No Boston Olympics: We Don't Have to Pretend to Care

WARNING: Satire ahead. If you are easily offended, please bugger off! 

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh just cemented his place in the Taxpayers’ Hall of Fame by putting the kibosh to the city’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics. There were those—mostly fools and liars–who insisted that the Olympics would make money, but name me one big Bay State project in the past 50 years that came in on budget. As a Massachusetts taxpayer who helped subsidize the Big Dig, I’m delighted I won’t be bailing out the Olympic Follies as I slide into my dotage. If we could now set aside two other mountebank-led sucker schemes—UMass Bowl Division football and building casinos—I might get to avoid the retirement choice between moving to a low tax state or subsisting on cat food. But back to the Olympics….

This is a "sport?" What's the horse called? John Cleese?
As we write the obits for the Boston games, we should consider another reason why New Englanders should rejoice: Americans don’t really give a flying fire hydrant about the Olympics. These are not our sports. There is no gridiron football in the summer Olympics, nor is there baseball, bowling, or auto racing. There is basketball, but let’s be honest—now that the Cold War is over, there’s no joy in watching a bunch of NBA millionaires run up the score on a bunch of kids from Montenegro just so they can beat up the Ruskies in the final. There are also medals handed out in a few other things Americans like, such as tennis and golf, but those athletes are also professionals who compete in things far more prestigious and lucrative than the Olympics. Ask Phil Mickelson or Serena Williams if they’d rather achieve Olympic glory or win the U.S. Open in their sports and they’d gladly melt down their medals for tin foil in exchange for kissing the Open cups.

When the Summer Olympics are on TV, the events most Americans tune in to see are swimming, gymnastics, and track and field. But let's again be honest—unless some American wins a fistful of golds, who remembers the victors six months later? No peeking at Wikipedia and off the top of your head: Who won the men’s 110-meter hurdles? The triple jump? The women’s 400-meter race? Name an Olympic pole vaulter. Who struck gold in the women’s floor exercise? And do you have the slightest idea who medaled in sailing?

Of course you don’t know who won the sailing events. It’s one of the three major categories into which most summer Olympics events fall: "Activities for the 1%." Sailing is in the same "Who friggin’ cares?" box as equestrian events. Do I wish to watch the Duchess of Nose-in-the-Air atop a hedge-leaping horse. Ummm… no, though that’s positively thrilling stuff compared to dressage, where tweed-clad upper-class twits force their horses to prance prissily about like spastic ballerinas.

The second category is called “Huh? Sports”—those that cause most Americans to shrug their shoulders. What the hell is Graeco-Roman wrestling and does one have to be named Gyros Vermicelli to take part? If you want Americans to care, the Olympics should trash this one in favor of ultimate fight club kickboxing.  Yanks get BMX cycling, but name an American astride a bike who competes inside a velodrome? Velodrome? Isn’t that French for: “My mommy won’t let me ride in the street?” And get this—in the Olympics they give medals for shooting and there ain’t no deer or family home invaders gunned down in the process! Water polo? Isn’t that just screwing around in a pool? Maybe Pakistanis care about men’s field hockey, but Americans think that they should have to wear short pleated dresses if they want to engage in women's sports.

In fact, both water polo and field hockey skirt (pun intended!) the edge of the biggest category of all: “Exercise.” The Olympics dole out medals for stuff we do to sweat, goof off, or get fit. Like women’s field hockey. Did you ever see more than 10 people watching a college match? Nope. That’s because it’s really all about co-eds burning off energy. Medals for badminton? Who knew? I thought that was something one did in the backyard while the grill is heating and the beer is cooling on ice. Just like playing table tennis in a bar or rec room while the burgers are cooking. When I was a kid, I used to slap balls against a wall. Now they tell me! I could’ve been an Olympian handball champ. Speaking of youngsters, put your six-year-old on a training regimen; there’s Olympic fame in trampoline. You can even win prizes for stuff you normally pay to do, like judo and taekwondo. Bust out your best river moves, because there are canoe medals to be won. There’s even one for canoe slalom, which in Vermont and Maine is called “Look out for that big #@*^%$ rock!”

I don’t mind paying for personal diversion. A few times a summer I’ll even shell out ridiculous sums to watch rich people engage in sports I used to play for free, like baseball.  But I’m really, really happy that I won’t spend the rest of my life paying for pros, aristocrats, and exercisers to come to Boston for two weeks.

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