The 2016 Olympic Games officially get underway tonight in Rio, and while Latin America's largest country is the host, a game beloved by many Latinos is missing and it's time to end that drought.
I'm talking about dominoes.
Yes, it's time to make the national pastime of weekends in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and several other countries - including neighborhoods in the U.S. where more than five Latinos gather - an Olympic sport.
It would most certainly increase the number of medals going to Latinos, and that's a good thing!
Hey, if golf can be an Olympic sport, why not dominoes? My golf-loving friends probably won't be happy I'm saying this, but what is so interesting and exciting about seeing a bunch of guys (and yes, women of course) staring at a little hole in the ground and then walking endlessly from hole to hole, and hitting the ball so far away no one can see where it went?
Meanwhile, the announcers are speaking in such hushed tones it's probably coming out of their mouths in a much smaller font. Shh! Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you, but the scuttlebutt is golf was included because many golf bigwigs lobbied hard for it, even though, ironically, most are opting out of participating in Rio.
Dominoes on the other hand, would likely have ZERO "opt outs." It attracts a passion and fervor virtually unmatched by any other game or sport beloved by Latinos. For one thing, it's perfect for multitasking, and we are busy people indeed. You can't play baseball and find out the latest gossip because you're either hitting the ball or catching it, or at least trying to.
You can't talk about what the kids are up to and what's going on in politics when you're boxing because you're trying to avoid getting knocked out. You can't have a "drinkesito" while you're playing basketball because you know you'll get elbowed or stepped on and spill your drink, or worse, thrown out for not paying attention. With dominoes it's a different story. The official rules say silence, no one is supposed to speak during a game, but who pays attention to that?
Things can get highly competitive and even downright ornery in a dominoes game. And, it may look sedentary but it most definitely is not. You get plenty of upper body exercise with all the numerous hand gestures and BOOMS when you smack a tile down on the table. And the jumping up and down and salsa moves while celebrating a victory gives the rest of your body plenty of exercise. Pure athleticism for sure! Plus it's the perfect GPS tracker.
Chances are if you can't find someone, they're over at the card table playing dominoes. That's how my mother found her uncle one summer evening in the hustle and bustle of New York City: he wasn't home, he wasn't at his daughter's, he wasn't at the bodega, but there he was on a street corner with his pals playing dominoes.
It takes a special kind of skill to play dominoes. Not only do you have to pay attention to what's going on with your tiles and strategize about your next move, you're also busy opining about the news of the day and arguing about it, chatting on the phone, sipping a cold beverage and having a bite to eat, saying hello to passersby, all while dozens of kids are running behind you in twenty different directions. Think of the imagery! Who wouldn't tune in to watch all that?!
On the eve of this year's Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced it was adding several sports to the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Sadly, dominoes was not on the list.
This may sound like a joke, but there really are groups out there that are pushing for this. The Federation of International Dominoes is a real organization lobbying for Olympic recognition that also sponsors domino tournaments around the world which attract hundreds of players. The 13th annual gathering was just held in Orlando, Fla., which not coincidentally has a large Puerto Rican population.
For the IOC to recognize a sport, it has to be approved by them seven years before the games where it would first appear. So let's get cracking, folks.
And while we're at it, how about adding some Latin music to the synchronized swimming event? We could do that right now! Do you know how many people would tune in to watch Bachata underwater? Tons. Record-breaking tons. It would be big. No, actually it would yuuuge. You know it.
C'mon IOC, let's do it.