Wednesday, 13 February 2013

burn down the ioc

The IOC dropped wrestling from its core sports list, which means it is likely to be out of post-Rio olympiads unless there is a massive groundswell of opinion in its favour. It was nip and tuck. The last three on the list were wrestling, modern pentathlon and hockey. How much could I write about this? A MILLION TONS, basically. In a nutshell, though:

1. Of these three, modern pentathlon obviously should have been cut. There are very few global pentathletes, and you need expensive kit, and all your dreams can be ruined by a stroppy horse, which happened to Mhairi Spence, one of the favourites in London, who ended up backpacking as anonymously as she could to get away from the memory. It's kept because it was the pet of Baron de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympics.

2. Hockey is, some people say, the third most watched sport in the world after football and cricket. Seems a bit unlikely to me, but sod the details, because it's obviously a big global sport, wildly bigger in terms of participation than almost anything else at the Olympics.* Moreover, the Olympics is absolutely the focus of international hockey. Moreover, in practical terms, it's bloody useful having a sport on the site of the Olympics, where people want to go, with dozens of matches and a decent sized crowd. Loads of people get to watch the Olympics because of hockey.

3. Wrestling is one of the basic human contests. Every culture has a type of wrestling. Here is a better round-up of its virtues than I can provide. Among the many great things about it for the Olympics is that barriers to entry are low. It's easy for poor countries to do.

You don't get rich wrestling, or playing hockey. I mean, I imagine Jamie Dwyer has earned a good living, but he's unbelievably amazing and he hasn't earned as good a living as any accountant in London who can avoid the sack. Hockey players and wrestlers (and pentathletes) give up years of their lives to follow a dream that doesn't make them rich. Hockey players and wrestlers do it in sports where lots of other people are prepared to do it too.

Sod the footballers. I am sorry, but sod them. And the golfers, and the tennis players. The Olympics is not for sports where winning isn't the Everest. But mainly sod the IOC, and I don't mean 'sod'. I am sure some sportocrats are ok, but I am not telling anyone anything they don't know when I point out that the IOC is a rag-tag collection of corrupt buffons, each more sexist than the last racist.

The IOC kept pentathlon out of solidarity with a much greater sportocrat. I can actually run with that - the Olympics is nothing without its own history - but wrestling and hockey are two of the most obvious imaginable Olympic sports, and Wushu (possibly incoming), BMX and Taekwondo are not. Nor is synchronised swimming (I am not an enemy of it); nor is rhythmic gymnastics; nor is diving, for that manner.** Three sports that are big in the USA, Russia and China, by the way. I just mention it.

And also... No. No. I have work to do. I must stop.

In sports links:
- Great piece about football's existential crisis (Grantland and Slate's sport podcast have dealt with this in greater depth than most British papers. Wonder why.
- Enjoyed / squirmed through this about performance enhancing drugs and denial. I agree with it. I desperately want to believe in Adrian Peterson.
- (Assuming sexually ambiguous contortionist lion taming to be a sport.)

* The IOC perception is that hockey has links to the British Empire? Get over yourselves, you morons. You are the ones including sevens rugby. And tell it to the Germans, Spanish, Argentinians, Koreans, Dutch and Belgians, anyway. Oh, good grief. Why can't someone put these awful people in a locked room with some angry rats?

** That's three sports with very subjective judging, also. I can bear it, though. I don't like judging instead of scoring, but I get that sometimes it is necessary so that some forms of valid competition (who is the best diver?) can take place. And I get that the continuum is muckier than some scoring-goals-zealots seem to think - refereeing is always subjective.


London City (Mum) said...

Love this. I foresee you taking my place on the 'ranty platform'... along with a few others who share our views.
Do we need elections to see who goes first or is a general scrum and 'first up, best served' policy acceptable?


Sophie said...

Totally agree. Football, golf, basketball, tennis ... these sports should not be in the Olympics. And if they are, they shouldn't feature professional athletes. Do we think Federer is really that gutted Andy Murray won the gold. Of course not! Oh yeah, and Bill Simmons is brilliant (as usual).