Everyone knows there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Beijing Olympics, but no one is focused on the real problem with the International games. If you are like most Americans you probably don’t follow that closely, but still get disappointed when you find out we didn’t win gold in every event. That being said, besides the main events that get a lot of airtime i.e. Swimming, Track (particularly the 100) and popular American’ sports like basketball do you really know why are medal count is so high? Does anyone really know all the sports included in the games or for that matter which ones are not included?
Since the Olympics began in 1896 the United States has won Summer Gold 895 times and 78 in the Winter. That is a total of 973 total gold medals, the next closest country is the Soviet Union with 473 (and no I don’t mean Russia they sit at 14th with 119). Take a step further and combine three medal totals and we sit at 2405 lifetime, with the Soviets in a distant second at 1204. I bring this up because once again the world, specifically the International Olympic Committee, has begun to turn on the United States.
The 2008 Beijing Games will be the last time that baseball and softball will be included. The IOC has voted to eliminate the sports starting in the 2012 London Olympics because it was deemed “too American for the International Stage”. It becomes the first sport eliminated since Polo was ousted in 1936. There were three sports on the table for elimination with the Modern Pentathlon being the only sport to maintain its place in the games.
There are 28 Sports at Beijing and there will be 26 in London as I stated above. Try to think of 26 sports, some of you will have trouble, some of you will begin to name absolutely obscure competitions. Now if you made it to 26 how many of those would you like to see people competing for a Gold medal in? There are many competitions and athletic activities that are completely valid on their own, but do not have that Olympic feel or international prestige that the IOC so desperately wants.
Baseball has been recognized since the 92’ Barcelona Games. In the four Olympics it was recognized the U.S has 1 Gold and 1 Bronze. I wouldn’t exactly call that American domination. Ask Cuba though they have 3 Golds and 1 Silver.
Lets take a look at where we can make some cuts to make room for Baseball/Softball, or at least be American and take away sports other countries enjoy because they took away something for us.
Starting with Swimming and Diving competitions (Aquatics), I completely endorse all team and individual events. On the other hand Water Polo and Synchronized swimming are included and of the two I have to cut synchronized swimming. It comes down to the fact that there have been 18 countries to medal in Water Polo where Synchronized swimming has only had 5 countries on the podium (U.S, Canada, Russia, Japan, & France).
Next we move on to Cycling. Keep Road and Track competitions, but Mountain should be looked at closely. However, if we make a cut from this section of the games it should be BMX. They scored some points with me by not including freestyle events like snowboarding in the Winter Games, but traditional BMX racing? Over Baseball? Note: Beijing is the first time it will be recognized, good trade IOC.
Other Sports that should be up for vote before baseball and softball:
Rhythmic Gymnastics: CUT immediately, if you want to see this go to 4th Ave. here in Tucson or a Rave. You know what is the same as this ‘sport’ ? Fire Twirling, only it adds an element of danger.
Trampoline: Is it just me or isn’t this what Gymnasts do to train for the floor event? If you allow this and not baseball maybe you will consider adding Batting Cages to the lineup.
Martial Arts: Judo, Taekwondo. I have respect for these athletes, but my issue is why these two disciplines? How can you add certain disciplines without giving credit to others? Do the jujitsu people get pissed watching them win medals?
Next Up: Table Tennis! Yes, it is fun and yes these guys are incredible. I mean you don’t see many guys in the garage playing like this. If this is in then why isn’t billiards, darts or any other bar/ basement game? I know that we are trying to make it more international and less ‘American”, but China is only place on the planet where they play this game.
Sports that should be in:
Cricket : Arguably the second most popular sport in the World. Cricket was an official sport only for the 1900 Games.
Rugby: They have tried it multiple times over the years. It has been cancelled numerous times, and even brought back in 7’s form. I understand not playing Football, it is unrealistic and definitely an American Sport, but Rugby’s exclusion is unwarranted.
Golf : Recognized for the 1900’ and 1904’ games. I think it is about time we brought it back on the international stage don’t you think?
I know this has been long winded, but I have never really seen anyone look at what events people are actually competing in. In conjunction with that is the idea that there is no real explanation for why these decisions are made and they are hardly publicized. I think it is a shame they are taking away baseball and blaming it on being too American. I think the IOC needs to be looked at more carefully, and further explanation needs to be given regarding their decisions.
Also note that this is the same committee that recognizes powerboating, orienteering and chess as official sports, but do not include them in the Olympic Games. Somewhere Bobby Fisher is rolling over in his grave.