Every four years we are treated to the Olympic games, and by “treated” I mean forced to watch 187 hours of people walking into a stadium wearing moronic clothing followed by fifteen straight days of women’s gymnastics coverage. This is because gymnastics is an event that is watched by women, and if there’s one thing that gives programming executives multiple, shuddering orgasms, it’s the idea of women getting really, really into sports. So they’ll do anything to keep women interested, running gymnastics non-stop and creating a stirringly emotional and entirely fictional backstory for everyone even remotely associated with the Olympics, including the guy who sells tickets to the loser events like the trampoline event.
The way this works is that you will see approximately four tenths of a second of sporting action before NBC quick fades to a run down gym in the middle of some dirt encrusted, shit-splat of a town like Wamego, Kansas. “Three years ago, Tawny was a fledgling gymnast with a dream: To stop being molested by her creepy, Russian-accented coach.” The music swells, Tawny is shown working hard, perhaps landing on her head a few times, and then they cut to the live action where she is seen ending her routine with little to no fanfare because this is only a practice run. You’d like to watch soccer, or basketball, or anything involving, you know, sports, but you can’t because NBC is trying to set the stage for some stirring fucking drama here people! If you can’t appreciate that, then fuck you, go watch test patterns on CBS or whatever the fuck it is they’ve decided to run against the Olympics.
I blame Kerri Strug for this. Kerri Strug, if you’ll recall, sealed a gold medal win for the United States women’s gymnastics team when she heroically landed a difficult vault while undergoing treatment in an iron lung. This earned her the admiration of the world as well as the everlasting hatred of every future gymnast with a tyrannical coach. “Da! Da! Your shinbone protrude from leg! Is compound fracture, da. Now vault! Vault like Kerri Strug, you proletariat lackwit! Vault!“
You can’t create that sort of drama. Lord knows NBC tried, but having athletes’ legs pre-broken by Bob Costas was a hard sell. So if they can’t recreate it, NBC is sure as shit going to be ready for it. And they will make every fucking victory soul-stirring if it is the last fucking thing they do. But, once again, only in events that count. The guy in this video? Fuck him.
If you wanted sympathy, pal, you should’ve signed up for one of the money events, like prancing around a gym mat with a ribbon. Here’s a couple of aspirin, now get the fuck out of here before I sic Bob Costas on you.
But sadly, NBC can only fill so much air time with women’s gymnastics. These are, after all, thirteen year old girls, and they need time to sleep, purge their breakfasts, and sob uncontrollably. And so it is entirely possible that you may catch actual footage of sporting events that don’t involve major league camel-toe, such as the following:
- Canoe Slalom
- Riding Horseys
That last event, incidentally, has got to be some sort of prank event involving squirt guns or something because the US has only won ten medals in it since 1900. Either that, or the US Olympic Committee has been totally ignoring homegrown shooting talent in Detroit.
Actually, you know what they should do? The shooting event should be reduced to one thing: The Sniper Event. All gymnastics routines should be done outdoors in an arena surrounded by tall buildings. Each day, one contestant in the Sniper Event should get to pick off one of the gymnasts at random. People would watch that, that’s for fucking sure. And if you thought those gymnasts were talented before, just wait to see them sprint, and flip, and bounce around the fucking place when they think they have a red laser dot on their unitard. Oh sure, people would die, but it’s not like it would really impact the competition. (“Vault! Vault, dammit!“)
I think the Olympics have gotten too far away from their roots. They have BMX races, for fuck sake. That’s not an event, that’s something you do in junior high when you’re not old enough to smoke pot. The Olympics were founded on three types of events, each serving a utilitarian purpose:
- Run Like Hell – Running like hell was a much more interesting sport back then, mainly because it wasn’t a sport as much as it was a means of survival. The loser didn’t get an endorsement contract in his home town of Athens, he got decapitated by the rampaging Mongol hordes. So they took that shit seriously, and if punching a fellow competitor in the nuts meant you got to go home while he was strapped across a yak to be used later as a communal concubine, well, that’s just the way it goes, Hermestes.
- Lift Some Heavy Shit – Although the Greeks were known for their scholarly ways, they also needed to be able to do more practical things such as lift a broken down wagon off of the crushed carcasses of their slaves. Oh, those wacky Greeks and their slaves! It was Plato that said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. Now go get me a white wine spritzer, slave!”
- Punch A Guy In The Face – More often than not, parliamentary procedure back then consisted of people punching each other in the face. “All in favor: Punch the other people in the face. All opposed: Punch back.” (And yes, I am all for reinstating this style of political debate. CSPAN ratings would be through the roof.)
Even though I have a lot of problems with the Olympics, I know I’m going to watch them. My wife and I will drink beer on weekend nights and mercilessly taunt the competitors, (“The 100 yard dash: Lots of luck Samoan Islands!”) and of course we will make our kids watch it so that they may learn the importance of setting goals, working hard, dedicating yourself to the task at hand and finishing your chores even if you are wearing an iron lung. We’ll also threaten them with Bob Costas if they don’t.