February 13, 2001

Worthy or Not Worthy?

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Say what you want to about the XFL’s raunchy and crude image, it’s impossible to deny that creator Vince McMahon and his comrades have devised interesting twists to the traditional football rules. Between the no free catch provision and the “steal the bacon” coin toss, these variations have stirred up spicy conversations across Bushland.

Though the XFL’s alterations were implemented to heighten public interest, games such as innertube water polo, paddle tennis and bumper bowling — all slight modifications on their respective mainstream sport — were created to assist its athletically ailing participants.

In an era where being different is the “in” thing, I thought it was appropriate to give these three “different” activities the newsworthy credit they deserve. And in the spirit of Sports Illustrated’s, “Sport or Not a Sport,” section of its magazine, I will revise that section slightly and speculate on the possibility of these activities being considered worthy of a new Olympic sport nomination.

To begin, innertube water polo is an ingenious idea created by some innovative intramural office around the country, perfectly suited for the indolent college student. With all of the beer consumption and hours of television-induced sedation, a college kid would sink to the bottom of the pool without the assistance of a buoy. College students need rubber-ducky floatation devices to keep their asses afloat.

After a year hiatus from any contact with water, I dove back into the pool last Wednesday night to participate in a game of intramural innertube water polo. Down by two, we rallied to score seven unanswered goals to win 7-5 in thrilling fashion.

On account of an extreme exertion of unknown muscles, high-level of skill and a plethora of old-fashioned fun, I deem innertube water polo as an Olympic-worthy sport. The only requisite is that innertube water polo athletes are restricted from working out and are limited to a regimented diet of beer, pizza and nachos.

Unlike innertube water polo, which is for the lazy and under-25 crowd, paddle tennis is for the old and over-70 crowd. This old-man’s modification of tennis is played with wooden-faced racquets, on a mini-sized court. The serve in paddle tennis is underhand, which gives those with back and shoulder problems a day off from the chiropractor.

Mathematically speaking, it is a game of halves — the racquet is half as long as a normal racquet, the court is half as big as a normal court and the players are usually half as tall as the normal players. The height of the players is due to an age stipulation in the paddle tennis rulebook stating that participants have to be over the age of 70 to participate. The upshot of this rule is a game filled with short, old men.

Nevertheless, the Olympics need some maturity and paddle tennis is a game of skill. Therefore, I support an Olympic nomination for paddle tennis. It even has the possibility of being officially sanctioned if reviewed by the GOC (Geriatric Olympic Committee.)

Bumper bowling is the trickiest call of the three. Customized for the six-year old birthday party, bumper bowling could be played by all. The bumpers not only ensure the ball from not drifting into the gutter but they also provide a direct challenge for more skilled bowlers to use the bumper as a rebound device to hit the pins from an angle.

To further elaborate, like skee-ball in which some of the greatest skeeters use the side to their advantage to consistently skeet over 300, bowlers could use the bumpers to strategically place the ball in the heart of the pins. The bumper could not only be used as insurance for an ill-advised gutter ball toss, but it could also be used like a flipper in a pinball game to ricochet the ball and amass a game replete with strikes.

But who am I kidding, bumper bowling is the farthest thing from an Olympic sport. Therefore, due to the absurdness of the matter, I deem bumper bowling to be unworthy of an Olympic sport nomination.

Unless of course, Vince McMahon gets his hands on bumper bowling. I can only imagine bodacious cheerleaders cheering on six-year old players while they dive head-first, slipping and sliding down the lane, manually knocking down the pins.

Human bowling definitely is an Olympic-worthy nomination.


Archived article by Jason Skolnik