people] should have to do. Straight people don’t come out. … I still hesitated a bit before publishing. Because I’m not in the habit of revealing really intimate things. I don’t know what got into me, I said to myself, ‘What do I have to lose?’”

Jason Brown

When American singles skater Jason Brown came out during Pride Month last June, he talked about the diversity he experienced in skating. “I’ve grown up surrounded by beautiful, creative, strong, proud, successful and supportive LGBTQ+ role models,” Brown said on Instagram. “Whether it be family members, coaches, skaters, teachers, friends or others I’ve had the privilege of crossing paths with, my perception of what’s it like to be LGBTQ+ was far from one-dimensional. I’ve always found it impossible and truthfully dangerous to paint or stereotype any one group with a singular brushstroke. The diversity of people I’ve met along my journey has shown me that everyone is so individually themselves. No experience or personality is the same, simply people finding their identity, their voice and owning their truths and their own unique ways.”

Despite the record number of out male skaters, there are still issues, especially with coaches and judges from the former Soviet Union, where skating — and homophobia — has a long tradition. In October, Alexander Vedenin, a former international judge, said that Cizeron was “cold” in his performances with his ice dance partner Gabriella Papadakis because he is gay. “The French skate with class, but are cold,” Vedenin said. “The partner [Cizeron] does not have a traditional orientation and he cannot hide it.” Cizeron responded to Vedenin’s comments, calling them “a pathetic attempt to harm us.” On Instagram, Cizeron said, “Don’t let ignorant people tell you how much of a man or a woman you are. What makes you a man, a woman, a non-binary or anything in between, has nothing to do with your sexual orientation, and even less with your abilities, your value, your skills, or the level or respect that you deserve.”

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc

In addition, 1994 Olympic silver medalist Alexander Zhulin of Russia insulted Timothy LeDuc, the non-binary American pairs skater, and then refused to apologize. LeDuc has been amazing in telling their historic story to inspire others, but the concern is that there could be homophobic judges who share the disgusting views of those two Russians. Cizeron and Papadakis won the silver at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea and have won first at the worlds, so they are serious gold medal contenders.

“Until proper sanctions are put in place when comments from regulated officials — coaches and judges — make disrespectful comments, then our sport will not be completely safe,” Conley said.


Odds and Ends

The Winter Olympics begin today, and like the code in yesterday’s picture of a 1900 Ivory Soap advertisement, the American luger Chris Mazdzer always displays his own secret message for why we should watch the Winter Olympics, particularly the luge. Chris actually lives about 75 miles west of me in Saranac Lake, NY, which always seems to be the coldest place on our weather maps here. I like Mazdzer and he seems like a pretty nice guy. I’ll probably also watch some of the figure skating, but I’ve never found the Winter Olympics to be as interesting as the Summer Olympics. The athletes wear too many clothes, although if they all wore skintight body suits like Mazdzer, who needs to see someone in a Speedo!

In other news, I’ve viewed four different apartments in the last week. None of them were suitable. One was rented just before I saw it but the landlord showed it to me anyway. I viewed two different ones on Tuesday. One was in a terrible neighborhood and the other was in a seemingly better neighborhood, but the rooms were so tiny. Neither of those two apartments were in great shape either. Although I was told they’d look better with a fresh coat of paint and a deep cleaning, you just can’t put lipstick on a pig and expect it to win the Miss America Pageant. The one I viewed yesterday was on the third floor of a house that had been split into apartments (most apartments in Vermont are like this). The outside stairs leading to the apartment were not in great condition; they did not feel completely safe. The apartment itself was huge: two bedrooms, two baths, a nice sized kitchen, and living room. However, there were just too many issues to make me want to pay the rent they were asking. So, the search continues.

In better news, it looks like the installation of the new exhibit is running ahead of schedule. I suspect we will largely be finished today and ready for our soft opening tomorrow, that is if the 6-18 inches of snow (I know that a wide range but we are on the border of the line between 12-18 inches and 6-12 inches) we are expecting today and tomorrow don’t derail us from finishing it in time for the official opening. Because of COVID, we will not be having our usual opening reception, though I’m hoping we will have one in the summer for the local community. I’ve had a vision for this exhibit in my mind for months, and it’s so gratifying to see it in reality almost exactly as I pictured it. I know the saying goes, “Pride goeth before the fall,” but I am very proud of this exhibit. I think it looks good and is very calming and soothing, which not many of our exhibits are. In fact, we’ve never had one quite like this one, and I am proud of it. I hope our visitors will enjoy it and learn from it.


Nudity and the Ancient Olympics

If the modern Olympic Games ran true to the strict customs of ancient Greece, they might well today have been called the “Naked Games”. From the early 8th century BC, Olympic athletes competed in the nude. There are indisputable records going back to Athenian philosopher Plato in the 5th century BC and even Homer’s Iliad, as well as many explicit drawings that confirm it was common practice for all male track and field athletes to take part naked. This included the often-dangerous sports of discus throwing, wrestling, boxing, and horse racing without protective clothing. 

There was a version of protection used by the Ancient Greeks, but one that would be odd to us today to be considered much protection. To protect the penis during wrestling matches and other contact sports, the men would tie a string known as a kynodesme around the tip of their foreskin enclosing their glans, thus keeping the glans safe. The kynodesme could then either be attached to a waist band to expose the scrotum or tied to the base of the penis so that the penis appeared to curl upwards.

The only exception to the nudity rule seems to have been for charioteers, who wore long white tunics. The words gymnastics and gymnasium are based on the Greek adjective gymnos, which means lightly-clad or naked. For non-charioteers, the only adornment on the athletes’ bronzed, muscular torsos would have been the gleam of olive oil with which they ritually anointed themselves.

Some historians have believed that the reason for competing nude was to make sure that women did not compete. According to one legend, it was discovered that a woman had competed and won, so it was decreed that athletes would compete nude from that point on to make sure that only men competed in the Olympics. It was also said that this was done to make sure that non-Greeks, particularly Jews or others who practiced circumcision, could not compete. Only a man who was uncircumcised was allowed to compete.

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a writer in the 1st century BCE, Greek athletes did not compete in the nude until the 15th Olympiad in 720 BCE, more than 2700 years ago. That was more than half a century after the birth of the first Olympic Games, which originated in Olympia, in southern Greece, in 776 BCE. A Spartan runner named Acanthus was said to have set the fashion by appearing without the customary loincloth. Two hundred years later, the origin of this practice of nudity was attributed to another sprinter, Osippus, who won the one-stade footrace (about 200 yards) at the Olympics of 720 BCE. It was said he realized that a naked man could run faster than one impeded by a loincloth.

In the 7th century CE, more than 1300 years later, writer Isidore of Seville suggested that during a race in Athens, one of the runners had the bad luck to trip over his own loincloth when it slipped down. A magistrate in charge of the games ordered a new ruling that athletes should compete in the nude. The historian Thucydides, who lived at the end of the 5th century BCE, wrote that it was the “Spartans who were the first to play games naked, to take off their clothes openly and to rub themselves down with olive oil after their exercise. In ancient times even at the Olympic Games the athletes used to wear coverings for their loins and indeed this practice was still in existence not very many years ago.”

Women were not completely excluded from the Olympics. While married women were not allowed to participate in, or to watch, the ancient Olympic Games, unmarried women could attend the competition, and the priestess of Demeter, goddess of fertility, was given a privileged position next to the Stadium altar. During the classic period in Greece (500–323 BCE), women were allowed to participate in sporting events in Sparta, and there were two other events for sportswomen from other parts of Greece, Athens and Delos.

The closest thing to a women’s version of the Ancient Olympics were the Heraean Games, a separate festival honoring the Greek goddess Hera, which was held to demonstrate the athleticism of young, unmarried women. The athletes, with their hair hanging freely and dressed in special tunics that cut just above the knee and bared their right shoulder and breast, competed in footraces. The track shortened to about one-sixth the length of the men’s track in the Olympic Stadium. It’s uncertain if men were barred from these all-female races. Little is known about this festival other than what was written by Pausanias, a 2nd century CE Greek traveler. He mentions it in his description of the Temple of Hera in the Sanctuary of Zeus and says that it was organized and supervised by a committee of sixteen women from the cities of Elis. The festival took place every four years, when a new peplos, a body-length garment established as typical attire for women in ancient Greece, was woven and presented to Hera inside her temple.

It wasn’t that women were discouraged from sports in general; physical fitness was highly valued by women in Greece. A few women have been documented driving chariots, owning horses that won Olympic competitions, swimming, juggling, performing acrobatics, and potentially even wrestling. Spartan women were well-known for promoting physical education, believing good fitness assisted in healthy childbirth. By the first century CE, female athletic competitions were common under the Roman Empire. The first woman recorded to have won an event in the Olympics was Kyniska (or Cynisca) of Sparta, the daughter of Eurypontid king, Archidamus II, and the full sister of King Agesilaus (399–360 BCE). She won the four-horse chariot race in 396 and again in 392.


Moment of Zen: Tennis


Working on Something…

Last night, I had an idea for a post, but it wasn’t fully formed yet. I still need to work through what I want to say, but hopefully, it will be interesting when/if I get it written (sometimes I think I have a great idea, but then when I delve into it more, I change my mind). I really don’t have much to say today otherwise, and I just wasn’t in the mood to write a substantive post for today. So, this one will be short and sweet. 

Alabama QB Mac Jones

Tonight is the National Championship Game in college football. Alabama (12-0) will be playing Ohio State (7-0) in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. Hopefully, this game will give Nick Saban a record seventh title win. Ohio State won their last National Championship in 2014, when they beat Alabama for the first time in the four previous meetings of the two schools.

ROLL TIDE!!!


Not Much to Say

I just don’t have much to say today. I was feeling a little down last night. Maybe it was being alone on Thanksgiving; perhaps it was something else. I am not sure what it was. I think we probably all have days when we just feel a little down. Hopefully, my mood will improve over the weekend. The Iron Bowl is tomorrow. If Alabama wins, that should lift my mood. For an Alabamian who loves football, this is the event of the year. The Iron Bowl is one of the biggest rivalries in college football between the Auburn University Tigers and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. It’s more important than the National Championship or the Super Bowl. The rivalry dates back to 1893, though it hasn’t been played every year; in fact, it was not played at all between 1907 and 1948 but has been played every year since the rivalry restarted. Alabama leads the series with 46 to Auburn’s 37. The game ended in a tie only once in 1907. This year, Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday and will be unable to coach in tomorrow’s game.


Super Bowl

Quite honestly, I didn’t watch much of the Super Bowl. I like the 49ers ok, but I didn’t much care who won. I actually went to bed before it was over. I did, however, watch the commercials. They were ok, but nothing spectacular. I liked rhe Lil Nas and Sam Elliot commercial. It was cute. The Ellen and Portia commercial was too. The rest did not stand out for me. The Trump campaign commercial was full of lies, but what would you expect. The man can’t tell the truth for anything. The halftime show was actually not too bad. Overall, the LIV Super Bowl was just kind of blah.


Yet Another Monday

The Super Bowl basically sucked. I found it rather boring. The commercials, usually the best part, were mediocre at best. There were a few standouts: Mercedes, T-Mobile, and, my favorite, Amazon Alexa. I found the Washington Post ad to be rather moving, but the rest, I just wasn’t that impressed. What did you think?

I also had a terrible headache yesterday. The worst I’ve had in four years. I took the maximum amount of pain killers I could and spent most of the day in bed. Finally my headache eased enough for me to make dinner and watch the Super Bowl. The headache never did go away fully. I went to bed with it still bothering me.

So with such a sucky Sunday, let’s hope it’s a better Monday.

Moment of Zen: Sports