Friday, August 22, 2008

"Though it should be noted that many of these swimmers come from countries that have no swimming pools..."

2008 Summer Olympics Recap (Rejected Working Title: How I Probably Shouldn't Have, All Things Being Equal, Spent My Honeymoon)

OK, so here's the plan: I'm going to rank (admit it, you've desperately missed these hopelessly arcane lists) the Summer Olympic events from most interesting to least. I'll include some brief comments and also include--where appropriate (pretty much everywhere)--my biggest beef with said events.

Events I did not watch and are thus ineligible: Archery; Taekwondo (which, from what I've read, may or may not be run by a shadowy Boss Tweed-like organization. Well, hell, had I known it was going to be corrupt, I would've tuned in...); Judo; Shooting; Handball (note: I would've watched this were it televised...so far as I know, it wasn't); Modern Pentathlon (This. Event. Makes. No. Sense. Did they, like, pull events from a hat?); Field Hockey (dudes, too? Lame.)

Events I did watch that are simply too boring to comment upon: Sailing (sigh...I just don't get it); Boxing (it's almost unfathomable to me that Ali actually competed in this); Weightlifting (broken arm/shoulder/whatever clip aside--sick--I found this, shall we say, less than captivating).

Onto the list proper:

1. Swimming: teh awesome. Even without Michael Phelps's freakish performance, swimming would still be a comfortable #1 in my books. And as for Phelps, is he the grea--Yes. Stop. It's over. As much as it amuses me to see Mark Spitz make that pained face every time he's asked in an interview if his 1972 self could could compete with Phelps today, we should really table the discussion. He's the best and it's not even particularly close. (You didn't ask but I'd probably put Paavo Nurmi of Finland 2nd all-time--9 golds and 3 bronzes in some particularly gruelling distance runs between 1920 and 1928--and Carl Lewis #3.) Now, one might make the point that there are entirely too many swimming medals given out (34 events in all, meaning 102 medals--not including ties--up for grabs) and that swimmers, along with gymnasts (16 events, 48 medals in all) should always finish at the top of "most individual medals" list (indeed, as of August 21st, twenty-two of the Top 30 medallists of all-time are swimmers or gymnasts...and that list includes the Winter Olympics, too.) at that the "Best Olympian ever" category is decidedly rigged towards those two events, but it really seems neither here nor there. I'm certainly not advocating getting rid of any the events...and it's probably best if I drop my Backwards 100m, 200m, 400m and 4 x 100m sprint idea (about which the less said the better). Phelps was directly involved in two of the five or so most exciting moments of the Olympics: the miraculous 4x100 freestyle relay comeback, and outtouching Cavic to win the 200m butterfly by 0.01 of a second. Good times.

Biggest Flaw: re: Phelps' mom, Debbie, let me just say this: while she seems like a perfectly nice woman, was it entirely necessary to interview her so often and so thoroughly? What insight, precisely, did we gain into swimming career? I thought so.

2. Gymnastics: surprisingly compelling. I remember watching a fair bit of women's gymnastics in '88 and '92, but that was largely because I was kind of creepily fixated with the Romanian team. Since I'm pushing thirty and that would now be classified as totally pervy, my interest--officially--lies in how bunched together the top teams are...and how inconsistent the scoring system appears to be (also: the falls. The falls are always entertaining). Before we move on, just a quick reminder that the 10 point scoring system no longer exists. Now, routines are given a start value (basically, the degree of difficulty; known as the A score) and that's added to a gymnast's execution score (out of 10; the B score). Several points on the competition:

a. That their can't be a gold medal tie in any gymnastics event is (and remains), by far, the stupidest thing to happen during the sixteen days of competition (and we're talking about the Olympics here, so that's really saying something). Apparently, up until 1996, you could tie for a gold medal, but, for Atlanta, the international organizing committee for gymnastics concluded that that was wayyy too logical and implemented a convoluted tiebreaking mechanism. This reared its ugly head on Monday night. For the uninitiated, during the uneven bar competition, China's Kexin He scored a 16.725 for her routine. A few minutes later, American Nastia Lukin received the exact same score, yet was ranked 2nd. Since the two had the same degree of difficulty going into the event (both had a "start value" of 7.0), the first tiebreaker--whoever has the better execution score--was useless (both received an identical 9.025 there). This triggered the second tiebreak, whereby the lowest execution score (remember, like figure skating, there are several judges from different countries for the gymnastics competition; unlike figure skating, however, in the ordinary course of things, they don't release the individual judges' scores during the competition) for each girl would be dropped and they'd re-tally. He's lowest score was an 8.9, while Lukin's was a 9.0. As a result, He won the gold won 0.1 points.

Now...in what other sport would the second tiebreak be virtually identical to the first tiebreak even though, by definition, the second tiebreak can only come into being if the first one fails to break the tie. This would be like the Lions (as if!) and the Packers being tied for the last playoff slot with a 9-7 record and, after the first tiebreaker failed (conference record), Roger Goodell saying, "I've got it! Let's remove their results from teams from the state of California!" Now, some might say that a better analogy would be if the NFL looked at Detroit and Green Bay's divisional record (which, I believe, is what they would actually do), but I respectfully (not really) disagree. In football, your divisional record should count for something (you play a disproportionate amount of your games--37.5%--against the three other teams in your division) and probably deserves to be considered. In gymnastics, taking out the lowest score is totally (totally) arbitrary. I mean, what's the rationale for not taking out the highest score? (Arguably, this would be more fair, since Lukin was actually punished in this instance for having a narrower band of scores--i.e. for being more consistently judged.) Or the middle score? Or giving it to whoever is older? Or hotter? (Lukin....who definitely has a bit of Kristen Bell thing going on.)

Here's how stupid the decision was: since Lukin was the next to last performer on the uneven bars and since it's only gold you can't tie for, the routine of the final competitor--I believe she was Romanian--was completely inconsequential to Lukin. If she scored better than Lukin, Lukin would've tied for the silver. If she scored worse, Lukin would still be tied for the gold but knocked down to 2nd place. That's...madness. (Not "Kyle spends 1,300 words talking about gymnastics" madness, but close enough.)

b. Elfi Schlegel. I can almost forgive her constantly mixing up "in" with "on" ("she's done very well in the past on this event")--ok, no I can't--but what really rankles me is what an unbelievable (and unbearable) homer she is. It got to the point in the women's all-around competition where I turned to Carrie and said, "you know, they should just pre-record her comments when non-Americans are competing, like in Madden. That way, she can go grab a sandwich during those moments and the producer can just hit play after the scores are issued, and it'll say 'wayyyyy too high' over and over again." Hack. Total hack. I hate her guts.

c. One of the big stories during the first week of competition was the U.S. accusing the Chinese team of being younger than they were represented to be (you must turn 16 at some point in 2008 to be eligible). OK. So, lemme get this straight, the Americans are mad that the Chinese gymnasts are younger than they're alleged to be? So then it's the Danny Almonte situation in reverse? The hell? Why would this be a disadvantage for the Americans? Oh, sure, they'll couch their argument as follows "well, the rules state that you have to turn sixteen this year to compete, so if they can't meet that requirement they should be disqualified," but, no, it's a bunch of bullshit. It's just sour grapes. Yeah, I'm willing to concede that a 12 or a 14-year old might be more flexible and/or nimble than a 16 or 18-year old, but more adept at handling complicated routines? Or more capable of handling the extraordinarily intense pressure that comes with being an Olympic gymnast? Absolutely not. Misha and I talked about this and he claims the only thing you should lose to an eight-year old to is a video game contest or a Play-Doh eating competition (I will also add: colouring).

d. Trampoline. Misha thinks they should scrap the whole DOD and execution score here and simply give the gold to the person that bounces the highest...and I can't say I completely disagree. It is fairly transfixing.

e. Announce (or post) the goddamn start values before the routine starts, already! I can't count the number of times the announcers said "one gymnast to go, and she needs 16.5 to take the gold," only to discover minutes later that such a score was, from the outset, mathematically impossible. Lame.

f. Also, as much as a I hated the tiebreaker in the uneven bars, the announcing was arguably worse, as none of the three NBC announcers knew what said tiebreaker was...even though it aired 10 hours after the event had actually happened. The only thing the announcers seemed somewhat sure of is that the U.S. was about to get hosed. (This led to yours truly--who read earlier in the day how it all went down on ESPN.com--screaming at the television "they drop the next lowest score, morons!" and Carrie just looking frightened.) Even if one concedes that they recorded the commentary as the event happened and not hours later (itself a dubious proposition), how could the entire NBC gymnastics crew be so thoroughly baffled by the rules??

g. You know, I almost never use the expression "clutch" (which--parenthetically--for the longest time, Carrie apparently thought was synonymous with "lucky," leading to the following exchange when I watched the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday after we got back from Jamaica:

[Harrington sinks a par putt from 12 feet on eighteen, successfully getting up and down from 180 yards to more or less clinch the title]

Me: Man, he is so fucking clutch.
Carrie: [shooting daggers with her eyes, coldly] maybe he's just really good.
Me: [terrified])


in the same sentence as "gymnasts," but, every single time (five, by my count: team, all-around, uneven bars final, floor final, balance beam final) the two Americans--Lukin and Shawn Johnson, Lukin in particular--needed a good score, they absolutely nutted their routines. Very, very impressive. (Yes, I know this makes me gay.)

h. Watching Bela Karolyi watch Lukin clinch the gold on tape? Priceless. Oh, he's a homer alright, but at least he knows it. I also have a sneaking suspicion that, like Yao Ming, his English may be better than he lets on (he seamlessly dropped "murky" into a conversation of Costas). And, no, I have no idea what purpose that would serve.

i. the Russian warm-up suits, which look like they should be worn in the backroom of the Bada Bing or by a character in GTA IV, are just too perfect. I love them.

3. Beach Volleyball: as of this writing, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor have won 108 consecutive beach matches (and now two consecutive gold medals). To put it in perspective, this is like UCLA Basketball circa 1971-1974 winning 88 consecutive games, if they'd won all those games by fifty points, if half the teams didn't even have courts, and no one cared. I kid...mostly, as I quite enjoyed the beach competition. Walsh and May-Treanor are arguably too good, in that there's never really any sense of jeopardy, but you kind of have to sit back and admire their talent.

As for the men's tournament? Not so much. It's all very forgettable--aside from Swiss-born Martin Laciga, who absolutely crushes his serve and it is totally batshit insane. (Witness: every time he screwed up in their round of 16 match against the U.S., he screamed at his partner. Legend has it that, though he played with brother Paul on tour from 1995 to 2004, the two simply stopped speaking on court for several of those years.) It should be noted that Laciga and Schinder really should've beaten the heavily favoured American squad (Gibb-Rosenthal, I believe) they played in the round but, up 6-0 in the deciding 3rd game (which only goes up to 15), the Swiss team--inexplicably--decided to start hitting on two. Predictably, they lost 15-13. Note to beach teams: stop hitting on two, or, at the very least, don't do it all the team. Yes, every fourth or so time you'll surprise your opponents, but you'll probably lose the other three points. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, that's negative EV.

Biggest flaw: well, I was going to complain that players tip too much on the women's side, but since (a) they've reduced the size of the beach court to discourage such soft play, and (b) the best team in the world absolutely pounds it, this seems somewhat disingenuous. So, I'll go with: the refs are wayyyy too liberal in their interpretation of what constitutes a proper set. I've seen players practically hold the ball against their chest before releasing it. No good. A bit amateurish, frankly.

4. Track and Field: my brother, no doubt, will be apoplectic about track finishing fourth, but I simply wasn't blown away by the athletics comp this year. (Sorry, spaz!) That said, the following all rocked: Bolt in the 100, 200, and 4x100; the men's 1500 m final; and the decathlon (in large part because it's fun to see these world-class athletes, having killed themselves over nine events, be so hilariously bad in the 1500, the final event--hell, I think I could run a 5:07). I'm sure I should say a lot more here, but I can't think of anything at the moment. A special shout-out to IOC President Jean Rogge, presumably roused from 47 months of slumber, who inexplicably went after the most (or 2nd most) popular competitor in the entire games (Usain Bolt). For those that missed it, Rogge called out Bolt for showboating at the end of the 100 m final (which he no doubt did; otherwise he may have run in the 9.5s) and the 200 m final (which he did not) even though, to a man, everyone professes to adore Bolt (Donovan Bailey called him track's version of Shaq). Nice work, Rogge! It's bad enough that you're appointed for life--must you flaunt it by being so thoroughly out of touch with reality? I'm amazed Hilary's campaign team didn't find a position for you...

5. Volleyball:
screw basketball, the women's volleyball players are the true freakish athletes...Now if only someone could tell me what a libero is (...I think I saw one in Eyes Wide Shut.) As for the men, I know I go through this every four years, but I'm simply agog at how hard these guys can hit the ball. Truly astounding. Reluctantly, I've finally come around on rally point scoring (but, CBC announcers, do stop calling it "ping pong scoring"--we're not retarded.)

6. Water Polo: Kinda cool.

Biggest Flaw: three here actually (which begs the question: why is Water Polo ranked so high on my list? I dunno, I just think it's fun to watch):

(1) very oddly--to me at least--though water polo is technically a full pool (as it were) game, when you watch it even remotely closely for any length of time, you quickly realize that it's actually two separate half pool games, in that there's no transition game whatsoever. Team A will take a shot on Team B's goalie, but if it misses (or even if it goes in) they quickly swim back to their own end (not unlike the original rules of basketball--google it if ye doubt the claim), whereupon Team B fires upon A...and so forth. In other words, there's no way to press, which kind of cheapens the experience just a bit. This makes Canada's 12-0 loss to Serbia especially ignominious. 12-nothing? You didn't score in a full game? How is that even possible? It's not called water soccer!!

(2) incessant whistling, not unlike the recreational volleyball game that was played in Jamaica roughly 20 meters from where Carrie and I were lounging on the beach, without fail, every single day at 6 p.m. and was--again, without fail--replete with whistle-blowing from a Grand Bahia Principe-appointed official who was either (a) way too caught up with the rules for what was invariably something like a 10-on-10 game, or, (b) was merely entertaining himself by tweeting roughly every four seconds (GOD!!).

(3) (Semi-related, I suppose:) For the life of me, I don't understand how or why fouls are called. I just don't. It seems to me like everyone is always trying to beat the shit of and/or drown the person they are guarding, so how then are we to tell what's suitably malicious and what's beyond the pale? Frankly, I'm at a loss...

7. Basketball:
sigh...remember how excited we all were about the Dream Team back in 1992? This? Is not that. So far (with only the gold medal game left), the U.S. has won by 31, 23, 37, 49 (yawn), 31, and 37--and the most interesting story by far has been the incredibly ill-advised promotional photo taken by the Spanish squad. Since I don't have much else to say here, now seems like as good a time as any to talk about the--and I'm really not sure how else to put this--bewildering presence of Cris Collinsworth in the NBC studios. Did Dick Ebersol lose a bet or something? Look, I really like Collinsworth, but it's because he's a kickass football analyst. So...why is he here? Is Costas lonely? So he could ask Kobe such hard-hitting questions as "where does your patriotism come from?" (Note: that actually happened.) So he can stalk Debbie Phelps? It's all rather baffling. And, let me add, it's not that CC is doing a bad job--Kobe interview aside, he's perfectly competent--it's just that it doesn't make any sense to me. I mean, if you're going to fly this guy halfway around the world, you would think that NBC would consider cashing in on his Superstars prowess. For those that don't remember the program (or simply had lives in the 80s and early 90s, unlike yours truly) Superstars was a bit of genius counter-programming from ABC that aired annually in the fall. The gist of it was that famous athletes from the four major sports--along with boxers (allegedly, Joe Frazier nearly died in the 50 meter swim during the maiden show back in 1973), skiiers, and other Olympians--would compete in a series of events at a plush Hawaiian resort. These events included tennis, weightlifting, kayaking (I know!), swimming, cycling, a 100 meter dash (I think you can see where I'm going with this...), and always culminated in a totally kick-ass obstacle course. Basically, it was American Gladiators...but with Hershel Walker. And it was sensational. ANYWAY, it turns out that, somewhat improbably, Collinsworth, then a receiver with the Bengals, won the competition back in the early 80s. I only know this because there was an article about it (which was all but subtitled "Holy Fucking Shit!: I Cannot Believe This Skinny White Guy Took Down All These Talented Black Athletes") a fifteen year old Football Annual Almanac that I successfully bid on during the London Sportsman Dinner silent auction. So, then, why not have Collinsworth face off against a variety of American athletes in the very events he dominated 27 years ago? Spitz may be kind of a pussy now but CC would be up for it. That's television gold, baby! What a wasted opportunity!

Note: it was only after completing this long, rambling section that I discovered that Collinsworth actually only won the football subdivision of the 1981 competition (defeating James Lofton by 1 point), finishing 4th in the main event (won by someone by the name of Renaldo Nehemiah, purpotedly a famous hurdler). Well, screw it. It's still a valid point...and I'll be damned if I delete ie.

8. Tennis:
I can't shake Jon L. Wertheim's point that, to be a proper Olympic sport, winning a gold in that sport must be the ultimate accomplishment. This, of course, is a test that tennis can't pass. Now, there's no doubt that the big guns took the event seriously (hell, Gonzalez may want to take out a restraining order on James Blake), but, still, it's just another tournament isn't it? I know Federer desperately wanted the Singles title, but in his heart of hearts, there's no way he trades a single of his twelve Slams (no, not even one of the Australians) for a gold. No chance. Also, it's hard for me to take the women's tournament seriously when the winner (Elena Dementieva) serves like an eight-year old...well...girl. And a special "what the fuck?" to Daniel Nestor and Frederic Neimeyer, our men's doubles (admittedly: longshot) medal hopefuls who flamed out in the first round against Andy Murray and...Jamie Murray, his older brother. His older brother who has never played a Grand Slam singles match. Who has never been ranked in the Top 800 in singles. I didn't even know that Andy Murray had an older brother! I mean, really? Andy Murray's current doubles ranking is a robust 249th. Terrible, terrible loss. Is it possible they thought it was a double-knockout tournament?

9. Diving: Not without its charm (especially the 10 m stuff, and double especially if it involves a handstand on the 10 m platform) though, predictably, I do have a couple of issues:

(1) it seems like the scores are very high (8.5 - 10) or very low (2.5 - 4.5), with very few dives falling in the 4.5 to 7.5 range. Aside from being statistically improbable (some of these dives have to be merely average), it just seems really unfair.

(2) it seems like twins should always win the synchro diving competition (I'm actually not trying to be flip here--how can partners that aren't the same height and weight possibly compete? There should be a second degree of difficulty component, call it the "sameness quotient" or something...)

(3) Along similar lines, I'd like to introduce the diving judges to a little scientific term called "displacement" (I don't want to spoil it for them, they can look it up later). Anyone familiar with it might well reconsider the overly simplistic "big splash bad, small splash good" judging framework. There's no denying that the Chinese divers are incredible, but, to be fair, some of them are barely even three dimensional and thus almost incapable of making waves.

(4) In the 10 m women's competition, it was revealed that, for the semi-final portion (although, for all I know, this may hold true for all three stages--15 dives in all) the two Chinese medal hopefuls did the exact same five dives in the exact same order. When I first heard this, I was irate, and while I've settled down a bit, I still think that's ridiculous, and shows a startling lack of imagination. Carrie contends that there are only so many dives that exist, but I think that's bullshit. At least make them change the order (or have them share the medal!). Put it this way: if there were three Chinese divers doing this and they swept the medals, there'd be an uproar. Guaranteed.

10. Softball:
On paper, this looks like a can't-miss event for me, what with its ties to baseball, the visors, and athletic lesbians women, but, for a variety of reasons, it's just not clicking with me. Maybe it's because there doesn't seem to be much nuance in the pitching game...to the point where location seems irrelevant (witness Canada's starting pitcher, nursing a 3-2 fourth inning lead against Australia late Wednesday night, whipping a juicy fastball right down the middle of the plate on a 1-2 count, only to have it smashed out of the park; that's just stupid)...or that the games take forever to play (said game clocked in at 2 hours and three minutes)...or that unless a ground ball is fielded perfectly cleanly, the runner is guaranteed to be safe at first...or maybe it's the fact that Canada went three games (games) without scoring a run (and, perhaps even worse, only two runs in five games) immediately before appearing in the semi-finals. Really? I mean, is it even a credible sport if that can happen? It seems almost silly at this stage. The only saving grace last night was that Australia had a pitcher named Tanya Harding (which, amazingly, the announcers never commented upon) and an outfielder with the last name Natalie Titcume (pronounced precisely the way you wouldn't want it to be if that were your name). I would've been like Jimmy Barrett at the dinner table if I were in the booth (that one was for you, Shuk). That said, even with all my juvenile giggling, I still fell asleep in the middle the fifth (in my defense, that was around 2:30 a.m.).

11. Rowing: our best event by far (as of Friday, 4 of our 17 medals have come here), I'm moving it up a couple places simply because I find the idea of rowing coaches cycling alongside the boats to be hilarious. I suggested to Carrie that, instead, they build a super-fast motorized sidewalk (like in airports), and which point she said that my plan was needlessly complicated and expensive (sigh...I suppose.)

Biggest Flaw: the camera work (at least on CBC) has been uniformly atrocious, with confusing close-ups and totally random angles at the worst time imaginable. Seriously, the fight scenes in The Bourne Supremacy were easier to follow than Canada's bronze in the doubles sculls (bam!).

12. Triathlon:
Don't really have anything to say here except that Simon Whitfield's second wind/miraculous comeback made for some great television.

13. Cycling:
I'm including the BMX stuff here, which is shit cool. (I love the idea of collecting points from three different races--anything this shamelessly stolen from Mario Kart deserves props).

14. Table Tennis:
I really thought this was poised to be the breakout sport (they're in China, people!!), but that's failed to materialize, probably, in no small part, due to the fact that it aired for roughly two minutes during the eight days I watched NBC's coverage and--so far as I can tell--not at all on CBC. Disappointing.

15. Badminton: OK, just so we're clear, I'm under no illusions that I could even come remotely close to being an Olympic athlete, I swear. That said, I understand how most of these sports work and, if pressed, could discuss match strategy reasonably cogently or even play a few of them (and, in my younger years, have played a few of them) to a sufficient degree of competency that I wouldn't look like a complete idiot. But badminton--a sport I dearly loved in high school--at the Olympic level, is completely incomprehensible to me. I dig it, but it's almost impossible for me to follow. It's just too damn fast. Any chance they could bring back the FOX puck for this event?

16. Fencing:
truth be told, I saw approximately six minutes total of this event, five of which were devoted to a Bob Costas interview with the Americans who swept the podium in something called Individual Saber (which, frankly, sounds made up). Now, here's where it gets interesting (note to readers: not really). Near the end of the interview Costas revealed (to me; I'm assuming the girls were already aware) that there was a "Team Saber" competition later in the week, joking that he very much liked the Americans' chances. Well...I "missed" the team event, only to later read that the Americans finished third. Third? The fuck? It's the same three girls!! This may not be like a country sweeping the medals* in the 100 m dash and then beefing the 4 x 100 (mostly because no one cares about fencing) but it's gotta be close.

* Aug. 19 Note: the Jamaican women actually did this, so we'll have to wait and see how they do.

* Aug. 21 Note: ...and, due to a dropped baton, they didn't medal in the 4 x 100. Well, so much for that theory.

17. Baseball: yeesh...a disaster. Shuk and I are doing an Olympic wrap-up early next week, and I envision him totally smacking me down here, but I have absolutely zero enthusiasm for Olympic baseball. Zero.

18. Canoeing/Kayaking
(note to Olympic organizers: we're at war, pick a side.): Admittedly, the only event I saw here was one of the slalom competitions. In addition, I'm told (by Wikipedia!) that the slalom course is particularly brutal this year, even for the Olympics. All of that said, I saw four consecutive kayakers (including the presumptive gold medallist) miss gates (thus incurring a penalty), knocking themselves out of contention. Now....I understand--given that it's a, you know, fucking race--that time is of the essence and that finding the best racing line is vital, but a missed gate costs you 50 seconds, which is clearly catastrophic in an event where the winner typically clocks in in under three minutes. To analogize (and, by that, I of course mean "grossly oversimplify"): if I wake up late for class, you might find me racing around the bedroom frantically trying to put my pants on while hopping towards the staircase. This I get. But would I fall down the stairs (breaking my neck in the process) or--only slightly better--show up for class pantsless? Clearly (I hope!) not.

19. Socczzzzzz--wait, wait, I'm up!: Hmmm. I don't want to be too uncharitable so let's leave it at this and then move on: Euro Cup this is not.

20. Equestrian: as Shuk so artfully put it "seriously, it's riding around on a fucking horse." It sure is. And while I'm happy that 61-year old Ian Millar (now a nine-time--!--Olympian) finally took home a gold (in your face, Dara Torres!), that's exactly the sort of thing that prompts drunks in a English pub to wonder aloud "hey, why can't darts be a focking Olympic event?" Or chess...or competitive scrabble...or...and so forth. That's...not good.

But the Games--on the whole--undeniably were. Roll on 2010.

3 comments:

Mark P said...

1. Modern pentathlon was created in order to simulate what a soldier might have to do if caught behind enemy lines --- shoot, swim, ride an unfamiliar horse, run and fight with a sword. Frankly, they should make up the 'very modern' pentathlon with the addition of Evading Detection In Corpse Pit (i.e. Owen Wilson in Behind Enemy Lines) or Getting Captured And Then Mentioning It Ad Nauseum During Your Presidential Campaign 40 Years Later (i.e. John McCain)

2. After the back-to-back major wins, is Harrington officially on Carrie's laminated List of Five?

3. This may sound silly, but if they have synchro swimming and synchro diving, why not a synchro every-other-event? Synchro archery? Synchro taekwondo (tag team bouts)? Synchro boxing? In that one, they could replicate the double-punch knockout from Double Dragon

Jesse said...

The divisional record tie break in the NFL is batshit stupid. A poor divisional record is likely indicative of a tough division. If you tie a team who has a better divisional record than you, and therefore achieved the same record as you while playing most of their games against softer opponents, why should they make the playoffs?

And yes, this is because it kept fucking the Dolphins a couple years ago.

maritimexpat said...

I'm actually all for using the pentathlon's martial philosophy as the overarching crux of the Olympics proper. Hence, synchro javelin, synchro archery and synchro pistoleroistry (because air pistols is so blah) and yes, synchro boxing are a must. However, if the martial angle is to be taken, I'm not sure how to keep badminton relevant except if you used a pseudo Balls of Fury final showdown rig... in which case we absolutely should get right on that.