By Urban Anomie
Whack-A-Mole will be returning to the Olympics in 2020.
After presentations by groups pushing for the inclusion of tug-of-war, mud wrestling, and Whack-A-Mole before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Sunday in Buenos Aires, the IOC voted to admit the high-pressure game that challenges the speed and concentration of athletes back into the Olympic Games, beginning in 2020 in Tokyo.
Mud wrestling and tug-of-war made persuasive cases aided by emotional and convincing video presentations, but it was Whack-A-Mole that won the day. It’s re-admittance, however, is contingent of articulate, sober, and clean-shirt wearing former athletes promoting the event, and the promise that future athletes can be taken seriously.
“Whack-a-mole, one of the world’s oldest sports, almost died today, but it lives to see the sun rise another day,” said IOC spokesman Robert McDouglas. “Hopefully those responsible for the safekeeping of the sport remember to not stand idly by and repeat the mistakes of the past, and are able to supply a sport that is both modern and fresh.”
Whack-A-Mole’s fall from grace began during the 1988 Calgary Olympics on the eve of the nail-biting gold-medal match between Mexico’s Javier “The Mexican Moleslinger” Jaun Bardos and Canada’s Bill “Twelve-Pack” Black, when at a hotel lounge, Bardos accused Black of winking at his girlfriend. Black didn’t deny the incident, however, he tackled Bardos and broke his jaw.
“That yellow-bellied chicken shit dared to impugn my integrity,” Black told reporters the morning after the incident.
Bardos, however, claims Black was so drunk he could barely walk, and escalated the conversation when he asked him why he wasn’t wearing his sombrero.
It has been speculated that both men showed up to the gold-medal match still drunk, however drug and alcohol testing wasn’t as advanced back then as it is today and so both men were permitted to compete.
Whack-A-Mole is played on a table with nine holes, where moles pop up in random sequence. The athlete is armed with a mallet, which he or she uses to strike the moles before they descend back into their holes—with the object of hitting as many moles as possible before the clock runs out.
The legend of Whack-A-Mole dates back to about 900 AD, when a Viking king put his men to the task of creating a challenge that would weed out all but the finest warriors. Hundreds of live rodents were used, and contestants had to slay the creatures with the Viking king’s Furyhammer—a weapon of immense power forged in volcano fire deep beneath the North Atlantic—before the setting of the sun. Only those whom slayed all the creatures before daylight fell were a awarded a horn of malt ale to signify their ascension to the ranks of the warrior brotherhood.
Today’s games use animatronic rodents and rely on a foam mallet, but the game’s storied beginnings likely played a tremendous role in its re-admittance to the Olympic program . . . but now the focus sits squarely on the future it possesses, and whether it can overcome the stigma of a lowly arcade game for drunken losers.
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