I adore the Olympic Games. Every four years they roll around, and I find myself transfixed by this magnificent gathering of global sporting greatness.
And every four years, I wonder how so many ludicrous sports have made it onto this stage. The Olympic motto is, “Faster, higher, stronger.” Not, “Dumber, sillier, irrelevant.”
Now, I’m not bagging the skill of the athletes here. They’re very talented. And I’m not against weird or niche sports. I once played canoe polo for crying out loud. But some of the Olympic events just make you go ‘huh?’.
The Olympic Games are supposed to be the pinnacle of competition and athleticism. This in mind, if aliens came down and visited, we’d have to explain what the hell’s going on with synchronized swimming. You just can’t wear those nose-plugs with that makeup and expect to be taken seriously.
Then there’s the modern pentathlon. First contested in 1912, it was specially created for the modern Olympics as a way to test man’s moral and physical qualities. It’s got history, but it’s also got an idiotic combination of running, shooting, fencing, swimming and horse-jumping.
While I’m on about horses why, in 2016, do we still have to put up with dressage? DANCING HORSES? I know how long they take to train, and how dressage harks back to cavalry movements. Fine, give the medals to the bloody horses. Also, the top hats and dinner jackets are a bit much - you’re at the Olympics, not a ball. Although, give the horse a hat too and I might reconsider my hostility.
Not all sports are stupid, or undignified, or require a large mammal between your legs. Some just don’t belong at the Olympics.
Football’s one of them. Olympic squads must comprise players aged 23 or younger, but you’re allowed three players aged over 23. How arcane. How complicated. How silly. The Football World Cup remains the sport’s ultimate decider, not the Olympics.
Likewise, tennis. There are great players going to the Olympics, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to a Grand Slam. World number two, Andy Murray won both Wimbledon and Olympic gold - which do you think made him look ever so slightly less miserable? My bet’s on the former.
It might be the same with golf, if I cared. Green jacket or gold medal? It doesn’t matter. I’m with Robin Williams. Golf is awful. Let’s not inflict this terrible game on any more people. That said, the female golfers are proving themselves much less precious than the men. How about just the women get to compete?
On the other hand, you have great sports that were only introduced as exhibitions like Judo and Taekwondo. Given a place in the games at the Tokyo and Seoul Olympics respectively, and haven’t been dropped since.
But what about specialty sports from other nations? Like Japan's karate, or Thai kickboxing? God forbid New Zealand ever hosts the Olympics. We’d probably chuck in gumboot-throwing.
Finally, because I’m all about give and take, I’d like to petition for a sport to be added. It has a glorious history, a simple adherence to faster higher stronger, and a very real risk of serious, crowd-pleasing injury: bring back tug of war.