People do dumb things. Ride grocery carts on I-95. Pet porcupines. I once saw a guy in Vancouver light his beard on fire for $2.
But at least they never made a Winter Olympic sport out of those.
You can't say that for skeleton, which is not just the dumbest Winter Olympic event ever invented, but it also might be the dumbest sport ever invented.
And I'm including lawn darts.
In skeleton, people dress in rubber suits, lie on a glorified lunch tray and slide down a hill.
That's it. There's no strategy, no passing anybody. No getting air, no doing flips, no Dick Button. Nothing. Get on the slab of metal and point it downhill.
And yet for the next month NBC is going to make this sport seem like it's the equivalent of saving cafeterias full of kidnapped third-graders. Bob Costas is going to sit there with a straight face and tell you, "In this next report we'll tell you how one skeletoner bravely slides despite a pretty big strawberry on her elbow!"
But that's not the stupidest thing. The stupidest thing is that all across America, people will actually care! They'll stand around the company coffee pot going, "Man, did you see that ol' boy win skeleton? Made you proud to be an American, dinnit?"
No! This sport is about as Olympian as dwarf tossing! It just happened to find an unlocked back door into the Games. Most of its competitors didn't even take up the stupid sport until last Thursday. For instance, there's 2004 national champ Eric Bernotas. He discovered skeleton in 2001 when he and his former girlfriend took a spur-of-the-moment detour to the Lake Placid track while they were on their way to Vermont. Wilford Brimley could've been on the team if he'd have thought of it.
Do you know how many people skeleton in the United States--at any level, including beginners? "I'd say about 100," says U.S. Olympic skeleton spokesman Tom LaDue. "Maybe 200."