by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
September 3, 2004
DO THEY GIVE GOLD MEDALS FOR COMPLAINING?
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Every four years - called an Olympiad by us Olympic enthusiasts - I make a new resolution that I will start exercising more, and become a competitive athlete. Unfortunately, like every other resolution I make, this usually only lasts for three days after the Games end, and the new tv season starts up again.
Of course, I'm also saddled with the tough decision about which sport to pursue. In my younger days, I played soccer, was a bicycle racer, and am still a decent Ultimate frisbee player. Unfortunately, I'm also 37, and if the ages of this year's athletes are any indication, I passed my prime back in 1989.
So instead, I'm only left with the chance to gripe about athletes, how overpaid and arrogant they are, and to become an insufferable know-it-all with all the answers to Sport's shortcomings.
In other words, I'm a sportswriter.
In a previous column I discussed how many Olympic sports were descended from everyday activities that we used for our very survival. Hunting skills are represented by archery and shooting. Ancient hand-to-hand fighting skills are celebrated in boxing and wrestling. But only fencing is derived specifically from mortal combat.
While the object of boxing is to pummel the bejeezus out of your opponent, the original intent of fencing was to disembowel your opponent. And while I like to think we're more civilized than that, the origins and development of fencing are still fascinating.
Other sports developed out of a more enlightened sensibility, and celebrate athleticism, grace, and friendly competition - gymnastics, softball, volleyball, and soccer to name a few.
Unfortunately, there are a few sports that, for one reason or another - probably involving too much beer and tequila - became Olympic events. They shouldn't even be sports, let alone included in the most important sporting event in the entire world.
As a new sportswriter with the answers to everything, I've decided that some sports should just be eliminated from the 2008 Games.
Synchronized diving - I understand why diving is a sport. It's a graceful way of jumping into the water. Nothing is more elegant than a diver who has mastered the art of diving and overcome their pants-wetting fear of the 10 meter platform.
So how do two people jumping at the same time make it better? It's jumping in the water. Having two people do it simultaneously does not necessarily double the excitement quotient. It's still a boring sport, but now it's actually become doubly so.
If you want to make it exciting, arm two competing divers with knives and have them hack at each other on the way down. Points would be given based on their entry, the number of cuts they score, and the originality of their pirate costumes.
Synchronized swimming - I don't doubt the strength and endurance of these athletes. In fact, they're probably some of the fittest athletes in the Games. However, I just don't think this is a sport. You wouldn't make ballroom dancing an Olympic event (although some have tried), so why make water dancing a sport?
Race walking - Doing something faster does not make it a sport either. That's why there's no speed golf or speed archery in the Olympics. Or anywhere. I can only assume that race walking was created on a dare. There are actual rules to race walking, such as you must always have one foot on the ground (otherwise it's running). Also, points are given based on how much you look like a duck.
But it's still just a faster version of an everyday activity. At this rate, I expect to see race commuting, race teeth brushing, and race tv watching (if they create this last one, I'm guaranteed a gold medal).
Trampolining - This is where highly-trained athletes devote years of their lives to the training and preparation for jumping up and down on - what else? - a trampoline. Points are given based on the number of flips, twists, and somersaults they can perform before they stop or fall off. There are competitions and even world championships.
Athlete #1: So what do you do?
Athlete #2: I'm a professional football player. Huge 250 pound men crash into me at 20 miles an hour and try to hurt me. What do you do?
Athlete #1: I jump up and down on trampolines. Someday I hope to be a real gymnast.
Maybe I'm just being cynical, but a gold medal in trampolining hardly seems worthy of being on a Wheaties box, let alone something you tell your friends about.
"Hey everyone, I'm the best person in the world at jumping up and down!"
While I'm sure any athlete who participates in these events will argue that they're real sports played by real athletes, and I should actually try them out before I criticize them.
To which my response will be: I think racing naked down Main Street with nothing but a pink tutu and hiking boots is a dumb idea too, but that doesn't mean I'll try it.
Not after what happened last time.