How to Improve the Summer Olympics
"Those Harry Potter fanatics actually want a made-up game to become an Olympic sport!"
"Ah, yes, you speak of Quidditch, a fictional sport invented by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. It requires a broomstick between one's legs at all times. According to Time, fans have established real Quidditch leagues."
"Well, Quidditch may as well become an Olympic sport. There already are lots of nutty ones."
"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes on which sports to include or drop. This Summer Olympics feature 26 sports with 39 associated disciplines. Some may not be as popular in America as in other parts of the world, but you don't want to be jingoistic, do you?"
"Look, how can the IOC drop croquet, a sport designed for rich people who can afford mallets, but keep badminton, a sport best played at summer picnics?"
"Badminton was invented by the British in the 18th century. It's played all over the world and requires a mix of cunning and athletic skill."
"If they want picnic sports, why not horseshoes? You spill a lot less beer playing horseshoes. And how did pingpong become an Olympic sport?"
"I believe you mean table tennis, an intense sport that requires incredible reflexes, power and quickness."
"No, I mean pingpong, a parlor game invented in the 1800s by rich British people with too much free time on their hands. The IOC ought to ditch that one for a game Americans could win with ease: beer pong!"
"Well, what about soccer, the most-watched sport in the world?"
"Maybe the rest of the world watches it, but fewer than 10 percent of Americans do. What's with the skinny players falling down, writhing in pain, every time someone bumps them? Our football players play with broken bones and joints and never complain."
"Boy, you are tough. I admit I was sad to see baseball and golf dropped from the Summer Olympics. But the IOC can include only so many sports."
"Such as field hockey! I so enjoy watching players with dinky wooden sticks chase a hard ball on turf. I think it was invented for people who accidentally left their ice skates at home. But at least it's less nutty than the modern pentathlon."
The modern pentathlon is unusual, combining pistol shooting, fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping on a horse and cross-country running. It originates from Greece, where it was intended to showcase the skills of an ideal soldier."
"They ought to modernize it to reflect the skills of an ideal soldier today. Have them jump out of helicopters, raid heavily guarded compounds and capture terrorist leaders while getting shot at."
"I hear your complaints, but you have to admit there are a lot of wonderful traditional contests in the Summer Olympics: boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, diving, fencing, tennis, track and field, gymnastics, triathlon and more."
"Fair enough, but what the heck is rhythmic gymnastics? People jumping around with hoops, batons and pieces of fabric? It may be beautiful, but it looks more like a Vegas show. And synchronized swimming would be more entertaining if somebody tossed electric eels into the pool!"
"Despite your misgivings, millions around the world will enjoy the Summer Olympics."
"They'd be enjoyed by more if the IOC brought back tug of war. Put free-market capitalists on one side, big-government socialists on the other. I'd pay good money to see that."
Tom Purcell is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.