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Olympics fever emerges

I am kind of missing the Olympics these days. I remember being a little confused by the dual prizes at the last one. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Is there some kind of “thrill of victory, agony of defeat” reference in the awarding of a medal accompanied by a fistful of what, for all the world, looks like broccoli?

Some of the events are puzzling. Others seem to be thinly veiled political statements. An event that includes skiing across miles, excuse me, kilometers, of frozen tundra followed by a telescope-guided rifle shot seems to smack of the Cold War. Instead of those bull’s-eyes they should have little drawings of running civilians with attache’ cases for them to shoot at.

The ancient Olympians had to demonstrate strength and endurance. OK then, I can see cross-country skiing, but not hurtling down a mountainside at suicidal speeds on a sled. This seems to demonstrate either nerves of steel or lack of sense, depending upon your point of view.  I have heard a story for luge that the Romans used to send messengers down mountainsides on little sleds.

They were pretty intelligent, what with their roads and all, even if they couldn’t quite figure out that lead water pipes had a serious drawback, so wouldn’t they have just tied the message to a rock or an unruly slave and launched it via catapult from the top of a mountain instead? Finding the message at the bottom wouldn’t have been that tough if you were real quiet and listened for the crash or the short, sharp OW! to find where it landed.

Basically, any event that leaves the contestants gasping seems in the spirit of things. If it doesn’t nearly kill you, it isn’t. It is my understanding that each host country gets to introduce a new sport. Obviously they pick something they are good at, thus hockey in Canada, basketball in the United States, and hounds and hare from the old USSR.

Hounds and hare, similar to biathlon, also has shooting, and sometimes Doberman pinschers help out.

Since the breakup of the old Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, this game has not been in vogue. The expense of reproducing a rundown, Eastern Block urban environment complete with  a wall, concertina wire and “dead zone” is a drawback. A handicapping system is sometimes practiced in the pairs competition, which involves chaining and sleep deprivation prior to the event. North Korea and Communist China have expressed interest in fielding teams.

I am working  on my new sport recommendation for the next U.S.-hosted Olympics. I believe the time may be right for silly walks.

Bill Abrams resides, and proudly displays his athletic prowess, in Pine Plains.

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