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Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympics need al-Qaeda team


I’m thinking about the Olympics and believe only guys named Bob should be allowed to compete in the bobsled.

That’s just one of the ways I can think of to improve the winter games I so adore.

Of course, in the wake of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili’s tragic death, most of my suggestions fall squarely in the realm of bad taste.

I’ve long argued that any events that involve speed and gravity should conclude with competitors having to launch at risk of life and limb over things like rows of buses or ponds filled with snapping alligators. Better: buses filled with alligators.

Like most viewers, I hate to see anybody ever get hurt, but can’t turn away if someone’s about to. (Note: one conspiracy-minded friend darkly suggests the accident was engineered to attract NASCAR fans).

I was aghast when I saw some newspapers print frame-by-frame shots of Kumaritashvili’s horrific demise. Then mortified when NBC aired the actual footage of the gruesome death.

And a guy like me way out here in the Plutonian orbits of the blogosphere has the prim sensibilities to fret about being tasteless?

My most radical improvement suggestion has nothing to do with conclusions that might lead to the death of one or two innocent athletes. Instead, it could result in the death of millions.

But resuming the Cold War would certainly make the games more interesting.

These Olympics lack a black hat like the Soviets used to be. Now, those were some worthy foes. They fielded armies of athletes who were raised like steroid-fueled veal to do nothing but win gold medals.

They were bearded behemoths who appeared nasty enough to eat things like bark for breakfast. And those were just the woman’s figure skaters.

That’s why the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey team remains a moment that transcends sports.

We beat their professionals, the very best of the Evil Empire, with our kids and they were, indeed, kids. They all looked like they were going to step off the gold medal platform and come straight home and start shoveling all our sidewalks.

The best and most historic games have always had a villain. Think back to the Berlin games of 1936 when Jesse Owens showed Adolph Hitler and the rest of the master race that a proud black man was the master racer.

I watched the parade of nations on Friday and found no one to hate. Sure, there were small squads of athletes from Iran and North Korea, people representing two despicable regimes.

But rooting against any of them is like rooting against in-laws. I don’t want anything bad to happen to any of my in-laws. I just wish they would stay half-way around the globe in Third World countries that forbid international travel and communications.

I feel mostly pity for those athletes. Their lives and those of their families are most likely a misery. Who knows? If they perform poorly, they may face grim repercussions.

When you think of it like that, how can you not root for one of them over any of our shaggy snowboarders? When I cheer for guys like that, it’s usually in the hope they won’t screw up my order in the drive-thru lane.

And too often rooting for surly guys like Bode Miller is like rooting for the New York Yankees.

That’s how bad it’s gotten. Many of our athletes are so pampered and spoiled that I’m indifferent to if they win or not.

Hip-hop snowboarder won’t be crestfallen if they lose in the half-pipe. They’ll just return to California and start hitting a different type of pipe.

Alas, I feel diminished by not rooting for a fellow countryman. It shouldn’t be that way.

Best of all would be if, in the spirit of the games, al-Qaeda came out from hiding and fielded a competitive team.

Americans could unite in our hatred for their fundamentalist athletes. We could cheer “USA! USA!” until we’re all hoarse. We could gloat when they lost and bitch if they won.

And when it was all over, we could in the spirit of the games extend the hand of friendship as they boarded buses bound for home.

Buses filled with alligators.

Tweet of the week: "I dreamed aviator/golf legend Arnold Palmer said he would teach me how to fly a plane. I said I'd rather he teach me how to putt. In my dream, Palmer began to weep."

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