Olympic Opa!
by Jeff Lewis

Here are a few random thoughts on the Games of the 28th Olympiad by an underemployed Tivo owner:

  1. I love Greece and I’ve experienced nothing but goodwill in my travels around the country, but on TV the Greeks don’t come off as terribly good sports, particularly the ones chucking water bottles at the Egyptian boxer.
  2. Kosuke Kitajima, winner of the 100m and 200m breastroke, is a dead ringer for the Powerpuff Girls’ nemesis, Mojo Jojo.
  3. I played water polo for over a decade, but I haven’t enjoyed the Olympic matches.  Every team’s offense is stagnant and relies on ejections to create scoring opportunities.  The defenses are too good and the offenses mostly unimaginative.  I’ve developed a couple of innovative offensive sets, designed to open up the game (I won’t go into the details here because they’re a bit technical).  I call one of them “Doughnut Fence” and the other “Banana Piping.”  I forgot to mention that I think water polo needs more colorful phrases, along the lines of “suicide squeeze” or “double laid-out Sukahara.”
  4. This statement made me happy:  “If you are looking for a favorite name here in the individual time trial, don’t look very much further than Viatcheslav Ekimov.”
  5. Field hockey sticks are unsatisfying, but perhaps I’m just biased because seeing them makes me relive the trouncing that I took when my high school soccer team scrimmaged our women’s field hockey squad.
  6. Jason Whitlock, in a column on ESPN.com, writes that Americans rooting against the US men’s basketball team are “borderline racist,” particularly if the criticism comes from so-called patriots.  The team is a bit of an embarrassment on the court, but at least they wanted to play.  However, I wish there was a way to root for AI and against Larry Brown, who I stopped supporting when I read that he used to call Darryl Dawkins “Kiddo,” as in, “Pass the ball out of the double-team, Kiddo.”  When a guy has a nickname like Dr. Dunkenstein—not to mention a few even better x-rated monikers—you just can’t call him “Kiddo.”
  7. It was a touching moment when Lt. Frank Drebin hugged Yao Ming after China advanced to the basketball quarterfinals.
  8. When talking about table tennis, I like to call it ping pong.  I think it’s the same impulse that drives dog show people to constantly say “bitch.”
  9. If dressage is on Bravo and rowing is on NBC, which do you watch?  I like prancy horses, so it’s a no-brainer for me.
  10. I’m fond of Mary Carillo and her bad jokes.  “And now, back to the horsies…”
  11. The announcers like to call the horses “the largest athletes in the Games,” but apparently, they are considered equipment.  Pfffwwwww.
  12. Gymnastics announcer Tim Daggett spreads sunshine and joy, which Al Trautwig sucks up with his overblown, insincere, US-centric blathering.  This condemnation is not strong enough for my wife, who has also “suffered through his ruination” of her favorite figure skating competitions over the years.
  13. I’m a sucker for elaborate multi-sport competitions with complex scoring systems, so I reveled in the modern pentathlon coverage.  I particularly liked the fencing, where everyone in the competition squares off against one another.  Also, the start for the final event—the 3km run—is staggered, so the winner of the pentathlon is the first to cross the finish line.
  14. I’d like to see more athalons, such as a Netty Quadrathalon, with tennis, beach volleyball, badminton and ping pong.  I also wouldn’t mind a super-tournament after the Olympics that pits all of the team-sport gold medal winners in a multi-sport round robin format.  It would be an Olympic-style answer to the age-old “what wins” questions, like, “What wins in a fight between an emu and 700 hummingbirds?”  (Hummingbirds, in a rout.)  If Team USA wins the basketball, I think they’d be fairly strong at team handball and water polo, and good at volleyball—if Marbury can learn to set.  They may be a little tall for field hockey and soccer, but could make up for it with a strong showing in baseball.  If it came to that, I think even the borderline racists would cheer for them.

Copyright Jeff Lewis, 2004