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The Roommate Olympics

The most difficult competition is “Swimming,” as in “I’m swimming in student loans.” That one we all lose.

Time to Light the (Tiki) Torch

The most difficult competition is “Swimming,” as in “I’m swimming in student loans.” That one we all lose.

By Anne Ertle, John Carroll University

The Olympics are nearly here, and that means that Brazil soon will be flooded with athletic demigods and the patriotic bandwagoners that love them; also, Bob Costas.

Maybe you’ve found yourself lacking the Olympic spirit, though, because you didn’t get a chance to jet to Rio de Janeiro. Perhaps the tickets are too expensive or you have “responsibilities to tend to,” or maybe you’re not trying to go to Brazil because you saw an episode or two of Netflix’s “Narcos” and you aren’t about to become ransom for some drug cartel’s shady deal (and if it’s the latter, “Narcos” is about Colombia, you bigot).

Regardless of your reason for staying stateside, I’ve developed a version of the Olympics you can play in your very own home.

The Roommate Olympics can be adapted to a dorm room, an off-campus residence or even a jail cell (for my fans in the correctional facilities nationwide—hey, Blue Eyes!).

The best part is that you can play along with your roommate or keep the competition a secret while you cast your living partners as mere pawns in your weirdly competitive games—your choice!

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony in the “real” Olympics is when we first see the countries as they parade around some convention center. We get to really exercise our ethnocentrism here and goof on the weird outfits worn by athletes representing countries we’ve probably bombed.

This is your chance to express yourself, so go crazy. Mix patterns! Wear a hat! Stride about the room! That roommate that always sings in the shower? This is their chance to shine with a solo performance of any national anthem (Genovia’s counts, fellow “Princess Diaries” fans)

1000-Meter Dash

This event is inspired by the actual race ran by those in the track and field category. The 1000-meter dash begins as you sit in a shared living space, ideally one that is close to a door that leads outside. You have to wait until you hear people approaching. Usually it’s one of your roommates coming home with a group of friends you don’t feel like talking to or bringing back their insufferable boyfriend who wants to tell you why Donald Trump is the best candidate for president.

As soon as you hear the approaching voices, the objective is to gather all of your things as quickly and quietly as possible and then dash to your room.

If they walk in and see you before you make your escape, you get the bronze. If you do manage to scurry out of sight, therefore avoiding an awkward conversation entirely, you get the gold—the golden silence, that is.

Garbage Handball

This event will test your mental and physical capabilities and its only viable connection to the real handball is that it requires digital dexterity. The objective of Garbage Handball is to see how high you can stack your garbage before it becomes a swaying tower of filth that collapses on some poor sap that was just trying to throw away the plastic wrapper from a bag of popcorn.

If it does collapse on you, you get the bronze medal and you have to take out the trash and you also receive a weird, slimy feeling when your hand brushes against an unidentified food object. Gross. 

Curling, But without the Stones

Curling, But Without the Stones is an important game that requires a deft hand and an eye for angles. It is much like the traditional sport of curling, as aforementioned, but without the stones.

The Roommate Olympics

What remains is the sweeping. Each roommate should grab a broom and sweep the floor, keeping an eye out for crumbs, food fragments, and assorted debris. There are no medals for this event because the clean floor is reward enough. Look how nice it looks, you guys! You did it!

Tug of War

Tug of War revives the discontinued Olympic event, but in a new form. As opposed to physically pulling a rope toward you, the rope is a metaphor for an argument you and your roommates are having. Say that Roommate A loves a cool room, so she turns the thermostat to a nippy 60 degrees. Roommate B, on the other hand, prefers a tropical climate and thrives in a 74-degree environment. Thus, Tug of War begins.

The Roommates go back and forth until one is ultimately proven to be weaker—the person who folds and gives in to the other’s request. Other issues that can be applied are “I Cleaned the Bathroom Last Time,” “Seriously, Tell Him I’m Not Voting for Trump,” and “Your Guests Ate My Trail Mix and Someone Needs to be Held Accountable.”


Swimming in student loans, that is! This event is a social commentary on the bubble that will inevitably burst due to outrageous interest rates and astronomical amounts of money borrowed. I hate to break it to you, everyone, but in this event we all lose. Liven it up by dressing in the swimwear of your choice.


This event is usually scheduled around the beginning or the end of the year, when you begrudgingly help your roommate move their stuff in or out of their room.

Weightlifting has recently been the eye in a storm of controversy. This is mainly due to people arguing if holding the door open for the roommate’s dad, who is walking out with a fully loaded dresser, veins bulging and knees buckling under the weight, counts as “participating.”

 Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony should be performed with class, dignity, and ideally it would feature a performance by an internationally recognized pop star. If you don’t have Shakira or Beyoncé at your disposal, try YouTube. I mean, I just planned all of these events for you. I can’t do everything.

The Roommate Olympics should be fun and bring about a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship. If you just so happen to be able to air out some of your grievances while also maintaining a clean-ish house…well, then my job is done. See you again in 2020.

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Anne Ertle

John Carroll University

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