While at dinner tonight, I caught a bit of a news item on the upcoming Olympics. This set me thinking. They’re always looking to add more sports to the Olympics (which is one of the reasons they’re getting more expensive, but I’ve already written about that). Baseball and softball have been “demonstration” sports. Among those activities that are or have been seriously considered are ballroom dance (!) and chess (!!!).
Look, we’ve got to make something clear to stop such foolishness. Make a hard and fast definition that a Sport is a “competition primarily for physical skills where a winner can be determined objectively”. While competitive chess at the highest levels can give rise to serious physical stress in the players, it is almost entirely a mental game. You can play it with almost no bodily movement. And while ballroom dance requires great physical skill, it’s rarely obvious who “wins”.
A Sport should involve clear physical effort, and you shouldn’t need a judge to tell you who won. We’ll “grandfather in” gymnastics and figure skating at the Olympics – they’re traditional, and I cannot imagine the Games without them. But “rhythmic gymnastics” and “synchronized swimming”? They clearly require physical skill, but they are NOT SPORTS.
So, what actual SPORTS could be added to the Olympics?
How about bowling?
It clearly relies on physical skill, and produces an objective result. The talent involved is one of precision – like archery or golf, a teeny error at the “point of action” can lead to a wide miss at the goal/target.
There have been attempts to get the sport added to the Olympics, at least as a demonstration sport. But the IOC has generally frowned on it. “It’s too expensive” is one of their gripes. Okay, a properly constructed bowling alley isn’t cheap to build or maintain. But once it’s there, the entry costs for a new bowler shouldn’t be that expensive. And for cryin’ out loud, you let GOLF become an Olympic sport. And if that’s not a sport for the wealthy, I don’t know what is. And doesn’t the IOC have assorted scholarship programs to help prospective athletes get proper training? Doesn’t the IOC maintain its own training facilities?
The other complaint they have is that bowling isn’t “attractive to young people”, and therefore it isn’t worth making an Olympic sport. True, bowling is in a bit of decline, at least in the US. But wouldn’t adding it to the Olympics – and getting a couple of “cool” celebrities to get involved – help?
And have you SEEN how awesome some of the newest bowling facilities are?
Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘N’ Bowl, New Orleans:
Highland Park Bowl, Los Angeles:
All Star Lanes, London:
Inazawa Grand Bowl, Aichi, Japan:
OK, it’s not much to look at, but at 116 lanes, it’s the world’s largest bowling facility.
Bowling Mouffetard, Paris:
Bowlmor Lanes, New York City:
Manhattan Superbowl, Sydney, Australia:
Come on, IOC, what do you say?