Bill Murray suggests that each Olympic event should have a competitor of average ability – for reference. Imagine my floor routine in women’s gymnastics, in which I’d do 3 somersaults across the big mat, and then say – “whoa, give me a minute.” Unless there was someone there to help me up, I’d have to rock onto one knee to stand, but that being achieved, I’d throw my arms up into the air and arch my back proudly – my Olympic moment. Nailed it!
I wouldn’t draw comparisons between myself and Simone Biles – because she is amazing and does things with her body that I’ve never even dreamed up. I would just compete against myself and my personal best. I wouldn’t get to be included in the medal ceremony, natch, because I wouldn’t come close to winning, but by then, I’d be buying myself a 46 oz. soft drink, most likely anyway, like most average Americans.
If I were invited to swim, I’d especially like wearing two swim caps with my name emblazoned on each one, and cool reflective goggles. And I love the singlet swimsuits. I hope I’d get to keep one. (And I hope it comes in my size.) I’m a pretty good swimmer – I used to be a lifeguard after all – so I imagine I could do a full lap in crawl or breast stroke by the time they finished their race. They don’t seem to call it “crawl” anymore. They’ve opted for the more powerful name of freestyle. I would have to get out of the pool using the ladder, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one. But once I was ensconced in my warm and cozy swim coat and thongs (oops, nowadays they call them flip-flops) I could look up at the scoreboard tensely waiting for my results with the best of them.
Can you imagine listening to the sports commentators talking of your performance? They speak so highly of those athletes! I know there are studies that show that sports builds confidence, and I’ve always assumed that was because of the mastering of skills, and the winning of races and challenges. But now that I think about it, maybe it’s because of the way people on TV talk about you. “She’s a great competitor,” and “She hates to lose,” or “She knows how to bring in a winning performance,” or “the adversity she has faced to get here in this moment…”
I wouldn’t even mind if they said something stupid like it’s all because of my famous, caring or generous husband. I know I’d have done the actual swimming and/or somersaults, and I’d know that sometimes people are intimidated by great athletes, and they diminish them verbally without really thinking how it mostly reflects on them, not the athlete. Mostly, I’d know they admire me and are in awe of my performance. And any husband in my life would know the achievement was mine, however much he helped.
But think about it, if you could replace your inner voice – that says “you’re no good,” and “who do you think you are anyway?” – with Bob Costas’ voice singing your praises, don’t you think you’d be pretty confident too? I think I’d consider upping my game to four somersaults and a cartwheel. I’ve never done a cartwheel, not even when I was young, but I’d want to really do my best to impress my new inner voice.