Grubstreet has learned from highly placed sources that Canadian Olympic Officials hope to introduce as many as three new demonstration sports at the 2010 Vancouver Games. It is a canny move that would, if successful, increase Canada's profile and lead to bigger medal hauls down the road.
Top of the buzz list - and justifiably so - is Ice Basketball, which adds elements of two sports that have long been Canadian strengths to the playing of a game invented by a Canadian. Ice Basketball is played on skates, on ice, and in a hockey rink; but with bare hands and a basketball. Basketball scoring and penalty rules apply, and players wear basketball uniforms. Watch out for those knees on the ice!
Players going for a jump shot, lay-up or dunk - and even a free throw - can add to their point total on the shot by mixing in a "degree of difficulty" rating. For example, if a player attempts a basket while making a double axel jump, he or she can secure up to 50% as many points again, depending upon how well the maneuvered is exercised. If he or she goes for a triple lutz, the degree of difficulty jumps to 76%. International figure skating judging rules will apply, except that judges will be expected not to accept bribes and fix scores.
While players will also be discouraged from kneecapping one another and wearing afro style haircuts under their helmets, fighting will not be banned outright. Instead, players who fight will be required to execute a 'sweater holding dance' together, for the same length of time as they fight. The loser of the dance receives a minor penalty. Artistic impression will count heavily in the judges' scoring.
One hockey commentator was not convinced. "This is some think that sounds like it comes from European sissies" he muttered. "What's next: spangled leotards? I'd have been run out of Hershey if we tried it there. Speaking of Hershey, it reminds me of the time when me and the guys were on this six hour bus trip...."
Canadian Olympic officials brushed off the criticism, noting that if the audiences for basketball, figure skating and hockey could be combined, almost everyone "except your Margaret Atwoods and birdwatchers" would be in front of a TV set.
A second demonstration sport under consideration is the "Contemporary Biathlon." Cross country skiers will traverse an urban landscape and follow a route that links a series of Tim Horton's franchises. Before moving out of a Tim's, competitors must ingest 50 Timbits. "It sounds tough", said one official, "but it's a little bit easier than it sounds because they can choose the flavours they want and wash them down with a large double double. What will be tough is to stop looking out for tree stumps and keeping away from muggers instead." "I can't wait for the video game" he added wryly.
Olympic officials have flatly denied a rumour that the Olympic torch relay will be available for sponsorship and made the object of a "roll up the flame" contest. "We've got our principles" said Bernard Georges Shaw, head of the Games' marketing team. "We're not for sale if the bid isn't high enough. Even then, we'd want to be sure the public was satisfied it was getting the odds the sponsors claimed. You never know with roll up contests these days."
But perhaps the most interesting sport of all is one lifted directly from day to day Canadian life. Tentatively called "Taking out the Garbage", it attempts to replicate the feat performed by most Canadian homeowners once a week between November and May. The aim of the contest is to carry a fully weighted garbage pail approximately 50 metres down a sidewalk and driveway without suffering a concussion, fracture or heart attack, and without spilling the contents or dropping the pail. Contestants keep repeating the manoeuvre until only one is left standing.
"We will require contestants to sign a lengthy and explicit waiver of liability form" said an Olympic official. "Quite frankly, we're targeting this sport to the late night audience that watches blood fights and car crashes. And..", he said, sotto voce, "...we plan to make a ton of money doing so. It tested a lot higher than the idea we had for Extreme Curling".
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