By Marty Russell
Excited about the Summer Olympics yet? Me neither. It’s rumored that Greece, the place where it all started back when the gods didn’t stack the deck and enjoyed a good wager, is only fielding one team in this year’s Olympic games in London as an austerity measure. Since Greece created the games it gets to invent its own and this year the Greeks have introduced as an official Olympic sport for the first time the 500-meter bank run. Since theirs is the only team that qualified they’re ensured a win. By default.
Don’t laugh. It makes as much sense as some of the so-called sports that make up the Olympics these days. At least in ancient times it was one-on-one competition that tested the limits of human strength, endurance and skill. And they did it naked.
That was probably much more riveting and full of tension than watching say China and Poland duke it out for the gold in women’s doubles badminton. Unless, of course, they do it naked. I never considered badminton a sport. It was always something some kid in the neighborhood had set up on their front lawn in the summer that their parents paid a couple of bucks for just to keep the kid out of the house. No one knew the rules and so no one ever actually won and the game simply ended when someone whacked the cheap plastic birdie up onto the roof.
And speaking of birdies, is golf really a sport? It’s in the Olympics but do you think the gods back in ancient Greece would have allowed it? Can you imagine Zeus kicking back with his thunderbolt and watching a bunch of guys in tacky clothes whack a ball around for 18 holes? It’s probably why, to this day, so many golfers get struck by lightning. Even the patience of the gods has its limits.
Then there’s shooting. Yes, shooting is actually an official Olympic sport. Granted someone has to aim the gun but isn’t it the bullet that does all the work? Does it take any real physical prowess? I say we save ourselves some time, not to mention bullets, and just go ahead and award the gold to Syria, or maybe inner city Chicago.
And don’t get me started on table tennis which we all know is just a fancy name for ping pong. It might have contributed to good diplomacy at one time but is it really a sport?
Finally there is that magnificent, edge-of-your-seat competition known as synchronized swimming which is akin to dumping a stage full of Radio City Rockettes into a pool or watching an old Busby Berkeley musical. While swimming of any kind does require some physical skills, I don’t really see the sport or the attraction of doing it in sync. Unless, of course, you throw a shark in there with them. Or they’re doing it naked.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.