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Wednesday, 12 February 2014 09:41

confessions of a teenage hooligan, episode 2

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I dedicate this blog-fessional to all of the proud athletes from around the world who meet every four years in a variety of winter and summer sports competitions. Welcome to "confessions of a teenage hooligan, episode 2 - Olympics edition."

Part and parcel with these hallowed international events are of course the sponsors and merchandisers. I fully acknowledge that the system has become crass and bloated, often at odds with principals at the very core of the Olympics themselves. For example, at the 1924 at the Paris Games the International Olympic Committee introduced the motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius," which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger." Most nutirtionists will agree that the path to glory does not include two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, all on a sesame bun, plus fries and a Coke. The golden arches of McDonald's have enjoyed a long history of partnership with the games, and are the star of my little tale today. Live from Olympic Village West  in Grand Center, more after the break!

In case you forgot, this blog is about me being a teen hooligan and only related to the Olympics by association with McDonald's. The year was 1976. The city was Montreal. Tensions were still high from the tragic massacre at the 1972 Munich Games. The overall winner was the former Soviet Union followed by the former East Germany in second. The United States came in third. Legendary athletic performances from that year include Nadia Comanici, Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon and Michael Spinks, Shirley Babashoff, Edwin Moses, and the now weird-looking Bruce Jenner. Now back to our sponsor.

 It was the summer of '76 - the bicentennial, disco, and being a star of the Indian Hills swim team. I was 14 years old, going on 15. There was no Morgan Spurlock or study of how bad this stuff was for us. We were hungry teenagers with way more energy than brains who loved McDonald's. Who remembers their Olympics scratch-off game, free with every purchase? I think they were trivia questions, possibly medals related, but if you got it right you were able to claim a food prize. Between us we had gotten so many of them already, we knew what the right answers were. One of us, possibly me, noticed a way to substantially increase our chances of free food and a devious plot was born. I may not have been able to drive yet, but I was showing some signs of leadership and initiative skills. Misguided yes, but fun.

The game cards were kept in stacks on the side of the cash register, making it easy for them to grab a card and give it to the customer. It also made it all too easy for us to covertly snatch all or part of a stack without anyone seeing us. We had a circuit of 5 or so different locations that we would "hit," sometimes all in the same day. The standard methods of misdirection and making them look elsewhere were freely employed by me and my posse.

Back in the car we would split them up by category and use our master file of fully scratched cards to win every time. It was even funnier to us when we cashed in one hot card to be able to liberate some more. Quickly they became wise to our antics and the cards were relocated to a spot out of our greedy reach. 

The promotion, just like the games themselves, only lasted so long and was over before we knew it. We were all pretty tired of Mickey D's by that time, but it was a bit thrilling and we did eat free for a few weeks. All of this happened during a memorable teen summer that was the 200th anniversary of our great nation. Thank you America and McDonald's for this illicit bounty and tale of teen hooliganism.


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