The ancient Olympics tested the skills of Hellenic athletes in straightforward competitions—no souvenirs, no commercials, no official rental cars of the US National Team. And although we plan to watch with the rest of the country as Marion Jones runs the 100 faster than any Greek ever did, at a certain point there’s only so much torch-bearing and flag-waving we can take. So when it all becomes too much, turn off the television, invite over a few friendly rivals, and take it to the backyard.
2 tubes fingerpaint
(one blue, one red)
The Greek pugilist Theagenes is credited with 2,102 knockouts, and back when debilitation, not points, determined the victor, the man killed 1,800 opponents. You get off easy. In this variation on the “sweet science” of boxing, two opponents cover their hands in fingerpaint. One opponent is blue, the other red. In a three-round match of one minute per round, the victor is the one who scores the greatest number of paint smears on the other. Refresh fingerpaint between rounds. An impartial observer (i.e. one who is dating neither combatant) counts the marks.
High school yearbook
Darts and dartboard
The modern Olympics judge the javelin toss by distance. But the ancient Hellenics, who regularly tossed these head-high spears at the Byzantines, Spartans, and other neighbors, prized accuracy. And that’s how you’ll be evaluated in this event, as you take revenge on your ancient foes. Xerox the pages of your high school yearbook that contain your worst teenage enemies, and tape three of them to your dartboard. Using your highlighter, mark bullies with a 1, bad teachers with a 2, and that horrible Stephanie girl who called you “Ox” with a 3. Playing four turns to a round, the gold goes to the player with the most points at the end of three rounds.
12-pack of cheap beer
16 lawn chairs
8 50+” cardboard tubes, at least 3″ in diameter
The theory behind hurdling, according to the greats of the sport, is that one does not jump over the things, one runs through them. Now, that may be true for Jackie Joyner Kersee and the other legends, but in this case, “over” is the word. Cut two 2 1/2″ holes in each cardboard tube, roughly 5″ from the ends. Set up two parallel rows of four pairs of chairs. Span a cardboard tube across each pair, notching the ends to stay lodged on the chair with your X-acto knife. Each hurdle should be ten strides apart. Balance a cup of water upright in each of the holes in the tubes. The first to clear all four hurdles first wins. Both opponents replace spilled water with beer, and drink.