Carl Lewis: Whiny Baby


Saw an amusing little bit of TV a week or so back. Tag is played in Japan under the name onigokko (鬼ごっこ); oni meaning demon, or devil, and -gokko being a suffix meaning ‘play make-believe’. The basic game in Japan assigns the label of demon to the player who is ‘it’, making it very desirable to avoid being tagged.

The suffix can be added to all sorts of words to make phrases common in English (and around the world?), like ‘play doctor’ (お医者さんごっこ). The game of onigokko has many variations which equate to many versions of tag I played as a child. Typically I don’t like playing tag at the elementary schools because everyone wants to tag me. A 40 minute recess turns into a 40 minute sprint; particularly when there are multiple oni, who take turns running me down until I have to choose between being tagged or vomiting. Popularity clearly has its price.

The amusing TV show I saw was a game of tag between Carl Lewis and the staff of Fuji TV. It was played in a soccer stadium with the center circle being a safe zone. Some of the staff members were pretty healthy, but if flushed out from behind a goal had no chance against the close to 50 year old Lewis. One female announcer found his weak point and would circle the goal or the safe zone.

While Carl Lewis is incredibly fast in a sprint he has no ability to corner. After making him circle the safe zone for a few minutes Lewis called for a time out and complained overly much about his shoes being the problem. In fairness to him, his shoes were specially designed for sprinting and one did split open; however, he looked like he wouldn’t have gotten her with cross-trainers, and he did choose his footwear. Traditionally Japanese people are not keen on complaining, so I can only hope they weren’t translating everything for the staff.

Unfortunately for the announcer she was behind a goal when Lewis invoked a special rule to remove the nets for a couple minutes. There was no way she could make it back to the center for he was on her like a lion attacking a gazelle.

Comments from two female staff were very amusing; in one shot the announcer was hiding behind a goal watching about three or four male companions run down in succession. She exclaimed in a shaky voice, “Tremendously frightening is Carl Lewis.” I used this Yoda-like translation partly because the Japanese sentence conveyed a lot more feeling than I would get from a standard translation.

Tricks by the staff were also amusing. One not-very-active staff member decided to hide behind a pool of cameras. Carl stopped and was counting heads. He started getting a little upset because someone was missing until he noticed one camera was pointing back at the base of the other cameras. That guy didn’t stand a chance. He washed out rolling on the ground begging for mercy.

Pretty simple-minded fun, but a great diversion while relaxing in the evening.


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