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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

Olympics steeped in history

August 9, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

It's impossible to ignore the fact that the 2012 summer Olympics exist. It's the big event that began in ancient Greece, reported to have begun as a series of competitions held between representatives of the Greek city-states in 776 B.C. (though a persistent rumor exists that the Irish preceded them with their games a millennium before then); the Greek games featured mainly athletic, combat and chariot racing events. It was an unwritten rule that all warlike conflicts among the participating nations were postponed until the games were over.

According to mythology, Zeus and his father Heracles originated the games, called them "Olympic," and established the custom of holding them every four years - the period known as the "Olympiad." Supposedly, Heracles built the first Olympic Stadium as an honor to Zeus; he walked in a straight line for 200 steps and called it a "stadion," which later became a unit of distance in which the games were played.

The games also had a religious nature, with sporting events being held along with ritual sacrifices to the gods. Winners of the games were honored with poems and statues.

The ancient games reached their zenith in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., then gradually declined as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece. It was not until the 19th century that they were revived and have since then grown to the point that nearly every world nation is represented - more than 200 nations now participate, with men and women of all races included.

Symbols: The Olympic symbol of five intertwined rings represents the unity of the five inhabited continents: Africa, America Asia, Australia, Europe. The colors in the flag - blue, yellow, black, green, and red, over a white field - were chosen because every nation had at least one of those colors on its national flag. The motto used is the Latin expression "Citius, Altius, Fortius" - "Faster, Higher, Stronger." The creed demands that the games be played, not to win, but to take part - not to triumph but to struggle, to have fought well (What a change today!).

The lighting of the Olympic Flame begins months before the games, lit in Olympia in a ceremony that reflects ancient Greek rituals: A female acting as priestess ignites the torch for the first relay bearer to initiate the relay that will carry the flame to the host city's Olympic stadium.

The games have grown to the point that there are now more than 13,000 athletes competing in 33 different sports and nearly 400 events, with endless rules and regulations modifying to suit the growth.

Less seriously than the London games are humorous take-offs, bound to be created. One for our amusement recently popped up in the web pages, describing "Redneck Olympics" - yes, corny, but...

FIELD HOCKEY tests to see who can run the farthest through a cow pasture without stepping even once in "you know what" - an exciting game when played at night with flashlights.

SKIPPING ROCKS is the oldest and most traditional of all Redneck games, and the heavy-weight division is most popular, with the contestants trying to skip bricks.

FLINGING, originated by an ancient Redneck trying to clean his yard, is often accompanied by the exciting sound of something breaking.

ROWING is a less popular sport because most Rednecks agree that "If you can't afford a motor, you can't afford a boat."

LONG JUMP is a Redneck favorite since all participants own numerous sets of jumper cables and all their vehicles have ailing batteries.

BUSH HOGGING FOR DISTANCE: Put her in drive and hold on tight! A blatant disregard for personal property is an essential here.

2 BY 4 RELAY was originated at night on construction sites by people looking to enlarge their own construction piles at budget prices.

Note: Check out the new pottery and photography art gallery in Copper Harbor.

Rotten Tomatoes averages: "Total Recall," C-; "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," C



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