Monday, August 18, 2008
The Newest Olympians
Unless you have been residing under a rock for the last week or so, the Summer Olympics are well under way in Beijing, China. Soon enough the torch will be extinguished and the wait for the 2012 version will commence. Sadly though, the next go around will not feature the sports of softball and baseball - the players of these sports have been told that there is just not enough global interest in their tiresome, mind-numbingly tedious games to justify their continued presence on the world stage. Meanwhile, there are now a couple of open spots in need of filling in time for the next Olympics. Such a conundrum got me thinking. What could possibly be an exciting and globally relevant replacement? What could match other truly impressive athletic endeavors like trampoline jumping, synchronized banner twirling (probably called something else), ballroom dancing, or power-walking. In my mind there is only one choice (granted there are two open slots, but we will make the other one your goddamn problem) to be elevated to the Olympian heights - and that, of course, is beer pong.
Question my logic if you will, but I shall now bring an assortment of overwhelming evidence to the table that will leave you awestruck and doubting your sanity rather than mine for at least this single instance. First of all, beer pong has been catching on all over the country, as a recent two page article in "Time" magazine indicates. A preeminent periodical would not fill important space with such a frivolous topic without good reason. Just check out these recent covers if you doubt Time's commitment to serious journalism: 1) Lebron 2) Bode 3)Spielberg. Well, at least they take the Olympics and movies seriously.
Beer pong is not just an American phenomenon either. The movie "Beerfest" illustrates the international appeal of drinking related contests. In this cinematic masterpiece a group of Americans stumble into a secret tournament held by a great German brewing family. Our heroes come close, but are unable to defeat their hosts and vow to return the next year to redeem themselves. Although I shall not reveal the ending to those few sad saps who have failed to view the film, the athletic pursuits contained within its reels are unequaled (well maybe with the exception of "Kingpin"). The movie was an overwhelming success in theaters and on DVD because the games showed within are practiced by millions of young bingers around the world. I could see myself in many of the characters as they struggle to chug down the last of the boots filled with beer. The market for beer pong in the Olympics is clearly out there. In fact, a variety of new competitions could be derived from drinking pursuits. Perhaps a decathlon for alcoholics could be created. Total crap like synchronized swimming, or perhaps gymnastics could easily be replaced to make room for these much more worthy athletes.
Why is beer pong an endeavor worthy of Olympic glory? Read the rules here if you need to know a little more about the sport first. Okay, now that you have caught up with the rest of the world, you've probably already left to get involved in a game. If not, let's examine the arguments for including beer pong during London 2012. First off, throwing a small ball at several targets only a few feet away may seem to be a fairly simple task. I am sure that for those at the top level of competition, such a toss is not terribly difficult. I propose, therefore, that the contest should be of such length that the amount of beer consumed (even by teams doing well) should significantly curtail the abilities of the competitors. A best-of-25 format would probably suffice to stagger even the highest tolerances. Try shooting with vision so blurry that the five cups appear to have become twenty cups and your arm feels like jello (not the shitty kind with bananas in it) - now that is a worthy challenge. The saliva from your teammate's slurry attempt at instructions dripping from your eyeballs also helps to obscure the target further. Multiple days of competition could add difficulties brought on by massive hangovers and the crusty, bloodshot eyes of the terminal drunk. Some contestants might have to overcome the raunchy odor of their own puke-stained uniform to compete, not to mention the spiders and snakes crawling across their body as they arrive in the terminal stage of delirium tremens. If such imagery does not remind you of the Greek Gods, I don't know what could.
Before our country can hope to take home the gold medal in beer pong, a dream team of sorts would have to be put together. What kind of motley crew could be counted on to do the nation proud? I believe a competition that begins at the grass roots would be the best possible approach. Starting at the local level will allow us to unearth any hidden nuggets of beer pong greatness. For example, Upstate restaurants and universities could put their own teams together and show off their talents in a regional contest. Although most observers would favor a restaurant team or perhaps a group from Clemson, the Bob Jones Fighting Baptists would probably battle North Greenville College for the title. Severely repressed people are just better alcoholics - its a proven fact. The winners would move on to statewide, Southern Regional, and finally national tournaments. Everyone who has raised a glass of beer would have a chance to pursue their own Olympic dream. What is more American than that?