Friday, August 22, 2008

Race walking is the curling of the Summer Olympics

Last night I decided to watch the Olympics on TV. Upon changing the channel I saw a group of women in the rain sashaying their hips side to side at a furious pace. It was the 20km race walking event. Like most train wrecks, I couldn't peel my eyes away from the TV screen. I was fascinated, bewildered, confused, addled, sexually excited and full of awe all at the same time. I haven't felt this way for at least 2 years- when I watched the curling event at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Curling is the "sport" where a group of men push a giant puck on a shuffleboard like court made of ice as they maddeningly sweep their little brooms in front of the puck until it goes to where they want it to land. I never quite understood the exact goal and rules of the competition. I can only assume that they are similar to shuffleboard and horseshoes. The very existence of the competition proves that "cold plus boredom" will lead to some pretty fucked up things.

Why race walking ever became a competition is just as big a mystery. Stupid me, I always thought that if you were walking really fast that you were in fact running. Somehow, somewhere exists rules on what constitutes a walk and not a jog or run. The competitors even get yellow and red cards (are they penalties? I have no clue!) if it appears that they are not walking. My wife made me giggle when she remarked that the herd of women looked like they were being yelled at by a teacher in the school hallway, "Walk don't run!!" as they headed off to recess. My guess is that at least one foot has to be touching the ground and the walker's ass has to shimmy side to side like your typical trampish barfly.

Like curling, the more I watched the race walkers the more impressed I was with how hard it was to do and how they could keep a straight face. I know that it must be difficult to see the first place walker pull ahead of you and not be able to start sprinting after her. "Fuckin' bitch! I'll show you!", I would say as I would start to run after her. Of course, the judges would then pull out a red card and maybe I'd have to start crawling or doing the crab walk for a 1/2 kilometer.

Hmmm...that's a thought. Maybe I should start a petition for Simon Says, sack racing, three legged racing, and the Hokey Pokey to be official Olympic sports! More domination by the American athletes! USA!! USA!! USA!!

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