With memories of the 2012 Olympics soon to fade faster than the
life expectancy of North Korean athletes who failed to medal, I
confess I was disappointed that new, exotic sports weren't added to
this year's Games.
So who's for spicing up future Olympics with some dazzling,
Oh sure, I know golf will be featured in the 2016 Rio Games. But
they may as well add chess and croquet, too, and have the
paramedics standing by when spectators collapse from boredom.
Get with the times, Olympic Committee, we're in the exciting
digital age now! To capture the attention of young, high-tech
spectators, we need new cool events such as Speed Tweeting, The
iPhone Toss, and Balance Beam While Texting.
Mind you, I'm not against introducing some new, interesting "old
school" events either, such as Crocodile Wrestling, Peat Bog
Diving, or Synchronized Cary Grant Impersonating.
If you detect a touch of sarcasm along these lines, I suppose
it's because, as a child, I rarely succeeded at sports. I can only
attribute my athletic failures to a complete lack of competitive
drive whatsoever. That, and having the upper body strength of
Pee-wee Herman, the lung capacity of a canary, and the coordination
of a dung beetle.
However, I do appreciate that some sporting skills can be very
useful in everyday life.
Take swimming, for example. Should you ever find yourself out in
the Pacific hotly pursued by a 16 ft great white shark, being able
to do the 200 meter freestyle dash in under 2 minutes à la Michael
Phelps could be the difference between making it back to shore for
lunch, or becoming lunch.
The same could be said of sprinting, a useful skill when your
neighbor's pit-bull decides it wants a piece of you whilst
strolling to the mailbox. Then there's tennis, which helps to hone
one's fly swatting technique. Wrestling and boxing can also be
useful pest deterrents, especially when relatives drop by
Shot putting, however, is a different story. Outside of the
sports arena, I can't see the immediate advantages of being able to
hurl a 16 lb metal ball over 50 ft, even if your mother-in-law is
marching up the driveway with two suitcases under each arm.
Heck, shot puts don't even make convenient concealed weapons.
Have you ever seen a "Shot Put Wielding Bandit Robs Local 7-Eleven"
But returning to my theme of proposed new Olympic sports. Here
are some that I might even try if they were added in 2016:
Stationary Mountain Biking: Much safer than regular mountain
biking. Plus, it would offer one big advantage for the games in Rio
- you don't need a mountain, just a cardboard facsimile of the
Brazilian Highlands in the background.
Greco-Roman Mixed Beach Twister: With the right teammate, I'd be
willing to suffer a few minor dislocations if this Milton Bradley
family favorite game ever made it from the living room to the
Pommel horse whispering: I feel confident I could skillfully
converse softly with a pommel horse indefinitely.
Bullfighting: Since I wouldn't want to injure the bull, I'd be
wary about this event. Besides, Spain would have a huge advantage.
So if I were to enter, I would have to even the playing field: the
Spanish competitors would be required to wear bright red uniforms.
And instead of dispatching the bull with swords, they would be
issued with cattle prods. Personally, I'd be rooting for the bull
to take the gold. This sport would also be popular with Olympic
broadcasters, since they'd get even more bull into their
Human Cannonballing: "Net? I don't need no stinking net!" said
Blazing Brooks, former cannonballer from the Kahlua and Bailey
Bros. Circus, and long-time advocate for Olympic cannonballing.
"Just as long as I land on my head." I would definitely want a
Rhythmic Furniture Building: We've all faced the challenge of
constructing one of those $99 build-it-yourself oak entertainment
centers from K-mart that has 500 parts to assemble and as many
instruction steps written in Sanskrit. Anybody who can put one of
those babies together in record time with, say, Bruce Springsteen
rocking in the background, deserves a gold medal. Although, as
usual, mine would likely end up resembling a deck chair.
And finally, wouldn't Team Skydiving be an exciting addition to
the Olympics? It requires skill, coordination, and concentration.
But with my athletic background I wouldn't attempt this one.
Besides, in my enthusiasm for a medal, I'd probably forget to pull
Editor's note: A college professor by day, and freelance
journalist by night, Thomas' features and columns have appeared in
more than 200 magazines and newspapers, including the Washington
Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco
Chronicle, and Christian Science Monitor.