Hidden inside my colorful pseudonym is the terrible secret that I am, in fact, a Brit. You know, a Limey. A Pommy. A Redcoat. John Bull's lapdog, which I believe is called John Lapdog (after Shakespeare we lost all our imagination). I could go on, but why should I when Wikipedia already has?
So anyway, imagine my intense intrigue (read: mild interest) when I noticed the following headline on ESPN.com - Height makes right: British Olympic officials seek tall people. Sounds positively scintillating, doesn't it? Tell on, anonymous Associated Press writer...
Answering a nationwide appeal for tall people with athletic potential, more than 50 prospective Olympic athletes have been placed in British training programs for the2012 London Games.
I'm pretty sure that in England the main indicator of British athletic potential - itself a bit of a contradiction in terms - was, you know, "being tall." So "tall people with athletic potential" might be a tad redudant over in the UK. I mean, that's all that John Amaechi brought to the table, and he's probably Britain's most famous athlete.
Clarification One: I am NOT, I repeat NOT, making fun of Mr. Amaechi's homosexuality. I am instead making fun of the fact that he was pretty terrible at basketball.
Clarification Two: The fact that I'm calling John Amaechi Britain's most famous athlete might be read as a culturally ignorant, typically American dismissal of soccer. That is incorrect. It's actually a carefully-considered, stereotypically American "fuck you" to soccer. There also might be some jingoism in there, I'm not sure.
More than 3,800 people applied to be part of the "Sporting Giants" project. They were tested for their skills in four Olympic sports -- rowing, handball, beach volleyball and indoor volleyball.
Britain...not even bothering to pretend they could field a basketball team. At least they're not completely delusional.
"There are so many people out there who don't know how good they could be at sports they've probably not even thought about," UK Sport talent identification manager Chelsea Warr said Thursday.
For the record, I've already thought about all the sports I'm awesome at. Like autoracing? Dude, it's not like you need to parallel park or nothing in Formula One. Football? I mean, how hard can punting be, really? And that shit totally counts as football. I've played more than enough Mario 64 to be a professional gamer (I even found the weird room and everything!). I mean, they haven't come out with anything since Nintendo 64, so I'm set, right?
Also, sepak takraw looks like fun, its rampant showboating notwithstanding.
"This was a mild shake of the tree. We looked under a few rocks and look what we found."
Wait, have the Olympics revived the Mixed Metaphors event? Because that one shows potential, even if a tree and a rock are somewhat related spatially thinking. What about "We're not jumping off the sinking ship until the cows come home" in reference to how hard you're looking for athletes? Or maybe "The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree when you take the road less traveled" when discussing...well, I have no idea what that would be discussing. Sort of the whole point of mixed metaphors, really.
Stuart Campbell, 25, gave up his job as a personal trainer to join the British Handball Academy in Denmark.
"I had never even seen a handball court before Sporting Giants," Campbell said. "But we're not just here to make up the numbers -- we're here to win medals."
Yeah...keep telling yourself that, Stuart. You do realize they don't give participation medals, right? Well, not since Eddie the Eagle, in any case, who incidentally doubles as Britain's most famous Olympian. I'll just let that one sink in.
Frances Nicholls, 23, who had been working as a teacher in York, has now relocated to Henley, home of Britain's most famous rowing regatta, after being fast-tracked onto Britain's national rowing program.
"It's been an absolute whirlwind," Nicholls said.
From York...to Henley? God, it's all glitz and glamor for the British Olympic Rowing Team. I have no idea how they all haven't had heart attacks from the excitement. Well, that and the fact that all the British Olympians are probably horribly out-of-shape. That could also cause heart attacks, especially if they're being expected to compete on an international stage with actual, you know, athletes. You know, from countries where the strategy goes beyond "Let's find some of them tall gits!"
So yeah, massive global pressure and the Henley nightlife. Very equivalent things, both causing heart attacks in British Olympians. I'll say it if no one else will.
Male candidates had to be taller than 6-3, while female candidates needed to be taller than 5-11.
Dear lord...Britain's is trying to recreate the Potsdam Giants! You remember them, right? They were that Prussian regiment that King Frederick William I started back in the 1700s? He basically went around kidnapping lots of tall people, including monks and priests, to be his soldiers so that he would scare the shit out of the enemy. A lot of them were "only" around 5'11", which was pretty tall at the time, but he actually had a few seven-footers in there. Actually, most of them suffered from crippling gigantism, making them unfit for battle, so the Potsdam Giants never did anything more intimidating than make the opposing army think something was wrong with their depth perception. Which has it uses, but still.
Also, he himself was 4'11", so I leave you to draw your own conclusions about why he was so obsessed with having giants in his army. Although I will submit this quote as evidence: "The most beautiful girl or woman in the world would be a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers--they are my weakness." But before you dismiss old Frederick William as a height-fetishizing old coot, do know that he would make them march for him regularly, even if he was on his sickbed, and that usually they were led in the marching by their mascot...a fucking bear. So he may have been a height-fetishizing old coot, but at least he had the common decency to be awesomely insane about it.
But even so, this is how the road to eugenics begin. You randomly decide tall people are better than one thing, and then you decide they're better at all things. Hey, tall people can reach higher shelves...let's make them our librarians! Hey, tall people can push reach their arms slightly further down clogged drains...our plumbers they shall be! And I think everyone knows that as go librarians and plumbers, so goes the nation. Basically, my message to British people of average height: start running, because the British government is committed to breeding a superhuman race of taller people. Oh, the humanity!
However, six candidates who exaggerated their height on the initial application form were still tested and have since been placed in Britain's canoeing squad.
Or not. Stupid Brits, got to always reward moxie and motherfucking pluck. Those are short people traits, Brits! Come on, either you're into eugenics or you're not. There's no halfway!
Five-time Olympic rowing champion Steve Redgrave said looking for potential medal-winners based on their physical attributes was a policy that had served Britain well before.
I'll level with you: long digressions about eugenics and Prussian military history aside, the main reason I went to the trouble of writing this post is coming up. I think you'll agree with me when I say this proves I am twelve-years-old.
"I never thought I would row until my first coach came along and asked me to have a go," Redgrave said. "Years later I asked him 'Why did you pick me?'
Yes, Steven, why were you picked?
"He said, 'Well, you had big hands and big feet."
And we all know what that's supposed to mean! Steven Redgrave's first rowing coach was totally into him because he though he had big feet. Yeah, Steven, dude totally wanted your big *AHEM* feet. Heh, heh...heh.
You guys get that I'm implying Steven Redgrave's coach thought he had a big dick, right? Because I'd hate for such a subtle, highbrow joke like that to go over your heads. You know, because dick jokes are never not funny. That's just comedy science, that is.