Going For Brass

A large man doing a belly flop over Olympic rings.

I get all teary-eyed watching the Olympics on TV. You know, the human drama, the sacrifice, the dedication, the thrill of competition, the athletic lip sync murmur to the national anthem on the podium.

This year I discovered that there are many other Olympic champions besides the usual cadre of spring-wound gymnastic pixies and ferociously wedged, hairless swimmers and thundering, bling-adorned running machines. It turns out that beyond the perimeter of NBC primetime, there are lots and lots of Olympic events.

Did you know they have events where athletes hurl javelins and wing heavy Frisbees and push cannon balls from under their chins? Where do they dig these sports up?

I learned all of this surfing the Internet. You see I decided to start training for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo where I am told surfing will finally be an official Olympic event. I figure if I can command the couch and a laptop twelve hours a day for the next four years I may have a real shot at a medal.

It is certainly something to aspire to.

The other day, deftly surfing television channels, I came across two god-bronzed, muscular men facing off in a ring. Shapely sculpted women in revealing beach volleyball bikinis stood by. Evidently one of the contestants had already won gold because the large medal was secured prominently on his belt below his ripped and glistening abs.

It turns out I was watching a WWE wrestling spectacle. I discovered this when one of the men tag-teamed a buff comrade who bounced off the ropes sporting a full beard and a snug flannel lumberjack shirt. I thought he might be Ukrainian, but he was actually from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

It seems that in my obsession to surf all the Olympics, some interesting world class sporting events have played out well beyond the five-ring Olympic television glare of Rio.

For instance, did you know that the 2016 World Yo-Yo Contest was recently held in Cleveland?

Yes, I was surprised as you to learn that Yo-Yo is not yet an Olympic contest.

For years the sport has been dominated by the Japanese, but on the same day that the US won its first Olympic gold medal in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle event, another American was crowned World Yo-Yo Champion in the prestigious Single Hand String event.

I am guessing this is equivalent to a one-handed floor exercise with a Duncan Imperial.

I will be sure to catch the next Games, which the IYYF (International Yo-Yo Federation) has awarded to Reykjavik, Iceland.

And if you think missing Yo-Yo was an Olympic disappointment, I also discovered I missed the World Championship Dødsing (translation: near death) competition held in Norway. Dødsing is a sport borrowed from championship divers who, if they were Olympians, would score a perfect zero.

In the US, Dødsing is most akin to performing a belly flop from a 10 meter diving platform.

Not to be outdone by this year’s spate of young high school Olympians, the 2016 World Dødsing Champion title was captured a few days ago by a teenager performing a full-frontal SmackDown which earned him big points for both the size of his splash and surviving.

And what of the World Paper Airplane Championship? Fortunately for me I learned that this is an Olympiad off year for the high-flying classic sponsored by Red Bull. The PPA (Paper Plane Association) is readying the games for 2018, just in time to compete in obscurity with the Winter Olympics.

And there was also some real news that I somehow missed during my Olympic binge.

For example, I was flabbergasted to learn that dental floss will no longer be an official sponsor of the Olympic Games. Apparently as the Olympics were getting underway flossing was removed as an official event by the Dietary Guidelines of America body, which cited inconsistent and weak evidence that floss was effective in removing plaque.

I am guessing that along with the Russians, athletes from the American Dental Association have also been banned from the Olympics. I certainly haven’t seen any hygienists compete.

I was also shocked to learn this the other day: sharks from Greenland are believed to live up to 400 years, and don’t reach puberty or have sex until age 150.

To date, sharks have been banned from Olympic swimming pools for safety reasons, but in theory this would allow a 5 meter shark to appear in 80 or so Olympic Games and give Greenland a prolonged opportunity to earn its first medal at a Summer Olympics.

In sharp contrast, Michael Phelps only swam in 5 Olympics.

But he also didn’t have to wait a century to have sex.

In sports as in life: so much to win, so little time.