There are levels of athletics all of us have enjoyed, like Little League baseball, lawn darts, beer pong, hunting other humans for sport. You know, the classics.
Other levels of athletics are out of reach for the average human, so instead we do what we excel at, lounging on the couch judging people who can play. Oh, and consuming loads of chips. That’s important.
There is one level of athletics, however, that is beyond the reach of us couch dwellers to defame and degrade – the Olympics, the glorious crowning glory of human athletic achievement since 1776 B.C.
OK, that’s a lie.
1. The Olympics began in 776 B.C.
2. The curious sport of curling has proven participating in the Olympics is not out of reach for couch dwellers.
3. The Olympics get degraded all the time.
The Olympic games began in Greece to honor the god Zeus. Zeus was apparently honored by a bunch of naked, oily guys beating the hell out of each other. In the particularly nasty combat sports*, early participants surrendered to their opponent by dying.
Over the centuries, many sports have been added to the Olympics, such as baseball, volleyball and the curious biathlon, where athletes cross-country ski, stop and shoot things with a rifle, then ski some more. This sport would make much more sense (and be more entertaining) if the Olympic Committee released bears during the event.
For the 2020 Tokyo games, the organizing committee is considering adding surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding and petanque.
I have no problem with surfing. Not only does it take strength, skill and hand-eye coordination, there is always a chance the athletes will be eaten by the terrors of the deep.
Sport climbing involves scaling sheer cliffs with the danger of falling. Eh. I’ll withhold my judgment until I see the rules. If rampart soldiers with medieval siege protection devices are stationed at the top, I’d stay up to watch.
Skateboarding? Those brave Greeks didn’t die in the ring for Zeus just so Chaz could win a medal performing a “back-foot ollie impossible” while wearing his baseball cap sideways.
Then there’s petanque. I don’t know what it is precisely, but it seems to be a form of bocce, which goes against my only rule for defining what is and what is not a sport: no event is a sport that can be played while drunk.
For the 2024 Paris games, Agence France-Presse reports France is seriously considering adding breakdancing.
The same dancing performed by people on city streets in the 1980s. Is it still 1984 in France? I’m confused, because karate isn’t an Olympic sport, and 1984 is the year Ralph Macchio taught us all about the ancient Asian art, (and how to believe in ourselves and never give up), but breakdancing may soon be.
Maybe light saber fencing will be next.
*This was probably the most enjoyable in boxing (and by “enjoyable” I mean solely for the audience). In a match when there was no obvious winner, boxers could choose to klimax, which is not as fun as it sounds. Klimax was when a fighter was granted a free hit on his defenseless opponent. If the opponent didn’t drop, he got the next shot. Who went first was decided by a coin toss. I want to travel back in time to see this.
– Jason’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters,” is available at amazon.com.