Thursday, August 28, 2008

The World's Commissioner Of Sports, Vol. II: Olympic Games

With the XXIX'th Olympic Games now only a Phelps-infused memory, I thought that now is a good time to examine the Olympics and find XXIX ways that they could be improved. In a sense, these are XXIX ways to make it to London's door, for those of you who know Marc Cohn's music.

I - Never go back to Beijing. The Games were hosted by a country that fundamentally rejects almost everything that the Olympics stand for: fair-play, equality, brotherhood, peace, human rights and human dignity, and freedom. That said, the facilities themselves were top-notch, the Games went smoothly and although it was quite hot and quite smoggy, neither affected the events drastically.

II and III- Keep baseball and softball. I wrote this last week, but it is crazy that arguably the world's second favorite sport (and it's twin sister) is not an Olympic sport. I understand that the best athletes are not there, and I understand that the U.S. women absolutely dominate, but are we really going to dis-include a sport because only amateurs play, or because one country is really good (and our women lost anyway)?

IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XI- Realistic sports that should be added: The rule is that a men's Olympic sport must be played in 75 countries on four continents, and a women's must be played in 40 countries on three continents.

So how the hell is golf not in the Olympics? Four players per country, four rounds of best ball where each player must have at least 10 shots used per round.

Lacrosse, ultimate (a.k.a ultimate frisbee) and dodgeball are more fringe sports, but are certainly more watchable and have to be more widely played than rhythmic gymnastics, equestrian, taekwondo, judo, ping pong, sailing, and weightlifting, all of which are medal-sports in the Olympics! Hell, these three are more watchable than soccer too. Ultimate may be the, ahem, ultimate Olympic sport: physically demanding, heavy reliance on skill, strategy and finesse, team game, no officials - players call their own penalties (like golf), and there is even a behavioral/ethics code built into the rules of the game (Spirit of the Game)!

I am on the fence with bowling, but who in the world has never played? Its status as a sport may be questionable (vs. a hobby), but so could all of the unwatchable ones I named above, as well as gymnastics, diving, and boxing.

While I personally couldn't care less about cricket, it is among the world's top 5-10 favorite sports and should be included. India and Pakistan deserve an event to crush everyone in.

Tell me that you honestly think that Capture-the-Flag would not be the greatest thing ever. Who hasn't played this? It is war without the shooting! Every child in every nation has played some variation of this sport.

XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII and XVIII- Less realistic additions:
Centathlon, as derived by The Office's Dwight in those NBC commercials. A 100-event sport including, "broad jump, side jump, front jump, back jump, animal mimicry, wall-climbing, cup-stacking, coal-digging, hide-the-hamster, boat-repair, projectile spitting, Q-tipping...nasal projection, fugitive-track, rabbit hunt, pain tolerance, die-casting, knuckle-chuck, Turkish luge, pizza-making, Battleship, bow-hunting, boating, taekwondo, cabinet-making, flapping, hair-cutting, murderball, murder-checkers..."

Calvinball, as invented by Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes. The only rule is that it can never be played the same way twice, but competitors may make new regulations on the fly (out-loud or in their own heads). There is no points system and while singing and flag-capturing are generally important, they don't come into play every time.

Guitar Hero and Marco Polo are two fine competitions that could easily catch-on in the Olympics, though Guitar Hero is admittedly not a very good spectator sport.

There needs to be more alcohol in the Olympics and in the pantheon of drinking games, the only reasonable choices are Beer Pong and Flippy up. I would favor Flippy Cup, but really either would be spectacular.

In the movie Top Secret!, there was a game called Skeet Surfing that honors the time honored Olympic tradition of combining other sports with gun play (modern pentathlon, winter biathlon). The game is somewhat self-explanatory and while I am generally not a fan of judged events, this one makes the grade for me (you lose points for shooting spectators, which is sportsmanlike).

XIX- The Russians have to wear red uniforms with "CCCP" on them. This year they did a good job of being "The Russians" by invading another country for no apparent reason during the Olympics, but in general they are not a fearsome opponent and having them wear red-white-and-blue is really upsetting for me. I wanna be scared of them like I was as a kid.

XX- All U.S. athletes must wear red-white-and-blue. What the hell was with our gymnasts?

XXI- Events decided by judges do not count for medals. NBC can keep the gymnastics on the air for their ratings, but it shouldn't count because it, diving and boxing are and always will be fixed (this counts for figure skating and ice dancing as well).

XXII- The modern pentathlon (swimming, target shooting, equestrian, running and fencing) should be renamed the "Turn-of-the-Century pentathlon," but should remain in the games. I like these multiples-events.

XXIII- The "modern pentathlon" will not consist of running, swimming, cycling, home run hitting, and slam dunk.

XXIV- Andrea Kramer may not interview anyone who doesn't win so she doesn't make people cry anymore.

XXV- The Olympics must be held within 10 time zones of me, wherever I may live.

XXVI- Each country should get three entrants in each even in swimming. If they can do in it Track and Field, they can do it in swimming.

XXVII and XXVIII- NBC's Coverage can improve. More sports coverage, less personal interest stories. Since NBC uses six or seven networks to air the games, there should be a "Personal Interest" channel, so they can run that stuff 24/7. Also, all announcers must be former athletes in that sport. Find someone who can talk and knows something, not one who can talk and one who knows something.

XXIX- Enough with the Roman numerals. The Olympics were Greek. I know they make it seem important, and make those of us who can read them feel smart, but seriously...let it go (I am looking at you too, Super Bowl).

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