Wednesday, August 18, 2004


One’s an anachronistic activity that’s about as relevant as Betamax. The other is modern pentathlon. But which sport is the real dinosaur? Herein, the head-to-head:

Required skills:

Pentathlon: Pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, riding, cross-country running.

Boxing: Take a punch, land a punch, endure gradual degradation of mental functions.

Advantage: Pentathlon. Never know when you’ll need to fight a duel, then run a 10k.

Raison d’etre:

Pentathlon: Simulate the job of a Napoleonic military messenger; contribute to Olympic bloat.

Boxing: So Don King can become even richer.

Advantage: Boxing. Only in America!

Inspired by:

Pentathlon: The ancient Greek pentathlon, which included javelin, wrestling and footraces.

Boxing: The ancient Greek sport of hitting the other guy in the face.

Advantage: Push. Ancient Greeks also into man-boy love. Time for some new role models.

Creative genius:

Pentathlon: Baron Pierre de Coubertin, father of the sport (and of the modern Olympics).

Boxing: George Foreman, father of the Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine.

Advantage: Push. A triumph of branding, since neither guy actually invented anything.

Claim to fame:

Pentathlon: Part of the Olympic program since 1912.

Boxing: Muhammad Ali.

Advantage: Boxing. Like they’d let a pentathlete light the Olympic flame.

Decline and fall:

Pentathlon: When soldiers exchanged horses and swords for Humvees and laser-guided bombs.

Boxing: When power forwards and tight ends started making more money.

Advantage: Push. Tubby 40-year-olds can do either job.

Proof of irrelevance:

Pentathlon: Ever seen it on ESPN? ESPN2? ESPN Deportes?

Boxing: Mike Tyson still a draw.

Advantage: Pentathlon. Even strongman competitions can be found on the Deuce.

Irritating sister sport:

Pentathlon: Decathlon. Those guys can’t even shoot.

Boxing: Toughman. Those guys wear headgear.

Advantage: Boxing. Butterbean-Tyson only a matter of time.

Verdict: Boxing scores a TKO over modern pentathlon 3-2. Feel free to read on, about sports you actually find interesting.

The Buzz

Andy Roddick

Down Arrow

There’s always the U.S. Open.

Venus Williams

Down Arrow

When was the last time she won something that mattered?

Over and Over

Down Arrow

Belgian horse breaks leg, put to sleep in equestrian contest. Sorta like us (the sleeping part).


• After a long, sticky night at the USA-Greece basketball game (and an equally long bus ride back to the media dorm), Your Correspondent wanted nothing more than a long, hot shower. Arghh! No hot water! Maybe the Greeks turn off the heat at 4 a.m., the better to conserve energy. Or maybe the construction is simply a little shoddy. Either way, YC screamed his way through a quick, cold scrub down — arm in, arm out, and don’t ask about the nether regions — before shivering himself to sleep. Have the closing ceremonies started yet?

• On second thought, the dorm isn’t all bad: Your Correspondent returned to his room last evening to find two small bottles of whisky on his fresh stack of towels. Apology accepted.

• The music in the media cafeteria beats even the tunes at the aquatic center for pure Velveeta value. Yesterday, Your Correspondent enjoyed a back-to-back rock block of Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” and Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love.” The 1990s were great, weren’t they?

Patrick Hruby

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