I've never participated in, worked at, nor attended any Olympic event in my life. The closest I've ever come to that was when I worked (volunteered) as a ball boy for the World University Games in 1993. For the roughly 87% of you who are asking, "What are the World University Games?" I'll answer that by quoting the first line of a New York Times article that was published four days before the opening ceremonies of the games in 1993, "The largest athletic event of its kind in the world except for the Olympics…"
Wow, so many qualifiers. Here are three other sentences that say essentially the same thing about other events.
-The largest North American Football Championship event of its kind in the world except for the one played in America called the Super Bowl (Grey Cup)
-The most popular TV Show about being pregnant on cable in the world except for 16 and Pregnant (Pregnant in Heels)
-The best and most popular mp3 player of its size in the world except for the iPod (Zune)
A more accurate statement about the World University Games than the one published in that New York Times piece is, "An event that has hardly any significance because the Olympics exist, starts on Thursday…" but I assume the article was trying to be as positive as possible.
I had never heard of the World University games until it came to Buffalo, NY (my hometown) in 1993, but I wanted to be a part of something that was "almost the Olympics". Basically, I bought a Zune because it was the only thing available in our area.
The Olympics, what some would call the “16 and Pregnant” of athletic events and others, a two week competition to decide who will be on the next “Dancing with the Stars” is the biggest sporting event in the world, and it can get people to do some crazy things, like watch Gymnastics. In 1992, in a series of commercials before the summer games in Barcelona, Reebok made Dan O'Brien and Dave Johnson household names months before even the Olympic trials. The commercials asked, "Who will be the world's biggest athlete, Dan or Dave?" and then Dan failed to even qualify for the Olympics. This year, we found out that someone named Lolo Jones is a virgin and then that she also happens to be an Olympic hurdler.
The major stories before every Olympics always seem to be whether security is strong enough, how much money the hosting city might lose, and how creepy the Olympic mascots are (every year the answers seem to be 'We'll see!'; 'A ton, but it will help tourism'; and 'So creepy." This year is no different.
A couple other questions that I'd like to ask…
-How many Team USA Men's Basketball players would demand a trade if the Olympics lasted just one week longer?
-How many medals does China win for being the country that made the uniforms of most of the other countries?
-Will it snow for the first time in Summer Olympics history?
-Will the U.S. Men's Soccer team win its first medal…what? They didn't even qualify? Never mind then.
While ESPN the Magazine would have you believe that the athletes dedicate their whole lives to training for the Olympic games in hopes of qualifying and getting to have sex with all of the other athletes, there are also sporting events going on that the public is allowed to watch. It's the athletes that make the Olympics such a captivating two weeks every two years.
Here's a look at the five who have generated the most buzz entering the games:
OSCAR PISTORIUS, Track and Field, South Africa
Some track and field athletes are up in arms over a track and field athlete that has no legs. (You bet your ass I just wrote that sentence) American World Record Holder Michael Johnson believes South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, a man who lost both his legs from the knees down, could have an unfair advantage because of his prosthetics. Meanwhile, Oscar Pistorius believes that every other sprinter has an unfair advantage because they all have two whole working legs.
VOULA PAPACHRISTOU, Triple Jump, Greece
While not seen as a possibility to medal in the one event she's participating in, Voula is a girl who has worked hard to get where she is and seems very excited for the opportunity to represent her country. I mean just look at this tweet. I have no idea what it says, but three exclamation points!!! She no doubt has the enthusiasm that a medalist needs to excel!!! (Actually that tweet is actually completely racist and Voula has been kicked out of the Olympics)
MISSY FRANKLIN, Swimming, USA
The only 17-year-old girl in the world to be ok with having "The Missile" as a nickname, Missy is expected to be the breakout star of this Olympics. Many have compared her to Michael Phelps, and it's not just because she sounds stoned with quotes like, "I can be anything in the water…pretend to be a dolphin looking for treasure, or a mermaid." She's expected to win multiple gold medals, and most importantly to moms everywhere, be the favorite for ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ Her only real competition for that show is…
JORDYN WIEBER, Gymnastics, USA
Another 17-year-old, except at 5'2" (actually tall for a gymnast) she's 11 inches shorter and basically the opposite of Missy Franklin. (Really, if you're of normal height and weight, try being something other than an Olympian.) I've been trying to think of a nickname for her as fitting as "The Missile" is for Missy Franklin, but the only thing I can come up with is "Shawn Johnson." Every year, America picks a gymnast and as the favorite to win gold, Jordyn "Shawn Johnson/Shannon Miller" Wieber is this year's pick. Personally, I'd like to see Wieber and Franklin face off against each other in a combination swimming/gymnastics competition to decide which one gets to dance with celebrities who've accomplished far less than they have.
HOPE SOLO, Soccer, USA
This freak of nature has already been on Dancing with the Stars and appeared drunk on the Today Show. She's famous and she attracts cameras because of her natural good looks and severe lack of restraint when talking to the media. Already in the past six months, she's failed a drug test and talked about sneaking a celebrity into her hotel room after the gold medal game in 2008. In the last 48 hours, she released excerpts from her book that say she was conceived during a conjugal visit between her mother and imprisoned father. Something she says in the next two weeks will win the silver medal for most outrageous thing said during the 2012 Olympics (the Greek's racist tweet was already awarded the Gold).
Anybody I missed that you'd like to see profiled? Let me know in the comments…
Chris Burns is a comedian, writer and producer based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter @chrisburns to get show updates and to be entertained while you’re supposed to be working.
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Jeanne-Marie Jansen Lowell May 23rd
Greatest relief pitcher EVER! Someday we can all tell our grandchildren we got to see him pitch. A true legend!
Charlie Lobosco May 23rd
Ask Craig; I’ll say it again; not the best relief pitcher ever; the best MLB player ever. Yes, that includes everyone.
Jim Lowell May 23rd
Great tribute to a great player, a great Yankee, and a great man.Thank you!
Frank Lowell May 23rd
Great job, Ryan! As a life-long Yankee hater since the 1950’s in the closing days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I can only sit back and…
Tiffany Riddle May 23rd
Love the article, and I completely agree!
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
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