Apparently the IOC is considering a number of “sports” for inclusion in future summer Olympics, including golf, bowling, billiards, ballroom dancing, chess and bridge. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. I can see them letting golf in, only because it’s very high profile and pro golf has a ton of money to throw around, but still…it’s not a sport! It’s a game! As far as I’m concerned I’d like to see only pure sports (the definition of which I’ll get to in a minute) included in the Olympics, as they’re supposed to be a purely athletic event.
Look, to be considered a pure sport, you have to meet two criteria: 1) physical prowess, and 2) clear, unbiased scoring. The first criteria eliminates most of the above events (golf included); physical prowess doesn’t mean you can hit a ball far, or throw a dart with exquisite precision. Golfers, while they may have wonderful ability to hit a ball with distance and accuracy, by and large look as if they’ve just stepped out of a bar after a few mint juleps looking for a ball to hit. The only event listed above that would meet this criteria would be (believe it or not) ballroom dancing. I’ve seen these people. It’s frigging nuts, and they must lose half a litre of sweat. However, they don’t pass the next criteria.
Unbiased scoring means that you don’t have judges. It means that any referees you have nearby are there only to enforce existing rules, not to decide the value of your performance. This obviously eliminates gymnastics, synchronized swimming, etc. Now…don’t get me wrong, gymnastics might be the hardest event in the Olympics, and gymnasts are some of the most physically impressive athletes in the world. But the fact that some shmoe sitting off to the side, who many have an agenda or bad eyesight or insomnia, assigns a number at the end of a performance just ruins the whole thing. Look at these past Olympics for examples (Paul Hamm winning gold and Kyle Shewfelt losing bronze, because of judging screwups).
So, to recap:
no physical prowess + clear scoring = game
physical prowess + unclear scoring = competition
physical prowess + clear scoring = sport
This formula would, of course, be very contentious. Baseball would likely be eliminated (too many tubby people who don’t have to run, an umpire calling a very wonky strike zone, etc.), and discus might be as well (currently a judge runs up and points to the spot where they think the discus landed). Diving, skeet shooting, boxing…all gone. But practically all track and field events remain, as do things like rowing, kayaking, soccer, hockey, downhill skiing (but nothing involving jump style points), bobsled, weightlifting, etc.
I could even accept competitions (you know, physical prowess + unclear scoring) because of the physical exertion, but I can’t stand the thought of billiards or bridge being Olympic sports. I do believe I would boycott.