Olympic Sports — from the Sublime to the Silly

[To listen to the audio, click here: Bacon_final_Olympic_satire_8-3-2012]

The London Olympics features 26 summer sports, with 39 disciplines, and 302 separate competitions, in a desperate attempt to get everyone to watch.

As a result, the International Olympic Committee feels they now have something for everyone.  So, we’ve got the Ancient Sports, or the Events No One Watches Anymore, like horse riding, rifle range, and archery — also known as, Things You Did in Summer Camp, But Stopped Doing After You Learned How To Drive and Talk To Girls.  Why not include making moccasins and leather key fobs?

The Modern Penthathlon has got the complete collection of outdated events: fencing, horse jumping, shooting, a 3-K run and a 200-meter swim – or, The Full MacGyver.  Introduced in 1912, the Modern Pentathlon is one of the least modern things about the modern games.

A truly Modern Pentathlon would include:

Aerobics – which is not as silly as rhythmic gymnastics;

Running Brain Dead On A Treadmill;

Bikram Yoga, for some reason;

Sitting On The Weight Machine I Want To Use For Five Minutes, While Admiring Yourself In The Mirror; and

Programming Your New Television.

The smallest category is The Things You Actually Want to Watch: swimming, track, gymnastics and basketball.  Everything else is filler.  Oh, and Tae Kwon Do, of course.  Why?  Because my editor likes it.  That’s why.

At the other extreme, you’ve got Fake Sports the IOC Recently Jammed Into the Games in A Failed Attempt To Get Your Teenager To Stop Playing Video Games For Ten Minutes And Watch Through At Least One Commercial Break, which occur every 38 seconds.  These sports include:

Mountain biking, wake boarding, trampoline, and beach volleyball.

Well, okay — lots of teenage boys will watch beach volleyball, because they have Discovered Girls.

If the IOC really wants to appeal to today’s kids, they should add:

-The 100-Meter Dash, With Your Pants Halfway Down Your Butt;

-Texting While Walking;

-Texting While Doing Everything Else; and

-Beer Pong.

The problem is, the table tennis snobs get upset when you call their sport Ping Pong, so perhaps we should call it Beer Tennis.  Which, come to think of it, would be a pretty good sport, too.

The last category of sports includes rowing, cycling, weightlifting and distance running.  Or, as most of us call it: Exercise.

But the silliest sport I have ever seen in the Olympics, without question, is Synchronized Diving.  This involves two people jumping off the platform at the same time, and doing the same dive.  Get it?

Of course, once they start doing the same dive, it’s kind of hard to speed it up or slow it down.  And they’re pretty much guaranteed to fall at the same speed — which, last I checked, is the speed of gravity.  So the only thing they really have to synchronize is when to start their dive – which they do by saying, “Ready?”




In other words, the exact same system kids use to play rock, paper, scissors.  Synchronized bowling would actually be trickier.

But all is not lost.  We can save this sport – and here’s how:

Start with two divers on the platform, but from different nations, and have them duke it out on the platform.  First one to get tossed in the water, loses.  I’d watch that – and you would, too.  Even your sullen teenager with the baggy pants might stop texting for 38 seconds to watch that.

I know, I know.  All these events are difficult in some way.  But just because something is difficult, does not make it Olympian. Pushing the garage door button, then launching your body under the door before it cuts you in half – well, that is difficult, as my adolescence will attest.  But it didn’t make me an Olympian.

Folding a fitted sheet?  That’s hard, too.  I’ve never seen anybody do it very well.  But, you won’t get a medal for it.

At least, not yet.

* * * * *

If you happen to be a Huron High School classmate of mine, our reunion is Saturday, August 18, at the EMU Marriott — a great spot overlooking the golf course and lakes.  You can reserve your spot here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3900735204/efbnen  (And please spread the word!)

Like this story?  Please feed the blog, and keep ’em coming!

Radio stuff: I’m back to my original normal of 9:05 Friday mornings on WTKA (semester’s over!), and sticking to my new normal on Michigan Radio of 8:50.  And yes, there will be a quiz, so “stop what you’re doing, and listen!”

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnubacon. Closing in on 5,000.

“Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football” can be ordered now.


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3 comments Leave a comment  

  • Dave August 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    They should bring back Pankration

  • johnubacon August 4, 2012 at 10:51 am


    I had to look that one up — good one!

    Turns out “Pankration” was a deadly combination of boxing, karate and just about anything else you wanted to do, except gouging the eyes. (Your opponents’, I assume, not your own.) In other words, some hybrid of Ultimate Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts.

    My dad had another suggestion: “Next time, I think they should add poker (both men’s & women’s, plus left & right handed).”

    Well, if nothing else, you can see I come by my sarcasm honestly.


  • Josh Reyher August 10, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Regarding the fitted sheets, my buddy’s mom demonstrated it and I was equally in awe!


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