The Whether Report
Too much swimming, not enough tug-of-war
By Jacques CormeryPosted Aug 15, 2012
I don’t like Michael Phelps. As I write this, my sincerest wish is that, now that the swimming events are finished, I’ll never have to hear his name or goofy voice again.
But I know that this is wishful thinking, as it’s likely I’ll be reminded of his barely concealed arrogance at four-year increments for the rest of my life.
I dread the start of every following summer Olympics because, as an American, I’ll be constantly reminded that no Olympian has ever won as many medals as Phelps.
Don’t get me wrong – Phelps is a really great athlete and blah, blah, blah. And I love the Olympics and watched at least some of the day’s events every day after work. The first week, though, tested my Olympic fandom in that at least one quarter of every night’s coverage that I watched seemed to feature swimming, which entailed far more exposure to Phelps than I would wish on my worst enemy.
First off, it irks me to see him wearing a different pair of $100 headphones before every swimming event.
But that’s the least of the reasons I don’t like him.
When Anderson Cooper interviewed Phelps for 60 Minutes a few months ago, it absolutely enraged me when Phelps showed that he keeps many of his Olympic medals rolled up in an old t-shirt in a sock drawer.
I’m no purist, but don’t you think that Olympic gold medals deserve a little more dignity than that? I mean, if there’s a t-shirt in your wardrobe that you won’t even wear outside to dig up a flowerbed, do you really think that it’s appropriate to wrap it around a bunch of medals that other people train their entire lives to earn?
It’s a slap in the face to the Olympics, its athletes, and its fans.
Imagine my excitement when I heard about Ryan Lochte, who seemed like he was ready to unseat Phelps and usher in a new era of less-annoying swimming athletes.
Boy, was I disappointed.
If douche-baggery were an Olympic sport, Phelps would likely take the silver. Lochte would get the gold, setting unbeatable douchebag records in the process.
Need proof? Look up the Buzzfeed video “Ryan Lochte is Terrible at Interviews” on YouTube.
Beyond my simmering rage directed at Phelps, I’m pretty unimpressed with swimming events in general.
I fully realize that swimming is really difficult and I don’t mean to incur the wrath of swimmers everywhere, but I think it’s a really lackluster event.
First of all, is there any other sporting event where you can only see about 30 percent of the athlete during the competition? Then there is the fact that there are only four swimming styles/techniques/whatever: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Somehow, the powers that be have managed to organize 32 Olympic events around these four styles.
That’s overkill. And it also happens to be the sole reason why a single Olympian can rack up as many medals as Phelps.
So, I think it’s time we scale back on some of the events. Especially swimming.
I think we’d also be better served if basketball was also eliminated from the Olympics.
Each NBA season features 1,230 games, provided there isn’t a strike. Add to that the 345 Division I basketball teams, and I’d say we should be satisfied by the basketball options we already have. And besides, only teams that feature NBA superstars are worth watching, so Olympic basketball doesn’t exactly present anything new.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, I can confidently report that I did not watch a single volleyball match in the previous four years and am completely comfortable with that.
Do you know a single person who could name a famous volleyball player in a non-Olympic year? No? I rest my case. Get rid of it.
One sport that I really think should make a comeback is Tug-of-War.
Yes, that is a real event. Actually, it’s one of the original Olympic events.
Could you imagine the American team? Ndamukong Suh anchoring the American team against a Japanese Sumo-based team? That would be awesome.
I’d also be all for the introduction of Sepak Takraw as an Olympic event. I dislocate both my shoulders just watching it on YouTube.
But for all the complaints I have, I absolutely adore the Olympics. There’s a lot to be cynical about in the world of sports, but the Olympics escapes those pitfalls. There are no contract holdouts, no league-wide strikes, just sport.
So if that means tolerating a little swimming, then that’s a compromise I’m willing to make.
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