Last night, on US television, while sports fans - not enough, according to the ratings - tuned into the Nagano Winter Olympics, on the other side two comedy producers presented their proposal for a sporting fest more in keeping with ordinary people's lives.
While purists are gnashing their teeth over plans to include ballroom dancing and snooker in the Olympics, the duo introduced "The Disk", a race to remove a CD wrapper and "Tab and Tip", a contest to share out a restaurant bill based on six people all eating different items and leaving a tip.
"The 1998 alt.games" was held in a Brooklyn street and had its own mascot, Icky the Giant Rat. The competition was tailor-made for New York, but future gold medallist in at least one event must surely come from the crowded streets of Britain. The "Parallel Parking Pairs" involved couples racing to squeeze their cars into a tight space between two alarmed cars. Not only had each couple to try to park first without setting off the alarms, but presumably they had to do so without the non-driving partner getting a smack in the mouth for giving unwanted advice.
CBS television paid millions for the Nagano games - getting the lowest ratings for any Olympic event since 1968. Americans are voting with their remote controls; hence the need to offer something more in touch with ordinary people than snow-clad mountains and Lycra-clad skiers. "We want to celebrate the Olympian in all of us," said Tad Lowe, creator of the alt.games for United Paramount network. "The Winter Olympics are no longer relevant to our everyday lives. Look at the biathlon. Have you ever met a guy on skis with a shotgun on his back in your normal life?"Reuse content