Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Welcome to DFL

The idea for DFL only popped into my head an hour or two ago, and this blog will only last until the end of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens -- two weeks from today. In the meantime, it will do something that will be seen as quirky by some and cruel by others: it will report the last-place finisher in as many Olympic events as possible.

Some sports won't be possible to do here. Boxing and judo, for example, don't rank those eliminated in the same round: there can be 16 eliminees in the round of 32, for example.

But why do this, except to be a global prick?

Okay, that's part of it. But it's also to celebrate participation -- which gets too much short shrift at the Games, except with novelty acts like Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards and the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Calgary Games -- instead of complete and utter triumph. Triumph is sexy, but participation is brave. And therein lies a tale.

I'm no athlete myself. In junior high, though -- before Osgood-Schlatter Disease put an end to my nascent track career -- I tried my hand at distance running. I entered my school's track meet and ran the 1,500 metres -- and trailed badly. In fact, I was lapped before the finish. One of my fellow students was laughing at me. But my gym teacher, hearing him, went up to him and said, "I don't see you running out there." And the kid, whose identity I never found out (I heard the story afterword from my teacher), began to cheer.

Remember that about the last-place finishers at these Olympics. They finished last, but at least they're there. And we're not.

(A final technical note: I'll be recording last place finishers. Disqualifications and DNFs don't count.)

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  • At 1:02 PM, August 24, 2004 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Great stuff. Get out and do it - that's real courage.

  • At 5:53 PM, August 24, 2004 , Blogger HL said...

    This is a great complement to courage.

    Your site made the Yahoo pics today (8-24).


  • At 5:24 PM, August 25, 2004 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You have renewed my interest in an event that seems overwhelmed with poor judges, drug pushing coaches and incessant whining from the almost winners.

    Participation _is_ what matters, if only to demonstrate the courage of putting it all on the line.