Expanding the Olympic Games – German Style

After the unblinking look at the quality of American education (and the supposed American intellectual-level generally) on this site of a few days ago, it’s refreshing to see an article in which a German newspaper turns its focus back on the qualities of the Germans themselves, if in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

That’s what we see on-line today at the Süddeutsche Zeitung with the article The Games Must Be Expanded!

You know, like the way in recent years various new sports (or, in the eyes of some, “sports”) like baseball and beach volleyball have been made full Olympic events. Come to think of it, those new additions suspiciously seem to have in common the fact that they are activities that Americans are particularly good at. Well, says the (unsigned) article, it’s time to start adding events that Germans have shown they can excel in at a world level.

Let’s not fool ourselves with a little gold here, a pile of bronze there: We Germans can only listlessly ride a bicycle, can’t jump high, can’t run away, can hardly shot-put or throw, and when we swim we jump in late, lose our anti-chlorine goggles, and the Dutch win in the end. The world laughs at us. The only thing about our trip to Athens that has impressed so far was marching in [at the opening ceremonies]. . . . But then the fun stops and we become awkward.

The solution, then, is obviously to push the International Olympic Committee to introduce new sports for 2008 in Peking that Germans are truly good at. But the point here is really “sports,” so to speak: there follows a huge list of about 100 such, of which I’ll only give you the following flavor (out of considerations of not going on with this for too long, and also admittedly because some of these are rather difficult to translate):

  • Marching in (OK, that’s been mentioned, but then later on in the list we also find:)
  • Marching out
  • Peering through door peepholes
  • Denouncing neighbors
  • Drinking Weißbier (for those of you who don’t know, that’s a special made-in-Germany wheat beer)
  • Winning land (Oh ho! As in conquering it!)
  • Beating up foreigners
  • Dressing warm
  • Expropriating
  • Being expropriated
  • Driving people out
  • Being driven out
  • Demonstrating (“but only on Mondays” – ooh, this is a sly dig at what’s going on in the contemporary German political scene that I don’t have the space to go into here)
  • Sorting one’s trash (you know: paper, organic, glass, etc.)
  • Not getting impregnated but impregnating (And there follow suggested details about this “sport” which I won’t include, not so much because of any qualities of being risqué but rather because of references probably only Germans would catch – unless you too are up on recent developments in the lives of such personalities as Oliver Kahn and Franz Beckenbauer.)
  • Denying paternity (Ibid.)
  • Storming the buffet
  • Heaping one’s plate
  • Making sausage
  • Not having anything against foreigners, you understand, but . . .

And so on . . . you get the point. One new competition the authors do not propose is “Self-satire”; this piece makes an excellent start to that, of course, but I was surprised to see anything like this on the (Web-)pages of Germany’s serious newspapers and, indeed, can’t remember seeing anything of this sort before in a German media context. Perhaps the best aspect of this satirical sub-genre they’ve invented here is that it is expandable itself to any given nationality you want to skewer: the Amis (Americans) again, or whoever! (Olympic competitions added at the request of the Italians: 1) Wearing cool sunglasses; 2) Finding and using the reverse-gear in military vehicles; etc.) There’s an article-idea for you writers out there casting about for inspiration.

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