Ah the olympics…

While basking in the afterglow of London’s most recent athletic spectacle, a couple great videos (specifically: sailing and dressage) popped up that got me thinking that the number (and type) of events in today’s Olympiad has perhaps gotten a little out of control.

Just for shits & giggles, I went through all of the sports – There are approximately 150 different events (excluding duplicates for men/womens/weight classes) – And tried to cull them based on my somewhat arbitrary definition of an “Olympic sport.”

Now – Bear in mind, that I outlined “Olympic” as a precursor to “Sport.” This exercise wasn’t an attempt to differentiate “sport” from “non-sport,” nor is it in any way meant to be a derogatory commentary on certain sports – Many of which take a level of skill, dedication and training that I could only hope to attain – Rather, this is an attempt to set certain qualifications around what it takes for a sport to be “Olympic.”

This topic has definitely been hotly debated, and though I don’t necessarily feel all *that* impassioned about it, I thought it would be fun ;-)

So – Below are the artifacts of what I deem to be an “Olympic sport” as well as their repercussions to the current event list:

  1. The primary contestant must be a person (or at least propelled by the power of a person)
    Generally most Olympic events adhere to this rule, however this ‘rule’ would prompt the removal of both equestrian (powered by the horse) and sailing (powered by the wind) events.
  2. The event must involve sincere physical exertion
    I’m allowing a little bit of wiggle room with the word “sincere,” but I’m imagining that this would result in the removal of shooting, archery, ping-pong and walking – I would contend that these are based more on skill than physical prowess or a combination of the two.
  3. There must be a singular objective winner
  4. This rule definitely pains me a bit, but to my way of thinking the Olympics is about the singular pinnacle of human potential, not a culmination of multiple people (ie. a team). Citing both “singular” and “objective” is a bit of a double edged sword… It precludes both:

    • Mainly subjective sports (ie. synchronized swimming, rythmic gymnastics, etc.), and
    • Team events (ie. soccer, field hockey, rowing eights etc.)
  5. It can not be a derivative of an existing event (ie. no synchronization)
    This rule accounts for the blasphemous ‘synchronization’ of sports… I’m not saying they aren’t challenging or difficult… It’s just… Does adding another person trying to copy another make it a ‘new’ event?! Why?! Come on!

Now – These “rules” are fudgey at best… And when they’re eventually rolled out, it would still be up to the IOC to decide which sports truly uphold these guidelines ;-)

I have to admit that this was both a fun and challenging exercise – Rule #3 caused me the most heartburn… Mainly because of the elimination of team/group sports. Group sports (ie. rowing eights) feel a bit more naturally Olympic to me than team sports (ie. soccer), but I couldn’t come up with a rationale to make that work. I’m not sure what it is about “team” sports… They’re legitimately awesome, but just doesn’t feel very ‘Olympic’ to me.

What are your thoughts? Are there too many sports in the Olympics? Should the criteria of what is an acceptable Olympic event be more stringent?

To be completely honest, I just love sport and I’m not really too fussed – I love all the countries coming together, to enjoy events I rarely get to watch and to learn about events I have no real knowledge of.