The Olympics start next week, and I for one, am just agog: I love the track-and-field events, in spite of Ben Johnson's legacy.
There are 26 sports at the Games, and each of them is divided into several disciplines: aquatics, for instance, represents 46 different events for which medals are awarded.
The unscrupulous old farts at the International Olympic Committee add and subtract events each Games - depending primarily on the number of countries that participate in each sport: softball and baseball have both been deleted in recent Games, along with tug-of-war and polo from earlier Olympics; it seems good tug-of-war athletes are hard to find outside of police and fire departments and elementary-school-age children. It's a shame, really, because with the rise in the numbers of obese children and adults in this country, we probably could have put together a credible squad.
One of the more popular events added to the Games is women's beach volleyball, played in the sand, two persons to a side, wearing - wait for it - bikinis.
Now we already have indoor volleyball in the Games, but apparently it wasn't sexy enough, so in a bid to increase viewers and thereby revenue, they came up with scantily clad women rolling about in the sand, a sport popularized (where else?) in California.
I can just hear the discussion at the IOC, the Chinese representative tells the Americans that if they wanted beach volleyball, they'd have to retain table tennis, or ping-pong as we knew it growing up in our rec rooms. Dirty old men everywhere have the Chinese to thank for beach volleyball.
If you're questioning the status of ping-pong as a sport, let us consider for a moment bridge, chess, and Korfball - which have all appeared on one list or another, and have international governing bodies. You can imagine the crowds for these events: thousands of people in an arena watching a floor full of chess players, hanging on their every move before launching into loud applause at a checkmate, or a grand slam, or whatever the hell it is they do in Korfball.
If bridge is being considered, why not poker?
It's featured on the sports channel; its adherents are colourful characters in cowboy hats and gold jewelry, wearing sunglasses, with names like Slim and Tex.
This is a game to which we could all relate, its competitors just like regular folks who do their training in smoke-filled rooms, eating junk food, and drinking beer.
Or how about darts? Overweight English guys on TV, holding their pints in one hand while shooting triple-20s with the other? Think of the ad revenue from the beer companies.
Can billiards be far behind? Bowling? Horsehoes? Bocce? Croquet?
We think of the Olympics as being the pursuit of excellence through physical activity, not someone sitting in a chair shuffling cards or tossing a large ball down an alley made of hardwood.
We don't want the Olympians to be regular folk like us. We want them to be extraordinary, superhuman, heroes even as envisioned by the Greeks (who competed nude, by the way: "faster, stronger, nakeder"), who didn't do drugs- and got very few endorsements.
But, if you want to cater to a wider audience and to pay for such expensive items as security, you have to a little more imaginative. So it shouldn't be long before wife-carrying makes an appearance at the Games, along with Scrabble, quilt-making, and soapbox derby.
In any event, it's going to be a couch potato's dream for two weeks, so if you don't own a bigscreen TV, you better get one now. Tell the boss you've got a bad case of jock itch and can't make it in to work. Tell the wife to go visit her mother. Send the kids to camp and stock up on junk food and beer. And let the Games begin.