Making Sport of Tantrums
As soon as I heard that bridge enthusiasts were trying to get their game recognized as an Olympic sport, I sat down and started working on a letter to the people who decide such things.
Bridge is athletic in the same way that reading magazines in the dentist’s office is athletic. In other words, it’s not.
But if bridge players (along with chess players, lifeguards and aeronauts) have managed to convince people that their game is a sport, I figure I have a reasonable shot at turning the tantrum into an Olympic event.
My motivations, admittedly, are selfish. Lucy is turning into a world-class thrower of tantrums. Why shouldn’t my wonderful child get a medal for her efforts?
Moreover, I deserve a vacation. And what better place to go, preferably on the dime of a fat corporate sponsor, than Athens, home of the next Olympic games?
So, without further ado...
Dear Members of the International Olympic Committee:
Kalimari. (That does mean hello, doesn't it? Either that or squid.)
I am writing this letter to persuade you to include the temper tantrum in the next Olympics.
Unlike some of the things you have recognized as sports, the tantrum is a physical skill. It requires coordination, strength and balance (except at crucial moments, where the competitive challenge requires falling).
Also, this sport has winners and losers, and while judges/parents do not traditionally give scores, this is something that could easily be rectified.
Moreover, and unlike netball, pelote basque and tug-of-war, the tantrum is an event enjoyed by all the peoples of the world. There is no tantrum powerhouse, which will keep the competition fresh and compelling, the way the presence of the Jamaicans really spiced up the bobsled event.
Now that we have established the viability and vitality of the tantrum as a sport, allow me to propose the events and how they are to be judged.
The Speed Tantrum
This event includes eight prescribed elements: tears, kicking, stomping, drooling, shrill crying, the sad face, and rolling on the ground. Judges award points based on the effectiveness of the elements. Big tears, swift kicks, long ropes of drool and eardrum-shredding wails earn high points. The sad face and ground-rolling elements also must be crisp and convincing.
The Free Tantrum
In this event, athletes perform an original arrangement of various techniques in the setting of their choice. Some potential venues: the produce aisle, a department store dressing room, a library or a house of worship. In any venue, a disapproving, possibly disgusted crowd of people who do not have small children, is a critical and necessary component. It also makes for good television.
Points are given for the difficulty of the movements (it’s very hard to throw an effective tantrum in a small space); the originality of the combination (judges remain unconvinced when tears are used too early or too often in the program); and for the completeness of the routine. If an athlete is distracted by a bird, a toy, a piece of candy or something shiny, then substantial deductions are made. If an athlete laughs, he or she is subject to immediate disqualification.
Synchronized Tantrums (or Pairs Tantrums)
This event, performed most often by sibling teams, comprises the Speed Tantrum and the Free Tantrum. Pairs are judged as a unit, demonstrating the artistry and athleticism of synchronized arm-flailing, shrieking, sad faces, fat tears and other maneuvers, including the highly difficult “mad at you, but hate each other.” The performance requires harmony, strength and a common goal.
In any event, if the parents are defeated, athletes are awarded the coveted 6.0 score and a 15-minute extension on bedtime.
Once the classic tantrum is recognized as a sport, I am sure you will give thorough consideration to the extreme tantrum, which the youngest of the youngsters are practicing. The freestyle extreme tantrum involves props such as furniture, scissors and other dangerous elements to make it truly thrilling.
Thank you so much for your consideration.
P.S. I am willing to be subjected to a drug test, as long as I get to test lots of them. Lately, I could use it.