The 2012 Olympic Games are nearly upon us. For the next two-plus weeks, look forward to having your every waking sports moment revolve around swimming, diving, gymnastics, basketball, uh ... shot put? And whatever else people still actively care about when it comes to the Summer Games.
Admittedly, the number of actual Olympic events totally laps the number of events that the average American can even feign an interest in. I'd be willing to bet that there is a healthy number of events that you were completely unaware were even a thing, let alone something that multiple countries will be feverishly competing to win in London over the next few weeks.
There are 39 disciplines in 26 sports at the XXX Olympiad. How many can you name off the top of your head?
Yeah, I thought so. Here are some of the Olympic events you may be hearing about soon that you may not have realized were Olympic events. Keep in mind that this list doesn't even include stuff like "field hockey" and "Taekwondo."
Oh yeah, smarty pants. You know allll about rhythmic gymnastics already. It's where you dance around with a ribbon, ooh-la-la.
Well yes, you can use a ribbon, but rhythmic gymnastics also includes team competitions where you can opt for a hoop, ball, clubs or rope, in addition to the ubiquitous ribbon. It's like synchronized swimming, but with juggling added. That is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Here's a taste of the absolute insanity that goes down in rhythmic gymnastics. You might want to watch this in full screen.
If you asked me to spin a hoop on my arm while slowly turning in place, blood would probably start shooting out of my ears. I guess I just don't have what it takes.
Yes, ping-pong is still a thing. It didn't stop being a thing after Forrest Gump liberated China from the Huns or whatever via his table-tennisry. There's still gonna be just hours and hours of this sort of thing.
I like to think that table tennis is still an Olympic sport in 2012 solely to troll the endlessly daps-ing fratbros of the world who insist around 1:00 a.m. every Saturday that beer pong should totally be an Olympic sport, bro.
Oh bro, totally.
/daps daps daps daps
Okay, this is not the thing where uncomfortably-sweaty and ripped middle-aged dudes wear a coal miner's glove and whack a racquetball against a wall in a New York public park. This is a completely different sport, which is sort of a combination between basketball, soccer and that American Gladiators thing where you have to juke the roided guy in order to jam a four-square ball into a clear cylinder.
Here's a highlights video.
Handball is a relatively "new sport," which is to say that it's exactly the same as basically every team sport that isn't baseball: get a projectile across a line and into the opposite team's goal.
IT'S TIME FOR THE OLYMPICS TO GET EXTREEEEEME
Seriously, BMX is an Olympic sport. I'm not going to drop in a video here, because you all know what BMX is. If you don't, he's that guy who was covered in blood on that one album cover. You know, the Ruff Ryders guy.
I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around BMX being an Olympic sport. Especially since the X Games just happened. I guess the Olympics have to do something to get Doritos and Mountain Dew into the Summer Games. If more people knew about BMX being part of this prestigious event, maybe the MMA lobbyists could just have a presentation to the Olympic Committee where they just point to a picture of BMX and go, "C'MONNNNNNNN."
Air Pistol/Air Rifle
A lot of people probably know that shooting is an event. It takes a lot of skill to be a good marksman. Heck, there are upwards of three reality-show competitions dedicated to how difficult it is to be a world-class sharpshooter. Archery seems legitimate, as does using live ammunition in Olympic shooting. But air pistol and air rifle? Seems a little weird.
I think the weirdness is only enhanced by that air rifle sound the guns make. You expect them to be shooting at dancing metal ducks while calliope music plays. Maybe they should win a stuffed animal instead of a gold medal. After all, you can't snuggle with a gold medal. If this can be an Olympic event, maybe I can join the U.S. Men's National Team of "Get the Water in the Clown's Mouth."
Just kidding; I'm pretty bad at that, too.
Sailing is already weird enough -- harnessing THE VERY POWER OF THE WIND ITSELF to ... uh ... catch the faster wind than your opponent? "Ha ha, sucker. You caught the chump wind. Now it's my gold medal; no backsies."
But what really makes the sailing event crazy is that it's broken up into a bunch of disciplines that have amazing names. It reads like something out of an Isaac Asimov novel.
- Men's Finn
- Women's 470
- Women's Elliott 6m
- Men's Star
- MEN'S LASER
- WOMEN'S LASER RADIAL
I probably can't bear to watch this event, because if ladies aren't riding around on dinghies while firing lasers at one another, it will just be too heartbreaking to even think about.
Trampoline is a pretty new event and it is almost intolerably awesome. You ever watch gymnastics and wish there were more ridiculous flippy-dos? Or that they could find a way to make it more insane and reckless? Ever watch the vault and wish it lasted longer that one absurd jump? YOU'RE IN LUCK
That's just silly. Nobody tell Joba Chamberlain about this.
This is the second-silliest equestrian event in the Olympics (out of three). Occasionally called "horse dancing," this is where unbelievably expensive horses and their even-more-unbelievably wealthy riders demonstrate the highest possible quality of their gait, control and ability.
Haha okay, it's horse dancing. TAKE IT AWAY, HORSE.
Note: During dressage competitions, it is acceptable to make a "why the long face?" joke when someone doesn't win, but only once. And only to the horse. Horses don't understand human words.
Eventing is the weirdest equestrian event. Dressage and jumping are already horse events, but somewhere along the way, someone burst into a planning committee and yelled, "LET'S HAVE A HORSE SUPER-EVENT!" Since horses have literally no say in the matter, it was summarily approved and there were many handshakes and grins and the smoking of fine cigars.
So "eventing" begins with dressage (albeit an abbreviated version), then moves into show jumping and cross-country riding and jumping. Someone on YouTube was kind enough to assemble some eventing footage and set it to adult contemporary pop. You're the best, YouTube!
To the best of my knowledge, the horses don't stand on the podium or have the medals hung around their necks. This seems like a waste of horsesports to me.
Modern pentathlon! What, I ask you, could be more modern than an event comprising pistol shooting, epee fencing, 200-meter freestyle swimming, show jumping and a 3-kilometer cross-country run? I can't for the life of me think of a more Steve Jobs-ian, Web 2.0 set of things to do, one after the other.
Modern pentathlon is the debauched fever dream of the Mid-Atlantic, foreign-educated idle rich. The sort of thing George Plimpton would have been competing in, had his heart not been captured by the low shenanigans of middle-class American sport. This is an event that Jay Gatsby thought of while in the throes of a mescaline bender.
Have you ever met someone who had ease of access to a pistol, a full set of fencing equipment, an Olympic pool, a horse and a shaded woods? You take any one of those four pieces out of the equation and you have a Coen Brothers adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Put them all together and you have the 1%.
Prediction: Whoever wins this will be white.
Plenty of people know about rowing, or "crew." This is not rowing. This is canoeing. You get in a canoe and slalom or sprint and it's wacky. It's kind of like kayaking, but not. Here's someone doing some practice canoe runs on the Beijing course in 2007, set to a very chill track.
For some reason, when I watch canoeing, all I can think of is Nickelodeon's GUTS and possibly the very worst display of athleticism ever tragically captured on camera.
The absolute mother of all Olympic events you didn't know were Olympic events is racewalking, which you may identify as "speed-walking." The rule is that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times as you race forward. Note that the rule is it must appear that way. What's interesting is that it appears to be a bunch of people sashaying in sassy unison. See for yourself.
When you watch the very fastest racewalkers in the world, they sure don't look like they're walking, so this is just a bizarre event all around. And this kind of thing is Hypnotoad-level mesmerizing. Still, I look forward to seeing them all strut their stuff this summer. You go, girl!
I can only hope that they highlight this sport with a video package featuring that LMFAO "WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE" song.
For complete coverage of the Summer Games in London, please stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated 2012 Olympics hub.