Olympics Olympics Olympics Olympics Olympics

Following is The Daily Herald’s at-a-glance roundup of today’s front page stories relating to the 2002 Winter Olympics.

OLYMPICS = DEATH: With less than a year to go before the 2002 Winter Olympics, state officials are recommending Utah residents get out now, while they still can. “There is no way the freeway construction will ever be finished in time,” said a spokesman from Gov. Leavitt’s office. “All these people pouring in at once, inundating the state, and some of them wanting to drink beer — it’s going to be awful. Thousands will certainly be killed. For the love of all that’s holy, flee for your lives now. NOW!!”

OLYMPIC ATHLETES DOING OLYMPIC THINGS: A timed trial held Monday in a sport no one cares about — indeed, a sport no one even considered a sport until the Olympics decided it was one — resulted in several athletes breaking records, while other athletes did not break any records. Some of those athletes will become Olympians, and after March 2002, you will never hear of them again.

OUT TO LUNCH, OLYMPIC-STYLE: SLOC President Mitt Romney announced today that he would have lunch at Chili’s. It was anticipated he would have the baby-back ribs, though the possibility of a taco salad was not ruled out.

OLYMPICS AND RELIGION: The LDS Church has denied attempting to turn the 2002 Olympics into “The Mormon Olympics.” “We prefer to call them ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Olympics,'” said a church spokesman, noting that the “The” should be capitalized.

PLEASE DON’T TALK ANY MORE ABOUT THE @#*$ OLYMPICS: Several Olympic-related stories in yesterday’s Daily Olympic Herald went unread, presumably due to lack of interest. To increase reader interest in what is surely the most important event in the history of the frickin’ universe, the Herald will print twice as many Olympic stories in tomorrow’s paper.

PARKING, OLYMPIC-STYLE: The city of Provo is urging residents to fly flags during the Olympics. “We want the world to feel welcome here,” said Mayor Lewis Billings. “We don’t know where the world is going to park, but they’re certainly welcome once they get here.” As an afterthought, he said, “Maybe the world should just walk. I mean, traffic is bad enough in this town without throwing a bunch of foreigners into the mix.”

AN OLYMPIC PERSPECTIVE: A large chunk of the moon broke off today and subsequently crashed in Africa, killing millions and sinking most of the continent into the sea. Olympic officials promised, however, that the 2002 Winter Olympic will continue as scheduled. “When was the last time Africa hosted the Olympics, anyway?” a spokesman said. “I mean, really. Let’s put this thing in perspective.”

OLYMPICS, OLYMPICS, OLYMPICS, OLYMPICS, OLYMPICS: The Olympics Olympicked today, resulting in Olympic Olympics. “Olympics Olympics Olympics,” said an Olympic. “Olympics Olympics Olympics.” The Olympic was expected to Olympic.

ACADEMY OLYMPICS: More than 800 million people worldwide viewed at least part of the 73rd Annual Academy Awards on Sunday. Tragically, none of the films nominated were about the Olympics, making the whole thing irrelevant. In other news, someone mentioned the 2002 Winter Olympics on Sunday. Story and photos are on page A1.

(Legal disclaimer that shouldn’t even be necessary but trust me, it is: All quotes in this article are fictitious.)

This column was born of my frustration with how all the Utah papers (including the Daily Herald) were handling their coverage of the 2002 Olympics, with almost a year left to go before the Games occurred: They were over-doing it, as you might have surmised. At this point, 11 months out, the Herald already had a reporter who JUST covered the Olympics.

The amusing thing was that whatever the daily Olympics story was, it almost always went on the front page. And a glance at our Web site data showed that whenever there was an Olympics story, it was one of the least-read articles of the day, suggesting people either weren't interested yet or were already sick of it.

So this was a foray into biting the hand that fed me. It went over well enough with my bosses, who took it in stride and -- unlike many Daily Herald readers -- recognized that it's OK for someone to make fun of something that you happen to like. They were cool like that, those bosses.

The joke about the "Mormon Olympics" was a dangerous one, because a week earlier, Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley had used pretty much the same joke. However, I had already written it, completely coincidental to Bagley doing it, so I felt OK still using it. It might look like I'd stolen it, but I knew I hadn't. But that was the dangerous part, of course: LOOKING like I'd swiped a joke.