If you “Olympic athletes” are done, can we turn to “Fat Guy Tennis Ball: The Game Show” already?

Pictured: Possibly the most Canadian thing you will ever see in your life. (AP)

GateHouse — Canada scores, and my 6-year-old bursts into tears. “It’s not fair,” he burbles, bawling mucously into his sleeve and uncorking a surprisingly poignant reaction to a meaningful, history-rich sport that, until about 45 minutes prior, he had no idea existed whatsoever. (Also he had spent the previous 43 minutes watching roller coasters on the computer. Still, teachable moment.) Currently I am trying to guide him through this bruising early lesson about defeat and sportsmanship by letting him play iPhone bowling, which I am planning to use to help him navigate all of life’s disappointments for as many years as I can.

(Moments later, he announces, during the medal ceremony, “I wish we lived in Canada,” offering evidence that I am responding to history’s greatest running tribute to human achievement and cross-cultural fraternity by raising a son who will abandon his citizenship at the first sign of athletic disappointment, although in this instance it might also have something to do with the victor nation’s advances in the field of bacon. Still, if you have any advice on how to install sportsmanship into a kindergartner, e-mail me fast, because this kid breaks down after Battleship and I am petrified of what awaits us in public come soccer season.)

Other scribbles from the broadcast of an excellent Olympics, which I’m sad to see come to a close, except that we as Americans can now resume ignoring NBC entirely, although you would think if you were launching a show as awesome as “The Marriage Ref” you’d at least try to advertise it once in a while. (Readers, did I miss some sort of Jerry Seinfeld “I blew all my money MC Hammer-style” story? Was there some sort of tax fiasco, or extra children someplace? What is he doing there?)


http://bit.ly/cLi9g7 http://bit.ly/9ogfIr


  • While we’re making fun of NBC: It is important, while showcasing the world’s most skilled and dedicated athletes, to also cram in several million ads for a contest in which a humiliatingly obese future cardiac patient rhythmically jiggles his pudding belly in a heartbreaking attempt to free a tennis ball from a Kleenex box and subsequently be famous. Seriously, right after the Olympics, it’s “Fat Guy Tennis Ball: The Game Show.” There’s no joke here. That’s the actual name. It’s like a two-week exhibition of peak physical performance being sponsored by McDonald’s or something.
  • Well, it could be worse, at least NBC wasn’t dumb enough to bring Jay Leno back or anything. (Leno’s A-list comeback stars are the “Jersey Shore” rodents, Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Palin? Well, now it makes sense, what you were missing so much, Middle America.)
  • Morgan Freeman represents the pinnacle of human speech patterns; basically everyone on the planet falls between that guy and Bobby Jindal, and I can prove it, with science. I find myself reading things in my head in Morgan Freeman’s voice. This morning he did the instructions to the coffee maker, and he COMPLETELY KILLED IT.
  • Not much more needs to be said about the consistently awesome performances of our valuable television news reporters, but two female skiers can be good at the same Olympics without your relentlessly badgering each of them in the giddy hope that one will make an out-of-context sound bite that you can use to play up a fictitious blood-rivalry. You have also used up your allotment of sports cliches until the year 3050. If anyone else says the hockey game was a “nail-biter,” “one for the ages,” or “a game to be remembered,” I will beat you with a figure skater.
  • Is there some reason we’re paying tribute to the world’s finest athletes by offering downloads from the world’s six worst bands? No one had an e-mail address for anyone livelier than 3 Doors Down? Were you guys using Leno’s address book?
  • “From the nation that gave us Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, here are Bryan Adams and Avril Lavigne.”
  • Thanks to the nail-biting final rounds of the tournament for the ages to be remembered, I watched more hockey in the last 72 hours than in the past 34 years combined, and no I’m not going to start watching the NHL now, and neither is anyone, stop asking me on Facebook. But that said, to my brothers from the Slovak team, you have much to be proud of, and if you could send me a Satan jersey I would be forever grateful. To Finland, wherever you are, you got lucky, and if I knew anything about your nation I would make a small and petty joke here. And finally, to the Canadian team, run right now and thank the U.S. team because because the Slovaks would have destroyed y’all, I’m just saying, I’m a sore loser too, see you in 2014.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

4 responses to “If you “Olympic athletes” are done, can we turn to “Fat Guy Tennis Ball: The Game Show” already?

  • Sven

    Fjord you.



  • Final Olympics Thoughts | Wings For Wheels

    […] they ended last night, and although I pretty much had the same reaction as Jeff Vrabel’s son to Canada’s gold in hockey (made even worse by the fact that Crosby scored the winner), the […]


  • Belle

    Morgan Freeman? I don’t even remember the commercials, but my god the voice of that man!

    I am going to tune into Marriage Ref – I need to see that trainwreck at least once before ignoring it!

    When our son was in the 3rd grade, he played his heart out in a championship round soccer game. His team lost. He went off by himself to another area of the field. When hubby went over to him, son cried and said, “But DAD, you said if I played really good that we’d WIN!” Aargh. Never forgot that, so good luck! FWIW, son became a seasoned veteran of winning, losing, and everything in between for 4 different sports and when he was in h.s./college, some people complained when he didn’t pout/whine/mope after a loss. We think he always handled it with the right attitude – learn from it, remember it, and try harder the next time.

    On the other hand, you can always hope he handles winning/losing like our daughter. She could have given a rat’s poop at that age – all she cared about was: Where are the TREATS? 🙂


  • jvrabel7

    Yeah, we’re in the Treats Camp right now. And since he unfortunately got some of my DNA, he’s going to be in the Treats Camp for 18 years.


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