I’m sitting on the media bus in ungodly amounts of traffic. I stare out the oversized window. I see the people of Peru living their daily lives. Buses are packed full, vendors on the street are selling orange juice and empanadas, and people are walking to their next destination.
During the first week, the only worry I’ve had on this trip is whether media transportation will actually arrive as scheduled. The key is that they’re trying, which is more than what other host countries have done, or so I’m told. The 2019 Pan American Games has been a blast so far. I’ve used my seventh grade Spanish skills more than I ever have, and now I have some letters I’d like to send.
It was the third day of events. I was covering Paige McPherson, Jonathan Healy, and Madelynn Gorman-Shore of USA Taekwondo. But on the bus to the arena, I was confused as to where we were going.
First of all, thank you for explaining to me that we were stopping at the soccer stadium first. Without that hint I would’ve written a beautiful, albeit useless, 700 words describing a compelling matchup between Peru and Argentina.
After taekwondo I was, once again, confused on the whereabouts of the media bus. But you, my Bolivian journalist friend, spoke Spanish like a savant. Using idioms and phrases that would take years to learn, you managed to get us a private taxi ride back to the main press center from a Pan Am Games employee. Normally when someone says, “trust me” things go comically wrong. I was glad I did, because you ended up getting us a personal ride all the way back to our hotel. We missed the iffy media transport system altogether!
You may not know that I understood some of your stories during the cab ride. But you didn’t care. You wanted to make conversation even if my Spanish is equivalent that of a child learning his first words. You expressed your love for Argentina’s hosting of the Copa America soccer tournament. Everything was within 15 minutes of each other, and you walked to every game.
I may not ever meet you again. But I’m sure glad I met you on the cab ride. Safe travels, and I’ll look for your work in the future, Martin.
To Women’s Handball
If it’s any consolation, I heard your call for more attention. I’m surprised handball isn’t as big in the U.S. as it is in European and South American countries. It falls in line with America’s appetite for contact sports.
Your performance at the Pan American Games inspired me. So far, you are the only athletes that asked me how my writing was going. You don’t know this, but I contacted the NCAA in the hopes they plan a feature about Sarah Gascon, Jence Rhoads, and the other student-athletes. The fact that some of you have Ph.D’s is incredible. And I hope your fourth-place finish behind Cuba is a step in the right direction in growing the sport at home. With the small platform I have, I hope to boost your presence. After learning more about the event and seeing a live game, I immediately went home and googled, “handball places in Indianapolis.” I had little luck in finding a place…for now. I hope that changes. I will keep an eye on your results from here on out! I promise.
To Modern Pentathlon,
I wrote an extended paragraph on my Facebook about just how crazy your event is. I will try to make it sound more professional in your letter. I believed I phrased it as follows:
“It’s as if a drunk guy combined five different sports and decided to name the last one after a scene from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s brilliant and cheesy action movie, ‘Running Man.’”
First off, your event starts with fencing. Who doesn’t love a good sword fight? The competition for the best seed in the event starts with who can stab the other person the most times. It’s utterly amazing.
Then, you put on your swim trunks and sprint 200 meters like your life depends on it. How do you prepare for two completely unrelated skills?
The questions don’t stop there. Why do you have to put back on all of your fencing stuff for one “bonus round” of fencing? Was there not enough sword-fighting in the 10-plus rounds prior? Oh well, the bonus round is cool because it’s “sudden-death” style. Additionally, it’s to shave seconds off your handicap time for the final event to be named later for personal dramatic and comedic effect.
The next event for you is equestrian jumping. At first I thought, “Okay. That’s odd.” But then when the PA announcer said horses are randomly assigned I did a quadruple take.
You’ve trained all your life to be an Olympian. And one of your events depends on the attitude of a random horse? Does he want to jump today? Does he know commands in your language? What if he woke up on the wrong side of the stable? And you have to tell this horse to jump 15 times?! It’s absolutely crazy. No wonder why so many competitors fell off or failed to finish.
To top it off, you have the “Running Man” event. It’s officially titled – you guessed it – the “Laser-run.” Combining an 800-meter all-terrain lap and target shooting with a laser pistol, the event lasts about as long as an episode of an Adult Swim cartoon. It induces an all-out sprint to the finish.
Of all the sports I’ve covered so far your event wins the title of, “Stuff that ESPN should actually televise instead of cornhole and Spikeball.” I sincerely hope your sport overtakes one of the giants. It won’t, but I can hope.
These games have taught me a lot. First, I have the self-confidence to learn and write about a different sport every day. Second, everyone should attempt to learn the Spanish language. You’re missing out on a lot of great stories. And third, some of the best sports in the world get little attention. I plan on helping to change that.
By Brendan Rourke | @B_RourkeSports