Consolation Prizes: The (Almost) Next-Best Thing to the Summer Olympic Games

[from The A.V. Club Chicago / October 7, 2009]

For better or for worse, last week’s announcement by the International Olympic Committee leaves Chicago without an Olympiad to call its own for the foreseeable future, forcing residents to look elsewhere for pentathlons, water polo, and synchronized swimming. Never one to let governing bodies hold it down, The A.V. Club hit the streets and found the Games already well underway—with or without the I.O.C.’s blessing—at least in three spots with their own Olympic hopes, disappointments, and easily accessible post-parties.

Olympic dream: Looking to shank a stranger in a safe and fun environment? The Chicago Fencing Club hosts weekly recreational events at Parkview Lutheran Church, 3919 N. Monticello Ave., from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday.
Olympic scandal: Although the prospect of flesh wounds might sound cool, the Chicago Fencing Club insists the sport is one of the least harmful of all major athletic pursuits (only seven fatalities between 1937 and 1996), and relies on a fencer’s ability to “both out think and out maneuver opponents who are doing their best to hit him.” Lame.
After the games: Parry over to Christina’s Place and stop the non-bleeding with $2 Guinness pints.

Table Tennis
Olympic dream: Having recently joined forces, Chicago Slam Table Tennis and the equally menacing-sounding Killerspin facilitate matches for members and non-members alike six days a week.
Olympic scandal: Unfortunately for outsiders looking to engage in a tabletop cyberwar, only enrolled Chi-Slam students can square off against the Robo-Pong table tennis robot at the Chi-Slam TTC Training Center.
After the games: Saturday matches are held at the Valentine Boys & Girls Club in Bridgeport, just a paddle-swing away from the pleasantly named and self-esteem-restoring Happiness Chinese restaurant.

The Robo-Pong in action.

Olympic dream: For the laid-back pugilist, Executive Boxing claims to help restore health and confidence six times daily to drunks, smokers, the overweight, and those “lacking discipline at the dinner table,” apparently suggesting boxing-induced facial lacerations should be taken more seriously than second helpings.
Olympic scandal: The gym also hosts Thursday Night Fight Nights—grudge matches against friends, co-workers, bosses, and mothers-in-law—but come on: Do you really want to risk the lifelong humiliation of getting your ass kicked by your mother-in-law?
After the games: The victorious can head around the corner to The Martini Bar and revel in their newfound toughness with a celebratory Squared’s Inferno (Thor’s Hammer vodka, Tabasco, jalapeño garnish, and a dash of Bacardi 151 rum—all lit on fire); the defeated can lick their wounds with chili dogs and $2.75 bottles at nearby Sky-Ride Cocktail Lounge (105 W. Van Buren St., 312-939-3340). Either way, The A.V. Club recommends focusing on punch mechanics rather than punch count—and not picking a fight with someone who can fire you for winning.