...for couch potatoes.
By Alisha Giampola (Writer/Performer)
It's that time again. Every four years, we all collectively look down, brush some of the potato chip crumbs off of our shirts, and wonder if it's way too late to think about becoming an Olympic athlete (it definitely is).
I remember even as a little girl watching the Olympics and knowing with total confidence: oh man, here's something I'm already too old for. The tiny, fierce little US female gymnasts that dominated the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, all my age or just a few years older, already seemed impossible to catch up to. It was clear that none of them had ever done anything except for vaulting their bodies up into the air and landing flawlessly every single day of their as-yet short lives.
I was not a sporty child. I took ballet and was mediocre at it. I disliked both games (rules) and exercise (boring/repetitive). If I had a long Saturday afternoon with nothing to do, I preferred heading to the library with my mom to organizing a backyard baseball game with the kids in the neighborhood. I loved swimming, and was good at it, but mostly enjoyed watching my shadow at the bottom of the pool so that I could press my legs together and pretend that they were fins and I was Ariel. I had a treasured American Girl magazine with a Tara Lipinski interview in it, but was primarily enamored of her gorgeous costumes.
So even if, like me, you're a few decades or a few bags of Cool Ranch Doritos beyond qualifying for this year's Olympics in Rio, what can you do to prepare?
Watching the games is time-consuming and cheering is tiring. You're going to need to stock up on plenty of snacks to fuel your weekends of binge-watching incredibly toned men swim 100 meters faster than you can melt cheese in a microwave. Which brings me to...
Adequate sleep is vital for any athlete and you, as a loyal athletic supporter, need to be well-rested to catch all those moments someone stumbles on their gymnastics mat routine. Can you believe that guy? You could have done better, if you too had trained for 15 years.
The Olympics in Rio don't start until this Friday, and thanks to modern technology and the existence of digital streaming platforms, there will be actual coverage of 6,755 hours of Olympic excitement. That's a level of marathoning no quantity of Everything and Chill can prepare you for. However, those of you who may need some last-minute viewing prep, may we recommend Netflix's really fabulous Stranger Things, which is basically if Stephen King got involved in the making of The Sandlot? Also, as if you already didn't need a reminder that you're far too old for the Olympics, suddenly being reminded how fucking long ago the eighties were is the perfect smack in the face. That, or remembering that some of the CHILDREN competing in this year's games were BORN in the year 2000!!! WHAT.
No, not the musical number from Avenue Q, but the actual portmanteau of emotions that enables one to watch attractive people at the height of their abilities and not feel like an utter failure in comparison. Every time the Olympics rolls around, the media gleefully reminds us that the Olympic Village is basically a Roman orgy every moment that the athletes aren't actively competing. It's hard not to be jealous of people who are all insanely hot and flexible and mainly wearing coverage-equivalents of bikinis heading back to luxurious accommodations and stripping off each others gold and silver medals in a haze of raw pheromones and hot tub steam. This year, however, it's really fun to remember that the athlete housing in Rio has been called unfit for occupancy- sporting exposed wiring and general filth -as well as the fact that the water is running with sewage and human waste. So, go ahead and imagine all those fit people getting it on: just also imagine them getting stomach viruses immediately afterwards. HAHA.
No amount of preparation can get you in the headspace you need to perform well, ultimately the difference between a winner and a loser is a mere billionth of a second, which is exactly why it feels so futile to even make the attempt. Not to mention that the Olympic medals haven't been made out of solid gold since 1912, which naturally feels like a huge rip-off. So don't feel too bad about not qualifying for this, or any Olympics. Remember that if you want to wear roughly 6 grams of real gold while shivering in a Speedo, you can probably make that happen for yourself without spending 10 hours a day training.