Dave Barry: Beer and team handball not a bad combination

I went over to Olympic Park, a huge sports complex featuring a spectacular array of sights and activities, such as people selling beer from backpacks. It’s wonderful. Instead of having to walk, manually, to a place that sells beer, you can just stand still, or even lie down, and eventually a person will come along wearing a backpack that says, quote, “BEER.”

The backpack people are grateful when you buy beer from them because it means they have less weight to carry around. Rest assured that I did what I could to lighten their load. That is what the Olympic movement is all about.

In addition to beer, Olympic Park also has sporting events, including one I went to see called “team handball.” You may never have heard of team handball, but it happens to be a sport played around the world by an estimated total of — believe it or not — nearly 23 people. Sometimes I suspect that when the players from one nation — let’s say Spain — finish their match, they run off the court, change uniforms, and run back onto the court as the French team.

I also suspect that they make up the rules as they go along. There’s a ball and a net, which looks sort of like a soccer net. But you can’t kick the ball: you have to throw it into the net. The players can bounce the ball, but sometimes they hold it and run with it, but only a little way. Sometimes they seem to be trying to tackle each other, but they never actually do. The winner is the first team that can name six vegetables that begin with the letter “C.”

Or something like that; I was not totally clear on what was going on. I don’t think the spectators were, either, but they were wildly enthusiastic because they were rooting for their home girls, the Great Britain women’s team. Their opponent was the Russian women’s team, which is also the women’s handball team for Italy, Germany and Poland, as well as the men’s handball team for Uruguay.

In the end, the British women got creamed, but the crowd gave them a long and loud standing ovation anyway. The Brits are crazy mad for their Olympic athletes, win or lose. Unlike in Beijing, where the home team cleaned up, the British athletes at these games have been regularly coming up short in events where they supposedly had a chance at gold medals. But the British reaction to a loss, no matter how painful, is never angry or bitter. It’s basically the same as the British reaction to rain: “Oh, well.”

And when a British athlete wins a medal, even if it’s a bronze in some event like the men’s 10-meter egg toss, everybody becomes wildly excited, at least for the British. What I’m saying is, these people actually have a sense of sportsmanship. Sometimes, when they lose and they’re being stoic about it, I want to give them all a great big hug.

That was some really good beer.

And now it’s time for Olympic event results.

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read these results if you’re following the Olympics on NBC, which, in some time zones, is still showing the opening ceremony.

The U.S. men’s basketball team is proving to be even more dominant than expected, having won gold medals in archery, kayaking, table tennis, judo and horse-jumping. Also LeBron James won a silver medal in synchronized diving, despite the fact that there is only one of him.

UPDATE ON CHINESE TRAMPOLINE COMPETITOR DONG DONG: At this time we have no new information on Dong Dong.

ANSWER TO TEAM HANDBALL VEGETABLE CHALLENGE: Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Cucumber.

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