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The People that Made Us Love the 2008 Summer Olympics

The Olympics have finally come to a close, but not without many moments of joy, tears, and stupidity. The US won the most medals, only second to China in gold medals. The fireworks that we saw on TV may or may not have been created on a computer. There are speculations that the girls on the Chinese gymnastics team have lied about their age, but what woman doesn’t? So many great things can happen at the Olympics, but here are the people that truly made the 2008 Beijing Olympics an event to remember and appreciate.

U.S. Politicians

Every four years, the Presidential election occurs in November. Every four years the summer Olympics occur as well. Every American is immediately thankful for the fact that for two weeks we no longer have to listen to politicians preach about presidential priorities. Yes, the outcome of the presidency is important, but after months of hearing the Republicans and Democrats bicker, we need a Labor Day weekend! The Olympics provides us with that in the form of a two week vacation. Though not a complete break, it is like going on a vacation after informing your company that you can be reached via cell phone and e-mail.

Possible Explanation: Summer TV is bad, hearing people in suits yell is worse. We need mindless TV that doesn’t make us smarter (i.e. learning about the economy) or dumber (i.e. watching any reality TV show…especially the ones on MTV) than we already are. That is exactly what we get with the Olympics. Our only requirement is to stare at the TV and pretend to understand anything about the sport we are watching.

The Angry Red Army

It wouldn’t be an international event unless someone had something to complain about. That someone was Olympic Committee member Gerhard Heiberg of Norway, and that something was China’s Red Army. According to Weird News on About.com, poor Heiberg confronted Chinese officials about the attitude the Red Army was giving off. He asked them to tell the Red Army that they looked terrifying to foreigners. What was his suggestion for turning the Negative Nancys into Positive Pollys? Smiling! Naturally the word “army” is something you associate with warm fuzzies, and hugs and cocoa. Though disregarded by the officials, it made some of them laugh… causing exactly what he wanted…smiles!

Possible explanation: With the threat of terrorist attacks and violence, the Red Army has a little bit more to worry about than smiling. Heiberg must have mistaken the Olympics for Grease 2.

The Fuwa

What says Olympics more than five, creepy looking, multicolored anime creatures? 2008’s Beijing Olympic mascots were the Fuwa, or “good luck dolls.” According to Wikipedia, the characters are Nini the swallow, Yingying the Tibetan antelope, Huanhuan the flame, Jing Jing the panda, and Beibei the Chinese sturgeon. Though some may look at them as a creatively named, nonsensical assemblage, they managed to have their own TV show, environmental awareness program, and theater show. They have even made appearances in video games! The only thing they did not do was bring comfort to China, since they may or may not represent the Weifang T195 train accident, 2008 Tibetan unrest/uprising, the Summer Olympics torch relay protests, Sichuan earthquake, and the South China floods. Needless to say, if these characters were puppet people walking down the street, I would probably run in the opposite direction.

Possible Explanation: They were originally going to go with the Teletubbies, but Tinky Winky had a hair appointment scheduled during the opening ceremony. These creatures remind me of South Park’s Critter Christmas episode.

The Ugly Duckling

During the opening ceremony, everyone remembers that adorable little Chinese girl, Lin Miaoke, who sang “Ode to the Motherland.” Well it turns out China was trying to pull a fast one on the world. According to a news article on CTV.ca, Chinese officials stated that the actual girl who sang the song, Yang Peiyi, “didn’t fit the national image.” Peiyi apparently has crooked teeth and just wasn’t cute enough. When interviewed by China Central Television she said it was an honor just having her voice heard. Looks like China will be the next in line for a makeover reality TV show for kids.

Possible Explanation: Peiyi is a member of the Red Army and terrifying to foreigners, therefore unable to be shown on TV during prime time.

The “Active” Athletes

After running out at previous venues, this year over 100,000 condoms were passed out to the athletes when they got to Beijing to ensure no “mistakes” were made during their personal celebrations. There are 10,500 athletes participating in the Olympic Games, meaning each and every athlete will be able to have sex at least 9 times (18 if they keep it between Olympic athletes) within a two week period. That’s more than some people get laid in a year, or in some cases, a decade, or in other cases, ever!

Possible Explanation: The Olympic Committee is very worried about the more “active” athletes, i.e. US Men’s Basketball Team. If one spawns a “super baby” with an Olympic counterpart, or many, it would give these children unfair advantages. Good genes…the untraceable steroid.

Beavers, Tancock, and Hooker

Everyone loves a funny name, and the 2008 Olympic Games were filled with them. Here are the country medals for best names:

Gold – Canada: Keith Beavers and Victoria Poon (Swimming), Karen Cockburn (Trampoline), and Stubby Clapp (Baseball)

Silver – United States: Destinee Hooker (Highjump), Shannon Boxx (Soccer), Jeremy Cummings (Baseball)

Bronze – Japan: Yoshie Takeshita (Volleyball) and Miho Fukumoto (Soccer)…he must really hate Motorola.

Runners Up:

Germany: Peter Sack (Shot Put) and Linus Butt (Field Hockey)

Poland: Adam Weiner (Handball…ironically)

Great Britain: Liam Tancock (Swimming)

Brazil: Samuel Fuchs (Volleyball)

China: Aichen Wang (Sailing)…possible relation to Karen Cockburn

Possible Explanation: Canada has to be known for something.

The Offensive Spaniards

What happens when a team decides to take a picture making a funny face? They get a lecture from mom. What happens if this team happens to be competing in an international event and their picture is posted in a national ad campaign? They get a lecture from the world. That is exactly what happened to the Spanish basketball team. They decided to take a picture while pulling their eyes to make them look more slanted for their sponsor. This was looked at as bothersome and racist by some, so the Spanish basketball team tried to explain that it was merely a loving gesture. They didn’t seem to realize that it is OK to take picture that may be deemed “offensive” to some if it is in jest, the trick is, don’t do it for a national ad campaign! They probably weren’t able to use their nine condoms with anyone from the Eastern side of the world.

Possible Explanation: I am convinced they all just had really bad eyesight, and it helped them read whatever was behind the photographer. This is the only way I managed to get through elementary school, pre-glasses.

Athletes Behaving Badly

There’s nothing wrong with getting upset about a loss, unless you assault the referee. Cuban taekwondo athlete Angel Matos did exactly that. He and Kazakhstan’s Arman Chilmanov were battling for the bronze, when Angel was injured. The ref disqualified him, saying he exceeded injury time. Obviously he wasn’t hurt that badly, considering he was able to get up and kick the referee in the face, then continued to push and spit at other referees when they tried to intervene. Matos was not only banned for life, but he also had his name removed from Olympic records.

Possible Explanation: Unlike most people, Angel doesn’t seem to understand that life is like a video game. In Mike Tyson’s punch out, if you get hurt, you had better get up or you lose!

The Poor Kids with ADHD

Throughout the Olympic Games we heard many inspirational stories about the hardships athletes have had to endure, like the small blurb found, after a 12-page click-through on a news site, about US Swimmer Eric Shanteau. Eric was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June, but competed in the games anyway. Obviously people like Eric don’t hold a torch to Michael Phelps. Let’s talk about the most trying disease of them all…Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder! Granted, you can die from cancer, but everyone knows it is merely a passing fad. It’s certainly no ADHD! Obviously all of American media felt this way too, making this one of the most publicized stories about the Olympics. On the front page of every newspaper and news site was a story about how Michael Phelps overcame his ADHD, to become an Olympic Athlete! Growing up, he had to deal with bullies making fun of him and teachers telling him he couldn’t succeed. Give me chemo over verbal abuse any day! Phelps found a way to get past this disorder to win the gold 8 times, breaking 4 world records!

Possible explanation: Phelps overcame his ADHD by allowing people to dip shiny objects into whichever side of the pool they want him to swim to get his attention.

2008’s Games may be over, but we can only wonder what 2012 has in store for us…

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