Ideas for New Olympic Sports
How to Make the Olympic Games Even Better
I had a great time watching the Olympic Games this year. I will always remember it, in fact, as my first Olympic Games with a DVR. Since NBC showed everything on tape delay anyway, and I had no desire to watch commercials or sit through various “special” features about British culture or athletes overcoming adversity, I was able to watch the sports I enjoy in a time-efficient manner. But as I watched, I could not help thinking of ways that the Olympics could be even better. So here are some forms of competition that the International Olympic Committee should consider adding in the future:
1) Running in reverse – In swimming, they have a variety of ways that swimmers can be asked to get across the pool. With running, however, there is only free style, which is, in other words, moving from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. So if swimmers get the chance, among other things, to race each other in reverse, then why not runners. And if this proves popular, we could then move on to people racing sideways, skipping, or even crawling. Watching grown adults crawl at world-record speeds would be worth the price of admission alone.
2) Water volleyball – Given the popularity of both water polo and volleyball, there is no reason why the two cannot be combined. Plus, water volleyball happens to be one of the most fun sports in existence. The only question is whether it should be played in shallow or deep water. The spikes would be more impressive in shallow water, but since you cannot, for obvious reasons, dig a spike while immersed in water, requiring players to tread water might lead to both a more interesting sport and fewer broken fingers among competitors.
3) Marco Polo – For those unfamiliar with this pool tradition, one player with eyes closed tries to tag one of several swimmers who are frantically trying to swim away. But to give the player who is “it” a fighting chance, he or she can yell “Marco,” with everyone else being required to respond with “Polo.” (Unless, of course, the “non-it” people are under water when “Marco” is called.) Players can also jump out of the water, but they lose if the person who is “it” says “fish out of water.” A committee, of course, would need to be formed to work out some of the rules, and well-trained referees would be necessary to catch various forms of cheating. But I would love to watch world class “Marco Polo” players evolve, complete with high-tech strategies developed to either capture opponents or avoid being tagged.
4) Australian Rules Football – In my younger years before I had any sort of responsibilities, I would stay up late with friends watching this awesome sport on ESPN. And the fact that we were never quite able to figure out the rules did little to reduce our enjoyment. Obviously, Australia would dominate for many years, but given its pathetic swimming performance in the 2012 games, and its general lack of medals overall, it could use the help.
5) Frisbee sports – The most obvious thing would be a distance contest, but the discus has this one covered. So I would start with Ultimate Frisbee, which is sort of a combination of Frisbee throwing, soccer, and football. And since this is an American invention – as far as I know – it would give the United States one more chance to pad its medal count. Then, if Frisbee skills start to get the international recognition that they deserve, we could then add my old college favorite: Frisbee Golf.
6) Synchronized gymnastics – I don’t know why water sports should have a monopoly on the “synchronized” category. Admittedly, this would be incredibly hard on the gymnasts. But this would just make things more fun. Because if one of the teammates falls off the balance beam or loses it on the pommel horse, things would really look ugly. Synchronized divers, after all, can only look so bad.
7) Bellyflop contest – Scores could be based on height of jump, water displacement, volume of slapping sound as stomach hits water, and degree of redness on skin created by impact. The more pain a competitor inflicts, the more gain. And if this catches on, the cannonball contest will inevitably follow.
8) The egg toss – This could be just the beginning for the entrance of classic park games into the Olympics. Imagine the pleasure that could come from listening to commentators analyzing each athlete’s technique and describing the adversity – yoke in the face, bacterial infections, and cuts in the fingers from shattered shells – faced by these egg-chucking warriors. Then, once the public became hooked on the drama, we could add bocce ball, three-legged races, and water balloon tosses to the mix. And if they were to eventually add croquet, rich aristocrats would finally have a sport they could relate to other than horse jumping and dancing.
9) Go-cart races – Think of it as bobsleds without snow. The only rule is that the cart cannot have any sort of a mechanical source propelling it forward. It would be nothing but gravity, baby. And since a machine would not be doing the work, we could still call it a sport.
10) Rocket-propelled grenades – If shooting guns constitutes a sport, then why not increase the firepower. We could then dispel the second part of the old adage that “close only counts in horse shoes and grenades.” Building an arena that could sustain the continuous explosions could be tricky, but if we could overcome this snag, it would be quite a show.
11) Quarters – Given the fact that a growing number of people in the industrialized world fit the category of non-athlete, we need to find a way to give drunken, technology-addicted, couch potatoes a shot at Olympic glory. (Numbers twelve and thirteen below also fit into this category.) And to maintain the spirit of quarters, “athletes” must become more steadily drunk as the games go on. The host country should also be allowed to choose the national coin that competitors will attempt to bounce into a cup.
12) Speed texting – This could be a quick way of engaging adolescents in the spirit of the games. Speed and accuracy should be taken into account, with a committee formed to determine which abbreviations and acronyms are acceptable for use.
13) Video games – Since so many people prefer virtual sports to going outside and getting sweaty and stuff, why not have world championships for video athletics. And as the graphics steadily improve, there may come a time when spectators on TV cannot tell the difference between the virtual and the real. It could then save the Olympic organizers the trouble of building all of those facilities for flesh and blood athletes to compete face to face.