Lately, I've been watching much of the Olympic games coverage on TV, as I'm sure many of you have. It's got me to thinking.
The motto of the modern Olympic Games, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (meaning faster, higher, stronger) was coined by Father Henri Martin Didon, principal of Arcueil College, near Paris. I believe this motto lends the games to be a competition of speed, skill, and strength of the individual athlete.
So what's with the hyper variety of sports included in the Olympic games?
Gymnastics, Diving, Synchronized Swimming: I don't think the games were intended to be a test of subjective qualities such as grace and agility. I don't believe judges were ever meant to be active participants in the games, other than to mediate disputes or discourage cheating. I call for all sports that don't allow the average fan to easily distinguish between winner and loser to be dispelled from the Olympic games.
If your sport awards a score for "artistic presentation" . . . GONE
If your sport requires an instant replay to monitor style or technique . . . GONE
If your sport leaves open for judges to cheat on scoring . . . GONE
If your sport requires makeup or costumes . . . GONE
Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball, Water Polo, Baseball, Handball, Hockey, Softball, Rowing (w/coxswn): I don't think team sports should be included in the Olympics. It doesn't sit well with me when the best player on the 3rd place team wins bronze, while the bench warmer on the 1st place team walks away with gold. How is that an accurate representation of ability or athleticism? And how about the rowing coxswain? He's not faster, higher, or stronger. Does a human metronome really deserve an Olympic medal? Team sports should be left to the World Championships or World Series, venues established to test and reward the proficiency of a team.
Note: I make exception for team sports that require full and active participation of all team members. Beach volleyball, doubles tennis & badminton, and relay races for example; if one player is injured or just plain lousy, you definitely ain't gonna win.
Equestrian: I'm troubled by Olympic sports that involve animals. It seems to me your success or failure shouldn't hinge on the strength or skill of an animal. This isn't the Humane Society Games and PETA isn't a sponsor. Let's leave the Olympics to the homo sapiens and reserve these other sports for the Animal Channel.
Let's be realistic folks. Just because it makes you sweat doesn't make it a sport worthy of Olympic participation. The ancients had it right (except for the competing in the nude part) with fewer sports included in the original Olympic games. As of this year we're up to 28 sports. What's next - ballroom dancing, chess, cheer leading . . . paintball? Time to scale it back and return focus to the modern Olympic mission of faster, higher, stronger.
On a final note . . .
The Olympic Creed reads, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
If this is the case, why does the media continue to dwell on the medal count by country? For an event that is supposed to bring together competitors and countries alike, it's adversarial for newspapers and TV to constantly remind the world that we, the US of A, win more medals then any other country represented. I say we rise above the medal count and celebrate the Olympic Games for what they were meant to be - a capitalistic exploitation of sub prime summer television programming. After all, nobody likes a braggart.