Boing … Boing … Boing … Boing

Until I saw it on the television a couple days ago, I had totally forgotten that trampoline was an official Olympic sport. But it was right there on NBC, so it must be an important event.

My co-worker Chris and I always used to speculate on what sport we, as out-of-shape, 30-plus-year-old journalists, would have the best chance of qualifying in for the Olympics, winter or summer. I don’t recall the conversations verbatim, but I’m certain curling was always in the mix at the end.

(For what it’s worth, we also used to discuss forming a rock band from those in the newsroom, which always included Chris on the triangle.)

In our conversations, trampoline never came up. I think that’s mainly because it’s a new sport, added in 2004 maybe? Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. But it’s also because trampoline is pretty damn hard.

I watched the competition, and it was essentially gymnastics … performed on a trampoline. The athletes spend two minutes, maybe, just bouncing, getting up to the height needed for their routines. And then there are lots of flips and twists and turns and moves that look a lot like things you see on the vault or the floor exercise.

But once upon a time, I was an Olympic trampoline hopeful.

A family down the street where I grew up bought a trampoline. All the neighborhood kids were allowed to play on it, provided they had a permission slip signed by their parents absolving the owners of said trampoline of any liability.

This was the first obstacle to achieving my Olympic dreams as a trampolinist. My mother was religiously, morally, fundamentally and anally opposed to me, or my sister, also an Olympic hopeful, setting foot on that death machine. Finally, however, she relented and we joined the fun.

In the olden days of the 1980s, the trampoline routines I experienced were far less complex than what I’ve seen in Beijing. They consisted of the butt bounce, the knee bounce, the flip from the knees, the standing flip and the back flip.

But there were other trampoline events I’ve not yet seen in the Olympics. Like dodge ball on the trampoline. Throwers would take their positions on each side of the trampoline and try and pick off one of the dozen or so people crammed onto the trampoline with a Nerf football. Great game. Not sure why this one isn’t in the Olympics.

Another was tackle-the-man-with-the-football on a trampoline. This provided another setback for my Olympic hopes. In the act of recovering a loose football, another competitor jumped on my wrist, breaking it, costing me not only months of trampoline time, but a season of baseball as well.

The broken arm resulted in a temporary ban from the trampoline, instituted by my mother. The ban was lengthened when I got kicked in the mouth on the trampoline, where I wasn’t supposed to be, chipping my two front top teeth and resulting in a visit to the dentist.

After some time, everything calmed down, and one summer day, I was on the trampoline with the two girls who lived there and their friend, who I’ll call Becky … mainly because that’s her name. While on the trampoline, Becky managed to land near one of the corners, her foot slipping between the bar and the mat. Her leg slipped all the way through, she fell off and her leg snapped.

Somehow, despite being six feet away, I was blamed. “He pushed her,” they said. There were three of them and one of me. Never trust girls. But that’s a whole other discussion. Needless to say, another trampoline banishment followed, this time from the owners. Like Shoeless Joe, I got hosed.

By this time, I was getting up there in age, as kids on trampolines go, and my window to become a trampoline star was quickly closing.

But before you begin to question what if … what if he hadn’t been injured? … what if Becky hadn’t fallen? … what if little girls weren’t liars? … just know, there was a bigger obstacle to my trampoline glory.

I was a scardy cat.

As God is my witness, I’ve never done a flip or a twist or a cartwheel … or anything … on a trampoline. I couldn’t then, and I can’t now. Never learned. Never even tried. And I’m not gonna try now.

I guess curling is still my best shot.

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One Response to “Boing … Boing … Boing … Boing”

  1. oneshorething Says:

    Maybe you can live out your Olympic dreams vicariously through your children.

    I always pretended the trampoline was a boxing ring.

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