Are you a squatter? If you’re going to the Olympics you better be

Beijing ran into yet another roadblock as they prepare to host the 2008 Olympics. Now it seems there is a problem with, of all things, the toilets. Apparently, most of the Chinese are squatters; not the homeless kind of squatters who live in abandoned buildings, but actual squatters…you know, when they go. Problem is, most of the foreigners coming for the Games like to rest their bottoms right on that stinky, piss-stained seat where thousands, nay, millions of butts have sat before. What the hell is up with those wacky Chinese?

The issue came up again over the weekend when the San Diego Padres played the Los Angeles Dodgers at the new Olympic baseball venue. The portable toilets trucked in were of the style used widely in Asia, but rarely in the West.

Yao [Hui, deputy director of venue management for the Beijing organizers] suggested it would be difficult to change every permanent toilet in the 37 venues, 31 of which are in Beijing. So he said the focus would be on satisfying three groups of visitors: athletes, journalists and the Olympic family, meaning primarily VIPs. …

“Most of the Chinese people are used to the squat toilet, but nowadays more and more people demand sit-down toilets,” Yao said. “However, it will take some time for this transition.

Hold on just a second. You mean we’re supposed to get up and use a toilet during the big events? Geez, things really are different in China.


[]: Toilets Could Be Olympic-Sized Problem


Horses get turned into glue when they get old, horse riders go to the Olympics

We’ve always heard that life goes straight downhill at 30. By that point, your washed up, fragile, mentally lost, physically weak and your only options left in life are to join ESPN or learn the samba on Dancing With the Stars. Oh, wait; that only applies to NFL running backs. Turns out 30 years old might just be a jumping off point fro the rest us.

Equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu last went to the Olympics when he 22 years old, finishing 40th in his specialty, the show jumping event. Well, Hoketsu is back in the saddle again a few Olympics later and he’s ready to show the world that age is just a number. Oh, did we mention the last time he took to the worldwide stage was in 1964?

At 67, Hoketsu would beat the previous record age for a Japanese Olympian set by fellow equestrian Kikuko Inoue, who was 63 when she rode at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

“It is more than likely Mr Hoketsu will take part in Beijing,” the Japan Equestrian Federation’s Azusa Kitano told Reuters on Thursday.

“He will be in the team dressage. He hasn’t been at an Olympics since 1964, which was 44 years ago, but he has continued riding all this time.”

The oldest Olympian was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn who won his sixth Olympic medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72 years and 280 days.

The youngest athlete to participate at the Olympics was Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who competed in the 1896 Athens Olympics. He was 10.

Wow, now that’s impressive. The guy is going to be 67 and he’s still riding horses! Who does he think he is? Superman? Okay, maybe that was a poor reference.


[]: Age no barrier for sexagenarian horseman

General Sports

Olympic medalist wants more gold, as in gold records

In case you don’t know, Carly Patterson won the Olympic all-around title in gymnastics for the United States in 2004. Since reaching the ultimate pedestal in her athletic field, Patterson has turned her attention and passion toward another skillful endeavor: singing. Now, we haven’t ever heard any of Patterson’s vocal stylings, so were not going to say she sucks just yet, but we are defiantly going to be suspicious until we hear her belt out our national anthem at a basketball game. Olympian Carl Lewis thought he could sing too until this fiasco left Derrick Coleman and Michael Jordan in hysterics.


[]: Olympic gold medalist singing a new tune with music career


Ballroom dancing continues its attempt at world domination

We used to think that skateboarding was just about the dumbest “sport” in the world to get Olympic consideration, but then we saw that the International Olympic Committee was looking at ballroom dancing for their next big attraction. In fact, the IOC was responsible for getting the ball rolling on the whole idea by declaring ballroom dancing as Dance-Sport. Now, with the whole Dancing With the Stars sensation that is sweeping the nation, it’s starting to look like ballroom dancing Dance-Sport is well on its way to boring the Olympics’ entire male contingency within the next decade.

Anybody who has done it knows it’s a sport because it’s hard,” said James Fraser, International Dance Sport Federation Presidium member. The point of the name change, he said, was “to direct the whole consciousness of what we’re doing to a sport rather than an art.”

There’s no doubt it can be physically taxing. The muscle exertion and breathing rates of competitors in a two-minute ballroom dance were equal to those of cyclists, swimmers and an Olympic 800-meter runner during the same time, according to a 1986 study at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

In 2002 DanceSport submitted a request to be considered for admission to the Olympics. The IOC considers several factors in adding a sport, including the sport’s history and tradition, popularity and cost. DanceSport will not be included in the 2012 Olympic Games but could be added in 2016.

In its report last summer on future Olympic Games, the IOC asked DanceSport to increase its spectatorship and television viewership, both of which the dancing community has been doing steadily.

About the only positive to come from this whole ordeal is that we feel certain there’s a Dance-Sport spoof in the near future starring Will Ferrell.


[]: Could ballroom dancing be next Olympic sport?


It takes a lot of training to make it to the Olympics, even if you’re sitting in the stands

The Chinese are totally stoked that the Olympics are coming this summer. In fact, they are so excited about the big event they are even learning to cheer! Yup, what you consider second nature, the Chinese population is learning from tutors. Of course, their cheering is a bit more civilized than the typical Joe Six-Pack’s drunken slurs and rants, even if it is rather corny.

Zhongguo, Zhongguo — ha, ha, ha. Zhongguo, Zhongguo bi sheng,” the crowd shouts, simultaneously beating yellow, stick-shaped batons to the rhythm. “Jia you, jia you.” Rough translation: “China, China — ha, ha, ha. China, China must win. Let’s go, let’s go.”

One of about 20 cheers approved by authorities, it’s drilled a half-dozen times, orderly repetitions practiced in a meeting hall darkened by stained gray carpet squares and wood paneling. Thirty red and yellow paper lanterns dangle overhead, casting faint light on government slogans papering the walls.

Welcome to the “Beijing Civilized Workers Cheering Squad,” a public-education program to teach sportsmanship, all part of a larger Olympic etiquette campaign to show off a polite, prosperous and powerful China.

The 2 ½ hour prim and proper pep rally is to ensure that the culture upholds a positive image by continuing a tradition of hospitality when attending sporting events that they are unfamiliar with; which is a great thing in our opinion, even if it is rather corny.

China’s authoritarian government fears any glitches, which could happen with fans attending unfamiliar sports like baseball, sailing or field hockey, which are as foreign in China as a bullfight in Belgium.

Cheering at the wrong moment, taking photos when they’re prohibited or cell phones going off as swimmers teeter on the starting blocks are potential snags that could draw negative coverage.

Not to mention that it’s really distracting for players when fans are yelling gibberish about haggling prices.

At a field hockey test event this summer between Argentina and Australia, hundreds of middle-age women were bused in to add atmosphere — the kind of instant numbers only China can muster. The women tried to imitate cheers in Spanish, but got it wrong.

“Ba mao si fen han de di le,” they chanted, which in Chinese could roughly mean: “Eighty-four cents, you’ve offered a price too low.” Nobody could figure out what this had to do with field hockey.


[MSNBC]: Chinese getting lesson in cheering for Olympics


$800,000 for this 2012 London Olympics logo?

The new 2012 Olympics logo was unveiled today and it looks like some kid threw his pink puzzle blocks on the floor, saw that it vaguely resembled “2012” and went with it. And for this, the London 2012 Olympics committee spent $800,000.

Despite all the public criticism of how terrible it is, organizers are defending it as “dynamic” and “vibrant”.

Lord (Seb) Coe, chairman of the London Games organising committee (Locog), told the BBC: “We don’t do bland – this is not a bland city. We weren’t going to come to you with a dull or dry corporate logo that would appear on a polo shirt and we’re all gardening in it a year’s time.”

Tony Blair raised hopes that the symbol would leave people “inspired to make a positive change in their life” while Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, praised it as a “truly innovative brand” that would appeal to the young.

Appeal to the young? They were probably targeting the 18-25 year-old demographic but ended up hitting the 18-24 months target instead.

There’s already a petition with over 10,000 signatures to scrap the logo.

[]: London unveils 2012 Olympics logo
[Life Style Extra]: More Than 10,000 Sign Petition To Scrap Olympic Logo


China’s nomination for "Father of the Year"

If you think that parents of young, talented gymnasts or baseball players can be too hard on their kids; just wait until you get a load of Zhang Jianmin. Jianmin is living the tough life in China and so, instead of busting hump to provide for his family, he makes his daughter, Zhang Huimin, run her ass off in hopes that she can become a celebrity runner in the 2016 Olympics. Oh, did we mention that the girl is only 8 years old?

Her dad started making her run at 4 and by the age of 6 she was running eight miles; at 7 she completed a marathon in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 45 seconds. The 42 pounds of little girl has to get up around 2:30 a.m. every weekend to run a marathon (26 miles) before school and she runs countless more miles before school every day during the week.

My plan is that we will have a hard five years,” he said, “and then, when she reaches 12 or 13 years old, she could take part in more national competitions. Hopefully, a professional team will take her.

Apparently, Jianmin used to be a bit of an athlete himself but his dreams never materialized, so we’re guessing that now he’s trying to recapture his glory days through his daughter while looking for a free meal ticket in the process. And we thought that Richard Williams was a crappy father.


[The Daily O’Collegian]: Going for gold
[Steroid Nation]: Eight year old girl runs a marathon schedule

Texas Rangers

Odds and Ends: Six Degrees of Kenny Lofton

We stumbled upon this amazing stat today on 87% of active players have roomed with Lofton. How is that even possible? That’s gotta be a misprint right? He’d be like the Derek Jeter Justin Timberlake of baseball, hitting hotel rooms with everyone in sight. We think the writer was using one of them artistic license thingamajigs. Nonetheless, it’s pretty amazing the number of unis Lofton has donned over the years.

Kenny Lofton broke into the majors in 1991 with the Astros, spent 9 seasons with the Indians (with a stint in Atlanta to break up the monotony) and since then has played for a different team (or two) every season. 2002: White Sox, Giants. 2003: Cubs, Pirates. 2004: Yankees. 2005: Phillies. 2006: Dodgers. 2007: Rangers. Wow. What a baseball ho.

In other news:

[]: Athlete stock exchange? It’s one way for college players like Kevin Durant to get paid.

[SignOnSanDiego]: Teenage matador who left Spain because they ban teenage matadors gets gored by bull in Mexico. Of course.

[Flash Warner]: In case you needed more evidence that Bode Miller is a bitch.

[Yay Sports]: Sure, Danny Ainge has made a mistake… or 5.

[The Hater Nation]: Damn, you’d think Tom Coughlin shtupped his wife or something. Give it a rest, Tiki.

And finally, a couple of youtube videos that prove that video blogging is a BAD BAD idea. First, a Cowboys fan calls out an Eagles blogger. And then an Eagles fan(?) compares Eagles fans and Cowboys fans to Shiite and Sunni muslims and asks, can’t we just get along?


Feb 22 in Sports History: The Miracle on Ice

In 1998: Players on the United States Olympic hockey team celebrated their failure to reach the medal round and their 1-4 record with a trashing of their hotel rooms that would’ve made The Who jealous. Despite an “investigation,” it was never revealed which players were responsible for over a thousand dollars worth of damage at the Nagano, Japan Olympics.

But thankfully, February 22, 1980 was a date in sports history that put USA Hockey in a little bit better light. Between 5 P.M. and 8 P.M on a Friday evening in Lake Placid, NY, a group of college kids from the United States pulled off the greatest sports moment of the 20th Century (according to Sports Illustrated). Facing the almighty Soviet Union in the first game of the men’s ice hockey medal round, the Americans won 4-3. The Russians were an unstoppable locomotive in international competition. They came into the 1980 games having won four consecutive gold medals, destroying every NHL team in its wake in a series of exhibitions, and for good measure, toying with U.S coach Herb Brooks’ very same amateurs in a pre-Olympic tune-up the week before the games with a 10-3 drubbing at Madison Square Garden.

But on this day, the Americans would surprise everybody. The Russians came out clicking, scoring two goals in the first, but a strange thing happened: the Americans wouldn’t go away. Trailing 2-1 in the closing seconds of the first period, the USSR defensemen eased up for a spilt second before the horn sounded, allowing American Mark Johnson to race in and beat uber-goalie Vladislav Tretiak to tie the score 2-2. Then, Soviet coach Viktor Tihkinov made probably the dumbest move in sports history: he decided to replace Tretiak, who was considered the finest goalie in the world at the time. Still, the Russians led 3-2 going into the final period. Only the goaltending of Jim Craig kept the Americans close.

In the third period, the Americans did what they had done in four of their first five Olympic contests: they overcame a deficit to win. Around the eight minute mark, they finally went on the power play and tied the score on another Mark Johnson goal. Then, with exactly ten minutes to go, team captain Mike Eruzione got the puck at the blue line and (while ABC announcer Ken Dryden was babbling over the great Al Michaels), flipped a shot that beat the Russian goaltender to give Team U.S.A their first lead of the game. The scene that followed gave every American goosebumps: Eruzione danced down the ice as the entire team stormed off the bench to celebrate with him (most who were watching–albeit on tape delay–did too).

Team U.S.A held on the final ten minutes, and their victory was punctuated by the greatest call ever, by Al Michaels: “Do you believe in Miracles? YES!!”

The Miracle On Ice, of course, was surrounded by the politics of the Cold War. Was it was beating those “commie bastards” in something, anything that made people feel good? Was it the fact that the Russians didn’t actually play anywhere near to their standards in the final half of the game (yes folks, the Russians played poorly, watch the tape…)? Or was it just a fine exhibition of perseverance and dedication with an unwavering belief by a group of kids who didn’t know any better? Whether it was one or all three, it didn’t matter because it just made people feel good.

It should always be remembered that this game didn’t give the Americans any medal. They had to beat Finland two days later to wrap up the gold. Of course, as an athletic contest, it was the greatest moment in our sporting history. But, this victory took on so much more meaning to the American people that it will never be forgotten throughout our history.

P.S. Apologies that the cliche and hyperbole filter wasn’t working due to rust. But there’s something about this game that you just can’t help but let it go.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Oct 13 in Sports History: Pirates win the World Series

In 1960: In perhaps the greatest Game 7 in sports history, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit the first series-winning, bottom-of-the-ninth homerun in 57 World Series’ to defeat the heavily favored New York Yankees. With the score tied 9-9 at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, Mazeroski connected off a 1-0 Ralph Terry pitch and drove it over the left field fence to give the Pirates their first title since 1925. Overlooked was the fact that the Pirates spoiled a remarkable comeback by the Yankees in the top half of the inning. Trailing 9-7 after unknown Hal Smith’s three-run homer in the eighth, the Yankees rallied behind Mickey Mantle and Bobby Richardson to tie the game. Maz trumped them all with his famous blast in the ninth, and sent jubilant Pirates fans onto the field and into the streets of Pittsburgh in celebration. It was one of the most contrasting World Series’ ever, as the Yankees won their games by scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0, while the Pirates won the closer ones, 6-4, 3-2, 5-2 and 10-9. According to baseball, Game 7 was the only WS game in history in which no strikeouts were recorded by either team. Mazeroski, known more for his defense than his bat, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.

In 1982 After 70 years, the International Olympic Committee posthumously restored the two gold medals Jim Thorpe had won in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Thorpe had easily won gold and set records in the pentathlon and decathlon. He was stripped of his medals, however, when the IOC discovered that the had been paid to play minor league baseball, which compromised his amateur status. Thorpe, a Native American, was widely considered the greatest athlete of his generation. Not only did he dominate the Olympics, but he also played professional baseball for the New York Giants, Boston Braves and Cincinnati Reds. He was an All-American running back in college, played pro football for the Canton Bulldogs and was even the first president of the National Football League.