The Summer Olympics are waiting like a stalking butler for most Americans to come home from work and not care. This is likely because most Americans are not true patriots, as evidenced by their proclivity to watch other, more interesting but way less jingoistic sports like soccer.
…Wait a second here that can’t be right, can it? Ah never mind…
Let’s just agree our citizenry is likely to watch PGA Tour Golf, or the World Series of Poker, before the Summer Olympics. Unless they’re over 75, in which case they’re asleep in front of the Games right now. Or at least the Trials, we’re a tad early.
Those poor Summer Olympic athletes. It’s an all or nothing deal: They’re either a Men’s 100-meter Fly Gold Medal Winner with a soon-to-be inked Wheaties endorsement, or a Women’s All-Around or Vault Gold-Medal Winner with a soon-to-be inked Gatorade endorsement, or nothing – and thus going back to something useless after the Games like teaching kindergarten.
And those are the famous events with the big-names and the glitter and spotlights surrounding them, like Men’s 100-meter Fly Gold Medal Contender…ah…hold on…let’s look this up…Caeleb Dressel! Sheesh take a gander at that guy’s physique! Actually don’t look, you’ll become depressed and want to stop eating nachos. Or if married in any form to a dude, divorce your husband. On second thought go ahead and sneak a peek regardless of how you identify, the only peril being you might have a heart attack thanks to Caeleb with two “e’s” bod.
But stop thinking about Caeleb for just a second and consider the more obscure events that get no play and are only good for canoe endorsements, like the appropriately named “Canoe Slalom,” as excerpted from Olympic Canoe Digest Magazine, which may or may not be real:
“Unlike the Canoe Sprint in which competitors race on a straight, flat course, pants-less, which television viewers can’t tell due to the competitors’ undercarriages being hidden by the canoe and the Networks taking only low-angel shots of the race but from the stands fans see a bunch of nether-regions, the Canoe Slalom involves river rapids pumped directly from the Colorado River and a series of marked gates through which paddlers must navigate without a collision or going “wheeeeeeeee!” (that’s a time penalty). The sport has reportedly been a thrilling part of the games for perverts and 12 normal people since 1972.”
It turns out Canoe Slalom is a thing for women too, but they wear pants, as they should, because it’s been well documented they get paid less than the dudes – amongst other societal inequalities – and they just don’t need to put up with any more hassle than they already do by simply by being women.
Oh! Another nerd-, ah, we mean obscure event is Racewalking, where it’s basically running except one foot has to be kept on the ground at all times which results in a funky, uncomfortable-to-watch hip wiggle. From the perspective of the toilet or eating lunch alone (again) and succumbing to the warm, loving, inhuman embrace of an Iphone’s blue screen, Racewalking looks easy, but then so does tax preparation, sherpa-ing, and building a fence, so whatever. Check it out:
- Athletes must always have one foot in contact with the ground at all times, as visible to the human eye. Judges are present at events to ensure the rule is enforced
- If there is no visible contact, it is deemed as ‘lifting’ and attracts a penalty
- “Your eye can catch anything that is slower than 0.6 seconds, so the quickest lifter is going to be okay within the rules. You have to push the envelope, you want to be on the edge.” – Canadian Racewalker and Olympian Inaki Gomeza, and yes he used the phrases “push the envelope,” and “be on the edge” while discussing Racewalking.
Furthermore, the athlete’s knee of their advanced leg must not bend, and the leg must straighten as the body passes over it. Each race walker is judged carefully and can be penalized if he bends his knee during the race. Good Lord talk about ticky tack penalities…
Olympic distances are 20 or 50 kilometers, and both are held as road events. For some reason the 50 kilometer one is for men only, probably because the Racewalking dudes know they’ll get beat by the girls if they let them play. Or maybe there’re all misogynists, we don’t know but there obviously has to be something wrong with them.
But hold on now for a second – when was the last time you walked 50 kilometers or used the metric system? How far is 50 kilometers anyway? So who’s the nerd now? Not the Racewalkers. In fact, we’re kind of scared of them.
Or there’s another sport that’s good for International Public Service Announcements for proper moisturizing and other skin care tips including the daily use of hand lotions, creams and salves: It’s called Handball, and the reason it’s not important at all is because the United States has never medaled in the event. Denmark, they’ve medaled, Denmark and France each have a bunch of Gold Medals. Whatever.
Handball features teams of seven players passing and dribbling a ball the size of a cantaloupe up a court that’s similar to an indoor soccer field with the aim of throwing into the opposition’s goal, which happens often – spectators might see 60 goals or more in a single match.
The International Handball Federation (“IHF,” founded in 1946, headquartered in Basel, which is an actual town in Switzerland that subsequently makes a really a nice marinara) realizes this sounds absurd so insists, through the threat of invasion of our offices by their standing robot army, we explain how it works:
- After receiving the ball, players can only hold the ball for three seconds before passing, dribbling (similar to a basketball dribble), or shooting
- After receiving the ball, players can take up to three steps…
Oh the hell with it. No one cares IHF! Send your busty blonde automatons to do their worst, you can’t intimidate the editorial board of here at our esteemed publication. You can bribe us with cash however.
Sorry about that. There’s another unlaudable Olympic Event where the participating athletes simply get absolutely no action during the steamy, wee hours of the night at the Olympic Village because it seems so dorky: Trampoline.
Appearing first in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney thanks to immense pressure by the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP), competitors’ routines last less than a minute, and if you’re a dude athlete talking to a chick athlete at an exclusive Olympic Village bar that’s just a tough sell on many levels.
Granted, competitors bounce up to 26 feet into the air, doing flips, somersaults, and twists – although it would be hilarious if they only bounced around doing somersaults or even better nothing. Just “boing, boing, “boing” like a kid oh my God that would be hilarious and the commentators would just be silent or going “Uhhhhhhhh” because how can you possibly backfill that with appropriate, unrealistically enthusiastic commercial-friendly commentary?
Oh, some guy from Belarus or China won the Gold Medal in Trampoline during the last Olympics. We have no idea if girls do it and now we’re tired.
The moral of the story is to watch the Summer Games because they only happen once in a while, there’s a bunch of weirdly unique sports packed in there that no one pays attention to which means they’re probably actually interesting, and these athletes likely believe in their countries more than an average citizen given they’ve devoted their lives to representing them. Or maybe not. It doesn’t matter, they’re there, putting everything on the line and trying their best in the face of massive judgement and critique from people who don’t know better. Especially those folks on the trampoline. So we should take a cue from that and do something awesome. Just saying.
Enjoy the Games.