As the male Olympic gymnasts ascended the pommel horse this week. I cringed and thought about where to go in my house and hide from the TV. I knew they were going to fall. Blame NBC analyst Tim Daggott. He was terrifying me about how easy it is to fall off the horse, lose a dream at a gold medal in a nanosecond. Sure enough, an American fell off within seconds. "That's catastrophic," he said. The American men's team was out of the medal hunt right then and there. Man, this sounded awfully serious to me. But a catastrophe? This is a sporting event, not a hurricane.
Then the female gymnasts started the balance beam portion of their program. "Oh no, anything but the balance beam," I said to myself. "They always fall off the balance beam." I'm so glad I only get to watch these train wrecks every four years. Cardiac arrest on a regular basis is tough on the body.
When the beamer began I had to go upstairs, leave the TV until the program passed. Watching the women try to stay balanced on a sliver of wood the width, it seemed, of a grade school ruler, while back flipping no handed and landing on their feet, was too much for my psyche. End the balance beam event now, I thought. Show me more diving if you have to. The gymnasts always fall, or almost always fall and, even if they don't, Tim Daggott makes you feel sure they are about to. He knows how to keep you watching by saying things that alarm you one after another after another.
Some diabolical mind invented the balance beam and pommel horse. Probably Daggott.
Overcome with anxiety, I found it even worse to see the shots of the gymnasts' parents losing their marbles, flying back in their chairs, watching their children perform in the biggest events of their young lives on the most behemoth stage. "How does it feel for them"? NBC play by play announcer Al Trautwig asked Daggott.
"Horrifying," he said. "That's how it feels-horrifying."
So we have catastrophies and horrifying scenes at the gymnastic venue. Nice relaxing evening in front of the TV.
As if this wasn't enough of Theatre of the Bizarre, did you check out the Olympic Badminton scandal? Yes I said badminton. In case you didn't know it is an Olympic sport.
Teams from various countries were purposely trying to lose games to better position themselves for the playoffs. Hardly in sync with the Olympic motto: higher, faster, stronger. On the contrary, the badminton scoundrels were guilty of softer, lower, and weaker. Cheating in reverse.
Cheating the normal way was a 16-year-old Chinese Olympic swimmer. In a freestyle race she swam a faster split than Ryan Lochte, the world's best male swimmer. Um, no way, babe.
This isn't sexist but just empirical fact: No woman of any age swims faster than the world's fastest male swimmer. Dope, antihistamines, amphetamines, Nyquil, Tough Actin Tinactin--you're doing something horrifyingly catastrophic.