Monday, August 13, 2012
Bottom Five Olympic Sports
TOP SPORT BEING MODERN PENTATHLON, OF COURSE. Let's be blunt. NBC wasn't the only problem with the 2012 Olympics (though their coverage was the chief evil). There's some fat in the sports themselves that must be trimmed.
Not every sport is to my taste. I'm not big on the more hoity-toity equestrian stuff like Dressing. I can appreciate the difficulty and artistry of the team gymnastics where they each have a ball they toss around, but I still don't care one bit. And not to be a dick, but do we really need judo and taekwondo? This list isn't just the sports that don't grab my eye. These are the events that objectively mar the Olympics and need to go.
5. Men's Sprint (cycling)
There's a few events like this, where they pace for the first 2/3 of the round or whatever, then do the fast part on the last leg. What's the point? Just start with the fast part! Warm up on your own time!
Enough's enough. Badminton is to tennis what bumper bowling is to bowling. And then the IOC shoots themselves in the foot with the new round robin elimination that encourages throwing matches? Call it a day. Think about this sentence for a moment: Scandal rocks the badminton world. Badminton. I'd call this a pity sport for backwash countries like Kazakhstan, but they acquitted themselves nicely this year with 7! gold medals (13th highest per capita). So NOT EVEN Borat land needs this patronizing silliness. Junk it.
So you want to play soccer, but you have trouble with the pesky No Hands rule? Or maybe you wanted to play hockey but the stick/puck arrangement is too awkward for you? You're in luck: You've inexplicably aroused the IOC's sympathy. Handball is a textbook fake sport. Much like Ping Pong, which is at least amusing. Handball is a middle-class gym class makeshift sport in a school district that's had to tighten its belt. If this makes the Olympics in 2016, it's a slippery slope to the inclusion of dodge ball, or rope-climbing. Or tetherball. Or hide and seek. Or... remember those boogie board things with wheels? They were kind of like if Lil Tykes made a skateboard? Did you have those at your school? Those were the best gym days. Come to think of it, I'd be all for Olympic-level wheel boogie boarding. Or should I say, on board... with that? Huh! Eh!
2. Pool Soccer
You know it as water polo. But it's not. Real water polo would be horse polo but in about 18 inches of water. That doesn't sound like much difference? You ever try to swing a heavy mallet through water? And the hoves are splashing everywhere so you've got to navigate around that constantly. THAT'D be a man's sport. Fill a whole football field with a foot and a half of water and a bunch of men ride on horseback through it majestically while smacking a ball around with long hammers. That's a sport that could impregnate you through your TV.
True water polo doesn't exist yet. What we get instead is pool soccer. Double remedial soccer. No good with your feet AND you get tuckered out running up and down that big long pitch? Here's a pool that's about 25 feet end to end. You can just doggy paddle to the goal! And don't worry about handling that pain-in-the-ass ball-- it's floaty!
If you've played water polo on an Olympic level (how ridiculous that I can type that sentence not in jest), be ye not proud. Even if you've taken home the gold. It's not like a real gold. Imagine the conversation you'd have to have every time you try to brag about it.
"Check it out, bitch! A gold medal from the Olympics, yo!"
"Wow, impressive! What'd you medal in?"
"No kidding? Splashing around on a horse and everything?"
From there you've got two options. You can lie and say you did something worth bragging about when you didn't. Or you can admit that you got it flicking a pool toy into a 10-dollar net. That almost literally any idiot could come in off the street and play your sport at a pro level. If the world "pro" works in even a figurative sense here.
1. The Closing Ceremony.
God. OK. I can tolerate the opening ceremony. The nation-of-origin celebrity cameos,the 20-foot million-dollar props, the interminable musical numbers, the prolonged dance sequences that are symbolic of national unity or whatever, but the commentators have to explain the symbolism every step of the way so does that really count as symbolism? I can even applaud the inclusiveness of the pageant, creating an event to engage gay men who otherwise have no interest in sport. (beyond the usual catty comments about wrestling and ostentatious objectification of the male athletes, but they get tired of that faster than you might expect. So I hear.) But do we need to repeat the torturous spectacle only two weeks later? It's bad enough that, as my wife put it, we start the Olympics with a two-hour Super Bowl halftime show. Why put ourselves through that again?
Here's what it should have been.
Empty stage. Keep the Union Jack shape if you want. But nothing else. No mock-paper mache, no silly space-filling purposeless structures. Definitely no Annie Lenox prowling around a gangplank like anyone still gives a shit. Start with the parade of athletes mulling about for 10 minutes (NBC, feel free to cut this instead of the Munich tribute). Everyone applauds themselves into sore hands. Which is unfortunate, considering what comes next.
Athletes off the stage. Lights down. A low hum of music plays, as though some big number is about to kick off. And there is. Just not what anyone expects. The hum holds for a good 45 seconds. Then it stops, conspicuously abruptly. Silence. Then just before anyone starts wondering if the show's over, the announcer's voice: "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ray Davies."
Spotlight on Ray entering the stage, acoustic guitar slung around his shoulder. Keep it on him as he walks to the center. "Thanks for having me," he greets the crowd, humble and happy to have an audience to play for, like he always is. "This is a song about London."
Then he plays this. Just him and his guitar.
He looks up, nods kind of sheepishly, and says "Thank you very much." END OF CEREMONY. The remaining time is filled up with a standing ovation that leaves everyone assembled with broken wrists. Everyone goes home with oven mitts made out of colored tape.