Five-Ring Circus

Everything You Need To Know About Olympic Cannon Shooting, and Seven More Stories I Didn’t Get Around To Writing

A human cannonball at the closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Over the last two weeks, I’ve written 41 different items about the Olympics. (Don’t worry, I don’t remember any of them either.) But for all the jerks I assailed and the drunken long jumpers I praised, there are dozens more stories I didn’t get around to writing. Below, I’ve listed eight ideas that never came to fruition. Let me know in the comments which idea you like best, and I’ll write up the one that gets the most acclaim. Consider it a goodbye present.

Where do Olympics medalists get the flags they wrap around themselves?: Do they bring them from home, just in case they win? Do they belong to a friend, or coach, or family member? Are they just grabbing them at random from some dude in the crowd who’ll never see his flag again?

In praise of the archery announcer, the unsung hero of the London Games: The stadium announcer for the archery competition was an extremely energetic American named George Tekmitchov. This fellow went above and beyond the call of stadium-announcing duty, doing shot-by-shot commentary from the booth, bantering with the crowd during breaks in the shooting, and getting really, really excited whenever somebody won a match. I wanted to write something about this overlooked Olympic star. But then archery ended, and I didn’t.

Left Behind: Olympics Edition: Whenever I called a sports federation’s office with a question, I’d inevitably get a gloomy, “Everyone’s in London. I’m the only person here.” So I wanted to call a lot of offices, shoot the shit with the people who got stuck there, and then write about what they’d been doing with themselves.

The weirdness of water polo goalies: Apparently, they’re known for being oddballs. Merrill Moses, the goalie for the U.S. men’s team, is known as “The Birdman” and does weird bird calls after blocking shots. Do the other Olympic water polo goalies make bird sounds, too? I’m guessing they probably do.

How many horses in the equestrian events come from the countries for which they’re competing?: This would take a lot of research and the resulting post would likely be very boring. But the question is kind of funny.

Which sport has the best celebrations? First, I thought it was fencing, because the athletes yelled and waved their weapons after winning a match. Then I thought it was track and field, because the athletes danced and preened after winning a race. Then I thought it was archery, because the archers were probably really excited on the inside.

Some Olympic events have cheerleaders. What’s the deal with that?: How long has “Olympic cheerleading” been a thing? How do the IOC and the various international federations decide that a given sport could really be improved by adding cheerleaders? How do you get to be an Olympic cheerleader?

Everything you need to know about Olympic cannon shooting: The closing ceremony of the London Games featured Eric Idle performing “Always Look on the Bright Side of the Life,” a performance that was punctuated by a human cannonball. This was perhaps an homage to the 1900 Paris Games, where cannon shooting was a demonstration sport. Was it fun? Did anyone get hurt? Whose idea was it? Why didn’t cannon shooting make it to full-fledged sport status?