2016 Summer Olympics: Are table tennis and ping pong the same thing? Why is there no synchronized weightlifting yet?

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games will have 306 events in 28 sports, and will dominate the national media over the next few weeks.

I decided to take a quick look at each of the games to learn more about them, and to offer a few thoughts.

For example, trampoline is an event this year. Sure, it’s cool to watch and impossible to do, but is it a sport?

I am not knocking it as I am sure that the competitors are great athletes who work very hard, do amazing things and could probably jump into my second story bedroom window, hit me and steal my television while doing a flip at the same time if they get mad at me. I just don’t know if “trampoline” is a sport.

I should note that the Olympics website mentions that George Nissen and Larry Griswold invented the trampoline around 1934 at the University of Iowa. They also created a game called “Spaceball” that involved teams on a trampoline who jumped up and down while trying to throw a ball through a middle wall to hit a target on the other side. It sounds awesome and somewhat dangerous (much like trampoline basketball or Slamball) and I hope that soon it makes a comeback, or just a comeforward, since it never gained popularity before. I also hope that they add Spaceball to the Olympics in a the future, just as they added synchronized swimming a few years ago. I personally think every sport should also have a synchronized version.

Anyway, here are a few thoughts on some of the games of this year’s Olympics.

Archery – Archers always make great heroes, such as Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Robin Hood, and of course, the Daffy Duck Robin Hood, so we should have some good storylines this year. I tried archery and it was super hard, but very fun. I do wonder about how it will translate to television, though. It seems like that it might be similar to watching darts on television. After the first few people, it all looks the same because everyone is so good and I don’t know enough about it. I may skip the early rounds, but will want to see the finals to see who handles the pressure and shoots the best.  I also want to see the Daffy Duck Robin Hood episode again. If you haven’t seen it, please watch it after the Olympics. It’s tremendous.

Badminton – Really? Badminton is in the Olympics? To Americans, it seems like it’s a game to play (often badly) in a backyard during a party. It’s really a great game with athletes who make spectacular plays, though, and is fun to watch on television. It’s also fun to hear the announcers say shuttlecock. In addition, admit it, you and I both know that Synchronized Badminton would be incredible!

Diving – I think diving is actually pretty cool to see and I’m always amazed at how well people can twist and turn while falling into the water. To be honest, though, I always have a hard time watching this event because I am a worrier and am concerned the divers will hit their heads on the diving boards or something else bad will happen. I have a hard time watching gymnasts on the balance beam or anyone on a pogo stick for the same reason.

Gymnastics – If you are a guy and you ever made your wife/girlfriend watch football/basketball with you, it is required of you to watch gymnastics. Once you start watching, though, you see it’s a great sports competition with some amazing athletes. I will never forget watching an injured Keri Strugg do that incredible vault for gold at the 1996 Olympics. Also, many other gymnastics events have been cool to see. At the same time, I feel bad watching gymnastics knowing that I can’t balance on a white line in the parking lot, I have a hard time doing a pull-up and If I try to do a flip or cart-wheel I will probably just rip my pants and hurt my back.

Handball – I don’t understand handball, but I always hear that it is awesome. Of course, several people told me the same thing about calzones and I was recently terribly disappointed. Despite that, I will try to watch handball this year and attempt to figure it out. I think it’s like soccer but you just your hands instead of your feet, but it made no sense the last time I tried to watch. Of course, it still makes no sense to me about why you would surround the pizza sauce and toppings with more crust. I hope that handball is better.

Track and Field – The first written records of the Olympic Games date to 776 B.C in ancient Greece and involved a 192-meter race. NBC showed the race at a later time in 775 B.C. in order to get more viewers, but a cook named Coroebus won. Historians believe the Olympics were going on before this, but there was no written record, kind of like when I claim to clean the house or fold the laundry, but the house still looks dirty and the clothes are wrinkly. Either way, track and field events are historic and fun. The 100-meter races are some of the most exciting events in all of sports, and all of the events are fun to watch. I always love the pole vault and think it would be fun, but also terrifying. It also tends to make me uncomfortable like diving. What if they jump over the pad? What if the pole hits them? What if their shirt gets caught? Why don’t they try pole-vaulting onto a trampoline?! That would be sweet!

Table Tennis – While it is a game you might play in your basement, the Olympic level table tennis players are do amazing things and I have no idea how they do any of them. I don’t know how they even see the ball. If I can hit the ball over the net once or twice when I play table tennis, I consider it a success. It’s also cheating, I think, if someone spins the ball so I can’t hit it, especially if that person is one of my brothers. They were always cheating. I wish I could see one of the Olympic players destroy them in table tennis….Also, do Olympic players mind if we call it ping pong?  Is that considered an insult like calling miniature golf “putt putt” or vintage clothing stores “secondhand stores?”

Boxing and Wrestling – Two awesome sports with great storylines that are fun to watch. Also, according to Olympic history, boxing and wrestling were two of the games added to the ancient Olympic games. In 648 B.C. a game called “pankration” was added to the Olympics. This game, and this is true, is described as “a combination of boxing and wrestling with virtually no rules.” This sounds suspiciously like they wanted to add a WWE event to attract viewers, and it was likely awesome.

Plenty of other great events like volleyball, water polo and rugby will also be a part of this year’s Olympics, and it will be fun to watch the games along with millions of other people around the world, cheering for great athletes, watching people overcome tremendous odds and then being so inspired by the competition that we look up that video for Daffy Duck in that Robin Hood episode. It’s the best!

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