It takes a hard heart not to have at least a mild case of Olympic fever right now. For the next two weeks the entire world will tune into London, where national pride, the spirit of competition and athletes who have devoted their lives to one incredibly specialized skill will be in the spotlight. It’s all very inspiring. But how are ordinary folks supposed to get in on the fun? Watching on TV is nice, but taking part in the action would be better. Of course, pole vault and shot put and canoe slalom aren’t exactly the easiest activities to jump into, and, man — they look difficult.
With that in mind, we have come up with an alternative: the No-Sweat Olympics. The concept is simple — competition is fierce, but movement is minimal. There will be no perspiration, but there will be imbibition. The following games can be played at local bars, and if a beer isn’t in hand, it’s close by. So grab some friends and start a new tradition of semi-athletic excellence.
First things first — it’s not Ping-Pong. It’s table tennis. And unlike all of the other activities here, this one is a legit Olympic sport. Since 1988, the world’s finest have vied for table tennis glory every four summers. The United States has, unfortunately, been resoundingly shut out of the medal ceremonies each year. (Surely we would dominate in beer pong, though.) So get to practicing on Tuesday nights at Breadsoda. The Glover Park bar is a popular spot for pool and such table games as chess, checkers, Yahtzee and backgammon. But on Tuesdays, pool tables are transformed for table tennis and the paddles come out. The regularly scheduled programming means it’s become something of a destination spot for good players. If you don’t know how to put backspin on your shots, expect a stranger to whoop you pretty quickly. Which would be too bad, because there’s often a not-short wait to get in a game on one of the two tables. The fine selection of draft beers makes the wait much more palatable. — D.M.
12233 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-333-7445, www.breadsoda.com. Free to play. Other places to play:
Continental, 1911 Fort Myer Dr., Arlington. 703-465-7675. www.continentalpoollounge.com, Comet Ping Pong, 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-364-0404. www.cometpingpong.com.
The nine holes of mini golf at H Street Country Club don’t compose the most challenging course, which is probably for the best because most of the putters will have had a few drinks by the time they tee off. (Players must be at least 21, although kids accompanied by an adult are allowed to play on Sundays and Mondays.) The D.C. landmarks featured on each hole — the course begins with Ben’s Chili Bowl and works its way to the Washington Monument; there’s even a Marion Barry-themed hole — give it a local flavor that your typical hit-the-ball-through-the-windmill courses don’t have. It’s also (obviously) indoors, which is a key element in keeping with our “no sweat” theme. The bar/restaurant has been open three years, which means the crowds are not as much of an issue as in the past. Under normal conditions, the course shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete, even less time for a twosome. Mini-golf purists may prefer a more standard 18-hole course, but it’s worth remembering that Putt-Putt doesn’t serve beer. — D.M.