Making U.S. awesome at all Olympic sports
August, 10, 2012
By DJ Gallo | ESPN.com
Kurt Snibbe/ESPN.comThe Americans rule in the so-called "major" sports. Why can't we do the same in table tennis?Team USA is in the process of wrapping up a dominant performance at the London 2012 Games. Entering the final weekend, the United States had won the most golds and the most overall medals behind excellent showings in swimming, track and field and gymnastics. You know, the main sports of the Summer Olympics.
But Americans want to be the best at everything. After the 1988 Olympics, when the U.S. men’s basketball team failed to win gold, Team USA went nuclear and brought in the Dream Team.
It’s time to do that in every Olympic sport, with an eye on winning every possible medal at Rio 2016. Here is how.
Archery: The U.S. won only one of the 12 medals awarded, a silver.
How to fix it: The movie “The Hunger Games” prompted a huge increase in Olympic archery TV ratings. NBC’s archery broadcasts beat even basketball. But we want a huge medal haul, not just huge numbers of people watching American archers lose. So with “The Hunger Games” still in discount theaters all over the country, USA Archery staffers need to fan out and get kids coming out of the movie to sign up for lessons. If the kids can be convinced that they’ll have to fight to the death Hunger Games-style if they don’t medal, all the better. Kids are dumb. They’re also the future of American archery.
Diving: Of 21 medals awarded, U.S. divers got only three, none of them gold.
How to fix it: Start recruiting elite athletes into diving. USA Diving needs to watch NBA and MLS games and develop a “Dream Team” list of divers. For example, you don’t think an athlete of James Harden’s caliber would be an amazing Olympic diver with just a little bit of practice? Come on. Even if he made a splash, his beard would absorb it. It’s time Harden decides if he wants to be a good sixth man in Oklahoma City or the greatest diver in the entire world.
Badminton: Team USA won none of the 15 medals awarded in London.
Vladimir Rys/Getty ImagesThis MUST become the staple of American family gatherings before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
How to fix it: It’s time to end the whole “relax and socialize” vibe at American family reunions. Do you really want to listen to Aunt Flo’s story about her bout with gout or do you want to play some intense and competitive BADMINTON? Exactly. The best team from each family reunion advances to a tournament, including the winners from other family reunions. Eventually we determine the best of the best, and then it's domination at Rio 2016 -- all with the smell of American hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and Uncle Cliff’s famous chili wafting over the medal stand.
Equestrian: There were 18 equestrian medals awarded at London 2012. Team USA won exactly none of them. Our most hyped horse, Rafalca, came in 28th in the Grand Prix Special of Individual Dressage and didn’t even make it to the finals.
How to fix it: American horses need to look in the mirror, or a reflective pond if that’s easier to find, and ask themselves what they’re made of. Their ancestors plowed our fields and pulled our carriages and ran really fast with us on their backs while we yelled that the British were coming. Today’s American horses? All we ask them to do is race or jump over some fencing or do a little bit of horsey dancing. Yet the best they can do is come in 28th? It’s sad how far the American horse has fallen. (Figuratively fallen, that is. When they literally fall, we often put them down. Huh. Perhaps that’s why they’re not giving their all in the horsey jumps.)
Canoe: The U.S. didn’t medal in Canoe Sprint or Canoe Slalom.
How to fix it: Canoeing would benefit if the sport had pop culture exposure like archery got with “The Hunger Games.” However, to my knowledge, there are no canoeing-based blockbuster movies in the works. Maybe the canoe people should look to the music industry instead of Hollywood. Marketers compete to get their products on recording stars and shown in videos. Just think how the popularity of canoeing would explode if tricked-out canoes started showing up in rap videos.
Rowing: Just three of 42 medals went to American rowers.
AP Photo/Evan AgostiniMaybe the famous Winklevii can kick-start America's rowing/canoe golden age?
How to fix it: Same as canoeing. Maybe even have a East Coast-West Coast rap battle over the watercraft. West Coast is canoes, East Coast is rowboats.
Judo and taekwondo: Sixty-eight medals were given in these two sports. Three of those 68 went to Americans.
How to fix it: For the country that invented the action movie, winning just 4 percent of the medals in the combat and martial arts sports is unacceptable. It’s time to fill our teams with the best of the best. Yeah, that’s right. I’m talking Rio 2016 gold medalist Steven Seagal.
Fencing: Of 30 fencing medals, just a single bronze went to the United States.
How to fix it: You know who has a history with weapons and a ton of time to practice? Prisoners. The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, and those prisoners have got nothing to do but practice fencing. Win a medal, gain your freedom. It’s pathetic no one has thought of this before.
Sailing: For the first time since the 1936 Olympics, the U.S. failed to win a sailing medal.
How to fix it: No sailing medals, no equestrian medals. The two sports that are most associated with rich elitists, and our rich elitists let us down. First their banker friends destroyed the economy and now no medals. Come on, sirs and madams. Pay for better sailing teachers or something.
Weightlifting: A big 0-for-45 in London.
How to fix it: Americans are the world’s weightiest people, so we should be the best at lifting weight. “But gym memberships are expensive.” That’s what I’m saying: You don’t need a gym membership. Just lift up your fellow Americans. See one, lift one. It’s that easy. No other country has this natural training advantage.
Wrestling: Greco-Roman, freestyle, different weight classes, men’s, women’s … yet just two medals for Team USA.
Getty ImagesDo you smell a wrestling gold medal? We do.
How to fix it: We brought professional basketball players to the 1992 Olympics. We must bring professional wrestlers to the 2016 Olympics. What’s that? You can’t hit someone with a chair in Greco-Roman wrestling? Who’s going to make that call? The ref who just got body-slammed to the mat? Didn’t think so.
Table tennis: The U.S. wasn’t on the stand when any of the 12 table tennis medals were awarded.
How to fix it: This one is on the American mom. If she would stop stacking laundry and boxes all over our pingpong tables in our basements, maybe we would be Olympic champions. Thanks a lot, MOMS.
Trampoline: Team USA didn’t win any of the six London 2012 medals.
How to fix it: We put a man on the moon. We just landed a vehicle on Mars. Those places are hundreds of thousands of miles from Earth. Being the best at sending a man 30 feet into the air should be cake. The U.S. Trampoline people need to call NASA.