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As I do every four years, I’ve spent the weekend watching countries I don’t care about play games I don’t care about. It’s not as boring as it sounds, although it’s certainly, um, surreal. I mean really, really weird. I’ll try to explain with a few observations, in no particular order:
- Ping pong is a strange sport. Sorry; table tennis. And in a development which surprised no one at all, the gold medal game will be between China and Japan.
- The American corporations who buy advertising time on the American TV stations to promote their products to Americans apparently believe that there are very, very few white people in America.
- Water polo looks brutal. I wouldn’t play that sport without a life preserver, a football helmet, and SCUBA gear. Actually, I still wouldn’t play that sport. Those people are nuts.
- Simone Biles may be the best athlete I’ve ever seen.
- I’d never seen dressage before. It’s a competition in which horses sort of prance around slowly, nearly dancing, while carrying a person wearing ridiculous clothes. This is what happens when you give white people too much spare time and way too much money. The longer I watched, the more I thought that perhaps wealth taxes aren’t such a terrible idea…
- The commercials are following today’s trend of featuring average-looking people, better to identify with their target audience or something. If there is a truly beautiful woman in an ad, she will be black. And if there is somehow a truly beautiful white woman in one of these commercials, she will have a crew cut and a tattoo of a snake on her neck.
- I thought I had played badminton before. Apparently, I have not. Holy crap. It’s nearly violent. And they’re not drinking beer while playing.
- It’s my understanding that most cities that host the Olympics lose money. Not always, but usually. I wonder how the books look for Japan right now? No fans at all. Beautiful, enormous, brand-new stadiums, purpose-built for each individual sport, with 15,000 empty seats in every single one. Restaurants and hotels are empty. Zero ticket sales. Can you even imagine how much money Japan is going to lose in this deal? Oh my God.
- Since the Russian Olympic Team was found to have widespread egregious violations of drug policies over the past several Olympics, Russia was not permitted to participate in this Olympics. So the Russian athletes are participating as the “ROC”, or Russian Olympic Committee. They don’t have a Russian flag on their uniforms. That way, the athletes have not doped up steroid monsters now. Much better. I’m sure that the athletes from the other countries are glad that the Olympic Committee resolved that issue. Whew.
- I can’t imagine working my entire life to have the opportunity to compete in the Olympics and then performing in front of empty, quiet stadiums. How heartbreaking.
All that adds up to a surreal viewing experience. Watching sports I don’t know anything about, with athletes I’ve never heard of, with commercials that appear to be filmed for a foreign country, with announcers trying to build enthusiasm for games that nobody is watching in empty stadiums. It is really weird.
I usually enjoy watching the Olympics. I get all wrapped up in it, every time. But watching this, I feel sort of sad.
This is a strange world we live in, my friends.Published in