It’s not often that I notice huge cultural differences between Canada and the United States, but on the rare occasion that I do, they come as glaring slaps across my face.
In the three years I have lived in Canada, I have never experienced a Winter Olympics here until last month.
So, until last month, I never knew—never even entertained the idea—that it would be so devastating to watch figure skating without Scott Hamilton’s commentary.
Yes, my friends, CBS does not broadcast in Canada, which means Scott Hamilton’s assessment of figure skaters does not play over the airwaves in this country. ‘Tis a sad, sad truth.
You know the adage, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?” Well, that applies to my relationship with Scott Hamilton. See, I grew up watching the figure skating during the Winter Olympics—my mom never let me miss a routine. And inasmuch as it was two years before I was born that Scott Hamilton won his gold in the most perfectly skated routine ever seen by man, by the time I was old enough to watch the Olympics, he was the commentator (and has been ever since).
So I’ve always had a Scott Hamilton to call my own, but when I was a kid, I didn’t realise just how much that would mean to me. I distinctly remember getting so angry with the voice on TV telling us all what to think about the performances going on. I mean, I thought they all looked good (except when they fell—that, I could tell was bad), but there was this faceless voice on the TV telling me that, nope, that triple lutz was incomplete, and was it just him, or was that girl’s form getting sloppier each year. One time I exploded at my mother: “WHO DOES HE EVEN THINK HE IS? Why does he get to be so mean about these routines? I think they look great; what does he know?”
“Camille,” she said in a sage, motherly voice, “that man is the best male figure skater ever to walk the earth. He gets to say those things because he knows.”
Oh. I felt dumb.
From that point on, I never doubted Scott Hamilton’s expertise. I’m sorry, Scott Hamilton, that I ever doubted you.
So last month, I waited for the figure skating routines with my usual anticipation, and when the big day finally rolled around, I went to the store and bought a new case of DDP for me and some chocolate bars for my mother-in-law (all the usual preparations for a television marathon), and drove over to her house to watch my favourite sport of the entire Olympic games…
…but something wasn’t right. It took me a routine or two to figure it out, but when I finally realised that Scott Hamilton was not and would never be a commentator for the Canadian Television company, I fell into a deep, unprecedented depression.
“How can I live in a country like this, with no Scott Hamilton to tell me what to think,” I asked myself. “How can I exist in such a state? This is no way to live. These announcers don’t even get critical; they don’t even try to sound like experts. They’re so nice! Where’s Scott Hamilton? I miss him! I love him!”
True, declaring my undying love for a man who reached his peak two years before I was born (a man I’ve never met, by the way) might not have been my proudest psychological moment. But it was how I felt. Without Scott Hamilton, the Olympics were just another prime time television show. I stayed and watched them all, of course. I took them all in. But it wasn’t the same. I tried to be my own Scott Hamilton, asking myself when the USA girls skated if, out of the entire American country, that was really the best we had. I even cheered when the Italian girl fell not one, not two, not three, but FOUR glorious, glaring times, but without Scott Hamilton, I could feel no real joy.
After my DDP had been consumed, and the days of figure skating were over, I pondered my unexpected predicament: What am I to do? How can I live in a country where the announcers sit quietly, respectfully, as we all watch in awestruck horror at the Italian girl’s exceptional failure? How can I suffer through another Winter Olympics without my dear old pal, Scott Hamilton?
I don’t have an answer to that question. All I can think is, I had better be living in the USA four years from now, or I will probably have an existential meltdown.
Wait for me, Scott Hamilton. Just…wait for me.