By NICK THOMAS
With memories of the 2012 Olympics soon to fade faster than the life expectancy of North Korean athletes who failed to medal, I confess I was disappointed that new, exotic sports weren’t added to this year’s Games.
So who’s for spicing up future Olympics with some dazzling, novel events?
Oh sure, I know golf will be featured in the 2016 Rio Games. But they may as well add chess and croquet, too, and have the paramedics standing by when spectators collapse from boredom.
Get with the times, Olympic Committee, we’re in the exciting digital age now! To capture the attention of young, high-tech spectators, we need new cool events such as Speed Tweeting, The iPhone Toss, and Balance Beam While Texting.
Mind you, I’m not against introducing some new, interesting “old school” events either, such as Crocodile Wrestling, Peat Bog Diving, or Synchronized Cary Grant Impersonating.
If you detect a touch of sarcasm along these lines, I suppose it’s because, as a child, I rarely succeeded at sports. I can only attribute my athletic failures to a complete lack of competitive drive whatsoever. That, and having the upper body strength of Pee-wee Herman, the lung capacity of a canary, and the coordination of a dung beetle.
However, I do appreciate that some sporting skills can be very useful in everyday life.
Take swimming, for example. Should you ever find yourself out in the Pacific hotly pursued by a 16 ft great white shark, being able to do the 200 meter freestyle boat dash in under 2 minutes à la Michael Phelps could be the difference between making it back to shore for lunch, or becoming lunch.
The same could be said of sprinting, a useful skill when your neighbor’s pit-bull decides it wants a piece of you whilst strolling to the mail box. Then there’s tennis, which helps to hone one’s fly swatting technique. Wrestling and boxing can also be useful pest deterrents, especially when relatives drop by unannounced.
Shot putting, however, is a different story. Outside of the sports arena, I can’t see the immediate advantages of being able to hurl a 16 lb metal ball over 50 ft, even if your mother-in-law is marching up the driveway with two suitcases under each arm.
Heck, shot puts don’t even make convenient concealed weapons. Have you ever seen a “Shot Put Wielding Bandit Robs Local 7-Eleven” headline?
But returning to my theme of proposed new Olympic sports. Here are some that I might even try if they were added in 2016:
Stationary Mountain Biking: Much safer than regular mountain biking. Plus, it would offer one big advantage for the games in Rio – you don’t need a mountain, just a cardboard facsimile of the Brazilian Highlands in the background.
Bullfighting: Since I wouldn’t want to injure the bull, I’d be wary about this event. Besides, Spain would have a huge advantage. So if I were to enter, I would have to even the playing field: the Spanish competitors would be required to wear bright red uniforms. And instead of dispatching the bull with swords, they would be issued with cattle prods. Personally, I’d be rooting for the bull to take the gold. This sport would also be popular with Olympic broadcasters, since they’d get even more bull into their commentary.
Human Cannonballing: “Net? I don’t need no stinking net!” said Blazing Brooks, former cannonballer from the Kahlua and Bailey Bros. Circus, and long-time advocate for Olympic cannonballing. “Just as long as I land on my head.” I would definitely want a net.
Rhythmic Furniture Building: We’ve all faced the challenge of constructing one of those $99 build-it-yourself oak entertainment centers from K-mart that has 500 parts to assemble and as many instruction steps written in Sanskrit. Anybody who can put one of those babies together in record time with, say, Bruce Springsteen rocking in the background, deserves a gold medal. Although, as usual, mine would likely end up resembling a deck chair.
And finally, wouldn’t Team Skydiving be an exciting addition to the Olympics? It requires skill, coordination, and concentration. But with my athletic background I wouldn’t attempt this one. Besides, in my enthusiasm for a medal, I’d probably forget to pull the ripcord.
(Nick Thomas’ features and columns have appeared in more than 200 magazines and newspapers. He can be reached at email@example.com.)