Friday, August 10, 2012

I can imagine how pole vaulting became an Olympic sport.

I believe in practicality, so I have been watching these Olympic games with that pragmatism in mind. I realize that being fit has its own intrinsic rewards. But I enjoy watching the events and imagining what everyday purpose the events could serve. Some are quite easy to imagine like the running events. Running is an excellent skill, especially if you are being chased by ravenous wild animals or being pursued by evil invading Mongol hordes.

The rowing events are an appropriate sport for an Olympic Games being held on an island. After a ship anchored, sailors would row as fast as they could to shore so they could visit Taco Bell and have something besides fish and chips for dinner.

One of the sports that seems to have most hysterical roots is the pole vault. Jenn Suhr, a native western New Yorker, and alum of my alma mater, Roberts Wesleyan College, placed 1st in the pole vault, and is now the proud owner of a Gold Medal. I took a class at Roberts with Jenn and I am sure she doesn’t remember me, but that is ok and has nothing to do with pole vaulting.

In case you are wondering, pole vaulting has nothing to do with the fine Polish people. The pole in pole vault refers to a long stick that, as the vaulter is hurtling down a runway, stabs a hole in the ground and then leaps into the air, attempting to drive the pole through the hole in order to slay it. To the best of my knowledge, no hole has died during a pole vault, but this is not due to the vaulter’s not trying.

Other than slaying holes in the ground, I could not see any practical application of pole vaulting. That is, until one day when I was stuck in traffic and saw someone pull off on the side of the highway. The driver exited the vehicle and pulled a long stick out. Pointing the stick down the highway, the driver took off at top speed, running down the highway, between the stalled lanes of traffic.

As she approached an overpass, she shoved the pole into an ubiquitous western  New York pothole, stabbing it ruthlessly. She launched herself into the air, further trying to slay the beastly pothole. At the apex of her arc, she let go of the pole and landed easily on the bridge over the highway. She then trotted off to a nearby coffee shop and ordered a moch-frappe-cappu-latte.

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