In My Opinion

Dave Barry: Olympic Games not just about sportsmanship

 

I’ll get to Olympic wrestling in a moment, but first you need to know about the gambling scandal.

I found out about this while walking back to my hotel one evening, when I passed a business called “Ladbrokes.” Through the window I could see men shouting passionately at a TV screen, which was showing a dog race. Right away I suspected that these men were bettors, because (a) only bettors believe that televised racing dogs can hear them, and (b) most of them were missing key teeth (the men, I mean).

I decided, as a trained journalism professional, that I needed to investigate. So I went inside Ladbrokes, and sure enough, it was a betting parlor, operating openly. Then I saw it: A sign that said “BET ON ANY OLYMPIC EVENT.”

I was stunned. The Olympic games are not supposed to be about money. The Olympic games are supposed to be about sportsmanship, about national pride, about the untainted beauty of pure athletic competition. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out I could bet on them.

I put 10 pounds on the U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, who were in the semifinals. Then I scurried on to my hotel room to watch the match live-streamed on the Internet. (They have the Internet over here in England, although it goes in the opposite direction.)

Kerri and Misty were playing the Chinese team of Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, who — if you know anything about international competition at this level — are two women in small bathing suits. It was a tense match. Never before have I watched women’s beach volleyball with so much interest in the actual score. But in the end, Kerri and Misty won, which meant that they moved on to the finals, and — more important for America — I won 14 pounds.

My point is, there is Olympic gambling going on here, and I for one I’m shocked. Rest assured that I will investigate further.

Speaking of scandals involving live-streaming: It turns out that athletes pee in the Olympic swimming pool. Seriously. Swimmer Ryan Lochte revealed this in a radio interview with famous personality Ryan Seacrest, saying, “I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go.” Then Lochte’s teammate Michael Phelps revealed that he sometimes pees in the pool. Then another U.S. team member, Chris Cantwell, revealed that he, too, pees in the Olympic pool. This was especially disturbing, because Chris is a shot-putter.

No, that last one was a joke, and I hope Chris does not take offense because he is a silo-sized individual who could crush my skull like a ping-pong ball using only his thumb and forefinger. But all kidding aside, there apparently is an epidemic of pool-peeing going on here at the Olympics, and it raises the troubling question: Why, exactly, is Ryan Seacrest a famous personality?

Which brings us, at last, to weightlifting. I watched the finals in the men’s 105 kg division, in which stocky men from Eastern European nations sporting abundant back hair emit what sounds like the mating call of the male musk ox, then attempt to lift a weight roughly equal to the Lincoln Memorial. There are two parts to the competition: the “snatch” and the “clean and jerk.” The gold medal went to a Ukranian named Oleksiy Torokhtiy, who snatched 185 and clean-and-jerked 227.

I was rooting for a guy from Poland with a great weightlifter name: Bartlomiej Bonk. Bonk was leading at the end of the snatch, but ultimately he had to settle for the bronze. Still, it was an entertaining competition, especially halfway through, when the p.a. announcer said (I am not making this up): “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a round of applause for that incredible snatch.”

Sometimes this job is too easy.

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