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My best event is bull tossing

Janet Urquhart

Ah, the Olympics. Every four years, though it seems like every two, athletes from around the globe gather to remind Americans that we are woefully ignorant of world geography, and that we shouldn’t be too cocky about our basketball prowess, either.All I can say about the spectacle of the opening ceremony is this: Burkina Faso is a country? Where?The games of the XXVIII Olympiad will require 17 days to complete – a veritable couch-potato marathon. There are actually seven days’ worth of events; the rest is commercials. Either that or they’ve had to extend the length of the Games in order to accommodate “sports” like badminton and table tennis. When Lawn Jarts becomes a competitive event, let me know.Actually, the Olympics lost a lot of its allure for me with the dissolution of the powerhouse Soviet Union into a bunch of smaller countries with names like Uzbekistan. Hoping an American snatches the gold from a boxer from Azerbaijan doesn’t carry quite the same weight as victory over what Reagan dubbed the “evil empire.” It’s a little like the Soviet men’s basketball team stealing the gold from a team from Iowa. Whatever.Barring a resurgent interest in Lawn Jarts, my own Olympic aspirations had gone the way of Mark Spitz’s mustache until I began tuning in for snippets of the action this week. Now I know my true calling: I should be in the broadcast booth, glibly analyzing the action with an entertaining combination of insight and sarcasm.In fact, I’ve already been practicing at home, bantering on the phone with a friend as we watch the games from our respective sofas.Me: “So, when did guys start wearing pants to go swimming?”My co-announcer: “When they got tired of shaving their legs.”We both agree the next new Olympic sport should be a race to see who can get those full-body, skintight swimsuits on fastest.I really hit my stride at the gymnastics venue, despite my own truly forgettable attempts at grace and agility in high school gym class. I always nailed a solid two-footed landing on my floor exercise routine, due primarily to the fact that I never actually left the mat.Me: “Who invented the pommel horse? Somebody swung their legs around on a sawhorse and decided it qualified as a sport?”My co-announcer: “Guys do weird things when they’re bored.”Me: “Actually, gymnastics date back to the ancient games. The word ‘gymnastics,’ of course, is derived from the Greek gymnos, which means naked. The wearing of leotards became mandatory when the Olympics were first televised, to a limited audience, from London in 1948. This came as a great relief to certain athletes, given some of the maneuvers on the uneven parallel bars.”A Greek carpenter, Aristotle Pommel, by the way, is credited with placing handles on a sawhorse. I’ll bet he had speedy flairs.”Move over, Bob Costas. I think I can take Olympic commentary to a whole new level.Janet Urquhart could deliver a bigger flop than Dick Fosbury. Her e-mail is janet@aspentimes.com


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