Ok, so there have been numerous threads decrying this or that Olympic sport for some perceived or even measureable failing. So I’m thinking it’s time to have a serious debate about what sports should be allowed in the Olympics.
Let’s leave the IOC’s criteria aside, and debate our own perceptions. What should be the deciding factors in making a sport Olympic-calibre? Why? How many people have to play? Should it have an international organization? Are there some sports that, even with these criteria, should never be in the Olympics?
Now if you are an Olympics hater, or want to just dump on a sport without any good reason, please go open a Pit thread, and leave this one to people interested in the debate.
I do believe football should be an Olympic sport. It is true that the World Cup is more prestigious. However, as the World Cup is held only every four years, the Olympic competition is worthwhile. The US Women’s team has been amazing to watch since 1996.
Tennis should not be an Olympic sport. The majors are contested every year and are FAR more prestigious than the Olympic.
For starters, I think that only events with objective scoring systems should be allowed. Now don’t get me wrong. I like diving, gymnastics, and figure skating. However, it’s too easy for judges to play politics with the scores, or let their personal opinions of the athletes interfere. Sure, there’s the safeguard of dropping the lowest and highest score, but that only helps when there’re just one or two rogue judges.
Now if they found a way to make these events objective (e.g. measuring a diver’s actual angle at the time of entry and plugging that into a scoring formula) then they’d be fine, but I don’t like the idea of something as big as an Olympic sport having a score for “artistic interpretation” (or whatever they call the non-technical portion of the score in figure skating).
Oh! Um, what I don’t like is seeing a sport that is only really a big deal in certain countries treated seriously. Olympic basketball seems to have been invented as a safe gold for the United States, & only Lithuania is normally likely to challenge it, because outside those two countries, it’s a minor sport, like jai alai or something.
kniz, I said “normally.” There’s some question as to how much the international B-ball situation is changing, vs. this year’s team being just remarkably badly chosen & managed.
Antiochus, chess should never be in the Olympics. It, like other board games of its type, is merely a finite mathematical puzzle. The fact that it’s really complex doesn’t change this. There is a point at which it could be perfectly mastered, but such mastery would come at the cost of all other personal development. Sport should be about improving a man, not wasting brainpower on skills only usable in an arbitrary board game. Fast legs, or good horsemanship, might save your life. Using your bishop for a hypermodern attack on your enemy’s king? Useless.
Cross Country running really should be an olympic sport, I’ve thought this for some time. If they’re going to have 500 variations of swimming, why not add a small bit more running than track and field?
Ah, the myth of objectivity, dogma of the religion of technology. The fact is that just about any sport has some level of unquantifiable judgement involved. I’m not neccessarily a fan of the sports you named, but the difference between a gymnastics judge and a hockey referee is relative, not absolute.
Moreover, imposing “objective” measurements on the sports you name amounts to changing the very goals of the sports. A large part of why divers want to be perpendicular is to avoid splash, and just today I was listening to them discuss how divers worked on techniques for avoiding splash even if they weren’t in perfect position. Even if we could imagine a technology for measuring a dive, there would still be a judgement involved in assigning relative importance to the various elements: A was higher off the springboard, B had less splash. Which is better? And by what inviolate rule do we determine degree of difficulty? Taking the judging out does not improve these sports; it kills them and replaces them with something different.
I’m no chess player but, foolsguinea you are utterly wrong in saying that chess players are “wasting brainpower on skills only usable in an arbitrary board game.” Like advanced studies in math or for that matter other subjects like philosophy, the merit lies not in the practical skill (most people will never “use” calculus) but in the development and shaping of a mind. Chess is the same.
And If we’re adding, howabout Rugby? Sevens or 15s or both. Globally popular, great TV to boot. Only drawback is redundancy to the already-existing World Cup.
I think it’s possible that technology can help take a lot of the fuzz out of the logic of judging sports, be they reliant on simple metrics like time-to-finish, or more complicated sets of criteria used in sports like gymnastics. I think it’s safe to say that if there’s an element of technique all judges can agree on (e.g. difficulty, as defined by distance, or angle), that element is measurable. Any kind of measurement of something physical can be automated. If facial expressions, for instance, are an indicator of “poise”, even that could be measured, using biometric techniques already available. A lot of technology can be brought to bear on the problem of making judging equitable; all that is required is that spectators accept it. Pro American Football, for example, has (relatively) recently adopted the use of instant replay to double-check calls. Someday, we may not need a ref. at all.
How about NASCAR? That may just improve the sport here in the states, since the Italians especially will most likely kick butt with their “stock” models. [sup]And despite my location I am not a NASCAR fan.[/sup]
Lends itself to direct scoring of contestants against each other. I don’t necessarily have a problem with part of the score being “artistic presentation” or whatever but that’s much more subjective than “Joe lifted more weight than Bob”.
Athletic event. As much as I love chess I don’t think it fits with the nature of the Olympics. Chess is a game, not a sport.
Try to avoid minor differences or funky combinations labelled as brand new events. Sprints versus marathons is fine, but we don’t need the 101, 105, 117.4 and 123.9 meter dashes. Certain combinations (like the biathlon and triathlon) make sense as they either demonstrate true endurance/overall athletic ability or they have a sporting history (biathlon was a military skill), but the combination “Deadlift & Synchronized Swimming” is just goofy.
No, fer cryin’ out loud! The Olympics are supposed to be about the highest level of competition, and cricket’s already got a “highest level of competition”–the ICC World Cup. Would any of the players really care that much about winning or losing? Would they treat the Olympics any differently from the dozens of one-day tournaments that litter the schedule now? I can see the post-match interviews from a potential Olympic cricket interview:
Reporter: “A close loss against Australia, Michael–your side must be devastated at missing out on the medal round.”
England captain: “Yeah, we will have to pick our heads up for the Singapore Sling Classic next month.”
No, I don’t see it happening, ever. As I’ve said elsewhere, the ICC, national associations (other than, surprisingly, the England and Wales Cricket Board with their Twenty20 game), and the top players all do not really want cricket in the Olympics. When cricket was introduced at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, it was a huge bust because none of the top players showed up; cricket was dropped for the 2002 games. And after the IOC saw that, the possibility of cricket in the Olympics fell to absolute zero.