Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Some More Thoughts on the Olympics...

My last post on the Olympics can be read here.

Today I'd like to talk about the distinction to be made between what I consider REAL sports, those events that are simply games, and others which can be considered pastimes. I will then ask the relevant questions (beginning with "How the fuck did this become an international competition?", or "Are you gay/crazy/in need of a good beating to consider this worthy of a competition and this sort of expenditure of taxpayer funds?").

I'm not completely certain, but I think I once heard something along similar lines from George Carlin, so I apologize in advance if I only manage to repeat things George said.

So far as I'm concerned, something isn't a Sport unless it contains at least three elements:

1. The possibility of serious physical injury. We're talking having your tibia cracked in seven or eight places, a concussion, nine or ten teeth knocked out, and quite possibly, all three at once.

2. Physical contact with an opponent which might result in 1, or which is intended, as part of the sport, to establish physical superiority over an opponent.

3. An inherent excitement factor which does not require a public address system, Jumbotron-scoreboard exhortations to "make some noise", doesn't require a soundtrack, cheerleaders, or over-the-top Public Address Announcers to generate some buzz in the building. The sport generates it's own excitement and drama.

A Game has the following qualities about it:

1. There is a leisurely pace to it. In fact, great swathes of time are absolutely wasted with no action taking place, whatsoever. Games usually travel at a snail's pace, and are weighed down by often arcane rules or have an elaborate etiquette to them that can defy logic.They often have a pastoral feel to them.

2. Games do not involve much (or often, any) physical element. The Game is won, more often than not, by some quirk of fate, some timely strategic stroke, an opponent's mistake, blind luck, and not by the application of brute force against another human being.

3. The interest in the action on the field or on the court waxes and wanes. Usually, the excitement to be had is not a continuous experience; it's doled out in dribs and drabs, often with long periods of semi- or even inactivity in between, bringing the spectator from the very brink of boredom to the very peak of excitement, only to quickly thrust him back into boredom, very quickly.

A Pastime has the following qualities about it:

1. It is often, but not always, performed by an individual. There may be a "team" involved, but players often still compete as individuals against other individuals.

2. There is no physical element involved, in terms of man-a-mano factor. There may be a great deal of physical exertion required, but the expenditure of all that energy is not being directed against an opponent, so much as it has been an exercise in beating a clock, or in satisfying a judge on all sorts of arcana which appear to have no logical basis.

3. The Pastime is, usually, a hobby, or has the feel of a hobby to it. It seems more suited as a leisure-time activity than as competition.

So, using the above guidelines, we would come to the following conclusions:

Football, hockey, and boxing are sports.

Baseball, tennis and basketball are games.

Marathon running, cycling, and swimming are pastimes.

But then along comes the Olympics to fuck that carefully-constructed, logical, commonsense dialectic right the fuck up. Because the Olympics, for the most part, are about games and pastimes, and not about sports. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the Olympics are "sports" for people who don't like "Sports".

If you run down the list of events for which the Olympic Committee is handing out medals, and categorized each event by my criteria, it would read something like this

Sport                         Game                              _Pastime
Boxing                      Badminton                         Archery
Wrestling                  Basketball                         Canoe/Kayak
                                Soccer                              Cycling
                                Handball                           Equestrian
                                Water Polo                       Fencing (*)
                                Tennis                              Gymnastics (**)
                                Table Tennis                    Hockey ( ***)
                                Volleyball (#)                    Judo  
                                                                        Swimming/Diving (@)
                                                                        Track and Field

(*) Though there may be swords involved in fencing, no one actually gets killed or wounded, and the game ends when physical contact is made. Pussies.
(**) This includes Trampoline and "Rhythmic" Gymnastics, which are both extremely gay, boring as all hell, and therefore, probably beloved by Libtards.
(***) This isn't NHL hockey; with body-checking and fighting, it's field hockey. Played by girls. In skirts.
(@) This included the Synchronized version of both, which is twice the Gay factor for the same low price.
(#) Including Beach Volleyball,, which is simply a game played by surf punks and stoners given more attention than it deserves, if only because hot chicks in skimpy bathing suits play it.

Though my list may be quite general, it appears as if there are but TWO sports on the Olympic roster of events, and everything else is basically a collection of activities that most straight men wouldn't be caught doing unless there was a) the need to lose weight, b) the possibility of meeting women while doing it, c) they are the pursuits of a wealthy and privileged class given the aura of an an actual event (see: Golf) if only because rich people get excited about it.

If there's one thing you can count on; if rich people like it, no matter how stupid and ultimately pointless it is, there's a market for it. That's probably why we still have an Olympics with no buzz about it.

So, there you go: The Olympics, at base, are sports for people who don't really like sports. They're "sports" for people obsessed with games and pastimes, and if it wasn't for the Olympics coming around every four years, Gymnasts, Swimmers, Show Jumpers, Weightlifters, and Water Polo players would get no attention, and thus, no endorsements. It's an opportunity for people who engage in unpopular sports/games/pastimes to cash in big every once in a while.

Because let's face it; if Michael Phelps, for example, couldn't swim, what the hell else could he do for a living? I figure test bongs, but I meant what could he do legally for a living?

And speaking of Phelps, I don't mean to shit all over his "achievement" of being the guy with the most gold medals in Modern Olympic History, but it's not like he actually did something worthy of Galactic Congratulations. he has not cured AIDS, he has not cut the federal Deficit (in fact, spending on the US Olympic Team probably contributes to the deficit), he hasn't put anyone to work, he hasn't reconciled cats and dogs, Jews and Arabs, or North and South Koreans. He just fucking swims fast.

So did Aquaman. And Aquaman is perhaps the most useless of all superheroes. I mean, what else does he do?

Talk to fish?

Want to impress me, Michael Phelps, try swimming that fast in a pool against a line up of Warren Sapp, Reggie White, Micheal Strahan and Too-Tall Jones. How about this? Get in the pool with Tiger Williams, Dave Brown or Bob Probert. Why not try swimming like that while dodging bullets, like they did at Omaha Beach? Otherwise, 19 medals (and counting) means jack shit, because you only had to swim your heart out in a straight line, and had to be only slightly faster than the other girls while doing it. How difficult is that?

This, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with the Olympics -- other than the lack of a Cold war mentality that gave the otherwise boring fare on television some oomph -- and that is that we are celebrating competition in people's hobbies, calling it "sport". Worse, an enormous amount of money has been wasted training people to win a fucking ping-pong match, or to execute a somersault, to build arenas which have but one use, or Olympic Villages that, as soon as the games are over, quickly become low-income housing, ruining neighborhoods and lowering property values. Meanwhile, the expense borne by the host nation/city is hardly, if ever, recovered by the feeble economic activity generated by handball and synchronized swimming fans, who must swarm out of the woodwork in the dozens, perhaps scores, once every four fucking years.

For the amount of money spent on the Olympics -- not just the games themselves, but the training and infrastructure your "team" needs -- one imagines a competent government that wasn't full of Charlie Rangels and Harry Reids might actually do something useful and productive, rather than waste it on training kayakers and weightlifters to "compete" around the world.

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