Thoughts on the Olympics 2008

Opening ceremony - best ever.

Maniac kills American - Isolated tragic incident highlighting the limits of secority everywhere.

Volleyball - Great coverage! Are synchronized swimmers complaining?

Swimming - Great coverage. Phelps is superman. Glad to see Spitz’s record go down.

Team sports - I’m rethinking the concept of team sports in the Olympics. I have always favored the individual competitions with objective outcomes. Run faster, throw farther, jump higher, etc. Even extra props ought to be minimized. Discus? - OK; Bicycle? - iffy; Race car? - deffinitely not. Pole in pole vault? - yes; Rifle in shooting event? - What is shooting doing in the Olympics anyway?

The problem with allowing syncrhonized diving and other “made up” sports into the Olympics is there is no way to stop; no way to define the line between what should be in or out. What about Bridge and Chess? Poker? Yes, the olympic committee decided to kick softball out, but why is water polo in? Why is little girls gymnastics in but not bodybuilding? Why is any event with subjective judging in? At least team sports have a clear means of scoring and rules that are widely accepted and reasonably objective.

Someone recently suggested that, for events to be included in the Olympics, the Olympics ought to be the pinnacle of achievement for that sport. This is not true for soccer, which has the World Cup, or basketball, which has the NBA championship. I could easily agree that any sport that has a professional league should be left out. That would mean that the old criterion of “amateur status” could be brought back. It would also probably eliminate volleyball, but as a purist, I’d be OK with that.

So,summing up, the Olympics needs to eliminate a bunch of events that fall outside the traditional image of the games. I believe the basic idea is to determine who’s the fastest human over a range of distances, who can jump highest and farthest, and who can hurl objects the longest distances. World’s strongest man/woman. Yes definitely. World’s most beautiful? Definitely not. Team sports, if included at all, should be those with the widest popularity and the simplest props. Soccer, although I don’t like it, would fit that definition. American football would not. As for “sports” requiring scoring by judges who assess the aesthetics of the performance. Get rid of them.

DadObservations08/24/08 2 comments


David • 08/25/08 9:00 PM:

Dear Dad, I am happy and grateful that you swapped out your rationality pill for your no-inhibitions/”I’m just going on a rant” pill. I love it!

So let me get this straight. The Olympics should just be track and field? (I only wish I was playing the exaggeration game here.) Track and Field athletes are professionals too and some make lots of $.

I see you cleverly left out wrestling and boxing. What about them? Both have pro leagues, and both have judges (or “refs” who judge). Or should you only win when the other guy is 1. dead 2. gives up 3. unconscious?

What about archery? No judges, but perhaps not a sport either. I say either add moving/live targets and lose all the super-counter-balance deals, or get rid of it.

What about history of the sport? That’s got to count as much as anything. If the Greeks did it, count it. So wrestling is in. And so is gymnastics.

Diving in its current form should be out. No more judging. It should be more like h-o-r-s-e, but in a pool. You have to match the dude in front of you, no matter how insane the dive (or belly flop).

As for shooting, all the shooting sports should be combined, and just called “WEAPONS” (including pistols, shotguns, bows and arrows, mortars, hammer throw, winter Olympics biathlon, rifles, and laser tag). And you choose your weapon (ala Larry Bird and Magic in the 80’s with Converse) based on all sorts of outside scenarios - scenarios that you don’t know about until game time. Like that you’re going to be at close range, or in a forest, or it’s really windy, or raining, or you have to carry it really far, or something like that.

I would also be for bringing back the old amateur status.

In closing, tomorrow I’m going to start training for team handball for 2012 in London. I mean really, am I not already good enough? All I have to do is learn the rules.

Dad • 09/16/08 8:03 AM:

You might have a better shot at synchronized handball. Actually, I used to work with a guy who was US team handball champ with his brother. Mitch was also a great racketball player. Maybe you could train under him.

As for ranting, I suppose if I moved around a lot while doing it, you’d admit that as an Olympic sport! (Say, you have to ski 10 km before you start your rant, on a subject you don’t know until you get to the ranting point.)

Wrestling is in, boxing is out. Team sports out. Yes, Olympics would become pure track and field. As for amateur status, it becomes less important if you’re “only” trying to find out who’s the fastest human. I mean, he gets to the finish line first, he’s the fastest. So what if s/he makes money at it?

Finally, maybe there should be a category for measuring how good you are at something you’ve never tried before. It does introduce the issue of proving you’ve never done it (by the testimony of 3 close friends?), but it might be fun.

In closing, I might reconsider team sports if all judgment calls were removed from the rules. Basketball could probably not be saved because you’d have to get rid of “traveling” and fouls. Hockey might work almost as it is. No penalties, no icing, just get the puck into the net. Same with soccer, no penalties, no offsides. Maybe you could have injury time outs, but heck, you’ve got all kinds of extra guys out there doing nothing at any given time anyway…

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