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Time Out!

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Well…seasons have started…football season, soccer season, volleyball season, cross country season,  interscholastic golf season (The regular duffers have been going at it all summer), marching band season…you name it, the season has started.  School is like the opening gun for all sorts of stuff.

There are, however, plenty of competitions out there which we “wot not of”.  Such as:

Amazon has just agreed to pony up a ton of money–$970 million—for some outfit called Twitch which makes it possible for video gamers to watch—just watch, not play themselves—other video gamers play…what else?…video games!  This is causing great commotion in the online world for some reason and many of the big names—whatever they are, in the online gamers world are all a-buzz about it.   I am not one of these people.

Let us get this straight; people can get on their computers to watch other people play video games.  Just what IS it that these watchers DO?  They don’t have to even move their fingers, just barely their eyeballs.  Do the actual players get any feedback on their play?  Are there electronic/digital cheerleaders chanting algorithmic encouragement from the in-the-cloud sidelines?  Any rain delays when a server goes down?  The questions have only just begun to roll in.

On the other hand, there will be no ambulances with emergency medical staff standing by in case of injury.  The playing field, such as it is, acts as its own scorekeeper and referee, so there will be no overheated spectators booming out insults about the officials’ suspect ancestry or eyesight.  No more trekking to the concession stands for sustenance, you can set up your screen to watch next to the refrigerator and/or microwave and never have to brave the cruel outside air.  You can watch in your Jammies and who’ll be the wiser.  And as evolution marches onward, humankind will devolve into creatures with two  myopic eyes, three fingers on each hand(Those two on the ends don’t do much on a keyboard or controller anyway)and enormous butt-ends to sit upon in front of the ubiquitous screens that are part of the sports scene.  What a picture!

On the other hand, there are the World Tug-of-War championships presented by the World Tug of War International Federation (more than one; divisions by weight class—in kg—and gender) drawing participants and spectators from all over the world.  This past weekend the big competition, sponsored by the United States Tug of War Association, was held in Madison, Wisconsin, the fourth time that it has been staged in the U.S.(Oshkosh, WI—1984, Rochester, MN—1998, 2004).

Pretty much the opposite of the abovementioned sport (?) competition, this features teams of eight pullers per team who have to be weighed in—and stamped on the wrist and thigh—before the contest to ensure the weight requirements are met.  All pulling is done bare-handed—oy—no sitting is allowed( there are officials who issue cautions if this does occur and three cautions equal a disqualification and a loss of the match.  In  the videos on YouTube, the teams sort of resemble sixteen-legged insects with  uninspired choreographers; legs on the left, step, legs on the right, step, everybody LEAN BACK.  The noise is pretty visceral too, mostly uuuhhh, uuuhhh, UUUHHH—in unison.  Coaches (called drivers) can stand alongside their team, sort of like a coxswain in front in rowing( or wrestling coaches yelling “Chicken wing!  Chicken wing!), and  speed up the count or direct the lean or whatever—all pretty sweaty work    from the look of it.  Not where one might expect to see ladies’ teams but they’re on deck too and just as determined.  Ladies don’t sweat, they “glow”.

Actually, the tug of war was part of the Olympics when the modern games restarted in 1896 and had a considerable history from as far back as ancient China and classical Greece…not to mention tales of the Vikings pulling animal skins over pits of fire to decide who got what share of the plunder from hapless European peasants.  After the 1920 games the number of sports was reduced and the tug of war got the ax.  It is regularly  a part of the World Games, where teams from Egypt, Cambodia, Japan, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland and everywhere else get into the act.

Injuries resulting from accidents in tug of war can be rather gruesome, back strains being the least of a participant’s worries.  Not so much concussions as amputations ,caused by the ropes snapping or getting wrapped around the wrong thing.  Uh-oh!

Makes one pine for the good old days of Tiddly-winks

…and speaking of winks ….

We haven’t  yet seen a bikini coffee bar in the neighborhood.  It’s the latest thing in some locales.  Somehow the thought of a “Peek-A-Brew” or “Natte Latte” in Portage County isn’t really flying in my imagination but you never know.