So I've been addicted to the Olympics for the past two weeks. I'm preparing for withdrawal—and even so, I will be unprepared. So I've been watching a lot more telelvision than I usually do. If I had the stomach for this much television as a regular diet, I'd write a media-watch column—there really are some entertaining idiocies that flutter past.
For example, I swear I heard the following on the national news the other day. The story was about the employment report, and the point being made was that businesses were hiring. So they cut to a business owner, who says this: "We've hired six new employees this year. Started out the year with four or five people, and now? Twelve."
Made me laugh. I'm bad at arithmetic, but even I can tell that that is not the guy you want to be going to for your statistics.
(In related innumeracy, the local weatherman was reporting on the rainfall totals, and he pointed to my county, where the map was clearly emblazoned with "0.20," as he intoned, "...and a quarter of an inch in Waukesha." Again, not good at fractions here, but....)
Nice guys finishing first
I've been doing pretty well with the Olympics. Thursday was genuinely thrilling, with the incomparable Usain Bolt adding to his legacy and legend in fine form, and a Masai warrior from Kenya named David Rudisha delivering an accomplishment as stunning as Bolt's in Beijing, setting a world record and getting the gold medal in the gruelling 800 running from the front. Wow. (Most records in that race are set with the help of a "rabbit," a fast runner setting the pace in the first part of the race before fading back.) I've run 800s, way back when, and that is one damn tough race*. They showed a special on him, and he seemed like a nice guy, too. It's the first WR in the 800 at the Olympics since 1976.
I have to remember that name. David Rudisha. There really is something magnificent about truly great athletic performances—people doing things nobody else can do.
I had a rough time getting into the beach volleyball, but I finally managed. Every time I turn it on, I picture myself trying it for about two minutes, determining quickly that jumping and running on sand on purpose is stupid, and heading for the beach towel. Turns out it's not a bad game, though, although I'm still not sure why. At least it moves along.
I'm sure I'm not the first person to note that some Olympic events have a decidedly arbitrary feel about them. I mean, throwing a ball on a chain as far as you can might be traditional, somehow (I always picture a guy being released from a chain gang, celebrating), but who's the guy who said, "I know! We can all get on kid's bikes and go like crazy over a bunch of bumps!" It's very entertaining, though. Even though that poor girl who face-planted into the front side of a bump isn't going to know where she is until about next Wednesday.
The guy who decided they should play a variant of soccer in a swimming pool went too far, though. It might be fun to do, but I'm sorry, that's just too dumb to be a sport.
I had in mind coming up with more Olympic events in the same spirit—here's one: climb up and down a telephone pole, then race a hundred yards on a pogo stick. Sound like an Olympic event to you?
Here's the thing—I'd probably watch it.
P.S. This is the OT column for this week. Come back tomorrow morning (or tonight) for some entertaining camera geekery.
*Seriously, if you are young enough and fit enough that you're sure it won't kill you, go find a quarter-mile track and run around it twice as fast as you can, then tell me if you've ever been able to make yourself feel worse in such a short time.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Jim Costello: "I kind of lost interest after the Greco-Roman Synchronized Equestrian Water Polo was over."
Featured Comment by Isaac: "Water polo was, along with wrestling, the most difficult sport I have ever played. It was brutal. Agree that it isn't much fun to watch though. There are professional leagues in Europe."
Featured Comment by David A. Goldfarb: "As far as I'm concerned, nothing beats a good badminton scandal."
Mike replies: Wasn't that great? Two teams both trying their best to lose. They could make that into a whole category if you ask me.
Featured Comment by Kevin Purcell: "The Outside Magazine profile of Rudisha's coach, Brother Colm O'Connell, is online—it's called 'The Irish Priest Who Trains Olympic Gold Medalists.' Isn't that apropos of the previous column about the death of magazine stands and rise of online magazines?"