Exercise…not my thing. For some strange reason, however, watching Michael Phelps race in the Olympics instilled me with a sudden urge to swim, something that I rarely have the desire to do. I thought, it has to be refreshing in this heat, right?

So I go to join the Jewish Community Center (JCC) like the nice Jewish boy that I am – also secretly hoping to find a significant other. Within 2 laps, I’m wiped. I’m breathing heavily, my ears hurt and my leg cramps. I lied, both legs cramp. My only saving grace is that no one can see me glisten (read: sweating profusely) in the pool, and my gasps for air are covered by laughing children learning to swim with their families. I look at them with resentment as they learn to kick without even the slightest difficulty, and even more alarmingly, with a smile. The 8-year-old next to me might as well be the next Michael Phelps, and I might as well be this adorable, but pained puppy:


I can’t be the only one who wanted to try something new after watching the Olympics, I thought. After seeking much-needed validation through the CivicScience network, I realized that I was right, but barely.

Olympics - trying new sport

Out of everyone we polled, only 12% are at least somewhat likely to try a new sport after watching the Olympics.

Generally, we saw that younger people are more likely to try a new sport after watching the Olympics. In fact, 40% of those who are likely to try a new sport are 24 and under. This compares to the 18% of people who aren’t likely to try a new sport who are 24 and under. The fact that the younger age group is more easily influenced is not overwhelmingly surprising, given that they may have more free time and the ability to try new things.

Even though there aren’t a great number of people who are likely to try a new sport after watching the Olympics, at least I know that I’m not alone on the Phelps Bandwagon. As we reported last week, 39% of adults believe that Michael Phelps has been the biggest star on the U.S. Olympic Team. I don’t know if I would go that far, granted I know next-to-nothing about sports so my opinion on the matter should be quickly discarded anyways. But at 23 Olympic gold medals, I suppose the case could be made.

So, as I sit here in the minority of folks that dare to be like Mike, or whoever else they have been following, I now know more than ever that there’s a reason they’re in Rio, and I’m on my couch. So, let’s congratulate all of the Olympic Athletes on an amazing performance, and I’m currently accepting prayers for my sore legs and wounded eardrums. Now I know why they call it Swimmer’s Ear.