BAN THESE GAMES

August 01, 1996

A few months before the Atlanta Games began, an informal survey
revealed that sportswriters would like to see only one sport
added to the Olympics. That sport, of course, was golf, the one
event that every writer knows he could cover without having to
leave his seat in front of the TV in the press center.

While the addition of golf would make the U.S. media happy, it
would cause countless problems for Olympic planners, who would
have to find room in the athletes' village for Greg Norman's
helicopter.

The truth is, the Games don't need golf or any other new sport.
The Games are already a sprawling mess of buses, tickets and
coxless-pairs preliminaries. The Atlanta Olympics are, in fact,
being held in 13 cities, four states and the District of
Columbia. The daily list of events is longer than a James
Michener novel, and the transportation schedule is more complex
than the U.S. tax code.

The Games need fewer games, not more. For our friends in Sydney,
who will host this insanity four years from now, may we suggest
dumping the following.

Beach Volleyball. Let me get this straight: Two barefoot
lifeguards with sunburned noses beat two other barefoot
lifeguards, and they get the same gold medals that Michael
Johnson gets? I've got a better idea: Instead of giving the
winners medals, let's give them real jobs.

Badminton. The elimination of this sport, I admit, is just a
case of sour grapes. At Fourth of July cookouts I was never much
of a badminton player, so I don't believe the game belongs in
the Olympics. (Now, if they made Jarts an Olympic event, this
reporter would be wearing the gold.)

Yachting. Al Mitchell, the coach of the U.S. boxing team, has
accused NBC of racism because the network has ignored his sport
in its prime-time coverage, and I agree wholeheartedly. I mean,
I would like to watch some of the basketball and track, but
every time I tune in, what do I see? Yachting, yachting and more
yachting.

Equestrian. Next time you are asked to make a charitable
donation to your country's Olympic effort, ask yourself: Without
your money, how will Buffy be able to afford a new saddle?

Men's Field Hockey. The U.S. team lost all seven of its games in
Atlanta and extended its Olympic winless streak to 29 games, and
we all know what that means: The rest of the world is on steroids!

Team Handball. How dull is this game? Well, of the 33 sports in
these Olympics, team handball is the only one at which President
Clinton has not yet shown up for a cheap photo op.

Table Tennis. I'm actually going to give these superbly
conditioned athletes a chance to save themselves. All they have
to do is refer to their sport by its proper name. As far as I'm
concerned, if the greatest player of all time, Mr. F. Gump,
calls it Ping-Pong, then the name of the game is Ping-Pong.

Gymnastics. I truly love listening to the great John Tesh, but
for that I don't need the Olympics. I've got all his albums.

Shooting. Here is proof that you could stamp five rings on two
frogs mating and the public would line up for tickets: Nearly
5,000 spectators watched the shotgun competition on Saturday.
And five years from now, 100,000 people will claim they were
there.

Diving. I read that one diver said he practiced six hours a day
in preparation for the Olympics. Think about that for a moment:
Six hours a day of boing, flip, splash; boing, flip, splash. And
they say sportswriting is a meaningless vocation.

Archery. The other day Jim Easton, a U.S. representative of the
IOC and the president of FITA (archery's international governing
body): "It's really not that boring." There has been talk of
eliminating bows and arrows from the Olympics, but Easton, to
his credit, has not taken the suggestion lying down. He recently
met with a broadcasting official in an effort to save his sport.
"At one point I jokingly suggested we have archers line up on
both sides," Easton said, "and the last one standing would be
the winner."

Now, that would be a sport worth watching.

COLOR PHOTO: KATSUMI KSAHARA/AP The Chinese may be good at badminton, but the author isn't, so who needs it? [Chinese double team playing badminton]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)