The Grand Exhibition of Human Feebleness

Talking Animal

London 2012 actually kicked off in Cardiff a few days ago. Luckily, though, it officially starts today. In London. Let’s not dwell on geographical peculiarities, though — the biology class is where the most startling and monumental absurdities of The Olympics are revealed.

The Olympic Holes
The Olympic Holes. One for each continent to throw human potential in to.

The people with the loud voices would have you believe that the whole nation is in a state of orgasmic glee over the Olympics coming to London. That is, though, with the utmost respect for celebrity jogger Seb Coe and waddling clown Bozo Johnson, to use the single most precise, appropriate word the beautifully expressive English language has to offer, bollocks. I just thought that maybe I should, if it’s legal, humbly point out that we aren’t, actually, all gaily skipping down the street hand-in-hand about it. A rather large amount of us actually, well… a large amount of us are crying inside.

You might have noticed that a few grumbles have arisen about the issue of immense disruption suffered by locals, polls have shown that a majority of people believe taxpayers have paid too much towards the event and a small business or two have had a bit of a sulk about the heavy-handed application of rules and regulations supporting anti-competitive behaviour (it’s another matter for those healthy big businesses, though). But, those points aside, there is one reason why, on an absolutely fundamental level, the arrogant Olympics machine is ridiculous: humans are rubbish at athletics.


Now, indeed, I am initially singling out athletics. I will give you the sports events — those where the competitors need to utilise that most magnificent, human-defining organ called a brain in a species-unique way — but running? Jumping? Throwing stuff? Come on! A member of my household can run faster than Usain Bolt and she spends most of her time sleeping on a pillow and eating biscuits (oh how she laughed when Bolt proclaimed he would target a time of 9.4 seconds in the 100 metres. “8 seconds!” she said, “I’ll do it in 8! Easy!”). Games that involve thinking, tactics, complex rules? OK. Humans are definitely good at that. Sticking a troop of baboons on a football pitch… wait… that’s a bad analogy… putting a herd of zebra in a swimming pool and asking them to play water polo might provide some amusement to the more perverse minds out there but I can think of no better animal than the human to produce a thoroughly entertaining game.

However, as all but the most obstinate of humans knows full well, athletics is the very heart of the Olympics. Hell, let’s not beat around the bush — the Olympics is an athletics event with a few other bits and bobs bolted on to it. The Olympics is the DVD, athletics is the film and the rest are the extra features. And, unfortunately, it’s an Adam Sandler film.

What’s the point in being human and dedicating your life to running? It’s like using a Fabergé egg as a meat tenderiser.

Take running: Spending your waking moments doing little more than training to run faster is mindbogglingly stupid. Actually stupid, at the most literal level. Like, bordering on insane. What’s the point in being human and dedicating your life to running? It’s like using a Fabergé egg as a meat tenderiser. Compared to almost every other animal, humans are diabolical at sprinting. Sure, the sloth or koala or the icon-of-slow tortoise might not be able to compete but the list on the other side is shamefully long; let’s just mention some of the more obvious specimens — cheetah, gazelle, horse, oh, and did I mention my own cat? We’re not even the fastest bipeds on the block, for Darwin’s sake — an ostrich, a bird for crying out loud, would leave us in its dust and, just to rub it in, a red kangaroo would do it hopping! They could be running in a sack like a child at a school sports day and they would still win. As if things weren’t embarrassing enough. Luckily, to give some credit, humans aren’t quite as awful when it comes to long-distance running but, still, next to the likes of camels, huskies (domestic dogs!), or that pesky ostrich yet again, humans are still losers. Sad losers. Sad feeble losers.

In fact, if it was species vs. species, humans would struggle to even qualify for any of the athletics events except, perhaps, that reverse-limbo dancing novelty one where people hurl themselves over a bar with the help of a big bendy stick. I would wager that even in the decathlon and heptathlon, or “The Compromise Events”, as they’re sometimes known, humans would struggle, even if other species had to forfeit one or two elements of the event entirely.

Fishy flailing and other frivolities

But it doesn’t actually stop at athletics, does it? No, why stop at shaming ourselves there? Some of the extra features are rubbish, too. Swimming? Are you serious?! Those few mammals that decided to pop back into the water tens of millions of years ago did away with this leg nonsense and turned their forelimbs into flippers for a reason. Dolphins, joined by sailfish and marlin, to name a few, would exhibit a mixture of pity and riotous amusement at the sight of apes thrashing around gracelessly in the water this summer, struggling from one end of a large bathtub to another painfully slowly. And boxing? They might miss a few nuances of the rules but a swift swipe from a gorilla will make a punch from their close DNA neighbour feel like a sloppy slap from an asthmatic toddler. Oh, and they have weightlifting at this thing as well, don’t they? That’s hilarious. Clever you! You picked up almost as much metal as any juvenile elephant can! With its nose! Well done, you.

So, Seb, Bozo, pathletes, nutters who are wearing oversized badges and garish lanyards just to walk down the overcrowded streets of London, not only are some of us failing to find a snug place in our warm hearts for this event of events of yours, some of us humans have slightly less than no interest in it whatsoever. I do hope that this is at least understandable because, after all, the Olympics is the world’s grandest exhibition of just how pathetic a human can be.

Written by Patrick Griffiths on .

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