I have a complicated relationship with summer Olympic Games. Despite all the hoopla about the international spirit of competition and celebrating these elite athletes who train for years in obscurity for their few moments in the sun, it feels more and more like a popularity contest and months-long marketing campaign to sell some mundane consumer products. Sure, I enjoy looking at athletic men in their little Speedos as much as the next person, and I admire the amount of effort it takes to shave off one-thousandth of a second to create a new world’s record, but I don’t see how buying baby lotion or laundry detergent ties in. (I’m talking to you, Proctor & Gamble)
But I’ll end up watching some events… like the marathon, because I don’t know very many people who can run 26 consecutive miles. And it’s lonely to run that long. Heck, sometimes it’s lonely to DRIVE that long. You really have to be mentally tough and comfortable up in your own head to run like that every day. I guess it’s a bit like being a writer: you have to be able to sustain the effort even when logic tells you that nobody would care if you just stopped right now and had a cheeseburger and nap. But I did find an interesting little article back in May about ten games worth bringing back to the Olympics. It was written by Victor Mather, and appeared in the New York Times of May, 22, 2012. ( link here for anybody interested in the whole piece). I summarize them below:
10. Twelve Hour Bicycle Race: A real endurance test. My butt hurts thinking about it.
9. Softball: “Recently” dropped in 2008, but worth watching for the pitching.
8. Cricket: Americans can’t understand it, but there’s no reason why we can’t learn. Matches can last for days so that counts for endurance.
7. Sixteen Man Naval Rowing Boasts with Coxswain: Just how BIG would these boats be? Just how BIG would these rowers be? (My mind goes to 16 Armie Hammers from The Social Network)
6. 200-meter Swimming Obstacle Race: Urban training in polluted waterways would be an advantage.
5. Tandem Bicycle, 2000 meter sprint: Just picture it…. speed and 2 riders on one bike…. and 8 teams on a track. Sounds more like an event for The Hunger Games.
4. Javelin, Both Hands: Means each athlete gets 2 throws; one with each hand. The Ambidextrous get their own event!
3. Dueling Pistols: This only happened in the 1906 Games and the participants shot at a dummy… maybe this one should be a “pass?”
2. Cross-Country Race: Sort of like the marathon already?
1. TUG OF WAR!!! Come on, who wouldn’t want to watch, and everybody can relate to it. I propose the following rule: each country can have up to 10 athletes from any discipline but the combined weight of a team can’t exceed 1000 lbs. And they have to compete barefoot. And everybody gets a medal, OK? Just because it’s fun. And a cookie.