COLUMN:`Jackass’ presents the Olympics

Tim Paluch

Tonight is the night. Opening Ceremonies at the event we’ve all been waiting for. Participants from more than 100 countries will gather to hear keynote speakers deliver inspirational speeches. “Igniting the Flame of Freedom” is this year’s theme, dedicated to those who strive for excellence in their professions.

And this year it appears they haven’t skimp on the grandiosity. I’ve even read there’ll be over one million square feet of the latest and most innovative residential and commercial building materials. That’s most innovative in the world.

I’m talking, of course, about the 2002 International Builders’ Show in Atlanta, Ga., the home building industry’s largest convention and exposition, attracting over 70,000 industry professionals.

Oh, and if you can’t catch a ticket to this hot event, I’ve heard something’s going on in Salt Lake City. Some kind of Mormon home builders convention, I’m assuming.

Actually, it’s time for the Winter Olympics, that special time every four years when we as Americans realize how great our nation truly is when our guy skates in a circle faster than their guy. Not to be confused with the Summer Olympics, where our guy runs in a circle faster than their guy.

First, a brief history lesson. The first Winter Olympics took place in 1924 in the French Alps. I believe this was the year Jesse Owens won four gold medals in skiing and then invaded Germany. This started World War II.

Four years later, the Olympics moved to Switzerland. They featured an event called the “Skeleton,” in which American brothers Jennison and John Heaton won gold and silver, respectively.

Skeleton made another appearance in the 1948 Olympics, and then disappeared. Now it’s back. And looks as if it will be one of the most-watched events of the entire week.

The premise for skeleton is simple – luge not doing enough for you? Going downhill on a sled feet-first just not cutting it? The solution is easy, turn around and go 80 miles per hour headfirst. That way, if you crash and/or move any part of your body in any manner whatsoever, you break every bone in your body. Hence the name.

So it’s like a cousin of the luge. The sick and twisted cousin whose lap you won’t let your kids sit on.

There’s something wrong with a person – oh, excuse me, an athlete – who hops on a Monopoly board with handles and flies down a hill pushing 80.

Take Canadian favorite Jeff Pain for example (seriously, this is his last name), who said of the sport, “You get to the bottom, and it’s a mixture of `I can’t believe I made it to the bottom,’ and `Let’s do it again.'”

His last name is Pain! Einstein’s third law of `no coincidence’ says this guy’s gonna be eating his post-event dinner through a straw.

It’s just dangerous. And poses an obvious question: How many stupid American teenagers are going to be critically wounded as a result of this?

Why, you ask, would stupid American teenagers be critically wounded as a result of an Olympic event? It’s called the “Jackass” effect.

As many of you know, MTV’s “Jackass” is a clan of masochistic skaters who beat the hell out of each other with common household items, like rainbow trouts and garbage cans. Sounds hilarious, if not groundbreaking. But unfortunately, stupid teenagers will try to copy these clever antics.

In one episode, Johnny Knoxville put on a flame-retardant suit and lit himself on fire. Then he did the obvious thing and went on to cook meat on his body. But then a 13-year-old boy tried the same thing, only minus the obvious thing – the flame retardant suit.

There were plenty of other examples of the “Jackass” effect, causing MTV to show a disclaimer before the episode began, warning that all stunts were either performed “by professionals or under the supervision of professionals.” The disclaimer also featured a skull and crossbones. And the skull has this “screw `em, go ahead and fly down that ramp in a toilet bowl” look on its face.

One particular person – oh, excuse me, a professional – by the name of Steve-O, stapled his butt cheeks together during one episode, and swallowed and then regurgitated a live goldfish in another. Which is just the guy we want our teenagers to be taking safety advice from.

I’ll bet, the day after the Skeleton event, there will be dozens of teenagers across the nation who break their necks trying to sled down steep hills headfirst, possibly into traffic. It’s a safe bet, considering that:

1. Dude, that guy from Canada was, like, going like 300 miles per hour, and it was like, totally awesome.

2. Most teenagers are stupid.

So my word of advice to the parents of all those stupid teenagers out there is to tell the kids to skip the Olympics. It might just save their lives. Take `em to Atlanta instead. Maybe they’ll learn how to build you a deck.

Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill. He is opinion editor of the Daily.