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February 19th, 2014

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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


I won’t dwell on the problems with getting the Sochi Winter Olympics ready in Russia, mostly because I dwelled on those last week. Instead, let’s look at some past Olympic sports that are no longer in the games.


Most recently, baseball and softball were pulled from competition. The American women dominated in softball, while in baseball Americans … well, they only got three medals in five tries. The Cuban team grabbed the gold. There’s not much else to do in Cuba, except play baseball and stare longingly toward Florida, where senior citizens have high speed internet and all-you-can-eat buffets.


Lacrosse was a medal event—in 1904 and 1908. It involves people in facemasks hitting their balls with big fly swatters. It died out in the early 1900’s because only the Canadians, British, and Americans were willing to take the punishment; former lacrosse players are now employed as dog catchers and butterfly collectors.


Basque pelota was only a medal event in 1900, because nobody could figure out how to pronounce it. It’s played on a court with a ball, sometimes using a racket, but sometimes not.


In other words, it’s handball. If they’d called it that, basque pelota-ites would be on Wheaties boxes.

Tandem cycling was popular in the Olympics from 1920-72. It’s being considered again with new, more interesting rules: The guy in front steers, while the guy in back can lash out at other competitors with lacrosse sticks. It’s now a favorite of retired hockey players.Collapse )

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