HERE WE GO AGAIN. Every four years a bunch of sweaty vegan government-funded unemployed hipsters get together in some overextended city for a fortnight to celebrate themselves and their ability to excel at something that no one cares about. No. I’m not talking about an international slam poetry competition. I am, of course, referring to the Olympiad, the Olympics, the Games. It seems like just yesterday we weren’t watching the Beijing Games, a grand pageant that celebrated an oppressive communist country that has whole towns dedicated to making iPhones and holds the rest of the world’s debt like spare change in its Maoist pockets.
This year, the Olympics invade London. Because, you know, when you think of summer your thoughts immediately go to perpetually overcast London, where summers devoid of sunshine are the norm. London, a city of 14 million that’s roughly the size of Rhode Island. So, you know, adding a quarter of a million plus visitors for two weeks is probably a good idea. London, because when you think of great athletes, England comes to mind somewhere after Canada and Papua New Guinea. London, where they riot in stadia about soccer. SOCCER!
But, let’s close our eyes and think of the Queen, get past the waste of time and money that is the white collar criminal syndicate Olympics, and take a moment to celebrate the Games themselves.
Okay, let’s not do that.
This is Headshots. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the more ridiculous Olympic sports and how we can make them interesting. Or, well, tolerable.
No Hulk Hogan. No Iron Sheik. No Andre the Giant. No Steve Austin. No Stacey Kiebler. This, dear readers, ain’t your daddy’s wrasslin’. This is a Greek erotic legacy.
The only way to make Olympic wrestling tolerable is to bet on which “athlete” gets an erection first. Listen, I’m as gay as the next guy, but I like my dude on dude porn like any good American. In the quiet of my mother’s basement on my MacBook Pro, one hand in a bag of Doritos, and another on my business.
Sailing. Known as yachting until 1996, but changed to sailing because most people are morons. Nothing says sport like an elitist pastime. I remember as a kid, hearing the inspirational story of Earl Potter, who grew up in poverty ravaged East St. Louis, shoplifting bread, and sharing a bed with six brothers, and waiting for the weekend when they would all go down to the yacht club and race sailboats.
Okay, none of that is true. But what is true is that sailing is ridiculous. Seriously, sailing was added to the Olympics so that rich kids could win gold medals. Also, we invented the internal combustion engine. Who sails?
3. The Hammer Throw
That’s right. In athletics, throwing a hammer is a sport. I’m glad that tax dollars are able to fund some young kid from Tucson whose only dream is to one day wear a dress an throw a lead weight on the end of a cane handle further than a drunk Scotsman. My personal favorite thrower of all-time is Yuriy Sedykh, however since the introduction of the women’s event in 1988, I’ve become quite fond of Gulfiya Khanafeyeva.
The only way to really appreciate this sport is to try it yourself, the way it was meant to be played, as it still is at Highland games the world over. Drink a few pints of scotch, duct tape your neighbor’s kid’s soccer ball to a stick, and throw it at cars on the highway.
4. Floor Exercise
Look, some of the gymnastics events are boss. The parallel beams are crazy. The balance beam is insane. I’ve got mad respect for all of the Eastern European midgets who excel at these events. But the floor exercise? C’mon. It’s just some chick who couldn’t manage the uneven bars fiddling with a ribbon to Vivaldi.
The sports originated in 1973, when the Romanian team was forced to add Veronika Barnutiu to the national team because her dad was a respected war criminal. Veronika was a notoriously bad drunk given that she was 12 years old, four-foot-two, and had the body weight of a two-legged kitten who has just found a case of rotted tuna. The floor exercise gave her something to do. “Just play your ribbon, Ronnie. Play with your pretty ribbon, sweetie.”
While that may, or may not, be true, this is: Want to make the floor exercise interesting? Get your local bar to put it on the flat screen, and do a shot every time someone references Will Ferrell or Old School.
Long before The Hunger Games reinvigorated the sport’s popularity, Archery was boring people in Olympic competition. Oh, look, here’s some Slovak with a bow shooting at a stationary target. Yay! Jesus. Give me an afternoon of sobriety and an archer’s kit from Toys ‘r’ Us, and I could be an Olympic champ in about twenty minutes. I say we make archery a challenge. Why not get a few of those floor exercise girls, get ‘em hopped up on vodka, speed, and some HGH, give them a few minutes head start into a forest, and then let the archers take them down, one dancing midget with a ribbon at a time. Now that’s a sport.
In the meantime, seriously, turn off your TV, go outside and play a real sport. You know, a sport from the Winter Olympics.
Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).