Summer Olympics Suffer From Too Few Sports
With 32 sports in the Summer Olympics, little attention is devoted to determining which ones might be missing. The existing 32 fit into categories though sometimes cases can be made for more than one.
Among the criteria for including a sport in the Olympics are the number of countries in which it is played, the number of participants and the size of the bribes offered to IOC members by proponents of a new activity.
Some sports are objectively measured by factors like time, distance or points while others are subjectively judged by stern looking experts who do not relate well to others and who generally do not wear frivolous clothing.
Before thinking about which to add, we might consider the ones we have.
The biggest sports category in the Summer Olympics is “Survival Skills With a Hint of Transportation.” “Killing Things” seems to be important with archery, modern pentathlon and shooting showing off these skills, but another important subset is “Getting There to Kill Things” and this includes canoe/kayak, cycling, equestrian, rowing, sailing, swimming, track and field and triathlon. Rounding out this category is the subset known as “Avoiding Being Killed by Others or Killing Them First” and this includes boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting and wrestling. Over half of the summer Olympic sports relate to killing, not being killed and transportation. Diving could have made a case for inclusion in this category had proponents not omitted the all-important spears.
The next category is generally attributed to creative schoolmasters and is known as “Teenage Testosterone Management.” (Before going all postal about sex discrimination, it is not my fault that boys were interested in team sports before girls were. Since women have now caught up and actually represent more than half the Olympic athletes this year, we can obtain our political correctness points by calling this category either “Teenage Hormonal Management” or “Blowing Off Steam.” It includes badminton, basketball, field hockey, team handball, soccer, table tennis, tennis, volleyball and water polo. Though teamwork and cooperative skills tend to be listed first on the press releases, the dirty little secret is the importance of hormonal imbalance management to making the school day possible. Some have placed team sports among the top 10 English contributions to civilization (Battle of Britain/playing fields of Eton) but a case can be made that exuberance management made school work – and thus civilization — possible.
The third major category is “Body Pretzeling,” which is referred to as kinesthetic awareness by public relations advocates. It includes diving, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming and trampoline. Across the board the essential skill is twisting your body into positions that would send the average person to a chiropractor.
That leaves only beach volleyball defying categorization. Some suggest that it defines the “Made-for-TV” category, but more thoughtful observers believe that it was invented by the national associations of the “Blowing Off Steam” sports to assure that hormones would first be severely mismanaged, thus increasing the need for additional management and the demand for their services.
Which are missing? Too easy: politics and sex. Both are played in every country by vast numbers of people. Each can either be judged or measured or even both. There are opportunities to reward chicanery, a skill that is underrepresented among the present offerings. Cheating, dirty tricks, bribery, lying and other well-known traits of both activities could be redefined as either measurable or judge-able skills if either or both of these sports were to be included in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
According to global attention getter, Hope Solo, the US women’s soccer goalkeeper, sex has been a demonstration sport in the Olympic Village for at least the last several Olympiads and, as is widely known, politics has been popular among the officials wearing blazers since the time they wore togas.
Should be an easy and popular decision for both. If 34 sports are too many, merge beach volleyball with sex.
Politics either goes under “Avoiding Being Killed by Others or Killing Them First,” or perhaps “Body Pretzling.”