Dave Barry: Archery is an amazing ... time for beer!

Fri August 03, 2012 - National Edition
Dave Barry - McClatchy Newspapers

LONDON — I went out to see the Olympic archery competition, which is being held at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Cricket is of course the quintessentially English sport, having been played by royalty since the early 14th century. (That match is currently tied, 487-487.)

Lord’s Cricket Ground is steeped in tradition. Every morning, a crew of ground-steepers goes around and steeps the hell out of it. And well they should, for Lord’s is the home of the Marylebone Cricket Club, which was founded in 1787 and is the most venerable institution in cricket. If you’d like to become a member, simply write a letter to the club stating your interest, then feed it to a goat, because, trust me, the Marylebone Cricket Club is way too classy to admit the likes of you.

This is too bad, because cricket is an exciting sport. Americans think it’s boring, but that’s because we don’t understand it. In an effort to enlighten you, I will quote here from the official rules, which are called the Laws of Cricket, and which are maintained by the Marylebone Cricket Club. I swear I am not making this quote up:

“If either 9 wickets are already down when 2 minutes remains to the agreed time for tea, or the 9th wicket falls within this 2 minutes, or at any time up to and including the final ball of the over in progress at the agreed time for tea, then, notwithstanding the provisions of Law 16.5(b) (Completion of an over), tea will not be taken until the end of the over that is in progress 30 minutes after the originally agreed time for tea, unless the players have cause to leave the field of play or the innings is completed earlier.”

Of course there is more to cricket than just the tea interval. There is also (I am still not making this up) the lunch interval AND the drinks interval, both of which are thoroughly covered in the Laws. So you can see why cricket is nowhere near as boring as... Hey! Wake up!

But getting back to Olympic archery, which, as you may recall, although I frankly doubt it, is the topic of this column: Recently there has been a spurt in the popularity of archery because of the wildly successful “Hunger Games” books, about a young woman who lives in a harsh post-apocalyptic world where she must enter a deadly competition and have all kinds of kinky sex with a helicopter-owning billionaire.

No, wait, that’s the plot of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which is even more wildly popular than “The Hunger Games,” having been purchased in hardcover and eagerly read by approximately every woman on Earth. All this time, we men have been assuming that women are not as interested in sex as we are, and now we discover that they are VERY interested in sex. They’re just not interested in sex with US. They want the kinky helicopter billionaire. That would explain Donald Trump.

But getting back—and I mean it this time—to Olympic archery: It’s pretty amazing. The archers stand a LONG way from the targets. The crowd gets totally quiet as an archer pulls back the bowstring, holds perfectly still for a second or two, then releases the bowstring. Then, in the most dramatic part of the event, the archer sprints all the way to the target and points to the spot he or she was aiming at. For reasons of Olympic security, they are not allowed to use arrows.

No, seriously, they use arrows. At least I assume they do. I personally could never see them. I had to take the announcer’s word for it that there were arrows going into the targets. I’m sure that, given time, I could have gotten into the event, but I had to leave, because it was time for the beer interval. You have to follow the Laws.

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