Fantasy Drafts

Monday, March 20, 2006

Olympic Events Draft Guest Commentary

9:13 AM

(cue timpanies) BUM BUM BA-BUM BUM BUM BUM BA-BUM BUM Good evening, and welcome to the Fantasy Draft of the 28th Olympiad. My name is Mike Walsh and I am coming to you plausably live from the Winter Olympics mecca of Houston, Texas, home to 'Merica's top bobsleigh driver, speed skater, and brush-clearer. I am honored to provide up close and personal analysis of this latest Fantasy Draft, following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Jim McCay, Bob Costas and John Tesh. I have been following the Olympics since the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, the games of Brian Boitano, Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bobseld team, and am one of 5 Americans to actually watch the Olympics last month. Now, let's go out to the Bardonecchia for the latest in the competition, which I will pretend is coming to you LIVE but really happened 10 days ago.

Sydney: Bobsleigh, Gymnastics, Diving, Weightlifting, Track (Hurdles), Handball, Beach Volleyball, Skeleton

Spending most of her childhood raised by wolves in the wilderness of Manitoba, Sydney has overcome more than most to compete in this Olympic draft. Her draft is a reflection of her upbringing, with a tendency to follow the pack. All too often, rather than taking the best sport available, she took the weaker of similar sports, such as Diving after Swimming was off the board, Hurdles after the Marathon and Sprints were taken, and Beach Volleyball after Volleyball.

Some analysts will say that she reached by taking Bobsleigh first overall, but given the recent Winter Olympics she can immediately capitalize on a fan favorite (who can resist the sound of cowbells as sleighs slide down the track with rastafarian hair-doos, lucky eggs, and John Candy as their coach). Sydney also had some strong selections late in the draft, including Handball and Skeleton. Handball is a Dirk Nowitzski-type sport with proven European skills that could transform American sport (or, like Darko, flame out due to American indifference), while Skeleton is an intense sport with tremendous upside that will nicely complement the superstar of Bobleigh.

All in all, this is a draft with flashes of greatness, but overall mediocrity. The draft never asserts itself, stuck in the shadow of stronger, more confident drafts.

Country: Canada (Smiley Face Sticker). Nothing intimidating, but likeable all the same.

Chris: Swimming, Figure Skating, Skiing, Decathalon, Short Track, Baseball, Ski Jumping, Snowboarding

With a draft that both NBC and Madison Avenue can love, Chris is drafting for Mom, Apple Pie, and the good ol' U. S. of A. Where others went for cute sports that fascinate us for a couple weeks every four years, Chris was looking beyond the arena for marketable athletes. These are the sports that lead to Wheaties boxes and trips to Disney World - Michael Phelps (swimming), Michelle Kwan (figure skating), Bode Miller (drinking skiing), Dan and Dave (decathalon), Anton Apollo Ohno (short track), Tommy Lasorda (baseball), Shaun White (snowboarding) and the Agony of Defeat Guy (ski jumping) are examples from recent Olympics of the marketing power that Chris's portfolio contains.

Though this is unquestionably the strongest draft, I must say that this draft favors the commercialism of the games over the purity of sport. The Olympics should be a place where stars are made by their own actions in the arena, not by 30 second spots for Nike. Though Chris may win, there is a romantic quality to the niche sports that only enter our consciousness for a quadrennial fortnight, where athletes toil in anonymity for one chance on the world stage to display their skills. I, for one, would rather cheer for the underdog. We'll return to the Sports Reporters after this.

Country: USA (Gold Medal). Yeah, you probably will win, but everyone else will enjoy the schadenfreude when you don't.

Albert: Ice Hockey, Football (Soccer), Boxing, Wrestling, Triathalon, Tennis, Cycling, Curling

Though this is not the most dominant team, it is certainly the broadest portfolio of the draft, displaying a Joycean thread of inexplicable continuity mostly rooted in kicking someone else's ass. The best part of hockey, outside of the flying V, is the fighting; the best part of soccer, outside of Sly Stallone leading the Allies to Victory over the Nazis, is the inevitable kidnapping/assassination of a Latin American superstar following an own-goal. Boxing and Wrestling are both predicated on beating up someone while wearing as little clothing as possible, while any triathlete can definetely kick my ass. Even in tennis, you get tennis-dads putting hits out on other players, while in cycling the entire country of France wants to kick Lance Armstrong's ass (though not until after their nap).

As a former member of the Philadelphia Curling Club, I appreciate Albert's selection of Curling. This is a sport with tremendous updside, featuring established support in Canada and a ready-made American audience in Floridian shuffleboarders. Obviously, curling is the exact opposite of an ass-kicking sport, but it is still a worthy selection. Kudos, Albert.

Country: Ireland (Bronze Medal). Despite their reputation as a jolly, diminutive, cereal-hawking people, modern American college athletics have advanced the stereotype that all Irish are "Fighting." (In reality, a better moniker would be the "Layin' Down in BCS Bowls Irish"). Enjoy the bronze medal, Fightin' Alberts.

Adam: Luge, Table Tennis, Basketball, Volleyball, Fencing, Badminton, Modern Pentathlon, Yachting

If the Olympics were dominated by athletes weaned on brandy and trained on the fields of Cambridge, this would be the team to beat. Unfortunately, this Chariots of Fire team has no hope in the modern Olympics where NBC requires athletes to overcome more than a poor selection of scotch in the Eating Club; furthermore, when you remove the aristocratic names the sports don't sound like they should even be a part of the Olympic Games.

Luge (sledding) is a fun word to say, includes an event where two guys lay on top of one another. If Pat Robertson wasn't so busy calling for hits on foreign leaders, the 700 Club would definetely be calling for a boycott of this sport. Table Tennis (ping-pong), Volleyball (volleyball), Fencing (running at your brother with a stick), Basketball (play keep-away from your annoying cousin), Yachting (Dad why did you drive the boat into the dock?) and Badminton (hit the birdie over the net already, Grandma) are events that seem more appropriate at your next family reunion than at the Olympic games.

One exception to Adam's Family Reunion is the Modern Pentathlon. This is a fascinating event that was designed to emulate the skillls required of a 19th century officer (thus the word "Modern" in the title), and whose most famous competitor was George S. Patton. Patton finished 5th in the 1912 Stockholm games; ironically, his worst event was the shooting (fortunately his military career would emphasize his slapping skills).

Country: Poland (Thanks-for-Participating Certificate). Europe's public park (everyone uses it from time to time), where most of these sports can be played.

Sarah: Marathon, Track (Sprints), Water Polo, Speed Skating, Biathlon, Rowing, Archery, Field Hockey

Sarah is relying on individual success to win this draft, choosing only two team events. Speed will be the hallmark of this collection, whether it be on the roads, track, ice, skis, or skulls. Chris's team may be the most marketable, but this team will likely yield the most compelling up-close and personal stories. Imagine the possibilities with the one-legged marathoner, or the water polo-er who is afraid of water - team sports may get the heavy press, but this is where Bob Costas is going to find the people that make you cry.

From a sport standpoint, this is a strong to very strong portfolio. The speed is always exciting, but is the weapons that really excites me about this team. Biathletes and archers both get to shoot at targets, and will be very good at defending the Olympic Village from intruders, as will the water polo team (inevitably the guys who would get drunk and start fights in college) and the field hockey team (they come armed with nuclear weapons, as the best teams are from India and Pakistan).

Country: Germany (Silver Medal). A solid mix of speed (sprints = Autobahn), endurance (marathon = Germanic Tribes vs. Rome), and heavy armaments (biathlon = Blitzkrieg, kinda), lead to success and a strong desire to overrun Adam.

Thanks to the entire staff for the guess appearance. Please remember, Fantasy Olympic Sports is for entertainment purposes only. If you or a loved one is addicted to Fantasy Olympic Sports, you may want to seek professional counseling immediately.


Blogger Selfish Country Music Loving Lady said...

Excellent commentary, Bryan's Anonymous Friend!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Flash in the Pan said...

this commentary was fantastic. it makes me wish i had participated in the draft. instead i chose to display the apathy towards it as i display to the real olympics. sadness. oh well, there's always next time i suppose.

4:04 PM  

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