Is it me or are the 1998 Winter Olympics about as exciting as watching old people speedwalk at the mall? Don't get me wrong, I'm as patriotic as the next guy, but when the nightly highlight show contains fifteen minutes of slow-motion replays of the day's curling competition (an event that's boring at regular speed), you know something is wrong.
So what's missing this time around? There's no Tanya Factor.
The Tanya Factor is a theoretical law of physics which takes into account three basic rules of human nature:
Rule #1: Most people are only human.
Rule #2: Everybody screws up once in awhile. And,
Rule #3: When somebody screws up, the rest of us will stand in line to watch. Imagine Murphy's Law with a live studio audience, that's The Tanya Factor.
The Tanya Factor is named in honor of Tanya Harding, that wonderful piece of Olympic white trash who made the 1994 Winter Games such a "must see" event. You remember Tanya, the chainsmoking, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed figure skater who, along with her nitwit husband, Jeff Gillooly (who has since changed his name to Stone because no one could say Gillooly with a straight face), tried to disable rival skater Nancy Kerrigan by hitting her in the knee with a lead pipe. Tanya escaped serious jail time, but was charged with having lousy taste in men and banned from competitive skating forever. Too bad. Athletic role models like Tanya don't come along everyday (unless you count Mike Tyson, Dennis Rodman, Latrell Sprewell, etc.).
But Tanya was special. This was a woman who puffed Marlboro cigarettes and swilled Budweiser from the can while attempting difficult skating maneuvers like the double cowpie and the triple decker klutz. This was a woman who lived in a trailer and drove a Dodge Ram pickup that had a gunrack in the rear window and a bumper sticker on the tailgate that read "I'll kneecap your honor student!" This, my friends, was a real woman, at least where I come from.
Thanks to Tanya and company, the 1994 Winter Games became the greatest show on earth. We all tuned in, though none of us really cared about flawless skating and perfectly executed jumps. We just wanted to see what Tanya was going to do next, as if there really was the chance that she and Nancy would beat the bejesus out of each other in the middle of the ice. That's what The Tanya Factor is all about: the human need to experience danger and excitement at someone else's expense. Forget the thrill of victory. We want to see the agony of defeat.
Dr. Beechwood A. Jing, Professor Emiritus at the South Hampton Institute of Technology's Hammond-Eggar Anthropological Department, is the man credited with identifying The Tanya Factor. Dr. Jing recently completed an extensive two day/three night study that concluded, without The Tanya Factor, life as we know it can be pretty damn boring.
Dr. Jing found that, contrary to popular belief, most people don't go to hockey games just to see large, toothless men skate gracefully around the ice. No, most people go to hockey games to see large, toothless men beat the crap out of each other! He also discovered that most people don't go to the races just to watch the pretty cars go round and round the track. Most people go to the races to see the pretty cars crash into each other at a hundred miles an hour! I had no idea, did you?
The only sign that The Tanya Factor is at work in Nagano has come from Ross Rebagliati, the Canadian snowboarder whose gold medal was taken away after he tested positive for marijuana. To understand why an athlete would risk smoking pot during the Games, you have to understand what snowboarding is all about. You stand on a miniature surfboard and fly down the side of a steep mountain at a speed that's roughly twice the speed of light. Nobody in their right mind would do that straight! Of course he had pot in his system. That's probably why he won the gold medal. He was trying to get down that mountain before all the Doritos were gone!
Finally, Dr. Jing believes that The Tanya Factor doesn't just apply to sports, but to everyday life, as well. That's why TV shows like "Top Cops" and "The Worlds Deadliest Car Chases" and "The World's Deadliest Animal Attacks" and "The World's Deadliest Car Chases Involving Top Cops Chasing The World's Deadliest Animals" are so popular. They get our hearts pumping, our blood going, our adrenaline flowing. They give us what we want. They give us Tanya.
And our knees are none the worse for wear.
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Tim Knox, Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Radio Host
Founder, The Insiders Club, Giving You The Power To Start Your Business Today
Bestselling Author of: "Everything I Know About Business I Learned From My Mama"
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