I just turned 32 and in honor of my big birthday celebration this week, the world’s greatest athletes are doing battle for my personal satisfaction in what they are calling the Olympics, which in some language must mean Happy Birthday Jon.
I am an admitted Olympic junkie and that’s why when I got home on Sunday morning at 4 a.m., having just seen some of my closest and oldest friends during a birthday bash, I immediately turned on the television for coverage of beach volleyball.
It seems that no matter what part of the day it is, there is some sort of Olympic coverage on television to enjoy, and I am doing my best, with the help of a DVR, to enjoy every single hour. Sleep will have to take a hiatus for now.
Obviously, I love basketball, but I try to enjoy every sport. However, I admit it gets difficult to sit through a lot of them, even ones I’m following for this sports section.
Tim Morehouse is the Riverdale resident who is trying to win a medal in fencing for the United States. I sincerely applaud his efforts, because fencing has to be one of the most difficult sports to obtain a victory in. I watched the women sweep the medals in fencing and I couldn’t follow the sport at all. These athletes move so fast, it is extremely difficult to see who struck who with the saber. My hat truly goes off to the judges and to Morehouse for such a difficult undertaking.
There are other sports that just do not seem to belong at all. I’m sorry, but when did shooting a gun become an athletic competition. What qualifies certain events as sports? While I know shooting a gun requires practice, does it require someone to be physically fit? And just because you can compete against another shooter to determine who hits the most targets, it doesn’t mean it is a sport. In that case, why not make darts an Olympic sport. It follows the same principles and even more people can compete in darts than in shooting or archery.
But why not broaden our sport base. As a journalist, I would love to compete against my colleagues in Queens and Brooklyn to see who is the strongest journalist in the world. Let’s have a write-off. I just hope my new Nike scientific ergonomic glove will allow me to write faster than my competitors.
Or why not include arm wrestling, or my personal favorites, rock, paper, scissors and thumb wrestling? They have national competitions for each event – let’s make it an Olympic sport. How about we replace equestrian with hide-and-go-seek?
One sport I would love to seriously be included is Mixed Martial Arts. The Olympics already has boxing, judo and wrestling...why not combine all three? MMA is more than just hot right now; it seems like the sport is on fire and if the Olympics really wanted to garner more fan interest, they would allow the likes of Tito Ortiz, Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre and others to compete for the gold.
I also found it quite interesting to discover a sport whose name did not match the action I witnessed on the television. Team handball has nothing to do with hitting a ball against a wall, as it does in the PSAL. In the Olympics, it is a sport where teams pass the ball to one another and try to throw the ball past the goalie and into the net for points, a la soccer. I find the sport to be rather interesting and I was quite surprised to discover that it is popular overseas.
But while I enjoyed the action, I was let down by the fact that the sport I loved doesn’t have a slot in the Olympics. I believe handball, the kind played in most Bronx parks, would make a fine addition to the Olympics and it would give athletes like Lehman alumnus Cruz Dueno something to shoot for.
My coverage of high school sports has also enabled me to really enjoy soccer and volleyball more than before. I was never a big fan of soccer until I watched Columbus, Lehman and Clinton duke it out last year for PSAL dominance. Now, I can’t wait to see Sheldon Parkinson, of Lehman goalie fame, make a name for himself in the 2012 games.
Other sports that really grabbed my interest included badminton and table tennis. Both sports should be required in the PSAL/CHSAA curriculum. They are a lot of fun to watch.
And that will do it for this week. I’d see you at the games, but right now I’m training for 2012 when I’m sure tiddlywinks will be a sport. Wish me luck.
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