Saturday, August 9, 2008

Too Many Olympic Events

There is apparently a lot more to this whole Olympic event stuff than I realized. Just when I thought I knew what a "sport" constituted, I have to go and read exactly what the sports are at the Olympics this year. And let me tell you, they're not all sounding very Olympic-y. In fact, some are sounding kind of boring-y and others are sounding kind of WTF-y.

First, there are the equestrian events. OK, um, "equestrian" means "with a horse". I don't think that animals should be participating in the Olympics. They're just not for that sort of thing. Unless they're pulling chariots into a stadium full of crazed and screaming Greek spectators right before they bring out a bronze medal finisher and a couple of lions, I don't think animals should be allowed. Besides, who gets the medal? The guy riding the horse! How much sense does that make? It was the horse that jumped or pranced or did whatever it did. The guy just sat there on it's back. And he gets a medal for that? They shouldn't call it the "U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team". No, that should be called the "U.S. Olympic Sitting There Team".

Then we have badminton. When I think of those thin little rackets that look like they're rolled from Reynolds Wrap and that little shuttlecock thing whooshing through the air, I usually don't think of the Olympics. I think of family barbecues in the backyard. (I also think it would have been really cool if, during one of those barbecue badminton "games" that we were actually able to hit the shuttlecock over the net more than once. It never did. The dumb game held our attention for about 5 minutes or until one of us hit the shuttlecock on the roof. It was usually a toss up as to which one would occur first.) Really, the only pleasure that comes from having badminton at the Olympics is that you get to say "shuttlecock". A lot. Shuttlecock. Shuttlecock. See?

Handball is an Olympic sport. I did not know that. I also did not know that it was such an intense sport that there was apparently some match fixing going on involving the Asian federation of handball and the Kuwait federation of handball. Match fixing. In handball. Is nothing sacred? Oh, and from what I can tell, handball is basically soccer without all the feet. Instead of kicking the ball, you're throwing the ball. (Yeah. I'm sure that will make it much better.)

Then there's the pentathlon. Who came up with this? It makes no sense. It's like they just took a bunch of sports, threw them all into a hat, pulled out five and voila! The pentathlon. Never mind that they don't seem to have a lot to do with each other. They're not even in the same sports family. The pentathlon consists of:

  • Epee fencing (OK, so sword fighting. No suits of armor, which is really a shame because that would be must see TV right there.)

  • Air pistol shooting (To do this, you must have one hand firing the gun and the other hand tucked into your belt or your pocket. Then you shoot at a target approximately 30 feet away. No suits of armor in this part either.)

  • Next, after you've used your steel sword against an opponent and fired a gun with one hand in your pants, you're ready for a 200 meter freestyle swim! (You will need to remove your hand front your pants for this.)

  • They must have decided that, in order to make sure that nothing in this event makes sense, someone shouted, "Bring on the horses!" After you've toweled off, you're supposed to hop on one of these creatures and make it jump over little fake fences.

  • Finally, there's the 3,000 meter run which the Olympics like to call "cross country". Here's the thing, though. If you win this event, you win the overall competition. WTF?! So you could suck at swords and guns and horses and pools, but run like the wind and you've got yourself a gold medal? How is that fair?

I'm not sure who thought that some of these events were a good idea (or even thought that anyone would want to watch them even if they were a good idea). Really, does anyone in this country watch anything other than those little pixie girl gymnasts and the foot races? Oh, and the throwing events. Discus, javelin, shot put. The Olympians love to hurl large heavy objects through the air as far as they can. They've loved it from the beginning from what I can tell. (The only question I have about it is why they like it so much. It's not like you're aiming at someone with your javelin, hoping to impale them for some bonus points. The shot put isn't heated on a bed of coals until it's a glowing red ball of fire that will be hurled almost immediately and with little or no care as to the direction. The only care will be "getting this thing off of my flesh before I start seeing my own bones.")

Two weeks of this stuff. That seems like a long time. Especially when they save the good stuff (ie, the foot races and the pixie gymnasts) until the end. But by the time the good stuff does finally happen, I guess we're more than ready for it. After all, you can only see so many shuttlecocks before you need something new. Trust me.

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