August 17, 2004

Bob Costas, Eat Your Heart Out

So I've been watching the Olympics. No, not those Olympics, the ones on at three in the morning that nobody wants to watch. Oh sure, the prime time stuff is exciting, but I'll be seeing replays of the good stuff for months, I'm sure. Besides, when I'm watching, say, the NFL, and a player pats a teammate on the ass, I feel a sense of teamwork, of camaraderie. But when I see beach volleyballer Kerri Walsh pat her partner Misty May on the ass, I feel kinda sweaty...And a bit tingly.

So I watch the other Olympics, the ones that you didn't even know were Olympic sports. For example, badminton. Yeah, that's right...badminton. The game which you spent twenty bucks on, only to use it once and then let it sit in the garage until the dog chewed through the net that time you thought he had rabies, and you broke the strings on the racket trying to air guitar to Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some" one drunken Fourth of July. That badminton. Did you know it was an Olympic sport? You liar!

It's more fast-paced than what I remember, but the participants still dress kinda like rich snobs, with the polo shirts and shorts. It's strange to watch. It's like you walked into a country club after they had mistakenly substituted cocaine for the sugar in the mint juleps. How does one even find one's self on the road to Olympic badminton? "Well, Percival...You've got the swing down, but unfortunately, you're not strong, rugged, or manly enough for tennis. However,..." And would you be able to show it off to your friends?

"Man...Cool gold medal! What'd ya get it for?"
"Yeah, right--and I got one just like it at home I won for 'Rock, Paper, Scissors'. Seriously, dude, where'd you get it? Oh, and dude? I think the 'N' is silent."

Even the audience found it boring. I had seen some of the major events, where the crowd was yelling, waving flags, dressing up in their respective native garb. They panned the crowd during the badminton match? One young girl was waving a couple of pom-poms, and the rest of the audience looked like they might have been cardboard cutouts. Or dead. Or possibly both, I'm not sure.

The ones I really felt sorry for, though, were the announcers. They were desperately trying to make the game sound interesting, but there wasn't a whole lot to say. Plus, I'm sure they had to keep from giggling whenever saying something like "Ooooh...and Tamara just flipped the bird to her partner." That's what they call the funny-looking thing that serves as the "ball"--the bird. Of course, it could be worse, I suppose. The other name for it is the shuttlecock. Actually, in that case it might be fun to get some drunken guys with really thick Boston or NYC accents to do the play by play. Where else could you hear something like:

"Holy shit, Tommy...Muffy's really bangin' the hell outta that shuttlecock!"
"Oh yeah...she's givin' it a wicked good pounding!"

Okay, where else besides Times Square?

I also watched this other game, called handball. They called it handball, but I really think someone just made it up for, like, guys who wanted to play water polo, but couldn't swim. Seriously, no way is this a real game. It's like something my high school gym teacher would make up when he was so hungover that he couldn't remember what we were actually supposed to be doing. He would set up some nets, give us one of those red kickballs, and make up the rules as he went along.

"Naw, naw, naw....You can only hit him in the face with it if you got both feet planted. So now he gets one free tackle, while you stand there like a bitch. Go!"

I'm telling you, it was like Lord of the Flies, but without the upbeat parts. I think the objective was to get the ball into the net, but that got quickly lost in the joy of throwing the ball full speed at your classmate's face (keeping both feet planted, of course). Score was kept by the number of welts you could raise, with double points for drawing blood from, say, a split lip. I remember once actually breaking all the blood vessels in my eye and calling time to make sure I could still see out of it...

"This here's whatcha call a 'fast-pace' game. Ain't no time out! Walk it off...or he gets a free tackle! Go!"

I spent the remainder of class all over my opponent like glue, close-covering what I thought was a blurry Davy Jenkins, but which was, as it turned out, a tackling dummy. To this day it remains one of my most memorable and confusing sexual experiences.

Anyway, the point is...uh...What was the point? Oh yeah--the Olympics rule.


  1. Man, I took badminton as a gym class for credit in my sophomore year at LIU. On the first day of class, this kid named Mark walked in with, not one, not two, but three custom made badminton rackets. He looked like the Pete Sampras of badminton. At first I nearly pissed myself laughing at the thought of someone taking the drunken summer game, I loved so much, so serously. He then proceeded to kick my ass every time I had to play him.

  2. I guarantee you, NBC's ratings late-night, early-morning ratings would skyrocket if they had you doing commentary.

  3. Sean:

    I remember you getting drunk and making fun of the badminton guy at LIU on a pretty regular basis (you tended to be drunk fairly often in your Southampton days). That and your obsession with busting on the idea of Gavlik playing tennis (he even had his own rackets, if you'll recall).

    Speaking of contact sports, remember the infamous computer baseball game between the two of us in October of '91 when Gavlik, who was "in the stands," received a serious lip injury due to an incident involving a flying beer mug?

    Under official computer baseball simulation rules, I believe I received a rare LBI (lip busted in) for my efforts. Regardless, you have to admit I threw that puppy right down the heart of the plate for a solid strike.

  4. I beat Gavlik and Fisher(who Gavlik thought was awesome at tennis) at tennis, that year. I remember him telling you, and wondering how I was so good, then you let him on the secret that I played three years of varsity tennis in high school. I think he was a little relieved knowing that I had played before.

    Yes I remember, barely, the mug throwing incident. I also remember many a drunken night playing Tony LaRussa's baseball with no stats built in and the players throwing like Gavlik.

  5. The most destructive Tony LaRussa's game came one early Sunday morning (around 4 a.m.) that same semester. I got up for a minute to take a leak and, when I returned to the room, I soon learned that dreaded "yeast-o-toxin" had been released into Gavlik's fish tank.

    The hermit crab's descent into madness had begun...