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Olympics Special Report: Trimming the Fat

With the Summer Olympic Games about to begin in Athens, the Daily Probe staff has been analyzing the number of sporting events contested in order to reduce the overall size of the now-bloated sporting festival. Our findings were forwarded to the International Olympic Committee for consideration.

This week we will share our comments about some of the events in the area of Track and Field, and each event will have to pass three categories to be a valid Olympic event:

1) Ancient Times -- Is it reasonable to assume a specific event was ever attempted thousands of years ago when the Greeks claim they "invented the Games"? (After inventing fire and a parchment version of the Internet, no doubt.)

2) Modern Day -- Is the event relevant today, and should people be forced to watch it in a dangerous, hot, acrid, Athens stadium? Or worse, on NBC?

3) Post-Apocalypse -- After the "end of the world," will the talent needed for the event help man exist in a land of mutant insects and killer robots?

Event: 100-Meter Dash

Ancient Times: Yes. Get away from the lion? Catch the rabbit? Get away from the horny Greek man who wants to make you his young boy squire? All good reasons to run, and run fast.

Modern Day: Yes. Get away from the police? Catch the purse thief? Plus, make a fortune being known as the "fastest man alive" or at least the "fastest purse thief alive."

Post-Apocalypse: Yes. Get away from the robot? Catch the tasty mutant insect? Assuming we aren't in a poor Kevin Costner version of the the apocalypse (return next week when we cover swimming), then running fast on land would still be useful.

Event: 200-, 400-, 800-, 5,000-, 10,000-Meter Runs

Modern Day: No. Assuming you are fast at 100 meters, 1,500 meters (about a mile in non-Euro blabber), or the marathon, who cares about all the distances in between? Is the purse thief faster than you in the 100 and also able to run a marathon? Then get to a gym, slow poke.

Event: Hurdles and Steeplechase

Ancient Times: Yes. One must assume everyone was running EVERYWHERE back then. Who has time to walk if you're lucky to live until 25? So with shopping bazaars all over town, and occasional piles of plague victims, that most likely means jumping over stuff (even steeples).

Modern Day: Yes, with the exception of the 400-meter hurdles. Again, who needs a middle brother between the 110-meter sprint and the 3,000-meter steeplechase?

Post-Apocalypse: Yes. Roads cluttered with large, inexplicable, futuristic-looking metal objects AND plague victims? You better be able to run and jump.

Event: Triple Jump

Ancient Times: No. Either you could jump across the deep chasm separating you from safety and the hungry lion behind you, or you couldn't, which is why the long jump is a legitimate event and this is not. It's doubtful there were many Wile E. Coyote-esque chasms with small points in the middle where you could skip and jump. And even if there were, wouldn't the real test be hitting those specific points with your feet? In this event you just flail through the air as far as possible in some spastic, anarchist version of hop-scotch.

Event: Pole Vault

Ancient Times: No. It is true that getting over high walls was an important part of conquering your neighboring town, but according to historical films of the period it looks like "ladder placement and ascension" was a more useful skill. Other ancient events now ignored while the poser pole vault has continued include "pouring hot oil for accuracy" and "pushing ladders off the wall."

Event: High Jump, Long Jump

Ancient Times: Yes. This is how you cross the crocodile pit or get over wall when the lion is in chase.

Modern Day: Yes. But to be true to ancient times, the high jump barrier should be a solid wall with an uncertain landing on the other side. Or, if we're now simulating the more modern skill of "prison break," the high jump pole should be electrified.

Post-Apocalypse: Yes. However, by the time of the apocalypse the sport should evolve to include a sprint after the jump, because a simple chasm or wall isn't going to stop a robot.

Event: 20- and 50-Kilomter Race-Walking

Post-Apocalypse: You've got to be kidding. No way in hell.

Event: Discus, Hammer, Shot-Put, Javelin

-- Ancient Times and Post-Apocalypse: Yes. Let's face it, throwing sharp or heavy blunt objects a long distance is useful whether you are battling the Assyrians or the triple-winged dragon-mosquito. However, a moving target should be included in the current version of these events and worth extra points.

Modern Day: Yes, but only for the javelin and hammer throw. Those two events adequately cover "sharp" and "heavy blunt" objects. Why throw a shot put when you can spin and spin and spin and spin and throw the hammer into a stunned crowd? And allowing the discus only gives breathing room to those freaks arguing to make an Olympic sport of the Frisbee.

Event: Decathlon and Heptathlon

Ancient Times: Yes. As the number of lions and Assyrians diminished, there needed to be a sporting way for women and men to choose who was the most capable to produce kin that could survive when the wolves and Spartans finally arrived.

Modern Day: Yes. As the number of virile, straight, and disease-free basketball players diminish, there needs to be a way for women and men to choose who is most capable to produce kin that can make millions even while playing out his retirement for the Miami Heat.

Post-Apocalypse: Yes. If the human race is to survive, the sperm and eggs from the winners of these events will be cloned to create a super-army. And then the process repeated when that first army turns evil.

(Reported by Mark Schmidt)

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