April Fools: Who Wins the Medal for this Event?

Sidd Finch
From April 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated

I was vulnerable.

My favorite team in sports, The New York Mets, were actually up and coming, after 13 years of supreme suckiness. Hope springs eternal, but it was especially true for Mets fans in April of 1985.

And when Sports Illustrated came out with the story, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch”, I was ecstatic. Really, the Mets have a prospect who can throw a fastball 168 mph (270 kmh)? He wore one shoe, he played the French horn – well these eccentricities were proof that it had to be true. After all, there were pictures of him, and his locker was between those of George Foster and Darryl Strawberry. After 13 years in the wasteland, our savior had come!

George Plimpton wrote the piece that set off a media firestorm. TV news crews were sent to Florida to interview the mystery pitcher on the Mets. But no one could find him. And then two weeks later (remember, this is pre-social media), New York Mets fans woke up.

April Fools.

Writing an April Fools story is walking a fine line between incredulity and credulity. It’s got to be believable enough, and yet outlandish enough to make you go, “Say what?” Here are a few April Fools’ stories regarding the Olympics.

On April 1, 2014, this video was released announcing that skateboarding would be an Olympic sport in 2016. A day later, it was revealed to be a prank. Of course, as we know now, skateboarding is actually one of the five new sports that Tokyo 2020 is recommending for the 2020 Games.

Last year, twelve-time Olympic medalist over five Olympic Games, Dana Torres, announced she was coming out of retirement to compete at the Rio Games. Yes, she was 47. But yes, she was a swimming legend and still in fantastic shape.

Dana Torres Twitter

In April 2008, the UK Telegraph placed their April Fools story so far in the past it had to be true – that the 1900 Olympics in Paris featured a poodle-clipping competition. This story was picked up by a significant number of media sites… If only they looked closely at the story details:

The event was held in the leafy environs of the Bois de Boulogne and it was the only occasion that it featured as an Olympic discipline. This, no doubt, came as a relief to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the French founding father of the modern Olympic movement, who had opposed its inclusion, but was outvoted by his International Olympic Committee colleagues. The gold medal was won by Avril Lafoule, a 37-year-old farmer’s wife from the Auvergne region of France, who successfully clipped 17 poodles in the allotted two-hour time frame.

Note the name of the winner.

poodle clipping

The biggest fraud put on the Olympics was the announcement that Sydney was stripped of its right to host the 2000 Olympic Games. Adam Spencer and Wil Anderson, who host a radio program, put together this realistic-sounding report (at least up to the end) with a host of interviews and soundbites that probably would have made people go “WHAT?” Give a listen here.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice…please.