As you might have heard, the Olympic Games have begun. Non-stop coverage of young, lithe, athletic people has me fantasizing about what might have been if I wasn’t short and clumsy. In my early teen years I was an excellent swimmer. I did reasonably well until everyone else grew taller and could beat me simply by virtue of the fact that their arms were longer. In high school, I was a varsity volleyball player. The fact that I could nearly walk under the net without ducking my head only helped to hone my skills as a setter by not having to waste time practicing those pesky jumping and blocking skills. Needless to say, any dreams I had of being in the Olympics were never realized.
If I can’t be an athlete, could there still be some way for me to participate in the Olympics? I wouldn’t want to be a referee, judge or time-keeper. With so many hopes and dreams on the line, these jobs are a very stressful way to be involved in the games. Being one of the sports commentators appears to be a great option with an all-expense paid trip to the Olympics and great seats to events. However, my lack of sports knowledge might be a detriment to the viewers at home who are expecting in-depth analysis of the action. After much consideration, I came to the conclusion that the only way I am qualified to participate in the Olympics is as a spectator.
Fully committed to that role, I watched hours of Olympic coverage this past weekend. During the archery competition I discovered that there was a way I could keep my Olympic dream alive. After the archers shot their arrows at the target, someone walked down to the target, removed those arrows and brought them back. That’s something I could do! Sure, I’ll never compete as an athlete or feel the weight of a medal draped around my neck, but there is still a way for me to participate in the Olympic Games. After that realization, I began to watch Olympic events more intently. The talent of the world-class athletes was admirable, but I was focused on something else. I watched the background for the unsung heroes who are a crucial part of the Olympic Games. The skills these men and women demonstrated while carrying out their Olympic duties are strikingly similar to skills I have mastered while doing housework. Without even knowing it, I’ve had years of training. I’m now ready to rise to the Olympic level. Unlike athletes who spend their lives training for one sport, my skills are applicable in a wide variety of sporting events.
Basketball and indoor volleyball – Between points and during time outs, a team of people with mops runs out to wipe the sweat from the floor. I have many years of mopping experience, although I normally don’t have an audience or run while mopping at home.
Long jump and triple jump – Before the leaf blower became commonplace for yard work, we gathered fallen leaves the old-fashioned way; with a rake. My experience with this low-tech hand tool qualifies me to be the person who rakes the sand after the judges have measured the distance each contestant has jumped.
Gymnastics and weight-lifting – Have you seen the mess around the chalk bowl? Someone needs to dust all that.
Rhythmic gymnastics – You can’t tell me that long ribbon they twirl around doesn’t get tangled. I’ve spent hours of my life untangling things – hair, electrical cords, the innards of cassette tapes and shoelaces.
Sailing – As long as I’m bragging about my untangling skills, I should mention that those same skills qualify me to be the person who stands on the dock to untie the boat before the race begins.
Swimming – Did you notice that the swimmers leave the ready room fully clothed? When they reach the starting blocks they place their clothes into a small laundry basket which someone carries away. I have carried many a laundry basket during my lifetime. The wet, slippery pool deck offers an added bit of athleticism to make the job more challenging.
Track and field – Tidying my house on a daily basis means picking up errant items and returning them to their proper place. That same skill set could be used to fetch the shot-put, discus and javelin and return those to the athletes.
Marathon and road race cycling –At designated points on the race route, people from an athlete’s team stand on the side of the road and hand out a bag of food or bottle of water. I’ve been training for that task for years by standing at my front door handing out Halloween candy to pushing, grabbing trick-or-treaters.
Equestrian – I’ve scooped cat litter most of my life. While I’m sure the volume of the horses’ droppings and the size of the shovel needed would be vastly different from those used in a litter box, picking up poop is picking up poop.
I’m not sure how to apply for any of these positions, but I have 4 years until the next summer games to figure out how to get hired. If I that doesn’t work out, I could always participate in the Olympics by being an official usher like the woman in this video. I certainly have the necessary sarcasm skills for the job.