August 2008: Olympic couch potatoes

Ah, the good old Olympics. I’ll bet all the couch potatoes are in heaven these days (not, of course, because they have died of heart attacks due to the sedentary lifestyle of their profession but, rather, the joy they are feeling at watching wall-to-wall Olympic TV).

Of course another reason for their heavenly state may be that they are actually over there competing in the Olympics. You needn’t try and tell me that they wouldn’t be able to do so. If you have watched the Chinese puzzle that is the Olympics, you’ll know what I am talking about.

Archery looks a little bit of a handy sport for anyone who has a phobia for perspiring anywhere other than when lying on a beach with a blue-coloured drink in their paw. I mean all you have to do is hold up a bow, point an arrow at a target and pull the string. Well, that’s the theory of it anyhow.

I notice how they have tried to complicate the art of archery by added bits and bobs onto the bow, making it weigh a ton, no doubt, and hard to lift. They have also resorted to tying the competitor’s (I nearly wrote “athlete’s” there by mistake) podgy fingers together to make it more difficult. It’s a wonder they don’t blindfold them while they’re at it.

At least the scoring is easy to follow in archery. This means you can watch it while you’re half asleep, which is something that I don’t recommend to male readers when they are watching women’s beach volleyball; especially the Brazilians. You are likely to have some weird dreams if you nod off between sets in that sport.

Then we have the synchronised swimming which, allegedly, is a cross between gymnastics, dance and swimming. In this “sport”, women (for it is a woman’s only sport, men obviously have more sense than to make fools of themselves in a swimming pool unless they are abroad on holidays) put a clamp on their noses and a super-glued super-grin on their faces while they try and stop themselves from sinking Titanic-like to the bottom of the pool by thrashing about in unison.

The connection with this “sport” and gymnastics is not surprising really. Have you seen that gymnastic “discipline” (and I use the word advisedly) where they stand on a mat and wave a ribbon about while some innocuous tune is played in the back ground?  I think it’s called “rhythmic gymnastics” or something like that. Whatever way you dress it up, it’s a nasty bit of gymnastics.

The bottom line for me is that a sport where judges can give points for “style” is not a sport at all. It’s an art form. It may be a difficult thing to do, it may be a physical activity, but it’s not a sport unless the winner can be determined by something measurable like length, height, time, goals, score, duration etc.

My idea would be to give the gold medal to the synchronised swimmer who stayed under the water, upside down, for the longest length of time without drowning. Similarly, give the kudos to the gymnast who manages to twirl her ribbon for the longest length of time, or at least until the judges got tired and went home.

There is plenty of fighting going on at the Olympics as usual. Leaving the politics aside though, there is no shortage of boxing, wrestling, judo or, God bless it, the art of Taekwondo. This is the national sport of North Korea. Traditionally, Taekwondo was not even competition-oriented but somebody decided it should be a competition in the Olympics. And we wnat to keep the North Koreans happy, don’t we?

This sport is not exactly practised on a worldwide basis, is it? So can anyone tell me why Gaelic football or hurling is not an Olympic sport? At least we’d win a few medals at that if we could get Kilkenny or Kerry over there.

We have little other chance it seems. There was a time when we could rely on the good old fighting Irish spirit in the boxing ring.

Mind you, I have my own ideas about that sport. I can’t understand why they are allowed to divide it into weight categories. Surely there should be just one boxing medal and anyone of any weight could enter the competition?

Of course, some of you will argue that there needs to be weight categories because the smaller boxers would get killed by the heavy weights. Not a bit of it. Ever heard of David and Goliath? As far as I can see, this separation by weight is just a racket to get more medals for more boxers.

Look at it this way. If we extended this strange logic to all sports, then we’d have high jump and basketball medals for various categories of shorter people who can’t jump as high as tall people.  Or what about a 100 metre sprint for slow people?
Speaking about basketball, there are many professional athletes and players getting pampered at the Olympics. As I lay on my couch watching the USA scoring over a hundred points against the hapless Chinese the other day, I wondered how many of those American basketball stars will get a chance to meet the six year olds who make their shoes.

I switched back over to the Brazilian women’s beach volleyball game immediately and dismissed the thought from my head.


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