Saturday, February 16, 2013

Olympic Influence

Recently the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that wrestling would be cut from the Olympics.  There are a bunch of sports clamoring to replace it like baseball, squash, and roller sports !! and while the linked article is obviously biased in favour of wrestling I don't see their point as being particularly valid.  Saying that a sport is really old is hardly a compelling argument for its inclusion in an international athletic competition - beating people's heads in with clubs is pretty old too.

'Chasing the money' is a charge levelled at the IOC regularly and although I think it is true I don't especially think it is a problem.  They want to showcase sports that have a big following and which people care about and surprise! that ends up being the sports that are financially successful.  There are plenty of Olympic sports that mostly just get watched when your home country has a medal prospect involved and it doesn't seem like a problem to ditch small scale sports like that for big ones. It is impossible to include everything so basing some of the decision on viewer popularity is entirely sensible.

What is unfortunate, I think, is that so much of the support for a sport is contingent on the approval of what is essentially a private corporation.  When a sport isn't featured in the Olympics countries don't fund it, people don't watch it, and there is a lack of enthusiasm for it on the basis that it isn't important.  Imagine how popular the hammer toss, javelin throw, etc. would be without that badge of Olympic inclusion.  Not that I dispute that the IOC should make these calls because they certainly have to make decisions, but rather it is irritating that so much importance ends up being placed on their decisions which often end up being rather arbitrary.

If I were the one choosing new sports I think a lot of viewers would enjoy my selections but I would get utterly roasted by the critics.  I figure I would include women's roller derby (the men can compete too, but I wouldn't bother watching...), dodgeball, mixed martial arts, and starcraft 2 (casted by day9, of course).  You know, things that are serious athletic endeavours but which would be accused of pandering to the lowest common denominator.  Which, in this case, I guess I am.

Picture from wikipedia:


  1. Without having read the article, I would advocate to keep wrestling it. And the only reason for it is because the greeks already did it, anything that was in the classic Olympcis should be kept just cause, by my book, unless it is just not practiced anymore. Tradition gets brandished as the excuse for a lot of awful stuff (bullfighting in my country, for example!) but in this case I think it rightly applies.

  2. I'm a lot more concerned that every Olympics sees a greater suppression of human rights than the last than I am about what sports are included. That being said, wrestling is pretty much unwatchable for the uninitiated. There are so many rules about how you are allowed to move and what you are allowed to do that it is completely unclear to me what is going on a lot of the time. I'm not saying that other sports aren't like this as well, but wrestling is actually absurdly arcane.

    Physical contest pitting one against another seems like a traditional part of the Olympics. I don't think any particular set of rules governing that conflict (which can't possibly by the same set that governed the classic Olympics) should have a sacred place.