Cheers Chats #8: Bar Wars

Welcome back to Cheers Chats! It’s now been a full year since we fell in love with the Cheers pilot and realized that we’d need to turn this into something more long-term. We’ve made it through six seasons of adoration (usually) for Sam Malone Dream Man, bemusement at Diane, and love for our best boo, Carla. But things sure have changed since Season 5, so let’s look at what’s happening at our favorite Boston dive bar, c. 1988:

Episode 6.23: Bar Wars

Originally aired: March 31st, 1988

Previously on Cheers

We’ve fast forwarded through an entire season again, including Sam and Diane getting engaged (because Diane basically sued Sam and forced him to marry her) in season five. And then almost getting married. Literally about to say their I Dos when they don’t. Diane’s ex-fiance Sumner shows up again and tells her he gave her manuscript to a publisher and now she has the opportunity to really pursue her writing “career”. Sam insists she should follow her dreams and lets her go so she can focus on her book. IRL, Shelley Long wanted to focus on her movie “career” and also motherhood.

Sam decided to take a sabbatical of his own and sells Cheers and goes off on a boat trip. Months later, he returns to find Cheers has gone all corporate and the person running the place is Rebecca Howe, played by Kirstie Alley. And just like Woody replaced Coach, we see Rebecca replace Diane as the object of all of Sam’s advances. BTW, Sam gets a job as a bartender again.

Elsewhere, Carla gets engaged to professional hockey player Eddie LeBec, Frasier gets engaged to Lilith, Norm fluctuates between jobs, Cliff continues to strike out with the ladies, and Woody is still a small-town simpleton at heart.

Netflix synopsis

The gang celebrates their second anniversary of beating Gary’s Olde Town Tavern in bowling, but Gary reignites their war by stealing the trophy.

What Had Happened Was

The gang has had a bowling rivalry with Gary’s Old Town Tavern and their record is 173 to 1.  Whilst celebrating the anniversary of their first (and only) win, someone steals the trophy and breaks it in half. Now Cheers wants to get revenge.

Sam and Carla show up to Gary’s and it’s already jarring because as I think I mentioned earlier in the Cheers Chats series, most of these are bottle episodes aka they take place within the confine of Cheers, and nowhere else. Anytime we’re brought out of that setting, it feels odd to me. They’ve been doing it more over the past couple of seasons, but it’s still weird.

Not to mention, since the show focuses on the characters’ lives AT CHEERS, it’s always weird how they have to bring up a plot point that’s been “happening all along” (like having a bowling team) but that somehow hasn’t come up.

Sam and Carla obviously are there to get back at them, and pretend they’re giving a peace offering with champagne but it turns out they hand out trick glasses and everyone spills it down their shirts. This is not a good prank.

“You know what gets me about this, Malone? It’s how weenie this stunt was. This is the best you could come up with? I am embarrassed, all right. Not for me, but for you.” Gary, speaking the truth.

Al: Pretty weenie.

Sam: Now I’m humiliated.

Two “pest control” workers show up to Cheers saying someone reported rats and obviously it’s payback from Gary. Come on. You should always be on the lookout if you’re dealing with pranksters. It’s like if you’re working with George Clooney (as you do) don’t be surprised if he lists your real phone number on a billboard on Sunset. EVERYONE IS SUSPICIOUS (Until a real customer is a real customer and not a prank).

Like the guy who just came and left the bar after explaining his wife is at the hospital and just had a double by-pass.

More people than could have possibly been at Cheers flee the bar wearing tweed suits because of rats. It never really struck me as the sort of joint where the clientele was terrified of rodents?

“Wait till he finds the prune juice in his Kahlua.” “Yeah, what about the sneezing powder in the ventilation system, huh?” “Yeah, Gary’s messed around with the wrong guys.” Ugh you barflies are idiots.

What next, a fake ice cube with a plastic fly in their drinks? A handshake buzzer? These pranks are elementary at best.

Gary shows up and calls another truce, this time with Rebecca. He asks her out for coffee. Just say no.

Sam calls Gary a rat. More tweed people exit.

Rebecca’s office is now full of sheep.


Carla goes undercover and rigs the big screen at Gary’s, where a bunch of folks are gathered to watch some big boxing match. Instead, a video of Cliff and Norm reading poetry shows up and for some reason it reminds me of Christopher Walken’s The Continental sketch on SNL (brilliant behind-the-scenes footage of this!)

Remember that episode of Saved by the Bell featuring the annual prank war between Bayside and Valley? Yeah, that was better than this. 

The “largest big-screen tv in the greater Boston metropolitan area” that they’re watching the fight (/poetry) on is literally smaller than the TV in my living room. The future is now.

Gary says he’s sending over Red Sox player Wade Boggs and the Cheers crew doesn’t believe him. They ran Wade down and pants him. It was the real Wade Boggs. They all feel humiliated. Except now they have Wade Boggs’ pants. They are ok to settle with this.

Carla’s My Boo

Cold open: “Eddie’s never going to cheat!” cue Carla saying they’re seeing Fatal Attraction. I fear their marriage won’t end well.

“I told you we should have fixed his brakes.” Carla ‘DGAF’ Tortelli, re: a failed prank

I know we usually address this in our fashion section – and we will – but the late 80s are here and Carla has the outfits to prove it. Her sassy jacket looks like something a comedian would wear in their instagram as a joke, or a fashion blogger would wear in their instagram as a plea for attention.

Little Ditty ‘Bout Sam and Becky

Diane’s Gone Now But We Committed To This Mellencamp Thing

Rebecca: I’m gonna get him. I’m going to rip his head off.

Sam: Aw, but he’s so cute.

Rebecca: And then I’m going to tie him up, and I’m going to take a lighter, and I’m going to torch him from the tip of his toes to the top of his head.

Sam: How come you never do stuff like that to me?

Becky with the Good Hair

Rebecca’s hair is at max 1988 with all this crimped hair

“There is one thing you can beat Gary’s Olde Town Tavern at – maturity.” Everyone starts making farting noises and sticking on their tongues and Cliff even scratches at his armpits like a monkey. Honestly I am more Rebecca than anyone in this bar how does she put up with this?

Woody the Simpleton

Sam tells Norm he shouldn’t go beat up Gary, says he’d rather take Woody instead – Woody in his acid wash jeans can barely jump over bar. It’s pathetic.

“Hey I thought it smelled like home” SIMPLETON/COACH

LLOL

The moments that made us literally laugh out loud

Carla: Yeah, I’d like to do something to Gary and make him really miserable.

Norm: Why don’t you marry him?

Sam: Cute?! You think Gary’s cute?

Rebecca: Yeah, he’s got a real cool face and a nice body. He looks kind of like an athlete.

Sam: Hey, what am I?

Woody: Jealous.

Say It Again, Sam

(Memorable lines from the episode. Not exclusively from Sam Malone.)

“Two years ago tonight, we waxed your heiny in bowling!” Sam on beating Gary + co. in bowling last year

“Hey Al! Why aren’t you at Cheers?” Carla

“Holy mackerel! This isn’t Cheers?” Old guy Al (previously convinced Woody’s dad to make him stay in Boston :08

“Oh, so you’re the manager. Finally something in this place worth looking at.” Gary meeting Rebecca. MEN. UGH.

“Why don’t we sleep in tomorrow and have eggs benedict?” Not actually funny, but this sounds like a very 1988 thing to do, doesn’t it?

Cheers Queries

Why has the transition music turned more rock? Because it’s 1988? -T (Note: before I saw Traci wrote this, I was scrolling to this section to ask what TF happened to the background music. It sounds like it’s from an off-brand 80s cartoon about a mouse trying to make it in New York City. -M)

About 80% of the patrons at Gary’s are men. And there are two female waitresses. What is this place? -T (THE WRITER’S ROOM OF CHEERS, BASICALLY. -M)

Did Cheers always use words like “weenie” or “heinie” like the baddest boy in Sr. Mary Alma’s 5th grade class in 1962? -M

Barfly Fashion

Cold open: Carla’s leopard shirt, panda bear jacket & bow WOW


Rebecca’s oversized rose jacket is what I think all businesswomen in the 1980s looked like.


WHAT IS HAPPENING TO CARLA



Rebecca’s honeycomb jacket


Woody’s suspenders are v simpleton and also, he’s grown his hair out a bit. It’s not very nice.


Not pictured: Carla’s undercover outfit includes black ski mask.


Gary’s popped collar(s).  I get why they want to prank him.


Sam’s ENORMOUS POCKETS on his shirt. Each could fit a full mini-ipad or a few kittens old enough to be separated from their mother.


Final Thoughts

The rest of this series is going to be struggle bus. – T

I’d quit now if we hadn’t committed to this. -M

Next Up: We are basing our watch list off of AV Club’s 10 Episodes That Show How Cheers Stayed Great For 11 Seasons. We’re going chronologically, so stop by next month when we’ll discuss season seven, episode seven, How To Win Friends And Electrocute People.

The Great British Bake Off Is Pure In Heart

Did you watch the premiere of a new season of The Great British Bake Off last night? If so, I’m horribly jealous … or I would be if jealousy didn’t run contrary to the spirit of The Great British Bake Off, a show that is at its core pleasant, gentle, soothing and entirely pure in heart.

Bake Off employs calming narration, a delicate pastel color scheme, a reliable format and real-life fairy godmother Mary Berry. It is basically like watching Mr. Rogers or Shining Time Station, but for adults. It cuts through the ugliness of reality competitions and resists cheap “extreme” challenges or manufactured rivalries. While we await the U.S. airing of series 7, let’s look at all the ways the Bake Off is the most pure and kind reality competition on television today:

Mary Berry Is Mary Poppins’ Granddaughter

In my head, Mary Berry was named after her beloved granny, Mary Poppins – because how else do you explain their shared delightful temperament, coupled with a firm instance on perfection (or practically-perfection)? Mary never met a sneaky innuendo she didn’t like, but she’s also excellent at playing the well-bred grandmother who doesn’t know what you’re all snickering at. Plus she’s a style icon to boot, always sporting a smart scarf or a well-tailored floral blazer or that one bomber jacket that sold out in a day. If you worry that getting older will make you dowdy or dull or stuck in the past, just look to Mary (age 81!) and rest assured that such a fate isn’t inevitable. And is it just me, or do her eyes actually twinkle sometimes?

Sue Perkins Is A British Rachel Maddow

I mean. Sue Perkins is her own person. But she has a quick and dry wit that’s very Rachel Maddow-without-the-politics. Or maybe the funniest NPR presenter? Just tell me that Sue Perkins doesn’t own a library tote. I’ll wait. She’s also always quick with a dad joke, which is objectively speaking the most pure-in-heart category of humor. Sue is a comedian, not a baker, so she’s really just around for the laughs – although she did make an earlier foray into food television with The Supersizers, a great program where modern people consume the typical diet of historical periods. It is funnier than it sounds.

Everyone Is Helpful

Remember that show Zoom? Whenever the kids were doing a craft or a race, all the other kids gathered around saying encouraging things. That’s basically how Great British Bake-Off Is. Contestants who are done with their bake lend a hand to fellow competitors, tell people they’re doing well, or just calm down the other bakers during their more ruffled moments. The judges and hosts offer practical advice instead of watching the contestants muddle their way into disaster. If you want to watch people be nice to each other for an hour, you’ve found the right show.

Anybody Can Bake!

Whether you’re a senior citizen or a school-aged kid, you could watch and enjoy GBBO. The field of competitors isn’t age-segregated either, and there have been bakers as young as 17 (sweet, pleasant Martha) and as old as 69. Obviously reality shows have to cast based on both talent and personality, but it’s so refreshing to see a show that doesn’t rely too heavily on the young and conventionally attractive (no worries: if you like conventionally attractive people, there are plenty). Contestants have ranged from posh, Aga-owning teen Flora to the more working class builder/dad Paul, proving that baking – and talent –  cut across all classes.

Given the events of this year, it’s also been great to see that a number of the top competitors haven’t been of British descent. It’s important for viewers to see bakers of all different backgrounds concoct some of the more traditionally British challenges – and make them better by drawing from their own influences. Where scripted television still has trouble writing roles for Muslim women that aren’t either boring and obedient at best or extremist at worst, through a reality show audiences got to meet Nadiya, full of personality and ambition. When even central and eastern European immigrants face discrimination and stereotyping, Bake Off presented us with Ugne, a shoe-loving female body builder. In a year of Brexit and Donald Trump, this is the kind of content I want on my television.

The Best Of Reality Competitions

While I’d rather focus on what Bake Off is instead of what it isn’t, we have to discuss what reality competitions can be at their worst. We’re talking about those cheap tactics that producers think are going to keep viewers tuned in – but which I’d argue are completely unnecessary (and I think the 10 million viewers tuning into the series 7 premiere last night would agree with me). Drawn-out personality clashes between competitors or judges have no place here. Neither do unnecessarily extreme challenges that you see on some other cooking competitions; why include that if these challenges are hard enough? Even the participants’ interviews are free of that reality tv posturing about being the best. Or is that just an American thing, maybe?

Instead, GBBO shows what reality tv competitions can be at their best. You have talented contestants trying their hardest, interesting challenges that actually teach us about history or travel (remember that Victorians episode?), and suspense generated naturally instead of artificial, hyped-up gimmicks.

GBBO Exists Outside Of Time

As if this show didn’t already remind me of a mature version of the public television shows of my childhood, it also seems to exist entirely outside of time. I mean, I never know when any series of The Great British Bake Off originally aired, thanks to the wonders of PBS’s screwy scheduling. It’s all clearly from at some point in the 2010s, but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. Series 5 (UK) was Season 1 (US), and then Series 4 (UK) was Season 2 (US), and Series 6 (UK) was Season 3 (US). Don’t even try to remember which season aired first. It’s exactly like tuning into your local PBS affiliate c. 1993 and never knowing which cast of Ghostwriter you were going to get.


From Mary Berry to the tranquil pastel baking tents to the cheerful competitors, the Great British Bake Off is everything reality shows can be. If you get to watch a new series right now, enjoy! I’ll be here with my weirdly ordered PBS repeats in the meantime – not because I don’t want to jump ahead, but because watching with a torrent is NOT very pure-in-heart. Besides, I think Mary Berry would be disappointed in me, and we can’t have that.

 

 

Goodbye, Rio: Olympics GIF Wrap Up

The 31st Olympiad has come to a close and it lived up to everything the Games are supposed to be. It was inspiring, heart-wrenching and downright bizarre. We quite literally laughed, cried, and learned about life every single day of the Games. In two weeks we saw children perform almost superhuman athletic feats – and we saw a few adults old enough to be their parents do the same. We marveled at the way a talented competitor can affect society beyond the bounds of mere sport. We saw international friendships form and international scandals break. Zac Efron was there. Leslie Jones was there. As always, the Olympics were a display of athleticism, drive and international cooperation that simply defied words. But where words fail us, gifs do not. Let’s look back at the Rio Games with the clips, quips and reaction shots that will come to define your tumblr dash in the weeks to come:

The pride of Brazil, Gisele Bunchen, showed off her walking skills at the opening ceremony. And then she danced with the commoners in a gold, sequined jumpsuit, because that’s what they do in Brazil

First of all, these people on bikes leading each of the countries in. It’s next level Ms. Frizzle. Second, this is the most recognizable flag bearer in the world – Oiled Up Dude From Tonga. He became so popular that he even made a second appearance in the closing ceremony by dancing on stage.

For the first time, a team comprised of refugees from around the world competed in the Games, and what you can’t see in this gif is us letting out the first of many tears shed throughout the Olympics.

Best cauldron ever?

#Teammates

tfw when you lift a shit ton of weight & manage to not smash it on your head

Argentina’s Juan Martín del Potro unexpectedly gave Britain’s Andy Murray a run for the gold, but the four hour match ended in favor of the Brit, leaving underdog del Potro in tears. It was heartbreaking.

Super underdog Monica Puig, who ranked 34th in the world, managed to win gold in women’s tennis – and the first gold for Puerto Rico. Add a notch to the cry count.

As soon as we work through the language barrier, our girl Fu is gonna be our next best friend.

Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win a gold medal in an individual swimming competition in the history of the Olympics and this moment when she found out she won the 100m freestyle will forever go down in my favorite Olympics moments ever. She was an underdog and came from behind, but more importantly, she now stands as a hero to all black swimmers, in a sport which was rooted in racism in the U.S.

Katie Ledecky slayed so hard, her closest competition barely fit in the same shot.

This is going to be one of those memes that will resurface again in a wave of nostalgia in about two and a half years.

Well.

Oblig Michael Phelps Section

It’s no leaking goggles disaster of ’08, but it’s still pretty stressful. In the middle of the 4×200 relay, Phelps’ cap breaks into two, forcing him to borrow teammate Connor Dwyer’s cap (he went first in the relay). What’s most fascinating to me is that when it broke, you could tell he said, ‘DANG IT!”. I can think of at least 5 other curse words I’d say in succession if that ever happened to me.

#Phlochte

You’ve seen this already. See it again.

And this is why Michael Phelps leaves the trash talking out and does work inside the pool. Suck it Le Clos.

*Look at where you are. Look at where you started.*

These three rivals may have tied for silver (after being edged out by a young whippersnapper) but they win the gold in the most awkward hand holding medal ceremony ever. Seriously, the history between these three is epic. Look it up.

Ryan Held. Sweet cinnamon roll. Enjoy it bud.

GOD BLESS THIS CAMERA MAN.

For some reason err’body was proposing to their loved ones at this Olympics, including this Olympics volunteer who proposed to her Brazilian rugby player girlfriend after the first-ever rugby game was played at the Olympics. If you can’t tell, she tied a ribbon around her finger, so that’s officially my fave proposal of the Games.

This Chinese diver also got in the action by proposing to his GF after she won a diving medal of her own. This is the most reserved ‘Yes’ I’ve ever seen in my life.

Japan’s Risako Kawai won the gold medal in wrestling and if you thought she was tired after winning – she wasn’t. She flipped her coach in celebration. Watch the vid to see what she did next.

Any time I see athletes from North Korea doing not so well in the Olympics I get nervous for them and their return home. But in this moment, I felt nothing but pride an unity as two gymnasts from North and South Korea stopped to take a selfie during competition. This is what the Olympics is all about, folks.

Oblig Final Five Section

New patron saint of this blog: Laurie Hernandez

Also our new mantra we’re telling ourselves in the mirror each morning.

Lynn & Rick Raisman, never change.

CRY COUNT: WHO KNOWS ANYMORE.

It’s almost as if we CGIed this.

MAYBE MY FAVORITE THING TO COME OUT OF THESE OLYMPICS.

After the gymnastics competition is over, they have a gala, which is basically an exhibition of gymnasts who won medals, but also showcased possible events like synchronized trampoline and Tokyo 2020 sport, karate. The gala is known to be way more casual – enter American Danell Leyva, who won silver on the parallel bars. He decided to go all Magic Mike on the crowd and did this. Where my Brazilian Reals at to make it rain on him???

Ok, not a GIF, but if you’ve ever wondered how the field athletes get their various items back (discus, shotputs, javelins, etc.), a remote control car is used to zoom across the field. It is wild.

No, this Japanese pole vaulter’s junk was not the reason he couldn’t clear the bar.

Allyson Felix lost out on the gold by a mere dive across the finish line.

JK this might be my favorite story from the Olympics. When an American track runner falls and a New Zealand competitor stops to help her up. And they cross the finish line together. They even got a rare medal of sportsmanship from officials, so there’s another cry count for the books.

Fierce women sweep their way up to the podium.

Oblig Usain Bolt Section

Friendship goals

And then a Malaysian diver did this. Oops.

Brazil had the most epic win at the Olympics, and even though I care not for soccer, this brought me to tears multiple times.

Gold medal for most supportive American athletes : superstars of the basketball team. They were spotted in the stands to cheer on Michael Phelps and Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, among others, and always looked so incredibly hype and proud of their fellow athletes.

The U.S. Men’s basketball team scored yet another gold medal, and this is why I need to be friends (slash date) every single one of them. Deandre Jordan, I’m looking at you.

the time when the prime minister of japan lit’rally popped up from a mario tube to help introduce Tokyo 2020. We are ready for Japan.

and of course, this guy.

 

Point/Counterpoint: I’m Attracted to Ryan Lochte

This is Ryan Lochte:

This is also Ryan Lochte:

But if you’ve been paying attention to Olympic swimming since 2008 or watch reality TV or have paid any attention to the news over the past few days, you already know who this is. Ryan’s been embroiled in a bizarre case of “Who’s Telling The Truth”, after he and three other members of the U.S. Olympic swimming team (Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger) stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom after a night out. One of them “committed an act of vandalism” and as a result, they got into an argument with two armed gas station security staff who brandished their weapons. They demanded the swimmers to give them money for the repairs of said vandalism, and once they gave them money, they were allowed to leave. In Lochte’s version, says they got held up at gunpoint by men pretending to be Brazilian police. All this in Rio, a city that was already plagued with rumors of its criminal activity.

It’s truly one of the most outrageous stories to ever come out of the Olympics, but in a nutshell, this is what’s happened so far after Ryan came forward with his story:

  • Each of the four guys gave their testaments to Rio police, but a Brazilian judge says they gave contradictory reports.
  • That same judge ordered Lochte and Feigen to remain in Brazil as authorities continued their investigation. She also ordered a search and seizure warrants for Lochte and Feigen’s passports, but Lochte had already landed on U.S. soil. Feigen is still in Brazil and in touch with local authorities.
  • Lochte’s lawyer said he already gave a statement to the police and offered to cooperate, while reps from the U.S. State Department, United States Olympic Committee and the FBI looked on. Shit got real. At the time, they didn’t ask him for more info, and didn’t ask him to stay in Brazil.
  • Meanwhile, Bentz and Conger were pulled off their flight in Brazil on Wednesday night & were interviewed by police. Police told media they gave statements denying they were victims of a robbery, and Lochte’s version of the events were not true. They were released and free to go back to the U.S.
  • Security footage surfaced showing the men at the gas station
  • Both Brazilians and the U.S. swimmers all agree on one thing: a gun was taken out during the incident at the gas station, and money was exchanged.
  • While they could face criminal charges, it’s unlikely.

What. Is. Going. On? Who’s telling the truth? Are Lochte and co. victims of attempted robbery, with Rio police trying to save face? Or are the U.S. swimmers swimming in B.S.? As the investigation on #LochteGate continues, another mystery has come to our attention – the fact that maybe, just maybe, we might be semi-attracted to Ryan Lochte? Using evidence gathered throughout the years, we argue the pros and cons, point and counterpoint of why this man could be our favorite male sex symbol at the moment.

Point: I am attracted to Ryan Lochte

Sometimes I think I really missed out on picking up swimming as an extra-curricular.

Counterpoint: I am unattracted to Ryan Lochte

No. No to the grills.

Point: This is Ryan Lochte

Counterpoint: Ryan Lochte caused a diplomatic crisis

Is Sarah Koenig already recording phone calls with Jack Conger in Brazil, or…?

Point: His relationship with Michael Phelps

We just like it when cute boys hold hands, okay? All right, this might be like 70% Phelps that we’re feeling.

Counterpoint: His relationship with his mom.

In 2012, Ryan Lochte’s mom bragged about how many one-night stands he had. There’s also a theory that Ryan’s current snafu (/diplomatic crisis/ waste of government resources) is due to him lying to his ma about what went down during his wild night out. I think we can all agree that those guys whose moms back up their terrible choices well into adulthood are not the ones you should spend your time on.

Point: This smile.

Counterpoint: That hair.

The smile was an accident of birth. The hair was a choice.

Point: Kind of funny, sometimes.

Counterpoint: But like. Not on purpose.

Point: Knows the words to the national anthem?

Counterpoint: Spelled the word scissor “siccor.”

Point: Knowing he could be the man of your dreams

Counterpoint: Knowing he understands (kinda) what dreams are

Point: He has a boylike charm to him

It can be endearing!

Counterpoint: He has a teenage boylike demeanor to him

Ryan Lochte is like that guy in high school that was uber athlete and would want to cheat off your test so he could play in the game/meet that night and is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Point: He’s an inspiration to young swimmers

In the photo above, Ryan is legit putting the gold medal he won at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in 2012 around the neck of a nine-year-old Turkish fan. Lochte explained that when he was younger, he asked an unnamed Olympian for his autograph, but he said no. Lochte promised to never do that in his career.

Counterpoint: His inspirational quotes aren’t that… inspirational?

I continue to get life from this video.

Point: He’s one of the best swimmers of our time

If you’re one of Michael Phelps’ biggest rivals, you’re pretty good.

Counterpoint: Jeah

Unimpressive Olympic Sports of Yore

Every two years, I always watch in awe of the Olympians who are the greatest athletes in their respective sports. “How do you throw a javelin stick that far?” “How do you run so fast so far in less than 10 seconds?” “How are you doing a proper push-up on a v high bar?” “How are you swimming a marathon in the sea with jellyfish?” These are just a few questions I ask myself when tuning in to these Games. Of course the skill level of any Olympian is impressive, but the athletes of the first Olympiad are amateurs compared to those in 2016. This improvement is so drastic in some sports that it seems ridiculous to even call it an Olympic sport. For example: Men’s vault in 1932 (see video here).

Homeboy just leaped over the vault while the South Korean dude did a bunch of flip-a-doos (technical term, don’t worry about it), and I guarantee you the crowds at both Olympics had their jaws dropped. Here are a few more sports from back in the day that aren’t as impressive as they are now. Also, I’m convinced we can do half of these if we tried really hard.

 

Tug of War

Tug of War is obviously not a sport anymore, and maybe it’s because it doesn’t require a lot of technical skill? Yes, you need extreme strength, but if it’s a sport kids play in elementary school when the gym teacher doesn’t really want to put too much effort in, it shouldn’t be a real sport.

Women’s Team Gymnastics

The sport of gymnastics has come far from the 1900s. Back then, large groups of gymnasts represented each country and took to the center of an outdoor field to do… gymnastics? Or rather really graceful dance/tai chi movements. Meanwhile, the men performed on actual apparatus like vault and parallel bars. See: The Margaret Abbott Awards.

Water Motorsports

Literal motorboating was only a sport at the 1908 Olympics, and it was discontinued for good reason – officials decided they were not ready for motorized competition. The race was comprised of five laps around an eight nautical mile course. Unlike a water sport like kayaking, athletes didn’t have hurdles or gates they had to clear, and also they had the assistance of a motor. I mean, have you seen the arms on Olympic rowers?

Croquet

Is it because I don’t understand why croquet is a thing people play in the first place? Yeah, probably. Like motorboating, croquet only lasted once, played during the 1900 Summer Games in Paris. Those French, man.

Live Pigeon Shooting

Look. We hate pigeons too, but this just seems a little extra. The 1900 gold medalist killed a whopping 21 pigeons. RIP.

Alpinism

When we were teens, one of our favorite gym class units was “orienteering.” Basically, we were sent into the large field between our school and our school’s abandoned priest mansion with a compass and had to follow directions. It was arguably athletic (we walked?) but definitely not a sport. Alpinism is like the Olympic version of that. In short, they climbed a mountain. Impressive, yes. Sport? Nah.

This event was a real stretch because they didn’t blow a whistle and send a pack of athletes up a mountain. That would have been the Agro Crag, and we would have loved it. They just awarded medals to whoever had climbed a mountain the best since the last Olympics. Medals were awarded during the winter games in 1924 and the summer games in 1932 and 1936.

Rope Climbing

The good news is this isn’t a crowd of Victorians standing in front of a gallows. The bad news is you can no longer get an Olympic medal for climbing a big rope. This event actually made it through 5 Olympics. 1904 winner George Eyser even had one wooden leg! And from the looks of it, two skinned hands.

Tandem Cycling

Tandem cycling – AKA two men on a bicycle built for two – was an Olympic event for decades. We’d argue that it was objectively the most adorable of all Olympic events and hereby ship every damn one of these 1924 couples.

Playlist of the Month: National Anthems

Obscure individual sports aren’t the only thing we care about once every four years during the Olympics. We’re also temporarily interested in a musical category that we don’t bother with otherwise: national anthems. National anthems always sound kind of like church music and kind of like an easy classical piece you’d play in a 4th grade band concert. The lyrics – even when you speak the language – are all run-on sentences and jingoism. Yet when gold-medal athletes tear up during their national anthems, we can’t help but get a little emotional. As residents of a country with a hard-to-sing, hard-to-remember national anthem, we also have some anthem envy. We still love the Star- Spangled Banner for sentimental reasons, but these non-US anthems have become the soundtrack to our Olympic games:

Great Britain

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Cycling, Rowing, Gymnastics, Swimming, Track

You know why Americans co-opted this song and changed the lyrics to a crazy run-on sentence in My Country ‘Tis Of Thee? Because it is a 17th century plainchant melody for which various lyrics were used to accommodate numerous secular or religious purposes. Because the melody sounds so much better than The Star-Spangled Banner. Thanks, Great Britain. You’re the greatest. The lyrics are still kind of dopey – rhyming victorious, glorious and over us? – so it loses points there.

Switzerland

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Cycling, Rowing

Switzerland: so peaceful, their national anthem sounds like a nice lullaby. Have I made up lyrics that begin “Go to sleep, my Switzerland?” Yes. And you know what? I hope gentle, sleepy Switzerland rests well.

Italy

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Shooting, Fencing, Judo, Swimming, Cycling

Are you positive we’re not on a carousel? I don’t know about you, but I like my national anthems to make me feel like I’m enjoying a nice summer day at an amusement park by the seashore.

Oh Canada

 

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Swimming, Trampoline, Track and Field

Being from the part of NY that’s near Canada, you can count on a few things. Tim Hortons outnumber Starbucks in my city, I struggle at least weekly to get machines to accept Canadian coins, and I know Oh Canada about as well as I know the Star-Spangled Banner. A few of my nephews even sing Oh Canada (and the Star-Spangled Banner) before their living room hockey games. Anyway, if you’re from the north or watch a lot of hockey, you probably have some anthem envy for Oh Canada, especially the True North strong and free part.

Russia

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Fencing, Judo, Gymnastics

Is this the score played over the opening credits of an animated movie about Russia? I’ve never seen Anastasia (I know), but I’m assuming their national anthem is was the soundtrack sounds like.

China

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Weightlifting, Diving, Table Tennis

China’s bouncy and uplifting national anthem sounds like the theme song from Bonanza. Just imagine country hero Jackie Chan riding a horse through the country and galloping on the Great Wall. I think I was watching the live stream for a swimming medal ceremony, and the Australian commentator said, “It’s kind of a smart anthem, isn’t it?”, and the other Aussie replied, “Yeah it’s punchy.” Fair.

Hungary

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Swimming and Fencing

My initial thought was that this song could easily be used for a pairs figure skating routine, then started thinking that Hungary could be really good at ice skating? My thought process makes no sense, because I know barely anything about Hungary besides… goulash? Ugh ignorant American, so sorry. Anyways, they’ve only won 6 medals at the Winter Olympics, and all have been for figure skating. What I’m saying is that Hungarians love figure skating so much they incorporated it into their national anthem. But also they could have been inspired by their love of 1950s Disney films.

Thailand

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Weightlifting

Thailand’s anthem is so patriotic sounding that it’s one of those songs that makes me think I know the lyrics. I don’t.

Japan

Heard at medal ceremonies for: Swimming, Gymnastics

If I said John Williams composed this would you believe me? Yes, because this is exactly the type of track he’d make for a Steven Spielberg movie set during Japanese war times. For the record, he didn’t compose this.

 

The Margaret Abbott Awards For Baffling Treatment of Female Olympians

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the sexism that’s been happening at the Olympics over the past week, with men being “responsible” for female athletes’ victories and descriptors such as “wife of famous football player”, etc. So with this in mind, we decided to take a look back at the history of females at the Olympics, and we have learned a lot, y’all.

First of all, despite the fact the first Olympics kicked off in Athens in 1896, women were not included in the competition. Obviously. It wasn’t until 1900 when the second Games were held in Paris and 22 of the 997 athletes were females. They eased into the competition by only participating in “ladylike” sports such as golf, tennis and yachting.

Among the athletes was golfer Margaret Abbott, who was the first American woman to win an Olympic event (she even beat out her novelist mother Mary Abbott, who placed seventh). But we can’t even call her a “gold medalist”, because the 19000 Games were the only Olympics at which winner received valuable artifacts instead of the gold, silver or bronze. Instead, Margaret went home with a porcelain bowl.  On the plus side, there was some gold in it…?

But the gag here friends is that Margaret didn’t even realize she was competing in the Olympics. She lit’rally died not knowing she was a “gold medalist”, let alone the first female to win such an honor. Since it was just the second Olympics ever, the Games were more or less what we call a “shit show”. First of all, they took place over a five-month period between May and October during the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. The French sports union decided they were in charge because the Games were taking place at the World’s Fair. The International Olympic Committee, which was fairly new at the time, was all, ‘I guess they’re right, we should give them control’. Because of this, most of the Olympic Games didn’t even have the word “Olympics” attached to it, with the press using terms such as “International Championships” or “Grand Prix of the Paris Exposition”.

So it makes sense Margaret thought it was just another competition like any other. She died in 1955, and it wasn’t until after her passing that historical research established the event and her win as an official Olympics victory. Can you imagine?? Mags is a historical figure in the world of sports and she probably just used that porcelain bowl to serve her husband a fresh summer salad!

While women’s sports has clearly come a long way since 1900 (thankfully that long skirt uniform has been done away with), we’ve still got some ways to go with equality, and that’s unfortunately been prominent in Rio over the past few days.

In recognition of Margaret and her lack of knowledge as an Olympian, we’ve decided to introduce The Abbies in honor of her achievements that went unrecognized – by giving it to the folks who have made some questionable sexist comments throughout the Games so far. Just like the 1900 Games, we’re handing out bowls, but these are based on level of baffling commentary from critics who should just take a seat. With these bowls at their side.

Gold Bowl = Ultimate dirtbag in dirtbaggery contest

Silver Bowl = Sucks the big one

Bronze Bowl = Still not OK, but willing to let slide


Dan ‘He’s Responsible’ Hicks

Longtime NBC commentator Dan Hicks hit headlines after the 400m individual medley in swimming, when Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu won the gold but also shattered the previous world record. During the program, he noted that Katinka’s husband and coach, Shane Tusup is “the man responsible” for making his wife the swimming champion she is today. Viewers were quick to take note of Dan’s wording, because, homegirl just killed it in the pool, yet this dry dude on the sidelines is “responsible” for the gold medal? OK. Dan Hicks later clarified his comments, saying, “It is impossible to tell Katinka’s story accurately without giving appropriate credit to Shane, and that’s what I was trying to do.”

There’s also more of a backstory with this couple, because apparently Shane’s poolside enthusiasm can turn scary, with other swimmers noting his extreme anger, calling it “inappropriate” and “not OK”. But again, Dan Hicks has an interesting view on his hard love, “It’s been a little disturbing to some of the other swimmers who have observed it,” he said on-air, according to the AP. “But he has turned her into a tiger in the pool.”

Dan Hicks is awarded… The GOLDEN ABBIE

Perfect for: The blood, sweat, and tears of Katinka, Shane Tusup in mini-form to stay afloat for all eternity

The Journalist Who Wrote This Headline

“Corey Cogdell, wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, wins bronze in Rio”, is what Tim Bannon wrote as the headline to his article on Monday. Listen, as someone who writes news for a living, I have to play devil’s advocate here. This is a story for the Chicago Tribute, where the Chicago Bears are the kings and a point of reference that everyone reading will get. If his headline read, “Corey Cogdell wins bronze in Rio” everyone would be like, ‘WHO?’ ‘WHY DO WE CARE?’ then move on to the next article. Their angle is that Bears fans would be interested in someone close to the Bears organization is a medallist in the Olympics. That being said, I also understand why there has been such an uproar about this. She’s obviously much more than a football player’s wife and is her own person. It’s akin to when we say things like, “Calvin Harris’ ex-girlfriend, Taylor Swift” as opposed to “Multiple Grammy-winning artist Taylor Swift”. It subconsciously tells the reader that the person the article really is about is a secondary character in the narrative, which is clearly not the case. It’s just a necessary evil to write things like this sometimes.

Chicago Tribune Writer is awarded… The BRONZE ABBIE

Perfect for: A selection of better words

It’s About To Be A What? A Girl Fight

(Sidenote: do y’all remember that Girlfight song? No? Ok, moving on) Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo became the country’s first ever Olympic medallist after winning the gold in judo, which according to a BBC commentator is not a sport, but rather a “catfight”. Or at least that’s what he described the match as. A “CATFIGHT”.

BBC Commentator is awarded… The GOLD ABBIE

Perfect for: The remains of the BBC commentator if he ever had to be in a real “Catfight” with gold medallist Majlinda.

“Female Michael Phelps”

Katie Ledecky, 19 years old,  won four gold medals and a silver in the 2016 Olympics. She set a world record for the 400-meter freestyle … then she broke it herself. She finished the 800-meter freestyle so quickly that she had 11 seconds to cool her heels before the silver medalist even reached the wall. All of this is enough for the Daily Mail to name Ledecky the “female Michael Phelps.” For its part, NBC commentator Rowdy Gaines remarked that “some people say she swims like a man” before telling us why that’s false. Few things here:

A.) “Some people say” is a tired vehicle for introducing opinions a journalist or commentator doesn’t want to own (see also: “some people say women aren’t funny” in any interview with a female comedian).

B.) “Some people” need to stop saying a woman does something “like a man” when she does it well. Clearly Katie Ledecky swims like a woman since she, you know, is one.

These Male Rita Skeeters are awarded… The SILVER ABBIE

Perfect for: Serving alphabet soup so they can figuratively eat their words.

NBC Doesn’t Think Female Sports Fans Exist

Annoyed by NBC’s tape delay and bizarrely packaged primetime coverage? Blame women. According to NBC chief marketing officer and slant-smiled bag of dirt John Miller, we wanted it this way so the Olympic events would remind us less of sports and more of the Bachelorette: “The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one.”

NBC also broadcasts NFL football (45% female viewership) and NHL hockey (42% female viewership). But since they don’t think women are “particularly sports fans,” perhaps they wouldn’t miss nearly half of their audience if we went elsewhere.

John Miller is awarded … The GOLD ABBIE

Perfect for: Potpourri made of the discarded petals of past rose ceremonies.

Let’s Go To The Mall!

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team – the Final Five – are a group of powerhouse athletes who easily won the team gold medal, the gold and silver all-around individual medals, the vault gold and the beam silver and bronze. In addition to their superhuman strength and tremendous drive, the teammates are kind and supportive of each other, offering hugs and encouraging words because when one of them succeeds, they all succeed. Or, in the words of NBC gymnastics announcer Jim Watson when the team was talking among themselves on the sidelines, “they might as well be standing around at the mall.”

While we always welcome an opportunity to burst into a chorus of Let’s Go To The Mall, we have to point out that these athletes don’t really hit the mall too often what with their focus on world domination. Watson followed up “Don’t boys hang out in malls too? I did.” They do, but something tells me Jim wouldn’t have said the same thing about, for instance, the US men’s basketball team.

Jim Watson is awarded …. the SILVER ABBIE

Perfect for: Serving Orange Julius, one of the premier mall foods.

 

 

Trolls Go Low

During the Olympics it’s fine to express your opinions on the games and the athletes on social media — within the bounds of decency. If you’re complaining about or even complimenting someone in a way you wouldn’t face-to-face, don’t @ them and theoretically force them to respond. And if the range of things you WOULD say to someone’s face includes racist or sexist insults, don’t @ them then either… in fact, don’t write it at all. During the games, some viewers have decided that Gabby Douglas was disrespectful to the flag or unsupportive of her team. That, alone, isn’t really the problem. It’s the onslaught of truly vile Twitter trolling that has followed.

Considering the trolling has included the complaints that Douglas doesn’t smile enough, needs to change her hair or has had breast implants, it’s safe to say that the online harassment has taken a gendered edge.

The Internet is awarded … the Silver Abbie

Perfect for: A nice helping of Alphabits cereal, any random 140 characters from which you could create better tweets.

Fox News Had To Say Something Too

It wouldn’t be a celebration of journalistic disappointments if Fox News didn’t crash the party. Fox, a network that doesn’t broadcast the Olympic games, got in on the action with a segment about whether or not female athletes should wear makeup. Sure! Or don’t! Who cares!

On their website, Fox News frames the question as why female athletes “feel the need” to wear makeup, as though they might not just want to. Or not. Again, who cares.

Weighing in on the issue: Bo Dietl and Mark Simone, two men.

Fox News is awarded…. the GOLD ABBIE

Perfect for: stashing some nice cold cream to take all that makeup off. I prefer good old Pond’s.


We’d love to call this our first and last Margaret Abbott Awards For Baffling Treatment Of Female Olympians, but let’s be real. This picture of Margaret Abbott was taken over 100 years ago, and seems to depict her standing around waiting for a man to get with it.

Friends, I think she’s still waiting. Chances are, we’ll be back at it awarding another round of Abbies for the 2018 Winter Olympic games. And possibly for regular sports before that. Change is coming, but if ol’ Maggie Abbott has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes you have to wait 50 years to find out what that porcelain bowl was for.

Mid-Olympics Round Up

It seems like the Opening Ceremonies just happened, but we are now halfway through the 2016 Olympic Games. Crazy, right? We like our athletic competitions with a heavy dose of pop culture and human interest stories – so while most Olympics recaps will focus on who won what, we’re more interested in the hilarious, inspiring and hard-to-believe moments of the games. Here’s our round up of some of the most captivating moments of the Rio games so far:

Tonga Changed Lives

Dropping The Racket And Getting The Point

Raise your hand if you would’ve just given up and fell to the ground in agonizing defeat.

I Don’t Think The Leg’s Supposed To Bend That Way

French gymnast Samir Ait Said, and expected medal contender, landed completely wrong after going on the vault, leaving him in pain and had to be carted away on a stretcher. Turns out his left leg had a double break but he’s miraculously already back on his feet and on the mend. Obviously he can’t compete in the Games anymore, but at least he can walk! GRAPHIC IMAGE OF HIS 90 DEGREE LEG BELOW:

The Summer of Leslie Jones Continues

SNL star Leslie Jones got unwanted attention on Twitter when she had to put racist and sexist trolls on blast, but she also garnered support from the thousands of other nice human beings with the Love For Leslie J tag and even got the attention of Twitter bosses to help change their policies. This time around, she’s trending for a much more positive reason, thanks to her energetic tweets, pix and videos supporting Team USA. Former SNL producer/Late Night with Seth Meyers producer Mike Shoemaker took note of Leslie’s posts, and got the attention of Jim Bell, the executive producer of NBC’s Olympics coverage, and next thing you know, he officially offered Leslie a correspondent job at the Games and she’s down in Rio giving her commentary live! The power of social media, y’all.

And she’s been killin it at the Olympics too:

So What Do You Say To Second Chances

Laurie Hernandez MVP of Life and the Olympics

She also winked at the judges before her final floor routine during the team all-around, so she’s basically our favorite.

Ellie Downie Gets Knocked Down But Gets Back Up Again

17-year-old British gymnast Ellie Downie, another medal contender, was in the middle of her floor routine for the qualifying round when she turned too slowly on one of the passes and basically landed on her neck. It was scary (as evidenced below) and she decided it didn’t feel right and had to walk away without finishing. She got checked out and instead of pulling out, she surprisingly returned for the vault and help move the Great Britain team to the finals.

The Most Enthusiastic Chinese Athlete

Fu Yuanhui placed third in the semifinals of the 100m backstroke, but she thought she placed fourth until this reporter told her she was one second faster than she thought. Her response: “I was so fast!” This video went viral and here we are obsessed with her and her hipster glasses and dorkiness.

Aly Raisman’s Parents

Lynn & Rick continue their 2012 streak of being the best and most stressed parents in the stands. Katie Ledecky’s parents come in a close second.

 Name All The Babies Simone

August 11th, 2016: A really great day for Olympians named Simone.

A) Simone Biles lived up to expectations and won the gold for the all around competition. She also cried when she finally won, which is emotion she’s never really shown before. Whereas I tend to cry every 5 seconds during the Olympics.

B) Simone Manuel, who didn’t exactly have as much attention on her as Simone Biles, seemingly came out of nowhere (to pedestrian swimming fans) to win the women’s 100m freestyle and tied for gold. On top of that, she scored an Olympic record and became the first black American woman to win an individual swimming event. Basically, she is now America’s hero athlete and should probably be on the Wheaties box now? 

Monica Puig’s First Gold for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico isn’t doing great (short recap: the US gov’t attracted business to PR with corporate tax breaks which expired in 2006; financial collapse followed; PR borrowed money by issuing municipal bonds – mainly to private investors; the gov’t cannot repay their debt obligations; the island isn’t eligible to file for bankruptcy or seek funds from the IMF; terrible budget cuts have ensued;  yikes). But last week, Puerto Rico got a much-needed morale boost from Monica Puig, the first-ever athlete to win a gold medal for the island. Even more amazing, she was unseeded and beat the #2 seed, Angelique Kerber, for the win after rounds of improbable victories. The crowd chanted ‘si se puede’ and we both definitely cried.

In related news, I have a lot of Puerto Rican relatives-in-law – a few of whom are tennis pros – and literally every one of them used the word ‘wepa’ in their Facebook statuses that night.

We Want To Hold Ryan Held

Ryan Held was overcome with emotion during the medal ceremony after winning the 4×100 meter relay and began crying during the national anthem. Then WE began crying during the national anthem — not because we felt bad for him, but because we were so happy for his success and because masculinity is a prison and we’re so proud when someone breaks out.

Katie Ledecky Is Waiting

Katie Ledecky finished her race before any other swimmers were even in the frame. It’s fine; she can wait.

The Pool Looks Bad

The pools in Rio, while technically safe, look very murky and gross thanks to an interaction between peroxide and chlorine. It has since been drained. I’m sure this did nothing to help public confidence in the Brazilian water quality.

7th Best Steeplechaser In The World With One Shoe

Ethiopian steeplechaser Etenesh Diro (ranked 4 in the world) lost her shoe with two and a half laps left in the race. She still finished seventh and advanced to the finals. If you had any delusions that Olympians really are like you and me, now’s the time to let them die.

Phelps Face

We’ve already discussed this, but Michael Phelps’ grouchy face earned him the coveted (?) prize of most memed athlete of the 2016 Olympic games. He also won a few other competitions this week, so it’s fine.

Teach Us How To Say Goodbye

First of all, we’ve reached that point where Hamilton has so saturated popular culture that news outlets feel the need to show off that they know what it is. Second, One Last Time from Hamilton is the only proper way to express how we feel about Michael Phelps’ final race, so we don’t at all blame NBC for going there. Twenty-three gold medals and 16 years since we were first introduced to the 15-year-old baby Olympian, it’s time to teach us how to say goodbye. Enjoy your vine and fig tree, Michael.

 

Ryan Lochte Reaches Peak Ryan Lochte

Just when you thought Ryan Lochte had reached his maximum ‘jeah’ level he bleaches his hair, gets distracted playing with a bend-y thing when Michael needs him, and – best of all – responds to BRAZILIAN KIDNAPPERS with a simple ‘whatever’ when robbed at gunpoint.

“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground. And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”

Oh, Ryan. Then he said that Michael Phelps would be back in 2020 (wishful thinking, maybe?) and his best bro was forced to tell a major news outlet that Ryan “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

The Proper Age To Give Up On Your Summer Olympic Dream

In 2014 we discussed your Winter Olympics dreams and when you should let them die (short answer: already):

Remember watching the Olympics when you were a kid? There was a whole world of possibility! You could watch any sport and wonder whether maybe you had some innate gift for it and would be competing for your country in 20 years.

As you moved through your later childhood and teen years, your dreams had to die bit by bit. You’d realize that you weren’t even the best hockey player on your school’s team, or you’d fail to qualify for regionals in track. Maybe you shot up to a stocky 5’10 and realized you wouldn’t be much of a gymnast. Or maybe you didn’t get that far — maybe, by age 12 or so, you came to realize that you’re just … not athletic.

And yet, every two years – at the summer and winter Olympics – I start to get a little ahead of myself. Just like when I was five years old, I watch the events and wonder if maybe it’s not too late.

Well, friends, I’m here to kill those dreams. I’ve done a little research, and it looks like if you haven’t started most Winter Olympics events by a certain (usually young) age, you’ll never be using “next-level Tinder” in the Olympic village or wearing your country’s weird Cosby/teacher sweater in the Parade of Nations.

Obviously, there are exceptions to all of these. There really are savants who can take up a sport and be at a competitive level right away. There are also some people who are so preternaturally athletic that they’ll excel in any sport you throw at them. Of course, if you’re already skilled in a closely related sport, it’s also not that hard to take up a new one. 

We figured it was time to kill our Summer Olympic dreams, too (I’m almost 30 years old and really more into exercise than athletics). In case you were wondering, here’s when you should turn your dream into a dream deferred, focusing on individual sports for practical purposes:

Archery

Maybe it’s time to dust off that bow that you impulse-bought back in 2012 when you were really into the Hunger Games. Archery has one of the longest age ranges of any Olympic sport, with competitors reaching into their 50s. Sure, it’ll take some time, but if you show natural aptitude for it and practice a lot … maybe!

Canoeing

I have a kayak and it’s a really fun and easy activity. Olympic canoeing is maybe a bit more intense than my local rivers and streams, though? It also looks like so much fun. Most competitors are in their mid-20s, but some are a bit older. It’s probably easier and more enjoyable to canoe or kayak just for the fun of it, but there’s no harm in researching the (fairly intense) qualification system if you’re really good.

Cycling

Cycling seems like a sport that you could begin later. I mean, I’ve known how to ride a bike without training wheels since I was 4 and I think I can go pretty fast. It turns out I’m not quite wrong. Cycling is a sport that you can specialize in fairly late, and you can remain at an elite level throughout your 30s. The average age pro cycler is 28, but unlike some other sports many of the athletes weren’t competitive wunderkinds at age 15.

The great news is that cycling can be a lifelong activity and if your heart isn’t set on competing at the Olympics, there are road races for every skill level. I think an athletic, talented person could get a number of non-Olympic gold medals with the right drive and preparation. Go ahead. Hop on that bike and dream a little.

Equestrian

Here’s the thing about equestrian. You can keep doing it for a long time, but you also probably have to start fairly young, if only from a logistics standpoint. With all of the time, money and equipment involved, an adult simply is not going to start at learning how to hold onto the reins and work their way through the many competitive levels.

If you’re already good at riding horses, great! Don’t kill your dream – there are equestrian competitors in their 40s and 50s. If you’ve never been on a horse, maybe some amateur-level horseback riding classes and trail rides would be more fun.

Gymnastics

Did you know that Simone Biles, inspiration to millions, gold medalist widely considered the best gymnast of all time, was actually a late starter to gymnastics?

She was six.

If you’re old enough to read this, say farewell to your Olympic dreams. And if you’re already in gymnastics but you aren’t in elite training and competition by your early teens, forget it.

There’s a specific body type that’s optimal for gymnastics – short, muscular, flexible, light – and even if you’re really dedicated and talented, you’ll probably stall out if you get too tall to fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

Marathon

Good(ish) news! Marathon runners are thought to peak in their late 20s and early 30s, and since super long distances can have negative health implications for young teens, it’s not as though most competitors were running full marathons since they were 12 or anything. Let’s say you’re already a runner, maybe did cross-country for a while, make great times and are willing to train. There is the time and lifestyle thing, of course: if you’re in your 20s or 30s you might not be able to center your schedule around intense runs. But don’t let your age stop you – in Beijing, the US Women’s team was lead by two 35-year-olds. 

Eventually your joints will probably fail you and your aerobic capacity will decrease. However, like cycling I’m going to say that this is a sport where it’s okay to dream a little. There are so many marathons and half-marathons out there that if you’re talented and hard-working, you might find yourself qualifying for some of the big-name races even if you’re in your late 20s, 30s or 40s. Remember, an 84-year-old qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon.

Shooting

Maybe you’re a skilled hunter or live for your weekends at the shooting range. Are you Olympic-level good? Dream big, Annie Oakley. There are shooters in their 40s and 50s competing this year. Granted, it’s not incredibly easy to qualify – or easy at all – but if you measure yourself against the top shooters and can tell that you’re just as good, you might as well acquaint yourself with the International Shooting Sport Federation.

Swimming

Want to swim? You have a tad longer than some other sports: most swimmers get their feet wet as elementary-school kids at the YMCA or JCC, but a number of competitive swimmers didn’t start swimming seriously until high school or even college. Talent will not always show itself until a swimmer is much older: USA Swimming cautions that a fast 10-year-old will not always be a fast 18-year-old (nor a slow 10-year-old a slow 18-year-old). While not all swimmers are tall, most of them are, so if you’re short with a small wingspan it’s a good idea to put your dream to sleep before it suffers too much.

You can start late as a swimmer if you’re naturally talented and athletic, but don’t expect to stay in the sport forever. Did you hear the NBC commentators marveling that Michael Phelps could hoist himself from the swimming pool between gold-medal races? That’s because a 31-year-old swimmer isn’t the norm. Well, partially. It’s mostly because the NBC commentators are terrible.

Tennis

The great thing about tennis is that you can start playing as a tot and keep at it til you’re one of those old men with the tiny shorts on the public courts (seriously guys, why always such small shorts?). There are some anecdotal claims of college-level or competitive tennis players who started at age 11 or 15, so that’s heartening. Still, if you haven’t started some kind of training as a kid or teen, have fun on the courts but forget about the Olympics.

Trampoline

My personal love affair with the trampoline died around 1995, when I was doing that popcorn game where you sit down and let other kids bounce you … and I was the skinny kid … and I flew off the trampoline and broke my nose. I think a lot of trampoline dreams died the same way – backyard accidents before trampolines had all of the safety features they do now. If you somehow escaped broken limbs or stitches during your childhood and think Olympic trampolining is the life for you, I have some news you won’t like. Those fancy acrobatics are the result of years of gymnastics training, and the athletes cap out in their early 20s.


We kid about killing your dreams, of course — the only person who can kill your dreams is you. The great thing about most of these individual sports is that you can take them up at any age and even compete at a non-elite level. And if you want to motivate yourself by imagining Olympic glory while you practice? A little daydream never hurt anybody.

 

Summer Memes Make Me Feel Fine: Michael Phelps Everything

We’re nearly a week into the Summer Olympics and like it’s been since Sydney in 2000, America (and the world, I’m assuming) has been struck with Michael Phelps fever once again, as he scoops up even more medals to add to his collection. But earlier this week, we were blessed with Michael Phelps mania in a whole other way that would’ve not even made sense 16 years ago – the Internet meme.

In 2012, the London Games had McKayla Maroney, who was not impressed during the medal ceremony, and therefore became a viral sensation.

McKayla, for the record, is totally fine with #PhelpsFace, telling TMZ: “I looked at his pictures and was like, YES! Go, Michael, take it away, please!” {x}

This time around, the Olympics meme has been rewarded to the GOAT, after he was spotted giving the stank eye in the ready room to his South African rival Chad Le Clos. To back it up a bit, Chad Le Clos was an Olympics rookie in 2012, and even admitted he had always looked up to Michael as a young swimmer. But when they raced next to each other in the 200m Butterfly (Michael’s best event), Chad surprised everyone by beating out Michael for the gold by five-hundredths of a second, igniting a rivalry that has just gotten worse over the years. Which brings us to Rio and #PhelpsFace.

Chad needs to literally take a seat here, because he’s clearly just doing it to annoy Michael, but like Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines said in the video, “… This is… GREAT television!” and “I could watch this all night!” Thanks to the Internet, we can remember the moment forever with all the immediate memes that popped up. Here are just some of the best ones from #PhelpsFace that will go down in World Wide Web history forever.

 

MEMECEPTION:

He got it from his daddy…

Of course, we all know now that Michael got revenge on Chad and let his skills do the talking by redeeming himself in the 200m Fly on Tuesday and winning his 20th gold medal. Chad le Clos? He didn’t even made it to the podium. Enter adjustments to the #PhelpsFace meme:

But really, Chad, I know you’re really into sneaking a peek at your competitors, but here’s one thing you can take out of this year’s Games:

Worry bout your own lane

A photo posted by Daquan Gesese (@daquan) on

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