| A Strong-Athlete.com Roundtable |
The 2012 Olympics in London have just wrapped up and we at Strong-Athlete.com decided that we wouldn’t let the Olympic spirit die with the closing ceremony. Rather, we would like to encourage the coals of Olympic conversation to burn brightly by discussing what sports the games are missing and what should be next. Bodybuilders think it should be bodybuilding, MMA fighters think it should be MMA and speed eaters think it should be speed eating.
The following is a discussion amongst the Strong-Athlete.com editorial team and their view points on what sport brings the best case to be the next Olympic sport.
Q: What Olympic sport would you get rid of and why?
Big Jeff: I don’t know that I would get rid of any sport in particular. Excellence in anything can be beautiful to watch, even if it might be kind of boring. I am not a fan of the ribbon floor gymnastics, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the hard work the athletes put in; also, the fact that other people appreciate it. At this point, there may be some obscure stuff, but I don’t know that I would get rid of any of it.
Coach G: Overall, I just think that there are way too many sports in the summer Olympics. It waters down much of the excitement around the games. For starters, I would look to get rid of a few of the controversial judging sports like synchronized swimming, synchronized diving and trampolining. Sadly, I think Olympic boxing almost fits into this category too. I saw some really bad decisions once again at this year’s Olympics. I would also consider removing all the equestrian events. As much as I love horses, I just don’t feel it belongs in the games any more.
Coach PK: Get rid of Sailing. The IOC was on the right track when softball got dropped after Beijing. Now do the right thing and dump Sailing; it has no business in the Olympics.
Q: If ping-pong is a sport, does that mean that darts are too? What about pool? What is the limit to how far we include things like this? Would that be a bad thing? At this rate, are we likely to see a game of Scrabble being played for a gold medal one day?
Coach PK: Ping Pong (Table Tennis) actually requires a ton of athletic ability – agility, fast reflexes, and hand-eye coordination. Pool and darts require a lot of skill, but there is little to no athletic component required. Anything you can do at a high level while under the influence of alcohol is not a sport IMO. I’m actually better at pool when I’ve had a few.
Coach G: Well, when you call it ping-pong it definitely falls into the recreational type hobbies category. However, for some reason when you call it table tennis it all of sudden becomes an Olympic sport. I think this one is border line but I would have to rule on the side of removing it from games; otherwise, we will see bowling as an Olympic sport eventually. And, bowling isn’t far off of curling and we know how big that is in the winter games.
Big Jeff: I think that there has to be some physicality demonstrated in whatever the given pursuit is. Pool is kind of in the gray area where it is mostly skill but there is no doubt that some physicality is necessary to be able to manipulate your shots; certainly more than shooting.
Q: Are the Olympics boring? Do we really need a new sport?
Coach G: I think as more events get added to the Olympics, the more boring it becomes. If you have fewer events, there is greater emphasis on each event and it’s not spread so thin. One sport that could arguably be considered though is jiu jitsu. It’s become an international sport in the last 5 years and has taken over the popularity of judo in my opinion.
Big Jeff: I think that there is something missing from the sports in the Olympics. I think there would be huge crowds, ratings and excitement if we had some new sports that are ‘hot’ right now. Anything from powerlifting to kettlebell sport to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai would all be awesome to watch. Speaking for myself, I find those sports way more interesting than a ping-pong game.
Coach PK: The Olympics would benefit from a modified version of mixed martial arts (MMA). Pankration was the original Olympic martial art during Ancient Greece. Modern Pankration is essentially MMA. Let’s face it; MMA is the fastest growing and one of the most exciting sports in the world. You want to increase ratings? Add MMA in for 2016.
Q: Would it not benefit the games to incorporate sports that are popular?
Big Jeff: Definitely. It’s almost ignorant that they don’t.
Coach PK: Absolutely. I’d also throw in more X-Games sports. Skateboarding and surfing should both be in.
Coach G: I agree. However, it would be hard to decide which sports those are since popularity can be regional and the Olympics are meant to more global.
Q: Do you think that combat sports are the next logical step for the next sport?
Coach PK: Definitely – just have to modify the rules and length of matches to allow the athletes to compete tournament style.
Coach G: I think it would be really hard to modify combat sports to fit into the Olympic style. Take boxing for example; one of the best combat sports out there but it is basically a joke at the Olympics because of all the questionable rules, political refereeing and judging. The most popular combat sport of all is MMA and it is too aggressive. The IOC is not ready to take on the responsibility of that level of combat at this point.
Big Jeff Pearce: Not necessarily. I mean, as nice as it would be to throw MMA in as a new sport, the fighters need to have time off between matches. If we have learned anything about MMA after watching some all out wars like the Griffin vs. Bonnar fight, it is that these guys need time to rest and heal before getting into another slugfest. This isn’t boxing or wrestling (two of my favourites by the way). I think specific elements of MMA would be logical next steps. For example, BJJ would be a great addition and the athletes would easily be able to handle a few matches over a 2 week spread.
Q: Should we stay away from introducing highly subjective sports to prevent controversy? For example, the Canadian synchronized swimming team placing 4th?
Big Jeff: I know that a lot of bodybuilders – or the late Ben Weider (Joe’s brother that actively lobbied to have bodybuilding as an Olympic sport) – would be pissed at me for saying this but because of how subjective bodybuilding is and so many other sports are, it can cause a lot of controversy. The spirit of the Olympics isn`t about controversy, it is about good sportsmanship.
Coach G: YES, 100%, ABSOLUTELY! I am not a fan! I’m sure I’m not considering a few great examples but let’s just ignore that for now!
Coach PK: Controversy is good TV. Sucks for some of the athletes – but wouldn’t be bad for ratings 🙂
Q: What sport would you most like to see in the Olympics?
Coach G: Bottom line, I don’t want to see any more sports in the Olympics. I want to see fewer sports. It’s time to clean house and get rid of all the questionable “events”. Once that is done, then we should consider adding in some new sports.
Big Jeff: There`s no way I`m picking just one. I would love to see Strongman, BJJ and Kickboxing in the Olympics. They`re all great sports and I think people would be really interested in watching them.
Coach PK: I’d like to see MMA and CrossFit. These are two sports that are increasing in popularity every year. It would be great to see them get official recognition. They are also two of the most challenging sports you can do.