Grace Under Pressure

Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympiad—in 2021!

Japan was put in an untenable position by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). At a time when Covid-19 was surging through the island nation, the IOC said the Olympic Games had to go on nonetheless. Of course, we won’t know for a week or two whether Japan will pay the price by putting on the games during an epidemic.

I must say, however, that Japan reacted with competence and grace and managed to put on a memorable event. Even if the stands were mostly empty, these games were an utter delight, even if NBC’s televising was at times ham-fisted and soap-opera-ish.

My favorite events were the team competitions, such as men’s and women’s basketball, women’s indoor and beach volleyball, women’s water polo, and some of track and field events. I didn’t much care for golf, canoeing/kayaking, swimming and diving. Never before have I spent so much time glued to the television set watching sporting events. It was worth it, and I feel bereft now that the Games are over.

New Olympic Events

Get Ready for These New Events in Paris 2024

In the above picture, Moldovan women athletes are synchronously showing amazement at a random consonant, in this case the letter “T.” Below, however, are some actual events planned for the next summer Olympics:

  • Team Parcheesi. Expect the Chinese to win gold here.
  • Underwater Track Cycling. Canada and New Zealand are already gearing up for this event.
  • Low-Jump. Exactly what it sounds like: medalists must leave the ground, but only for a few millimeters. The world record is currently held by Burkina Faso at 11.68 mm.
  • Ballroom Balance Beam. Ballroom dancing with a man and a woman as partners atop a balance beam. Both are expected to stick the landing … but exactly where I am not at liberty to say.
  • Dog Walking. Contestants must walk a pack of at least ten dogs and are downgraded for the dogs’ disobedience, toilet, and sniffing stops.
  • Sand Kayaking. How fast can contestants be when they have to paddle on sand dunes of various heights?
  • Dumpster Diving. Exactly what it sounds like. The dumpsters are filled with plastic detritus from the Pacific Garbage Patch, from heights of 10, 20, and 30 meters.
  • Women’s Cubic Beach Volleyball. The same as beach volleyball, but the “ball” is an inflatable cube. What matters most, however, is the skimpiness of the bikinis worn.
  • Blind Man’s Buff. Played on a 10-acre obstacle course.
  • Weight Watchers Watch Party. Judges will look for the most vapid and overweight participants in home watch parties. The U.S. is expected to win the Lead Medal at this event during most Olympics.

Da Fambly

Athletes’ Families Back Home Rejoicing in Family Member Medal Performances

If you’ve been watching the 2020 (2021?) Tokyo Olympics on TV, you’ve seen it a hundred times. Cut from the proud medalist to his or her family back in the states howling and dancing like a bunch of Yahoos. NBC is using Microsoft Teams software to show the family response to the winners. And the result is usually pretty nauseating.

They are usually packed in large rooms as big as dance halls in groups of several dozen, usually wearing T-shirts or sweatshirts emblazoned with the name of their boy or girl in Tokyo. My usual response is to say to myself, addressing the athletes, “So those are the clowns you’ve managed to give the slip to. Time to stay far away from Podunk: Find a life for yourself away from these people.”

Oh, you can telephone them once every few months, but now it’s time to live your own life.

I imagine that some people get pretty weepy about showing the families of the athletes. My reaction can be summarized in one word: Flee! That’s what I did when I went 600 miles away from home to go to college, and then moved to the opposite side of the country to go to graduate school and begin a life of my own.

All of us eventually have to weaken those family ties in order to live our own lives. I find that the ones who don’t wind up leading stunted, dissatisfied lives. Seeing those T-shirted family mobs on NBC make me glad that I did what I did back in the 1960s. Not that I didn’t love my family, but I didn’t want to live as the college boy who never left home.

Tokyo Tearjerkers

Olympic Swimmer Caeleb Dressel

I enjoy watching the Olympic competitions. What I do not enjoy is the attempt by NBC to turn the competition into a soap opera. I have watched only a few segments of the competition so far, but I am thoroughly tired with the number of times I have seen Gold Medal winner Caeleb Dressel with tears in his eyes after he won the 100 meter freestyle.

Then, of course, we had to cut to his family back in Florida with some hundred maskless people jumping and hooting for joy. Granted that Caeleb may love his family, but sure don’t, and I get tired of seeing their little super spreader celebration.

What annoys me is that there seems to be a 50:50 ratio between the sports and the soap opera. Are we all such weenies that we have to put up with this schlock?

Sochi Soap Opera

Great Athletes, Crappy Coverage

Great Athletes, Crappy Coverage

Several of my friends and co-workers have asked whether I am following the Sochi Winter Olympics. I usually shake my head and say that I can’t take the typical U.S. sports reporting, with its emphasis on heartwarming stories of athletes who give their all for their late Uncle Poochie, who was caught in a threshing machine, only to come in seventeenth on the moguls. The vast majority of the media coverage is of American athletes. What I would like to see is a greater emphasis on other countries—without any sob stories or even biographies.

The young men and women who compete in the Olympics are too young to have a real biography. They have an incredible amount of dedication, but this is not limited to Americans. What about Slovenians, Icelanders, and others whose name the U.S. announcers can’t pronounce? They worked just as hard to get there and deserve a nod from us, even if we massacre their names.

Also, I am a little dismayed at the negative coverage about Russia. Having used Russian toilets in Hungary and Czechoslovakia back in the 1970s, I know that Russian workmanship can be a little dicey at times. Even if Vladimir Putin is an ass, he deserves better than a load of sneering press stories. Listen, guys, the Cold War is over. We won. Now let’s all try to get along together.