It’s great to watch someone doing something really well — and digging it

From the UCLA Gymnastics Twitter feed.

From the UCLA Gymnastics Twitter feed.

As y’all know, I’m not much of a sports fan. And as I’ve confessed, I don’t think this speaks well of my character.

As I said in a recent comment, I’m just not generous enough — or something — to identify with or thrill to someone else’s accomplishments. Except on rare occasions. (For instance, I was pleased for the Cubbies when they won the Series in 2016.) I like sports OK as something to do — or at least, I used to when I was younger — but I don’t enjoy them vicariously.

Actually, though, that’s not entirely true. While I may seldom identify with a team (you won’t hear me refer to a team as “we,” for instance, unless I’m one of the athletes involved, which as time goes by is increasingly unlikely), and I won’t thrill to other people’s victories or mourn their defeats, in the normal course of things… there is one level on which I get the whole fan thing:

I do appreciate a virtuoso performance. So I’m a sucker for a highlights reel, or those video clips that my MLB At Bat app calls to my attention. It doesn’t matter who the athlete is or what team he’s on, or what the sport is. I mean stuff that makes you go, “How can anybody DO that?” Stuff that reminds me of what the character Elmo in “Vision Quest” said about why he broke down in tears from having seen Pelé do something amazing with a soccer ball on TV:

That’s right, I start crying. Because another human being, a species that I happen to belong to, could kick a ball, and lift himself, and the rest of us sad-assed human beings, up to a better place to be, if only for a minute… let me tell ya, kid – it was pretty goddamned glorious….

And while I can be said to follow gymnastics even less than other sports, I really enjoyed seeing the above clip when The Washington Post brought it to my attention this morning:

“A 10 isn’t enough for this floor routine by @katelyn_ohashi,” the UCLA Gymnastics official Twitter account tweeted Sunday, sharing a video of Ohashi’s stellar showing at the Collegiate Challenge, where the UCLA Bruins earned first place. As of early Monday morning, the video of the routine had been viewed more than 13 million times.

So I now share it with y’all. Perhaps it will make you smile. Although your smile may not be quite as brilliant as hers…

17 thoughts on “It’s great to watch someone doing something really well — and digging it

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and as long as I was there, I also watched this clip, which is a great example of what this post is about. It shows our hero Louden spontaneously doing something in front of his teammates that blows them away, and makes believers of everyone who sees it, from Otto the team bully to the doubting coach.

      As Otto says, “I can’t do that!” At which point you see that Otto’s a pretty good guy after all — because, you know, he’s generous enough to applaud someone else’s achievement…

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    And while I won’t put it ahead of 1939 or 1967, 1985 was a pretty good movie year. A fairly innovative one.

    Aside from “Vision Quest,” we had:

    “Back to the Future”
    “Desperately Seeking Susan”
    “The Falcon and the Snowman”
    “Gotcha!” (A bit silly, perhaps, but it also had Linda Fiorentino)
    “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”
    “A Room with a View”
    “Teen Wolf” (a big year for Michael J. Fox)
    “Volunteers” (VERY high on my list of fave comedies)
    “White Nights”

    And that’s just counting the ones I saw and liked.

    I’m not even mentioning these that were widely acclaimed, but I never saw all of:
    “The Color Purple”
    “Out of Africa”
    “The Trip to Bountiful”


  2. Doug Ross

    I smiled all the way up until she did that split-bounce move. That made me wince, not for her but for me thinking how many days I’d spend in the ICU if I attempted that.

        1. Doug Ross

          You’ll be hearing from my lawyer, Esq. Bryan Caskey, shortly. He is representing me and my wife who will be suing separately for loss of spousal relations. I hear she’s looking for $3.78.

  3. Norm Ivey

    I get what you’re on about. I also enjoy watching almost anything that someone does well. I even include things like manual labor. Watching someone do a job they are intimately familiar and comfortable with can be mesmerizing.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      There’s a little wooden sign that hangs in the kitchen of my parents’ beach house, which was originally my grandparents’ beach house. I’ve been seeing it since I was a little kid, like maybe back to the ’50s.

      It’s like a souvenir from someplace like the Gay Dolphin. It has a cartoon drawing of a hobo and the caption says, “Work fascinates me. I can watch it for hours!”

  4. Bill

    If that’s sports,you’re gay.She’s a freaking whirling dervish but no Mary Lou Retton.
    You watch too many movies.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, there’s an error in the lede of the Post story:

    When the first strains of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” filled the Anaheim Arena on Saturday, Katelyn Ohashi came alive….

    Actually, what you hear is a very short bit of an instrumental cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Proud Mary. Although the instrumentation does evoke the Ike and Tina Turner version. The part that reminds you that they never, ever do nothing nice and easy. So natural mistake, I guess.

    Yeah, I know. Minor point. But I’m an editor, and it’s hard for me to sit still in the presence of such imprecision…

    Actually, now that I’ve gone back and listened to the music, it’s a pretty bad medley of tunes, some of them unrecognizable. But the gymnast’s brilliant performance keeps us from noticing…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Something I did like about the Post piece, though, was the headline, which says the video of the gymnast’s performance “broke the Internet.”

      Which brings to mind one of the more hilarious episodes of “The IT Crowd:”

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