ENGELHARD’S Guide to writing… for a world gone berserk
By Jack Engelhard
I’ve already lost three friends for mocking the “Opening Ceremonies” for these 2008 Summer Olympics, saying, as I did, that I can get the same cartwheels, pyrotechnics and all the rest of that hoopla at any circus or carnival. Even my neighborhood’s Fourth of July is more spectacular and I’m not much for spectacles anyway. For that, I’m accused of being ornery. Fine. Let it be.
In fact, I think that’s the theme for these Games: Let It Be or “We Are The World” or “One World, One Voice.” Or maybe, “All We Need Is Love.”
Or maybe “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.”
Watching the Parade of Nations I was amazed that there were so many people out there in the world — and most of them are not Americans. How did this happen?
(I did kvell when America and Israel came marching by.)
During the procession I counted the nations that may be friend or foe, not the athletes, whom I tend to admire, but the nations, and let me say straight up that I only root for the home team and if they don’t win it’s a shame. I won’t stay home to watch Malaysia versus Estonia. Okay, call me chauvinistic and xenophobic.
I know that it’s all about peace and harmony, so why is it that, from one Olympiad to another, nothing seems to change? Around this world of love there are still suicide bombings, beheadings, honor killings and compulsory female circumcision, though, to date, none of these have been designated Olympic Sports.
What turned me off partly I suppose was Munich, where Arafat’s thugs murdered 11 Israeli Olympians. The world was stunned — for a day or two. The Games continued and so did everything else. (We owe it to Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg for a film that placed the victims in the same department as the terrorists.) Jesse Owens proved that one black man (an American) was superior to all those Aryans, but that did not stop Hitler from going forward.
Some of the Games people play at these Olympics still amaze me. Running, jumping, swimming, boxing, wrestling, cycling — sure. I’m hooked. But ping pong? We used to play this at the “Y” and never thought of it as Sport but as something to do instead of homework. Then there’s the thrill of synchronized swimming. I’ve been waiting all day for this.
How about curling? This, far as I can tell, is akin to shuffleboard except that maintenance workers come with brooms and competitively sweep up the floor. I know millions of women and even some men who do this every day, mostly in the kitchen, but get no prizes; no gold. For some reason there is no Olympic Sport, so far, for vacuuming. (Oops. Curling, I believe, is a Winter Sport. Well, nobody’s perfect.)
Others have already spoken about female gymnastics and how brutal and abusive it is to these athletes in training. Someone should look into this.
These girls get a 9 for starvation and a perfect 10 for anorexia.
Right now I’m watching the NBC telecast and it’s Beach Blanket Bingo, or rather, Beach Volley Ball. Really? We used to watch this at the pool for the jiggling. Likewise badminton. I’m not sure if hopscotch is in, or hide and seek, or pin the tail on the donkey, but I’ll be watching. Frizbee? Why not? How about a pie eating challenge, or hot dog gluttony?
Higher, Faster, Stronger – and ain’t that the truth. We can expect a One Minute Mile any day.
(Did you catch Jason Lezak’s clutch finish to beat the French for the gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay? This DOES make it all worthwhile!)
Between you and me, I’m not sure basketball belongs. This is a game with three teams, the usual two, plus the refs, and it is generally a game of millionaires. I imagine that these athletes who earn $800 million relinquished all that loot to qualify as amateurs. Or do I have this all wrong? You don’t have to be an amateur anymore. Guess not.
It’s just business.
Millionaire tennis players are also there in Beijing for the sake of world peace, for sure.
Did golf make it in, or was it cancelled because Tiger Woods, also a millionaire, is out sick?
(Could Tiger and all the rest of them get par if the balls were pitched to them at 98 miles an hour instead of the ball standing there helpless and still?)
All that aside, I’m ready to enjoy the games. I want America to bring home the gold.
Oh, I’ll tell you what really irks me. Athletes who train in THIS country but then go home to represent Bulgaria or something.