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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Lazy Man’s Guide to Becoming an Olympian

Can I get an Amen? 
I don’t know if you realize this, but it is pretty difficult to get into the Olympics. That is, unless you are a swimmer and live in Cuba, because all the best swimmers have already swam to America. Once you’re there, it is even harder to get on the medal stand, although if you’re not an athlete, you are going to be escorted away in handcuffs.

First, you have to be conscious of the country whose team you wish to join. A team such as the United States, China, or Great Britain will be much more difficult to qualify for because they have a very high standard of excellence on their teams. They generally appreciate athletes who can win a Gold medal, rather than shooting for 64th place. Let’s face it: you suck. The sooner you can accept that, you can begin the search for the perfect team to join.

Iceland is one country with a very low standard for Olympic excellence. Astoundingly, Iceland has no Olympic champions. I’m serious, not a single one. They would be thrilled to have a 64th placed athlete in the games. Their attitude about the Olympics is similar to that of a city league or a church ball team; they are playing just for fun and to make friends.

Iceland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and they could buy all the gold medals they wanted. Where would the fun be in doing all that work (you know, finding a seller, paying for shipping, opening the box)? Iceland is concerned mostly with the joy of simply playing the game, and even more concerned with having enough film inside their outdated cameras when they go sight-seeing in the host country of the Olympic Games. These concerns are, as you can imagine, of far greater importance than finding exceptional athletes, and they will most likely overlook your athletic shortcomings.

When I was in college, I was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Every year, we sent two different teams to the university’s Intermural Basketball League. The first team was comprised of those athletes who truly wanted to win the championship. This team held several practices per week, had uniforms, and a coach. They were called “The Blue Angels,” after the famous aviators, because they share official colors (blue and gold).

The other team, my team, was called “The B Team.” We took the Iceland approach. And it was fun. It was the kind of thing where all the other teams we played could have essentially written that week off as a bye week when they played us, because we just goofed around. We had a standing tradition of trying to have everyone foul out, until we were forced to forfeit the game. Never a dull moment with The B Team! Because of this experience, I understand and fully support what Iceland is doing in the Games.

This is true, you can look it up: for each sport that Iceland competes in, there are dozens of alternates. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Iceland wants to have the largest team presence at the Games. Second, they want all of their friends and families to come play too. There is basically two choices for these people, they can either come to the Games and see a warm and beautiful part of the world for a couple weeks, or they can stay home, huddling together for warmth and eating whale blubber. I think the choice is obvious! To be clear, for those who didn’t catch on, the choice here is to go play at the Olympics.

Next, if you want to be on the team, you have to be selective about the sport you choose. Everybody wants to be the 100m sprinter or the gymnastics star, because those are the sexy-as-hell sports. You might have to consider one of the less popular sports, such as Badminton, Field Hockey or Handball. Something where there is a whole team of misfits and you will not be singled out as the “weird guy,” or the “reason we lost.” Hell, if all else fails, try to invent your own sport and lobby to have it added to the list of events. The inventor of a sport will almost always be the best at it, or that’s what you have to hope for anyway.

You could try and get your version of Bocce Ball into the games. My family plays it where all the balls, including all the bocce’s and the jack ball, are tossed at the same time. That way, it’s never a matter of skill, rather, it’s all chance. You never know where the jack will land, so the cluster is always a surprise. This is perfect, because without skill, this is an easy way to get into the Games.

Last, there is always the Nancy Kerrigan approach to finding a place on the team. For those of you who may not remember Nancy’s 1994 attack just prior to the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, Nancy’s right knee was clubbed, forcing her to withdraw from the World Championships. This method has its shining moments, along with its downfalls.

 First and foremost, this will only really work if you’re next in line for a spot in the Olympics. For you to make the team, however, you’ll have to club hundreds or thousands of would-be Olympians. This gets a little messy, and may be cause for an international incident.

 Next, it will be hard for you to cover up these attacks, and you’ll probably be caught very quickly, thus preventing you from competing in their place. I’m sorry to say, but this method seems to be ineffective anyway, since Nancy Kerrigan kept her spot on the 1994 team and eventually went on to collect a Silver Medal in Women’s Figure Skating.

Alas, the Olympics remain a nigh insurmountable aspiration. Despite this list of perfect advice, I have yet to accomplish such a feat as competing on that world stage. A more ambitious man might try again for the next Games, but here I am, officially declaring my retirement from the race to the Olympics.

 I hereby “pass the torch” onto you, dear reader.

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