Pop Culture: A new Olympic sport

Dennis Volkert

RCR Wireless News announced this week that the deadliest job in America is now cell-phone tower repair.

The news sent loggers, fisherpeople and ironworkers scrambling for an application, hoping to find a more hazardous line of work.

The timing of this news is perfect, considering the Olympics will soon be on everyone’s mind. It’s high time to consider a new Olympic event:?cell-phone-tower climbing.

If you think that sounds silly, it is. But it isn’t. Tower climbing has everything you’d want in an Olympic event:?danger, feats of strength and an easy-to-understand scoring system based on roaming minutes.

The mere suggestion may sound like a tall order, but it doesn’t hurt to try. What’s the worst that can happen??A boycott?

Olympics history is littered with competitive missteps, new sports that sounded good on paper but didn’t survive the cut.

A recent Associated?Press story recounted some of these discontinued sports from past Olympics. Events that became obsolete included the all-around dumbbell contest (oh, to have competed in that one); the swimming obstacle course (1900); and dueling pistol.

You think I fabricated that last one, but I didn’t.

Dueling pistol was part of only one Olympics early in the 20th century. At first I assumed organizers had to drop it because only the gold medalist survived.

But apparently that wasn’t the case. In dueling pistol, shooters fired at mannequins wearing frock coats and bulls-eyes on their chests.

That’s why they phased out the sport. Too many dead mannequins.

At least they gave it a shot.

The AP story didn’t reveal all the discontinued Olympic events. I did a little digging, and found out they’ve also abandoned the human-being toss; the 4x5,000-decaliter relay; and synchronized judging, (tried unsuccessfully at the 2002 Winter Olympics).

Some events have survived but had to be switched to the Winter Games. Attempts at ski-jumping in warm climates led to dreadfully sluggish performances.

The lesson is, there’s a lot of trial-and-error when it comes to the Olympics. That’s why the committee should consider the cell-phone-tower climb for 2012.

This could be an advantage for the USA. Future Olympians who already work in this dangerous profession would have at least four years of training under their belts.

After working several years in this riskiest of professions, winning the gold would be an afterthought.

We could phone it in.

Dennis Volkert is features editor at the Sturgis Journal. Contact him at