It’s back! Our once every fourth year friend who drops in like that annoying person that you know from high school who thinks you mean it when you say ‘call me if you’re in town’ and then they do and you really don’t want to see them, but what the hell it’s only once every four years and goddammit you need caffeine so badly you’re willing to go and get it in their company? Yep…the Olympics!
Well, maybe that description of annoying high school friend doesn’t make any sense. But regardless, the summer olympics are upon us yet again, in Beijing, China.
They seem to share the same theme as Athens. Though both cities didn’t go with the theme outwardly, it’s been the overriding topic of conversation for both sets of games: Smog. It’s kind of a funny joke, really. Take the most pristine athletes in the world, dangle their dreams in front of them and them suffocate them en masse! And we, the lazies of the world, get to watch and laugh, in our air conditioned, smogless apartments, only an arms length away from our wine.
Regardless of the themes that they choose, all the games are the same. We get to hear little bio’s of how this random kayaker made it to the games after running over a mentally retarded goose in the rurals of Peru, which launched her into an incredible depression, leading her to eat over twice her body weight in chocolate every month. After her massive obesity threatened her life, she started therapy and picked up kayaking in the vain hopes that while on the water, she could see a goose and knock the dumb thing with her paddle. Then bam, she got good and here she is, supported by her fellow Peruvians. Or some such thing.
So they pull at our heart strings and then we watch them. We watch them jump over long pits of sand, throw themselves off of 10m platforms into a pool, chuck heavy things far away, skimp around in bikinis, shoot some hoops and do their best imitations of fish. We gasp as they tumble and flip, run and jump and complete things that we could only ever dream of forcing our bodies to do.
For most of the athletes, it’s incredible that they’ve devoted their lives to one sport. I’m sure the training involved is something I cannot even begin to comprehend, the dedication is worthy in and of itself. But then there’s some sports I just don’t get.
Like shooting. This is a sport? Really? Like, seriously? But, um, I don’t get it. So, you stand there and go ‘Pull!’ and someone does something and you shoot a skeet (?) whilst standing still. Now, I don’t deny there is skill in that. But I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as athletic skill. Drunk people can shoot things. I’m just saying.
Ping pong. Now, come on. You know that the person who fought for this to get included into the games was that nerd in high school who was also fascinated with badminton (which I won’t badmouth, I do see them running around in a modified tennis fashion, but come on…shuttlecock?) and wanted the last laugh between him and his bullies. Sure, again, ping pong is hard. I suck at it personally. It’s a skill. But it’s more of a thing to do when you’ve grown bored of the Xbox, not something you drive yourself to the arena for at 4 AM for your hardcore training.
Archery. Again, you’re standing still. This immediately disqualifies you in my books from being considered an athlete. You probably have to use your abs to stabilize yourself when you pull back the arrow, but that’s a fucking stretch.
Now before you think I’m just lazy and bitter, I’ll qualify all my jesting with the fact that I was in ballet for 13 years. I was in the studio for 7 days a week, contorting my legs into places they just didn’t want to go and defying gravity and common sense. I stood on my toes for crying out loud. My dance career ended pretty soon after I tore both of my quads because my pointe shoes fit incorrectly and instead of my shoes doing their job and holding me up, my quads were doing that. They weren’t very fond of it, so they decided to rip themselves to pieces so I would have to stop.
And yet, you dont see dancing as a sport. It’d be very difficult to judge, granted, since so much of it is subjective, but what’s the difference between that and the floor exercise in gymnastics? I mean, dancers are far more athletic than say, left-fielders who stand there and readjust themselves while getting a tan. But left fielders get olympic medals. First place in ball-fiddling. Hoorah.
You know who the smartest ones in the Olympics are? The ones who sit at the back of the rowing boats and just scream at their teammates who are working their asses off, propelling a boat with nothing but their own bodies. THAT person has it figured out I tell ya. I think I’d be really good at that.