The world is in Olympic withdrawal. But rest easy, you will not need to wait four years before the Tokyo Olympics once again has you engrossed in a preliminary heat of an event you previously did not know existed rooting for a competitor whose country you previously did not know existed.
It is no coincidence that this withdrawal, this void is filled with—that’s right—the strategically-scheduled Teacher Olympics. A surprise to many, NBC did not see it “fiscally responsible” to fork over millions for the television rights for their airing. Below you’ll find a primer for the games.
Cell phone chuck: Competitors must extract a Nokia phone from a student pre-occupied in a snap story and launch said Nokia phone down a 14-foot wide hallway. Think hammer-throw, but lighter and with more shattering.
Olympic record: While no teacher can compare with the great Dries Feremans, Finish educator Erno Rautio threw a Nokia 309 feet; if not for some ill-placed art hanging from a drop ceiling, some say it could have gone an easy 350. Cell phone chuckers from the ‘90s insist if their era’s phones “didn’t weigh as much as a college nose tackle” that they would have broken the 400 foot mark easily.
Xerox Dash: Simulating the last-minute revelation that a handout is needed for class that’s about to begin, the teacher dashes through the hall, weaving in and out of student traffic to make a set of 30 two-sided copies in the copy room and sprint back to the classroom. The course includes stairs and sometimes an unanticipated line at the copier or, God forbid, a jam in tray 3.
Olympic record: A controversial one, indeed. It was a fast course in the ’88 Games (read: no copier line, no toner replacement required, few students in the hallway) when Carl Brooks (the school’s cross-country coach) ran a 49.67 Xerox Dash. Skeptics suspect doping, with allegations of him consuming 3-4 cups of coffee before the historic run.
Paper distribution hurdles: The competitor must distribute a handout to 30 individual desks. Child’s play, an event in which even the greenest student-teacher could excel. But the hurdles—10-15 backpacks and musical instruments are intermittently placed about the room requiring the competitor—in dress shoe, mind you—to clear the obstructions. Fastest time wins.
Olympic record: Gail “Devers” Jenkins, 12.61 seconds. Coming off a sprained ankle suffered while wearing an ill-advised stiletto in a preliminary heat, Gail’s switch to a pump in the 1984 Paper Distribution Hurdles gained her a gold medal and an Olympic record that made the multitude of paper cuts worthwhile.
Paper distribution steeplechase: Standard rules of the Paper Distribution Hurdles apply with a couple of heightened challenges. The obstacles of backpacks and musical instruments still exist, but you will find competitors hurdling flutes, clarinets, or piccolos in the steeplechase. Think, violas and tubas. Climbing atop cases is common. On the other side of the bulky instruments is a spilled liquid—coffee, water, Monster Energy drink—which competitors have to step through.
Olympic record: Overcoming the residual film on the bottom of his Sebago Docksides from a spilled Venti Latte, Bob Dunder slogged his way to a gold in the ’72 Games in Seattle with a time of 32.49. Mr. Dunder, to this day, wears those same Docksides. Some students say in a quiet hallway when the ventilation fans aren’t making much noise, if you listen closely you can still hear the suction noise of ceramic tile grasping at the spilled Latte of the ’72 Games on his shoe bottoms.
Paper Stack and Carry: No event captures strength and agility the way the Paper Stack and Carry does. This event forces competitors to collect a day’s worth of essays, homework assignments, and classwork (some experts estimate this to weigh as much as 47 kg.), take the paperwork home (not grade it, though that’s being redundant), and return it to school the next day. The return to school requires the competitor to not only lug the unmarked stack from car to classroom but to do so while dodging busses, carpool minivans, and cars of newly licensed drivers. Technical difficulty additives: carrying a hot beverage, using a key or card to enter the building, and navigating stairs.
Olympic record: Guy Schemansky, a 7th grade life sciences teacher at Kennedy Middle School, once hoisted a set of 118 poorly-written, barely legible lab reports from his ’97 Ford Taurus to his 3rd floor greenhouse on a day in which minivan drop off traffic was particularly high due to science fair project submission. What has analysts still raving about the feat is that he did this while holding a 44 ounce, Big Thirsty from the local 7-11. When asked how he was able to swipe his card to get into the building, the ever-humble Mr. Schemansky deflected credit, “I couldn’t have done it without the lanyard…and these New Balances.”
Faculty Meeting Ultramarathon: This endurance test makes the Badwater Ultramarathon look like the local Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. Teachers are corralled to a non-descript, windowless meeting area littered with AV equipment from a bygone era. It’s May. It’s after school. And there are 16 agenda items, plus a guest presenter. Competitors are told, “It will be short” but they all know that’s a lie. Competitors must endure. Judges will deduct for the following: dozing off (-1.0); appearing overly interested (-0.5 per infraction), appearing too disinterested (-.5 for looking at phone or doodling, up to -2.0 for reading an unfolded newspaper), stomach grumbling (-0.5—poor snack management is like a dehydrated marathoner), and asking a question (-4.5).
Olympic record: Mary Alice Crammel scored a perfect 0 in the 2004 Games. She explains: “Ya know, I had a piece of cake from the faculty room on my hall duty that day, and I think that’s what propelled me. I wasn’t hungry. And when Dr. Vandersleeves went into the details of the Severe Weather Drill procedures on agenda item #6, I just zoomed in on the cat poster affixed to the wall behind him. You know, the one where the kitty is dangling from the tree by a paw, and it reads, ‘Hang in there’? I guess I did. I knew I had it won when Mr. Anderson asked for clarification of what constituted “severe weather.”
Hey…YOU! In this competition, a student from at least seven years back enters the classroom of their unsuspecting former teacher. The returning student must have gained at least 15 pounds from their high school days; must have an altered hairstyle and/or color; the addition of facial hair is required for all returning male students, the addition of facial hair is optional for returning female students. Within five seconds the teacher/competitor must produce the first name. Responses such as, “Hey, YOU!” “Hey, girl!” “Hey, m’man!” “What’s up, my brother?” will earn no points.
Olympic record: In real-life, probably Rich Schall (Court and Classroom writers Dan and Mike’s dad). Mr. Schall had the uncanny ability to see a former student in a grocery store aisle, pause with a furrowed brow and index finger extending from his chin to the tip of his nose, as he rummaged through his temporal lobe before giving the former student his name, graduating year, and the names of fellow classmates. Like any parent, the names of his three sons ironically were/are often used interchangeably.