Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday sports page: Winter Olympics edition 

[] Canadian women's hockey team celebrates their gold on ice, with champagne, cigars and beer...

Possibly related...

[] Emergency shipment of condoms headed to Olympic athletes

As you read this, an emergency shipment of condoms is desperately making its way across Canada to this West Coast city. Health officials in Vancouver have already provided 100,000 free condoms to the roughly 7,000 athletes and officials at the Games. That's about 14 condoms per person. But as of Wednesday, those supplies started running dangerously low...

Possibly not entirely unrelated....

[] The 2010 edition of the Nude Women of Curling "Fire on Ice" Calendar reportedly is selling like the hottest thing on ice. (Order info -- video story)

OK ... I turned on my TV this week and every day there was curling on it. Curling? And almost always women's curling. Right away I could see why: it was a Russia-USA match and the Russians were gorgeous -- and made up and styled to look even more so.

This was not the curling of my medieval Scottish ancestors (nor of Scots today -- 2,000 guys on a lake risking crashing through the ice, oblivious to concern thanks to the warmth of native spirits).

Well, this is one way to promote a sport that nine of ten people previously never heard of (except perhaps in a joke). The government doesn't support your curling team (a complaint of Canadian curlers reported and dismissed by the Sports Economist)? Then gorgeous your own beautiful self up, put on a tight bodysuit and sell your calendar! People respond to incentives. Especially men people, TV producers and audiences, to incentives like this.

Now here's a thing: As a student I traveled across Soviet eastern Europe and Russia (Moscow, Leningrad, etc.) and never saw even one single woman who looked anything like anyone on today's Russian curling team. I mean, not one. (I'd have remembered!) Babushkas by the gazillion, yes. Women like this, none.

What happened? How could the children look so different from the parents. Genetic engineering?

No. The arrival of free markets and capitalism. Here's an article about how free markets made Russian women beautiful.

God Bless Capitalism. If Karl Marx had known about this he'd have been an investment banker.

[] More boringly and academically, J.C. Bradbury tracks how Olympic performance levels have changed over the decades, sport by sport. (After previously examining winners in different sports by age, and comparing performances of men and women.)

But maybe it is not so boring. Because as he points out, all these performance improvements are fundamentally the result of all of us enjoying, during the last 100 years, by far the greatest increases in welfare that any human beings have ever experienced -- the same process that transformed the former Soviet babushkas, writ large for all of us.

So enjoy it all and be thankful.