A SPORTING CHANCE

Hail, BRITANNIA!

They need your help!

As you know, the London 2012 Olympics are about to start. Much pre-emptive snickering is already in evidence, since the host country is not exactly viewed as an athletics powerhouse. In fact, you could say ”and ”go together like ”and ”or, for that matter, ”and ”—really, that kind of braggadocio always comes back to bite you when your glory days are gone and even the Balkans are laughing behind your back.

However, the perception that Britain s Olympic team consists entirely of clumsy, nearsighted schoolboys in short pants is far removed from the reality (former Olympic ski jumper Eddie kithe Eagle”Edwards notwithstanding, of course). Truth be told, when it comes to the Summer Olympics, Britain has historically done quite well; most recently, in 2008, it came fourth in the overall medal count. This, despite that over the years Britain has been egregiously shortchanged. Many of the sports in which it has been traditionally dominant have been dropped from the Olympic schedule: Polo, rugby, cricket and croquet have all been replaced by less sophisticated pastimes like tae kwon do, mountain biking and, an American favourite, shooting things with guns. Clearly, a conspiracy is afoot. How to regain the advantage? Britain, it seems, must try to re – stack the odds. How? Here are a few new Olympic – event suggestions to help tip the scales back in Britainfavour:

Soccer hooliganism. Although recently faced with challenges from Croatia, Holland, Argentina and elsewhere, British soccer hooligans remain in a league of their own. History show s that they donshy away from international tournaments and can compete on the world stage. (In 1985, 39 fans of an Italian soccer team perished in a riot sparked by British fans.) Odds of a gold – medal win: 2:1.

A SPORTING CHANCEBinge dunking. Go for a casual stroll along almost any street in Soho on a Friday night —keep your eyes off the snogging couples and on the integrity of your shoes —and youhave all the evidence you need to realize that Britain will field a very strong team in this event. However, a gold is far from guaranteed: A Russian squad could be positioned to pull an upset win, and Japansodden salarymen are always stiff competitors. This event is far from a shoo-in. Odds of a gold – medal win: 5:2.

Queuing. A very strong showing by the Brits is expected. As with figure skating, the judging will be mostly subjective, but this, too, will work to Britain s advantage. The teams are marked on form (straightness of the queue) and patience (the less shuffling the better), which means that the British squad, whose capacity for interminable boredom is world renowned, should easily defeat their Canadian rivals, who are prone to throwing up their hands and leaving or, if theyfrom Vancouver, breaking storefront windows and burning overturned automobiles. The Brits have a lock on this one. No odds given.

Telephone hacking. As pioneers of this event, the British again have the advantage, even though, ironically, it was the associates of Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch who introduced the sport to the United Kingdom. That said, no other nation can match Britain when it comes to frequency and, indeed, sheer daring: Hacking into the voicemail messages of celebrities, the Royal Family and, yes, even deceased children make the British squad the overriding favourite in this category. Odds of a gold – medal win: 2:1. Odds of Rupert Murdoch ever paying a price for the excesses of his minions: 1,000,000:1.

Cross-dressing. Again, no contest. From Benny Hill to Monty Python to the occasional member of Parliament, the men of Britain have always proven that when it comes to gender role reversal, no one does it like the Brits. Odds of a gold – medal win: 1:5. Odds of a male British MP being caught in sheer pantyhose and a stylish off – the – shoulder dress during the Olympics: 2:1.

Let the games begin!