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Punch Drunk: Be a Sport

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Twenty-six sports recently applied for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo. Some of them were contested in previous Olympics, such as baseball and softball, which were included from 1992 to 2008. The popularity of both in Japan has them as locks to be reinstated. Another, tug of war, was contested from 1908 to 1920, and has slightly less of a chance to make it. Although can you imagine a team of the NFL’s strongest offensive lineman facing off against five of Japan’s biggest sumo wrestlers? I’d pay to watch that.

Other sports that applied are incredibly varied, including polo, bowling, racquetball, wushu (some sort of martial arts system), squash, Frisbee, water-skiing, floor ball and something called korf ball — which is from the Netherlands and involves balls, baskets and nets, and is sort of like basketball but also not at all like basketball. These Dutch — always have to be different.

Snooker and its brooding star, Ronnie O’Sullivan, also hope to make it in. If you aren’t from the UK, that probably means absolutely nothing to you, and it shouldn’t, you wanker.

Chess and bridge are on the list of hopefuls as well, which while tough mentally and possibly more challenging than any physical contest, are not sports. My grandma thinks otherwise, but she won’t stand up and say it to my face — because she can’t.

The International Olympic Committee recently dropped its cap of 28 sports per Olympics, but a cap remains on the total of medal events (310) and participants (10,500), so it remains to be seen if America will emerge as the world’s next great korf ball empire, though honestly, no one can touch the Netherlands on the korf ball court.

So what sports would you, as a Richmonder, like to see included?

The metro region has a wide variety of weeknight warriors playing kickball and whiffle ball. Perhaps we could field a co-ed team sponsored by North Face and fueled by Coors Light? Then again, judging by the River City Sports and Social Club members I see out and about, getting laid probably would take precedence over medaling, not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s a lot right with that, actually.

What about the ancient sport of brewery opening? Richmond is pumping them out at a pace of three to four a week. In addition to the speed and number of openings, the quality of the brew produced thus far is high. We might be oversaturating the market with beer, but that’s OK because competition breeds champions.

The same could be said of restaurant opening. Talk about an intense, bare-knuckled sport. When it comes to spectator sports, there are very few things Richmonders enjoy more than watching the rise and fall of people’s dreams in restaurant form.

Oh, then there’s the blame game. That would be a great inclusion. The recent stadium debate flare-up is a prime example of Richmond’s finger-pointing prowess. It’s your fault. No, it’s your fault. I said this and you said that. No, it was the other way around. The point of the game is to shift focus away from yourself until the whole thing just sort of goes away. It’s a game of skill and cunning, and ultimately, laziness.

White-water sports, of course, would be ideal Richmond-related events. With our world-class rapids and beautiful city-as-backdrop vistas, we know a thing or two about these sports. Also, dodging floating masses of litter and the young, drunken men with bad facial hair and poorly thought-out neck tats (who seem to be so invasive on the James this time of year) is great practice for the real course, which usually replaces those things with slalom gates.

Then there’s the time-honored sport of weather bitching, in which we truly excel. This past week was hot as hell, but if someone doesn’t tell you, “Don’t complain, because remember how bad it was this winter?” at least once an hour, then was it really that hot? I’ll complain all I damn well please because it’s blazing out and the metallic part of my seatbelt just left a brand on my arm and I’m sweating like a sinner in church. My undercarriage feels like I’ve been playing an intense match of korf ball — in a diaper — on the equator!

See? Feel that irrational rage? That’s called a gold medal.

Man, I’m parched.

It’s tough being an Olympic athlete. S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.

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