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Train the Chicago way

Swing, throw and swim your way to the top of the social ladder

  • Bags
Bags (Brian Cassella/Chicago…)
August 09, 2012|By Matt Lindner, For RedEye

A dozen years into the 21st century, at least one Olympic event remains frozen in time. The modern pentathlon is perhaps the least modern of all the Summer Games, combining five skills (fencing, horseback riding, swimming, shooting and running) essential for 19th century soldiers.

While excelling at those skills earns you a pat on the back today, they're irrelevant for climbing the social ladder. That's why RedEye has modernized the Modern Pentathlon, a Modern Modern Pentathlon if you will, updating it with five events you need to win friends and influence people in Chicago 2012.

16-Inch Softball

Purpose: To impress your buddies and demoralize others in your industry

To borrow a phrase, chicks dig the long ball. So does everyone else, for that matter. There is perhaps no more popular person in the office and on the intramural circuit than the star of the softball team. If you're going to be a climber of both the social and corporate ladders, you've gotta be a diamond in the rough at the rough diamonds throughout the city.

Of course, softball's about more than just hitting. Athletes also will be judged on their defensive abilities, facing a barrage of fly balls. Defense wins championships, don'tcha know.

Bags/Cornhole

Purpose: Year-round tailgate and barbecue domination

The ultimate Chicago social climber must have a bit of the Great Cornholio in him. Bags, or cornhole, depending on where you're from, are a year-round constant in our city. From Soldier Field tailgates to neighborhood barbecues, the game requiring beanbags, boards and, of course, a little booze, never seems far away.

To take this competition to the next level, athletes will take part in a one-on-one match that tests not only their ability to get the bag in the hole but keeping their opponent's far from it.

Golf

Purpose: To get to that corner office and close that big deal

If you've got eyes on the corner suite but lack a set of golf clubs, you should change that, or at least make friends with someone who has them. Golfing in the corporate world is different from golfing with your buddies though, in that you've gotta be good, but not TOO good. After all, your clients and bosses control the purse strings.

Athletes will be judged not only by their ability to hit a laser down the fairway but also their ability to whiff on an easy putt with their client down by one stroke, or look the other way when their boss takes a fifth consecutive mulligan.

Badminton

Purpose: To impress family at annual get-togethers

Badminton is the only event in our Modern Modern Pentathlon that is an actual Olympic event, but in this case we're relegating the sport to where it belongs: in suburban backyards. It is, after all, the quintessential summer sport to play with family. The equipment's cheap, it's easy to set up, and the shuttlecock neutralizes any physical competitive advantage possessed by those who work out a bit more.

In our Pentathlon, this is a simple match play event wherein athletes will be judged on their mad skills at knocking the birdie over the net while simultaneously keeping an ear on how Aunt Susie and your cousins spent their summer vacation.

Swimming after a lost Frisbee/football

Purpose: To save you some money

We've all been there—you're throwing the football or Frisbee around in the waters of Lake Michigan on a summer day when all of the sudden one of your buddies tosses one just out of your reach and in the direction of that dreaded boundary. Once your ball's there, it's lost for good no matter how much you swear to the lifeguards you can get it without drowning. Not only are you out $20, but your day is at least partially ruined.

Our final event is perhaps the truest test of a Chicagoan's athletic prowess. We'll send an object out into the water, competitors will swim to try and save it before it goes past the boundary. Succeed and you're a gold medalist. Fail and, well, there's always Castaways.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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