Win or Luge

February 17, 2006

The other night watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics I heard a commentator say that many smaller or poor countries send athletes have no hope of winning, which would have been an incredibly condescending and inconsiderate remark if it hadn’t come out of the mouth of a sports commentator. And maybe he’s right. I think any country that really wanted to, no matter how small, poor, or close to the Equator, could produce a gold medalist in at least one winter sport. Most just have other priorities. For them it’s not about winning or losing, but about a small bit of exposure for national pride, about saying they participated. It got me wondering about the countries who haven’t sent at least one athlete, small countries who could at least try out for something easy like, say, the luge.

Now before I get a lot of angry e-mails from lugers, lugists, lugerists, or lugeophiles, I’m sure it’s a tough sport and I’m not just saying that because I don’t want angry lugists turning into pugilists and coming after me. I’m just suggesting the luge because it doesn’t seem like it would take a lot of skill to lie flat on a couple of razor blades and slide down an icy tube at eighty miles an hour. Little things like steering and, more importantly, stopping or at least slowing down must take skill, practice, and intensive training. All I’m saying is that luge, like a lot of things, is probably easy to do but hard to do well. Then again I used to think the same thing about skiing until I tried it and found the only thing I could do on skis was slide down the kiddie slope on my stomach–and I couldn’t even do that well. But I digress. So how about it, smaller countries? Kiribati, New Caledonia, Kiribati, and Yap, I’m looking at you–and giving myself eyestrain because you’re all really hard to find on a map. Aren’t you tired of being nothing more than backdrops for cheap reality shows and exporters of copra? And while I’m on the subject, what exactly is copra? Is it something you build with or some kind of animal feed? We could find out if you came to the Olympics. And instead of blathering about countries that have no hope of winning sports commentators could say, "Hey, this is some really tasty copra." Maybe if you rub copra on the blades of a luge it makes it go faster. Think about it. It would really put the "equate" in Equator.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don’t know what to feed it.

I had amnesia once — or twice.

Protons have mass? I didn’t even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.

What is a "free" gift? Aren’t all gifts free?

They told me I was gullible…and I believed them.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he’ll never be able to merge his car onto a freeway.

Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.

One nice thing about egotists: they don’t talk about other people.

A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.

I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.

If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I’ll show you a man who can’t get his pants off.

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