What a great year this is! And what a great country! Not only are we hosting the Summer Olympics (they just began today and we can hardly contain ourselves), but we also have a presidential election that will kick off in earnest no sooner than the crowds and television cameras are freed up from their duties in Atlanta. Sports and politics have always had a good deal in common in the United States, especially since the Great Affluenza Epidemic swept the country several decades back and left pretty much the entire populace unable to grasp anything more ethically complex than a half-time station break.
Sports are an important part of life, almost as important as advertising. And it is so moving to see them both finally taking their rightful place on the World Wide Web. In fact, online coverage of The Games -- not to mention Olympics-related merchandising -- is so intense this year that there has been serious speculation as to whether the resultant Bandwidth Suck might bring the Internet to its virtual knees.
Nearly 11,000 athletes will vie with each other in Atlanta and the results will be monitored and reported by a massive network of computers: a Swatch time-keeping system, 7000 PCs, 80 LANS, a clutch of mainframes, a supercomputer linked to four separate NAPs, each via T3, and a partridge in a pear tree. But not to worry about the Internet buckling under the weight of all this rapt attention. After all, this is America, and whenever opportunity knocks the door will be opened. But even if the net did melt down, so what? Wouldn't it be worth it?
The Olympic Creed states "The most important thing... is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." We didn't even know there was an Olympic Creed, but when we heard this, we nearly wept for joy. This simple statement so beautifully epitomizes what EGR aspires to every waking moment: not to conquer but to fight well!
As this stirring expression of belief reminds us, good sportsmanship is really what it's all about. The will to compete against all odds, the tenacity and perseverance to train tirelessly when everybody you know is off screwing the pooch somewhere. And above all, the grace to acknowledge The Better Man should you not Have What it Takes when the Rubber Meets the Road. This is what it means to be a World Class Athlete!
Entropy Gradient Reversals hopes to play it's part, however small, on this momentous occasion by bringing our readers a number of facts and observations about the Olympic Games, which everyone believes hark back to ancient Greece but were really got up in 1896 by an ambitious Frog named Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
Theodosius Takes Umbrage
The original Olympics took place in 776 B.C. in a small Greek city named Olympia when a bunch of Cretins ran around town in bedsheets until they collapsed from exhaustion and too much wine -- sort of like an Animal House cast party. These shenanigans caught on in a fairly big way and were subsequently repeated every four years for about ten centuries or so. The winners got laurel, wild olive, and palm wreaths instead of the prizes modern gold-medalists receive: contracts to shoot infomercials about devices that produce "washboard abs" and "buns of steel." However, by the Fourth Century, it seems things had gotten a little out of hand and the games had degenerated into commercial carnivals with a circus-like atmosphere -- nothing like the dignified and majestic pageantry we know today as the Olympics. So, in 394 A.D., Emperor Theodosius pulled the plug and it would be 1500 years before anybody tried for a rematch.
Citius, Altius, Fortius
That's the Olympic Motto. Yes, it's really Latin -- don't you just love it?! -- meaning "Faster, Higher, Braver." We get goose bumps every time we hear this (which, we'll admit, is none too often). Of course, while the athletes competing in The Games these days are still fast and brave, many are not as high as they were before officials started testing for methamphetamines. Anabolic steroids are a little harder to detect, though greatly favored for their ability to make human beings resemble prize-winning beef cattle. These include the ever popular testosterone, the naturally occurring hormone that makes men stronger than women. It can also have severe side effects that ultimately lead to advanced moronism, a scourge that afflicts both young and old in this country, though for obvious reasons, mostly men.
By long tradition, the Olympics are only open to non-professionals, that is, people who are not being paid for their sporting skills. A gray area includes several thousand athletes who are supported by their governments in hopes of future glory. While these athletes aren't technically professionals, and therefore do qualify, they also have no other visible means of support and so could be presumed to "do sports" for a living. Fortunately, nobody pays the least attention to such academic quibbles since sports is coming to be recognized as an increasingly critical factor in national positioning and the attraction of high-yield tourism.
The Children's Crusade
More problematic are children who are ripped from their cradles and forced to roll over, do flips, walk the plank, and other doggy-like tricks under threat of being summarily orphaned if they make the least mistake. Because they must train long hours in sweaty gyms under the heel of drill-sergeant parents gluttonous for The Gold, these waifs have no time for normal childhood pastimes, or even basic education. Hundreds of millions of other parents applaud these unspeakable acts of child molestation and forced labor. Curiously, among those cheering the loudest are the moms and dads most anxious to protect their children from the Internet.
Sports Make You Popular!
No wonder people respect these athletes! They embody the promise of a brighter future and the long awaited prospect of World Peace. Many young people embark on the grueling journey toward The Games because they want their friends to look up to them for their far-reaching goals and doggedly competitive spirits.
The Official Olympics Oath reads:
"In the name of all competitors I promise that we will take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."
Naturally, while winning isn't everything, it is pretty darn important. Though young at heart, these kids take their work very seriously, driven by the knowledge that they may never get another chance to prove themselves worthy of their parents' and their society's high expectations.
Sports Make You Smart!
Anyone who thinks that excellence in sports is a substitute for brains had better think again. It takes a real sharp person to single-mindedly pursue this kind of harrowing career path. Contrary to popular belief sports aren't for dimwits! Some people have to go to Oxford to learn how even the simplest games are played -- and they still don't catch on! Look at this picture, for instance. Does it look as if the gentleman on the right really grasps what's being said to him? It's pretty plain that he's drawing a complete blank while pretending really hard to get it. You have to be smarter than this to throw the shot-put! Not to mention a re-election party.
But none of these is the real reason the Olympic Games are so important to us as individuals, as communities and as a nation. None of these explains why people devote their lives to this pursuit, and ignore every hardship and obstacle to succeed. No, the real reason is so that companies already awash in money can...
Make Even More!
Some of you have asked whether I'm still at IBM. Absolutely. Of course, the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the organization as a whole. Just in case you wondered.
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Entropy Gradient Reversals CopyLeft Christopher Locke firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.rageboy.com
"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon
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