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Olympian Self-Seriousness

by Kyle Smith

There should be a gold medal for crying

It’s that orotund opening theme song that drags you into watching the Olympics, that inescapable Cecil B. DeMille bombast suggesting Vulcan beating a kettle drum. Bum-bum-ba-BUM-BUM-bum-bum-ba-BUM-BUM. Battle stations! Ramming speed! Associations rush to mind — the classical splendor, the brotherhood of Man, the apotheosis of the physique, the ennobling of the spirit.

And then we get on with the event: Badminton. Trampolining. Beach volleyball. Water polo. This isn’t the body stretched to its limits — it’s the world’s largest gathering of every crank who took the croquet way too seriously at your last backyard barbecue. Would you invite back the man you found weeping in the shrubbery after he was undone at Jarts? Every four years such eccentrics are held up for our global adulation.

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