| "It's not a toy," said American Bill Young during a quiet moment in Sydney. "It's a serious piece of apparatus and it has to be treated that way."
Um, no Bill, it doesn't.
It's a trampoline.
And yet by some whim of Juan Antonio Samaranch's steel-plated skull, it's also the harbinger of new Olympic glory. Yes, jumping up and down on a trampoline used to only give you that weird flip-floppy sensation in your tummy. Now it can win you a gold medal. What in the wild, wild world of sports is going on here?
Don't get us wrong, it's not like we're claiming the Olympics were perfect before Samaranch and NBC decided any sport in which bouncing boobies could be displayed in slow motion should be introduced into international competition. The basketball's ridiculous, the gymnastics announcers could make Phil Jackson and the Dalai Lama knife-fight for the remote, and there are only so many stories about babelicious track stars (et tu, Marion?) with big fat druggie husbands. Forcing yourself to choose between televised Olympic events is like forcing Janet Jackson to select a favorite sibling.
But the trampoline? Near as we can tell, you've got to spin and flip and jump around, and make sure you keep landing on the big red 'X' at the tramp's center. We’re not saying it's easy, we're just saying any sport that requires the smell of barbecue in order to create the right atmosphere may not have a place up high on Olympus.
("I say, Zeus! Fantastic double backflip" "Thanks, Thor. Mind you don't bang your helmet on the throne-room ceiling.")
Heck, we don't mean to just pick on the bouncy-bouncers. How about these time-honored Olympic events:
Beach Volleyball. Somehow, while they interrupt swimming events in mid-race, NBC always makes time to show entire droning matches of beach volleyball. Because, y'know, indoor volleyball just didn't satiate the world's appetite for jiggling breasts and half-bare asses.
Skeet Shooting. Any event that requires the competitors to initiate action by yelling "Pull!" is too strange for the Olympics. Unless it's after-hours in the men's gymnastics quarter of the Olympic village.
Mountain Bike Racing. Hey! It's like a little mini Tour De France! Spectators who couldn't get into Rowing or Team Handball line the course. Gals in tight pants take headers down rock-faced inclines and get up crying. It's the best thing since the Glamorous Ladies of the LPGA!
Synchronized Diving. The best for last. We thought they were kidding. Diving itself has always been suspect, in the way that gymnastics, ice skating and ski jumping are suspect: that is, because no real sport can be based on something so subjective as judges' scores. But two side-by-side plungers trying to keep their spinning and twisting in exact synchrony is the limit. It should be outlawed, only because it gives NBC's ninth-rate announcing team waaaay too many opportunities to say things like, "As you can see, their hips are just barely out of alignment." (Insert shiver here.)