Thursday, July 14, 2005

What high school has varsity chain-sawers?

As you may have realized, I tend to write my pithy titles for these posts first, then veer wildly from the topic at hand.

But today's title is my way of pondering how exactly one qualifies for the Great Outdoor Games on ESPN.

I started watching these yesterday because I am fascinated by two sports: Women's Log Rolling and the one where women run across floating logs (whose name I don't know, but is probably Women's Log Running).

Why just the women? Well, A) they're more attractive, even if every single one of them could probably kick the ever-loving snot out of me; and B) as with most sports, the women tend to be both more pleasant and more emotional, and therefore, more fun to watch.

But that's not really my point. My point is, who the heck comes up with this stuff?

I mean, the riflery, I can understand. (Oddly enough, in the Great OUTDOOR Games, the riflery got rained out. I'm not making that up.) That's almost a useful skill.

Chain-sawing, maybe. I think there's regular sawing, too. I'm not a lumberjack, but I'm assuming men still do this, and not machines.

But how does one become one of the world's great chain-saw wielders? Is there a lumberjack Olympics? Do they keep stats like trees-per-minute average? Do you have to have made a horror movie?

Look, I'm patently an indoorsman, so maybe these are obvious questions to the more nature-inclined. But if it's on ESPN, most of the time, I understand it, if not enjoy it. Even the X Games, I get. My friends growing up were skaters.

But Log Rolling may be the most ridiculous sport I've ever seen, and one without any practical use whatsoever that I can determine.

And yet, there's a seven-time world champion woman who's spawned not one, not two, but three daughters who all made the quarterfinals. One of 'em won, too - after the defending champ, the only woman ever to win a GOG gold medal (four straight!), was upset in the semis. One of the others has beaten this legendary champion not once, but twice (including in the Bronze Medal match).

Also amazing is that the ESPN commentators discuss things like technique, skill level and so forth as if they were dissecting the All-Star game. Which, I suppose, this is, for outdoors people. But I mean, you've never heard of any of these log rollers, and yet you probably have heard of at least some, if not most, of the baseball All-Stars. But I mean, these commentators KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. Or at least fake it real well. Amazing.

Can't wait for the Log Running.

(By the way, if you've gotten this far and still have no clue what Log Rolling is, picture two people standing on a floating log, facing the short side, and running like hell in place while the log spins around and around in the water. First one to fall off loses.)

Also on last night's show was the Small Dog Agility event, which involves small dogs (duh!) running like hell through mazes and jumping over fences and the like, all while their trainers ran alongside yelling incomprehensibly, some cheerfully, some meanly.

This left me pondering my own dog, Morgan, who I decided is probably better suited for weiner-dog racing than agility courses. He can run really fast, even if he is a senior citizen in dog years, and he certainly is agile and flexible. (He's a dachshund, yet he can lick his, um, favorite parts. That's flexible. He can actually catch his tail when he chases it.)

But the commentators said discipline and the ability to follow instructions are the keys to this event. Along with accuracy.

My poor puppy's 0-for-3 there. Now, maybe if this sport involved running, jumping over fences and eating things, he might do OK, but I can imagine him veering off course (that's a fault) to, say, lick the commentators' faces. Or stopping to pee. Or possibly chasing anyone with food.

Weiner-dog racing seems easier. They line 'em up, the owner stands at the other end with a biscuit or toy, and they let 'em run. For a biscuit, Morgan could probably outrace Secretariat. And he actually comes when you call. (Most of the time.)

But getting him to run through a tunnel and up and over a teeter-totter would probably only marginally easier than having him teach astrophysics. He's just not that bright. But I love him anyway.

I wonder how he'd do at Log Rolling?

The Great Outdoor Games
Dachshund racing

My Google search for a dachshund racing link revealed that this is apparently a very controversial sport. So here's a little pro and con and con.


Freak Magnet said...

Who says a sport has to be useful? What the hell use is football, other than to exercise its players and entertain its spectators. Log rolling, from what I understand, takes a lot of skill, and is very rewarding to the people who do it, I've heard. I read an article where a whole FAMILY of log rollers had logs in the swimming pool for practice. They all loved it.

Ace said...

But consider the juxtaposition of useful and useless sports at this one particular event.

Ace said...

Oh, and I should emphasize that I actually enjoy watching the Log Rolling. It seems very, very difficult, too. I have trouble standing up on level ground.

But what you could do with that skill in any setting is beyond me. Whereas, say, the use of a chain saw or the ability to climb a tree quickly makes perfect sense given some outdoor professions. (Not relative to, say, quote-unquote normal sports, most of which are generally useless outside the combat arena.)

My guess is that family you read about could well be the one I mentioned, with the mother and three daughters. They practice like mad, too, according to the commentators.