I’ve been watching the Olympics lately, and almost daily I find myself saying things like, “How long has THAT been an Olympic sport?” and “You can win a gold medal for doing THAT?!?”As we all know, General Motors is in big trouble, and many experts believe the company simply has too many car brands to manage. Some of them, they say, have to go. Well, I’m thinking the Olympics are heading in that same direction. So in the spirit of international athletic competition, I’m going to suggest a few candidates for “trimming.” (And believe me, you wouldn’t even notice they were gone.)
Number Five… Field hockey. Did you know field hockey is an Olympic sport? I played field hockey in gym class once – it was fun. But I can’t decide if it’s polo for folks who can’t afford horses, or hockey for folks who can’t afford ice. Either way, I’m pretty sure the Olympics can afford both horses AND ice, so field hockey is superfluous. Throw it out.
Number four… Handball. “Up next – handball!” the announcer says. I immediately think of my grandfather playing handball at the Omaha YMCA – whacking a little rubber ball around a small, sweaty room with another elderly gentleman. But this wasn’t that handball at all. This handball involved two teams of women running around an indoor miniature soccer field, trying to throw a miniature soccer ball down the field and into a miniature soccer goal. “Look! It’s miniature soccer!” I said. Olympic handball is either soccer for people who just can’t resist touching the ball with their hands, or basketball for people who just can’t dribble. Throw it out.
Number three… Synchronized swimming. I’m not even going to comment about this one. Too easy.
Number two… Water Polo. “Hey guys – let’s play soccer! But this time, let’s play using our hands, in a pool, wearing Speedos and baby bonnets!” Look, I realize the guys that play water polo are incredible athletes, but did you see the game between the American men and the Serbian men? The Serbians all sported identical 1972 Mark Spitz mustaches, as if their cable is on tape-delay and they just got Starsky and Hutch. It looked like the Americans were facing a whole herd of Magnum P.I.s. In baby bonnets. Sorry, water polo fans… it’s gotta go.
And the number one Olympic sport that needs to go…
Trampoline. I know what you’re saying – “Wait a minute… trampolining isn’t an Olympic sport!” But yes, it is. I’m watching the Olympics Saturday afternoon and the announcer says, “Up next – Trampolining!” Sure enough, we come back from break and there are a whole bunch of official-looking judges standing around a big ol’ trampoline. Olympic trampolining involves athletes jumping straight up and down real high, trying to stay exactly in the center of a black square painted on the trampoline, and then executing a series of elaborate flips and twists in rapid succession, finishing as close as possible to the center of the square. Apparently there is an “International Trampoline Organization,” figuring out the rules for Olympic trampolining.As you might expect, the Chinese trampolinists kicked our butts, as they did in almost every sport that involves balancing, flipping and twisting through the air. After pondering this situation, it finally occurred to me why the Chinese are so good at these sports. Have you ever seen Chinese acrobats at the circus or at Cirque du Soleil? You know, the ones that do freaky things like balancing on a tower of chairs or stacking 28 people on a small bicycle? Well guess where Chinese acrobats come from? That’s right! China! Acrobatics and China just seem to go hand in hand. So why are we surprised when they kick our butts at all these acrobatic sports?
The sad thing about Olympic trampolining is this: Who has the most trampolines per capita? Hmm? How many trampolines are there in Beijing? No one in Beijing even has a backyard! How could they have a trampoline? Here in suburban America there are about five trampolines per block. We’re swimming in trampolines! And yet they pull out a trampoline at the Olympics and the Chinese kick our butts.
Why? Have you ever watched “America’s Funniest Home Videos?” Every third video seems to involve a big, dumb American falling off a trampoline. Usually into an above-ground pool. Which then collapses, flooding the yard. We’re incompetent. We can’t do anything that requires grace or coordination.
Which is why we need to throw trampolining out of the Olympics. Because it’s humiliating that the country with 1.5 trampolines per person gets its collective butt kicked by a country whose citizens, for the most part, have never seen a trampoline.
I vote, in fact, that we give up on any sport that involves balancing, flipping or twisting through the air, and replace these events with sports to which we Americans are better suited. My suggestions: Tractor pulls, NASCAR, and pie eating contests. Or to put it another way, if it works at a county fair, let’s put it in the Olympics. Please. Our national pride is on the line here. Out with diving – in with pig racing.
This is just a humble suggestion from a concerned American.
What do you think? Which Olympic sports would you like to vote off the island?