I saw the movie Eddie the Eagle the other day. A good movie, not great, but a feel good, inspirational tale along the lines of Cool Runnings, another “Olympic Dream” movie released back in 1993 (and yes my friends Jamaica still has a Bobsled Team). Watching movies is very high on my list of entertainment type things to do, second only to attending minor league baseball games. I did say minor league games, I like major league games also but they don’t give me the same throw back, gritty, young player climbing the ladder appeal I get when I enter one of those old minor league parks. Just a little too polished I guess. Give me an old minor league park in a little out of the way town anytime. It’s kind of the same with movies, while I see most all of the new movies that come out; I prefer the old black and white movies from the 40’s and 50’s. Leonardo has nothing on Bogey. I think my children stay away from the house sometimes these days in fear that I might make them sit down and suffer through another classic I’ve discovered on the TCM channel.
Now back to Michael Edwards — Eddie the Eagle, who stumbled, not burst into my consciousness during the 1988 Olympics in Calgary as the lone member of The Great Britain ski jumping team. The Eagle finished last in both the 70- and 90-meter competitions. He became one of the darlings of the 1988 games because of his ineptness. The Eagle was a joke and the press and TV coverage of his performances presented him in this manner, because compared to his world class competitors he pretty much was.
Sitting in the theater though I thought back to those days and just who I was comparing Eddie Edwards to, it was the young man of 31 sitting on the couch probably finishing off his extra-large bag of chips and second Mountain Dew. Since Mr. Edwards was a joke as an athlete compared to his Olympic peers, he must be a joke as an athlete compared to me. After all I was accomplished enough to lead off for my weekend softball team and was first man off the bench for my over 30 men’s basketball squad. All Eddie the Eagle had done was shove himself down an absurdly high ramp at approximately 70 miles per hour and fly around 15 feet off the ground for 210 feet or so. But could he beat out a chopper to a 40-year-old, weak kneed, over the hill shortstop? I could — sometimes. My perception of Eddie the Eagle had been formed by bringing him into my life and if he was a man of low stature and a joke in his life he would just have to take that role in mine also.
I’ve told myself before that the 12th man on the end of that NBA bench is probably a pretty good player and I probably couldn’t beat him one on one and Eddie the Eagle would not have finished last at the Olympics if I would have been there yet at times I still derive my perception of them as a less than worthy competitor. Once again I’ll try to go about life knowing my perception of the people I know, meet or watch from afar should be derived from their own playing field, not mine and that I should learn something about it. Except for the presidential candidates — I think my current perception is pretty spot on! Fly high Eagle.
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Steve Cox, a member of The Messenger’s Board of Contributors, is a lifelong resident of Nelsonville who used to love to write, then went into business, lost his creativity and is now trying to get it back.