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It’s time to get rid of a few Olympic 'sports'

By Reg Dunlap

Another Olympics is in the books, and once again I find myself asking the same question: how did it come to this?

As usual, some fantastic athletes put on some phenomenal individual performances. Who can forget American swimmer Michael Phelps and his eight gold medals? Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was a chest-pounding yellow blur on the track. Japanese breaststroker Kosuke Kitajima won two more golds and a bronze, setting the 100m world record in the process. The Japanese were also in fine form on the wrestling and judo mats.

Certainly can’t quibble with any of that.

But let’s keep it in perspective, people. I had a conversation last week with a couple of relatively sane guys I play hockey with. They were bemoaning the fact that our native Canada was getting butt-kicked in the medal standings by, well, just about everybody.

My response: “Who cares?” Every Canuck worth his back bacon knows that if it’s not played on ice, we really don’t give a beaver turd… so there!

But our little chin-wag did reaffirm something I’ve found strange for years, which is how people can attach so much national pride to a sporting spectacle that features so much of the bogus and the bizarre.

There are many legitimate sports in the Olympic Games, of course — track and field, swimming, boxing, basketball and even soccer. Yet the ancient Greeks would have gotten their togas in a twist if they knew what had become of their baby.

When the Olympics started back in 776 BC, many of the competitions were based on the tools of warfare — javelin, discus, pole vault, Greco-Roman wrestling and even the marathon all have applications related to battle. It seems unlikely that the Greeks could have envisioned the day when trampoline, beach volleyball and BMX would be added to the docket. (BMX? I used to like jumping over things on my bike, too… until I hit puberty!)

How can you get your head around table tennis as an Olympic sport? I saw these “athletes” pounding their chests and pumping their fists during games — in other words, taking the sport seriously. Come on, guys, it’s ping-pong! You should be playing in your buddy’s den while pounding back a few brewskies, not on the world stage at the Olympic Games.

As mentioned, many of the Olympic sports were borne of the necessities of battle. But table tennis? Unless you throw the paddle at your opponent — or your beer bottle, if played properly — then it’s not really a sport. It’s an activity invented to kill time at summer camp.

And what about race-walking? Looks like a bunch of guys trying to hold it in until they find the next toilet.

The Japanese media made a big deal of Hiroshi Hoketsu, an equestrian who at age 67 was the oldest competitor in the 2008 Games. I don’t know… if this really is a celebration of the greatest athletes on the planet, should 60-year-old guys even be competing? Give the medal to the horse — he’s the one doing all the work.

What’s next? Foosball, skateboarding, miniature golf? “Now hitting into the clown’s mouth, representing Australia and playing a day-glo green ball, Timmy ‘Tapper’ McCracken.” How about pachinko? Guaranteed medal for Japan there.

With all this in mind, here are a few rules I’d like to suggest when deciding whether to allow a sport into the Olympics:

☛ Anything requiring sequins, music, makeup or a panel of judges gets the boot. See ya, synchronized swimming; so long, figure skating

☛ Activities potentially enhanced by herbal and/or alcohol intake are gone. That means no more snowboarding or BMX

☛ Basically, if you can’t determine the winner by looking at the scoreboard or the clock, then you’re outta here

☛ With sports that are on the fence — like fencing — you have to take into account its roots in combat. Any sport with the potential for major injury is all right by me, so fencing stays (but you might want to get rid of the facemasks)

☛ Of course a few exceptions have to be made. Rhythmic gymnastics, for example, meets several of the no-go criteria, but it does feature Spanish FHM cover girl Almudena Cid, so it gets an automatic free pass.

People have been railing on about this stuff for years, so I’m not suggesting anything new. But did you ever wonder, as all these fringe sports are being added, just what’s being dropped to make room for them? Try legitimate sports like baseball and softball, which were given the heave-ho when the Euro-centric IOC voted them out of the 2012 Games….

Sorry, gotta run — they’re replaying the men’s dinghy final on TV, and it looks like a real nail-biter.

Reg Dunlap is a Tokyo-based sportswriter. This commentary originally appeared in metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

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"Euro-centric"? Dude, it started in Greece. I think baseball and softball have had a good run for a "Euro-centric" organisation. Basketball should be next to go. God knows how BMX got into it even as a demo sport. As a mate said to me over a beer while watching it at a pub... "Guys that big shouldn't be riding bikes that small..."

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Looks like your somewhat biased, if it has to be related to warfare then i sugest some olympic items,

Tank battle,

Storm the machine gun nest.

Defuse the bomb

Search Bin Laden.

IMO any sport that uses judges should be nicked because it inherently corrupted.

and fencing? common it is gay fighting fron the 17- & 1800hundreds every country should use their most historic swords so the persons with the most bodyparts in one piece should get a gold medal

and how about, K1 fighting? or cage fight or free fight? the olympics should be more roman like bread and play!

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Fun commentary. Thanks.

(I'm taking it in the spirit in which it was intended.)

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You had made with you until you described baseball and softball as legitimate sports.

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And what about race-walking?

an "embarrassment to the man-race" -Mr. T

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"When the Olympics started back in 776 BC, ..."

... most sports were performed naked and women were not even allowed to watch it.

How about reintroducing one of these rules?

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Dressage demands just as much athleticism and skill from the rider as it does the horse. The rider must constantly control the horse's natural gait, rhythm, and movement while giving aids that will be both understood and performed by the horse with obedience (even the slightest hint of evasion is unacceptable). It only looks like the horse is "doing all of the work" because Hiroshi Hoketsu is so adept at what he does and in such control of the animal that he makes every performance appear virtually effortless. This is the ideal of dressage, which is why at age 67 Hoketsu was chosen to represent Japan at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Anyone who would say that the horse is "doing all of the work" knows very little about horses and equestrian disciplines.

If fencing is acceptable because of its roots in combat, then why not dressage? The sport originated to demonstrate the ability of the horse and rider in cavalry. The piaffe was used to keep the horse alert and ready to move on the battlefield, while the side pass directs the horse to move at an angle while facing forward so as not to be outflanked by the enemy.

Japan Today really needs to add a Humor or Satire category to their website. It baffles me how this became a featured article, let alone article of the day, when it is so ignorant that it barely qualifies above being blog material. I was surprised to learn that the author is actually a sports writer for a magazine...

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Well, considering that nearly all of the "sport photos" concerning beach volleyball and their string-a-uniform show everything but the athletes' faces, you may want to reconsider your statement, sarcasm123.

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The purpose of the modern-day Olympic games is to attract the sponsorship of big corporations to the mass media. As long as this is achieved, and the requisite national glory is extolled to the masses, it's fine to award gold medals to girls in leotards who twirl hula hoops, girls in bathing suits who swim in synch with funny rubber things pinching their nostrils shut, and all the other forms of artistic acrobatics that somehow managed to work their way into what I thought was supposed to be a "sporting event."

Frankly, I'm not impressed by the archery competition either, since the bows resemble surveyor's instruments. Nor by pole vaulting that sets records by hanging on for dear life while being flung upwards over a bar by a fiberglass pole. Etc.

Between the doping and the merely dopey (like the Cuban taekwando "athlete" who kicked the referee in the face), I refuse to watch this stuff any more. It's time to get rid of the Olympics, period.

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I didn't watch any competition. Some people make money of it. Good for them. Your the best in the world in your discipline? Good for you! The worst is the chauvinism that results from it.

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Good fun. Of course, we are taking sporting advice from a country where "curling" is damn near a national sport!

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First of all, I love Emi Yokoyama's illustration!

And I think the following sport should be added to the Olympics:

Sinkronized Sailing - Who can sink their sailboat the fastest?

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Whats a den? And why would people play ping pong there?

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On the plus side, they did get rid of croquet (another possible gold medal sport for the Japanese) and Indian clubs (a sport that involves juggling something that looks like bowling pins).

Given that the modern Olympics has nothing to do with the ancient Olympics, that precedent shouldn't be binding.

My big issue with the modern Olympics is that it was started by rich white guys in Europe with too much money and time. There was noting praiseworthy about being amateur -- it just meant they had enough money that they didn't have to work, while the average working stiff was putting in a 10 or 12 hour day.

Beelzebub has described the current purpose of the Olympics perfectly. It's not about which sports require athleticism, but which ones will draw an audience (preferably a rich audience -- thus we're not likely to get rid of horsey events any time soon).

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"And what about race-walking? Looks like a bunch of guys trying to hold it in until they find the next toilet."


"Give the medal to the horse — he’s the one doing all the work."

And suffering from injections of PEDs according to recent reports.

A sport the IOC could easily get rid of is trampoline.

Bounce, flip, bounce, twist, bounce flip and twist...tah-dah...You are an Olympic champion!

I am glad baseball and softball got the heave-ho from the Olympics.

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Ha, ha!

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since cricket hasnt been allowed into the Olympics for over a century it is right that baseball and siftball be given the heave-ho

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If anything should be given the boot first it should be curling, that sport is brutal to watch.

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Sarge wrote: "And I think the following sport should be added to the Olympics: Sinkronized Sailing - Who can sink their sailboat the fastest?"

I agree. In ancient Greek naval warfare, they would try to ram and sink the enemy's ships. This would be in the spirit of the ancient Olympics.

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No-one really cares as the Olympics got turned into a farce and commercial venue.

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Olympic need to get rid of money rewards.

Some countries offer high financial rewards in form big money. Doping goes up,when there is big money rewards given to athletes. Olympics should only be for amateurs. Professional people who already earned millions should let the amateurs win. Olympics is an avenue for amateurs to progress to being professionals, earning big money.

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The Roman emperors knew what was important to the people: Bread and Games. Let's keep these Olympics. Let those who don't like them just withdraw into their dens and do something else than ping-pong, for example!

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There are many legitimate sports in the Olympic Games.. soccer

Soccer/football doesn't need to be there, it has so many other competitions and carries little prestige in the football world. It takes too long (they start games before the opening ceremony) Dropping it would save a a lot on Olympic costs - stadiums, big teams - smaller Olympic village. Only small team sports should be there. Volleyball yes, Basketball yes, Handball no, Hockey no. Baseball and softball got the shaft, why stop there?

Futsal, would be a much better Olympic sport, smaller facilities, smaller teams, faster pace, quicker games: a much better Olympic football option.

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When the Olympics started back in 776 BC, many of the competitions were based on the tools of warfare

Yes - get rid of any Olympic sport which is not enhanced by playing of the old Star Trek fight music.

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I enjoyed reading the article until the "legitimate sports like baseball and softball" - you lost your arguments there I'm afraid.

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P.S I'm sure the Canadians will reverse the "butt-kick" at the Winter Olympics, ne?

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As the Olympics is gonna be in my manor next time, they should put in a few proper sports.

How about darts, snooker, British Bulldog and rugby.

Get rid of the silly sports , like when them women do things at the same time in the swimming pool. And get rid of the walking, thay look like they have had a marrow shoved up their backsides, they look blooming ridiculous. They should get rid of table tennis,weight lifting and gymnastics `cos we aint no good at them.

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Canada has their own Olympics: The Lumberjack Games, so I don't see what he is complaining about.

Ever since the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche these people have been complaining. Why can't they just pay their high taxes, shop across the border (U.S.) and be quiet?

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Anyone who would say that the horse is "doing all of the work" knows very little about horses and equestrian disciplines.

Swap their jobs and I think you'll see that the horse is doing the lion's share.

Any sport that doesn't require rapid motion, running or sweating is not "athletic." Otherwise, we'd have Olympic billiards and Playstation 3 as sports.

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I agree with a lot of this, but in my opinion, there are sports for women, and sports for men, and women doing Freestyle Wrestling and Ice Hockey is just as ridiculous as men trying Synchronized Swimming and Rhythmic Gymnastics. Yes, Japan hauled in women's Freestyle Wrestling, but give me a break!! The guys do wrestling FAR better!!! Basically women doign these sports is like Title IX gone to extremes. I'm all for equality, and even though men and women are equal in many ways, there are differences.

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I agree on the BMX Biking and the mountain biking event. Beach volleyball, water polo, and trampoline definitely gotta go. I thought basketball was pretty cool with the NBA stars. I nominate MMA for the London Games!

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Why not retore the Olympics to its original form, when all the athletes were nude? Now that would make it more interesting!!!!

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The Synchronised Swimming is always good for a laugh. One of the more bizarre "sports" at the Olympics.

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They should get rid of diving, which is probably the most ridiculous Olympic sport, and replace it with marbles! Because I'm really good at marbles! I bought a set of marbles years ago. And I still have all of them, I think...

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Yep, anything with panel or judges has to go. If stays, however, please have add x sports. Doping must be allowed please add futsal and beach soccer why isn't rugby and kick boxing, or something with ufc rules in there?

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The 2 events the IOC is giving the boot to are the more entertaining ones. I have to say that both the Cuba/Korea baseball and US/Japan softball gold medal games were as exciting as it gets. I disagee with the person saying that the credibility for this article was lost on the baseball comment by the writer. He is in fact absolutely right. As for the hockey commenter, hockey will survive the winter olympics because the "Euro Centric IOC" loves the sponsorship they get from suiting up cheapshot artist Euro teams (Sweden, Norway & Finland excluded). Soccer should go or at the very least be combined with Archery and ban stretchers from the sidelines. Those pussies who fake injuries when a gust of wind blows up skirts should be become targets for the archery competition, see how fast they get up from that "injury". I like the futsul idea as long as it is full contact. Bring Rugby in because its man's game that even the Euro's can play. And that pistol shooting event? A North Korean juices up for that "sport"? I kept expecting him to have muscle relaxant rage and turn his pistol on his South Korean counterpart. That event Gone! Synchronized swimming can stay if they do it without the nose plugs and have to wear weight belts. Female wrestling stays... well for under 50KG weight class. The big girls should find a new hobby, like dieting. Regarding BMX, make them do it without bike seats, handle bars and no head gear. They are suited up like they are going on a mission to the Mir space station. All the gymastics should be at a minimum age of 18. That way we can fantasize about them without having to go to confession. Men's gymastics is just wrong. Reg Dunlap is a wise player/coach. Good article. BTW Badsey, no one cared about losing Les Nordiques, losing the Jets hurt much more. Further, while you seem to be gloating over something, I am not sure what, Canadians make more money, carry much less debt, work less and have a longer life than our good neighbors to the south. http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20080625_50113_50113

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