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The Brief History of the Sport of Schleem in the Olympics

A Schleem Ball

A Schleem Ball

You would never call schleem a popular sport. The rules are complex and often archaic, and the games take days to finish. It was never a game destined for mainstream popularity in America, what with its strategic rules. But the one and only time it ever reached anywhere close to mainstream popularity was during the brief time in 1984 in Los Angeles when the Olympics Committee decided it would be one of the new games added. Although few records exist of the Olympics 1984 schleem game, we do have a few spontaneous records which include the transcript of the two junior sports commentators assigned to cover it – James MacAroyd Taylor, a local sports reporter for NBC in Los Angeles, and Dirnell Auslow Jones, a former fullback for the 49ers, who covered each and every round of the sport of schleem. We luckily have surviving transcripts of it. As the nature of the sport of schleem is exceptionally hard to film, it proved not to be a popular sport, and the Seoul games did not include it. For one glorious week, the schleemers, as the fans called themselves, had their day in the sun. So the following is the transcript of the first day.

T[aylor]: It’s an exciting day for schleem, I’m told is how you say it.

J[ones]: Yah, yah indeed.

T: It’s one of the sports that have been added, and you may be asking yourself why we are broadcasting at 3 o’clock in the middle of the night. Well, I’ve been told many times that it is traditional for schleem to start at this time.

J: Yes, that is what I have heard as well.

T: Okay then. The 5 foot 6 American schleemer has come up to the giant mechanical screw that has been installed in this 230 square foot stadium. Now you might be asking yourself, ‘what is that he is holding?’ And I’ve been assured by an expert that that is called the Glubinheiker. Yes, it does seemingly resemble a severed cow’s leg, and I am told in fact it is.

J: Well, Jamie, now what do you suppose they do with that?

T: Well, let’s just wait and see.

J: Oh, I see he is tossing it up in the air, and he is yellin’ at the Ukrainian fellow.

T: Yes, that is the Ukrainian Anton Sublerbervitch. They say his family has been playing the game for over 10 million years, and he is the one to look out for.

J: Oh, that does not seem possible, but okay. I don’t know how we could maintain records of that.

T: I’m not sure either. I had to wake up early to come to this thing, Darnell.

J: Me too. They said it was direly important we come to this event. I had no idea that I was supposed to be covering this. I assumed I was covering women’s gymnastics, but as you know, it is traditional for schleem announcers, so I have been told, to be kidnapped in the middle of the night by men in hoods screaming in Portuguese.

T: Yes, that is apparently part of the schleeming tradition.

J: Okay, okay, the leg is landing. From this information sheet on schleem it takes over 20 minutes for it to fall. During that time the two schleemers are viciously punching and kicking each other.

T: That is right. They have been continuing to hit each other, and now the American has started to cry. What a sad day for American sports, and in fact this is not what he’s supposed to be doing. In fact, Darnell, I do not know.

J: Okay, okay, now a judge is coming out. I was not aware that this was a judged event. I am told the judge is French, and when asked his name, he said he would stab me if I asked.

T: Yes, that’s right Darnell. On the sheet I was given, I was told that we are never to ask the name of the judges – only their nationality.

J: Yes, that is interesting. Gosh, what an interesting sport. Is the round over yet?

T: No, in fact it lasts for eight more hours.

J: Oh my, the judge has yelled ‘Flavenfliven’. I’m not sure what that means.

T: Well, Darnell, lucky for you I have been given this sheet, engraved in pure gold, translated in a language that should be untranslatable. Inexplicably I know how to speak it; I expect it was the mysterious elixir I was forced to drink while I was being kidnapped.

J: You know, Jamie, I have also been having inexplicable knowledge of past events that I don’t think I was supposed to know.

T: You know, Darnell, it almost feels like this game is messing with the very reality of nature.

J: It seems to be an exciting day; I do agree with that.

T: Now they’re apparently bringing out a giant motorcycle, made solely of wood. On the pure golden tablet that I am reading from that tells me every single rule of schleem, it is said that the wooden motorcycle hints that we are now ending the first round of schleem, as both contestants will not be pulled out on it. Whoever comes out of the darkness at the end of the field will be declared the winner of the first round. The loser will be lost in time for over a thousand years.

J: That is correct. I don’t know how I know that, but I feel I know that in my soul.

T: Exactly, Darnell. I feel that everything that I thought I knew about the world has been horribly questioned by the game of schleem. Okay, we’re going to cut to a commercial break right now.

And after that there was an advertisement for McDonald’s. They were advertising their ‘Get a Free Meal every time America wins a Gold’. It proved out to be a terrible disaster after Moscow boycotted the games, but, you know, what do they know? Now, back to schleem.

T[aylor]: Welcome back to schleem. Now, if you’re wondering why the sky has suddenly turned a hue of red, well, I have been explained to by the Italian coach that that is traditional in the mid-game of schleem. Now, if you’re wondering what has happened to the three hours in between, even though the commercial was only 5 minutes, I’ve also been assured by the coach that those rounds will appear at some other point down the road, maybe 200 years from now. ‘The game of schleem is complex, and the rules are very strategic,’ the Italian coach assured me and the creature behind me that he said not to look at.

J[ones]: That’s right, Jamie. About 2 hours in we became aware that there is some sort of creature right behind us, staring at the game. We’ve been assured repeatedly ‘do not look back.’ When asked why we should not look back we were given no answer. We tend to believe them, and as we are professionals here at NBC we will not be looking back.

T: If my wife and children are listening to this, I want to tell them I love them.

J: That’s right. We are both very afraid for our lives.

T: Okay, it looks like it’s the Italian's turn now. The Ukrainian and the American are still jumping up and down on the trampoline. They’ll do this for another twenty minutes until they turn into vapor of some sort.

J: That’s right. Schleem requires half of the game to be played in a vaporous state. The winner of the third round will be determined by who regain their form.

T: That’s right, Darnell.

J: I’m just trying to get through this, and come back the same age as when I left.

T: We’re all dying, Darnell.

J: I’m just trying to get through this and live.

T: I don’t know, Darnell. There’s a good chance we’re in hell already.

J: That’s right Jamie. We have been discussing the possibility for some time now that this might be a punishment for our sins committed in our lives, and we might have already died – in some kind of car accident I assume.

T: I assume I’ve probably been murdered.

J: That’s a good point, Jamie. we could have been murdered.

T: Okay, okay. The Italian player is beginning the dance portion of schleem. You would think it would get boring.

J: And, oh my gosh, I have never seen a dance portion like that before.

T: That’s right, and I think that’s because nobody in human history has. He is already several feet in the air; you would think he’d fall, but he isn’t. He’s now staring directly at us.

J: That’s right. He’s been whispering the names of our first loves, alternating every 20 minutes.

T: That’s right, Darnell. It’s the woman I never truly got over, and for my entire life up to this moment I’ve always regretted not going for her. Why didn’t I go after her, Darnell?

J: It’s because you were afraid to live as you truly were, Jamie.

T: Well, you know Darnell, you are truly wise.

J: I sometimes feel like I have no purpose in life.

T: That’s probably true, Darnell, that’s probably true. As the schleem team’s one and only sponsor says, ‘You do not matter. You will all die a horrible death. Shop at Old Navy.”

J: That’s right. Old Navy is the only sponsor of schleem. I heard Mickey Drexler was an avid schleem player in college.

T: That’s right, Darnell.

The crowd boos.

T: The American player has just made a crucial error.

J: Oh, that will cost him big.

T: And as he enters the piranha pit it looks like a silver medal for the Americans, and once again the Ukrainians have won. That’s it for the first day of schleem, and I hope that I am still alive when I have done with this.  

They were not.



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