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The Non-Expert

Olympian

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we look to this month’s Olympic Games and give an overview of the athletic events involved and pick the sports you simply don’t want to miss.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.

 

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Question: I’m so excited about the Olympics this year! But I don’t know what to watch! Any tips would be most appreciated! —Pam

Answer: Historical records date the Olympic Games to the mythical, ancient land of Greece as far back as 776 B.C. Though because the Games are being held in Greece this year, it’s understandable you might think they’ve been held there all along. (They aren’t—in 1996 they were hosted in Atlantis.)

In fact, the Olympics were put on the backburner for hundreds of years due to ballooning highwayman insurance for traveling athletes, bouts of plague, and ambitious warlording. But the Olympic Games returned to an adoring, plague-free audience in 1896, coincidentally the same time modern athletic shoe companies had developed some seriously beefy marketing budgets. Thus, the Modern Olympics were born.

So what to watch? Here are the Non-Expert’s favorite Olympic events. With a healthy dose of the Greco-Roman style, of course.



Aquatics

Swimmers and divers exhibit impressive feats of human grace and physical endurance. And that’s just during shaving, if you know what I mean.
 

Archery

If anyone knows how much damage can be done with a bow and arrow after a few drinks, it’s Errol Flynn—though the unnamed female extra whose part was unexpectedly cut from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) would probably know better. To celebrate the dangers of sporting with a weapon designed to kill, here’s the official Olympic Archery Drinking Game, perfect for watching the arrows soar.

—Outer ring: take a drink

—Third ring: take two drinks

—Second ring: take three drinks

—Bullseye: drain your glass

—Into a spectator’s solar plexus: switch TV to Queer Eye
 

Badminton, Handball, Table Tennis, Tennis & Volleyball

Badminton is tennis with a volleyball net and a shuttlecock instead of a ball. Handball is racquetball without a racquet—technically, it could just be called “ball”. Table tennis has a ball and paddles (instead of racquets), and is just like tennis except everything’s smaller and the court is usually stored in the basement. Volleyball is like badminton, which, as stated earlier, is like tennis, but without any racquets and with a ball.

If we took the racquets from the badmintoners and gave them to the handballers, then sent the badmintoners over to the volleyball courts to play that instead (same net anyway), and then if we get the tennis players and the table-tennis players to switch courts, then, finally, is everyone even?

This still leaves us with a bag full of shuttlecocks.
 

Baseball, Basketball, Field Hockey & Soccer

Why are these popular sports still part of the Olympics? Because there’s a gigantic vault buried in the Acropolis and the Americans filled it with money. That’s why.
 

Boxing

Olympic boxing is nearly the same as professional prizefighting. It has the same rules (punch your opponent more than they punch you) and the same techniques (punch but don’t get punched). Still, the basic appeal for an up-and-coming Olympic boxer from Colombia just isn’t there: There’s no prize outside of the medal, and if you lose you get shot by your fans.

Though the shooting bit is another inspiring similarity between Vegas fights and those held under the Olympic flags.
 

Canoeing

Favored for medaling this year are the Camp Lake Winnekeewaga Water Demons and Del Valle Boy Scout Troop 1882. Though the Demons still rock the “Kumbaya” chant that drove the Czechs to madness in 2000, Troop 1882 is handily the more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent squad.
 

Cycling

Cycling is a perfect example of the Olympic Committee’s ignorance of televised sports—if it tuned in once in a while, it might notice while the Olympic summer games are held every four years, the Tour de France happens every single year. In fact, just a scant month or so before the Olympics the Tour’s still getting play on magazine covers. Is that poor timing or what? And how long have they had to figure this out? Like, thousands of years?

Have they also noticed the U.S. presidential elections happen the same years as the Summer Olympics, at least most likely they happen to? And would they consider adding it to their list of events?
 

Equestrian

The only Olympic sport where an entirely different creature from the athlete does all the work. Where’s the challenge for the jockey? To hang on? To wave to the crowd? And if that’s all, then why hasn’t electronic-bull riding become an Olympic sport? (No worries—we’ve already submitted an application. Same for getting your dog to do the laundry.)

We should have these answers before the 2008 Olympics, to be held at Gilley’s Bar in Houston, Tex.
 

Gymnastics

Everybody loves to watch people run around in no clothes. It’s what drew the crowds for the Ancient Olympics, it’s what pulls ‘em in now. And you should read the ancient texts of the floor routines! It’ll make a dead language sit up and shout! Though that whole ribbon dance thing has only been around since the 1980s.
 

Judo

Judo is a martial art. As such, scoring is as follows:

—25 points for every board broken

—50 points for somersaults

—100 points for conjuring spirits/special moves

—500 points for escaping the enemy brain-washing compound

—WIN THE GAME for beating the final boss
 

Modern Pentathlon

The Ancient Pentathlon required the discus throw, the javelin, the long jump, the stadium-length race, and wrestling. When reviving the Pentathlon for the Modern Olympic games in 1896, the organizers retooled the events to include fencing, riding, running, shooting, and swimming, because at the time that’s pretty much what people did every day.
 

Track & Field

Jumping over some things, throwing others, and running around—that’s it. Track and field events epitomize the Olympian ethos, filled as they are with Greek prefixes and word forms—deca, tri, bi, hetero.

The events increase in difficulty in direct relation to the height of things jumped, the weight of things thrown, and the length of distances run. It’s so simple and classically Greek, it’s like the Lumberjack Challenge, except way, way longer, and no pancakes afterwards.
 

Weightlifting

The proper way to build muscle through strength training is to control the weight during lift, resistance, and release. Slow repetition at low weight amounts is the best way to build a toned, healthy body.

Which explains why lifting 900 pounds over one’s head and dropping it straight to the floor makes for not such good-looking Olympic weightlifter physiques. Of course, it might have something to do with the satin tank-tops, but you just gotta wear what the rest of the team is wearing, am I right?
 

biopic

Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack