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"...And Jeff Gordon wins the gold for Team America!!!"

I've never had much use for sports. I've always found them a touch silly. But the opening of the Olympics has put me in mind of a conversation I had with a friend several years ago.

Charlie was a sports enthusiast, and the Olympics were going on then, too. Charlie was disgusted with some of the events.

"Gymnastics, figure skating, ballroom dancing - those aren't sports, they're performing arts. A sport needs a clear, objective way of deciding who wins or who loses. It should be about moving a ball or being faster or stronger or able to jump further than the other guy. The only people you should need are referees to enforce the rule. As soon as winning or losing is decided by 'judges' who use words like 'artistic interpretation' or 'difficulty of the move,' you've left sports behind."

I found it hard to argue with Charlie. He wasn't denigrating the abilities and fitness and talents of the gymnasts, he just didn't think what they did qualified to merit the name "sport."

I think it's high time we revamped the Olympics, and get it back to being about SPORTS. Dump the gymnastics, the figure skating, the dancing, the synchronized swimming, and keep it to simple sports where anyone watching with a passing knowledge of the game can tell at a glance who is winning and who is losing.

And to pick up the slack, let's include some other sports. Competitions with clear rules and clear winners and losers, where talent and fitness play a factor. How about auto racing? I'm no NASCAR fan, but I recognize that the drivers have to be amazingly talented and fit to compete and win. And auto racing is a hell of a lot more of a sport than ballroom dancing.


Comments (8)

I tried to watch women play... (Below threshold)

I tried to watch women playing field hockey today. I did. I tried with all my heart to be interested in a way that sort of honors all the sweat and toil these fine athletes obviously put in for their sport. And then I saw a low-level shot that showed tumbleweeds blowing through a near-empty arena.

Um, if people don't care enough to show up, why should I bother to watch?

Funny you should pick NASCA... (Below threshold)

Funny you should pick NASCAR as a competition with clear rules and clear winners since this season has been plagued with mid-deason rule changes and at least three races that were finished under a lot of questions

I don't have much interest ... (Below threshold)

I don't have much interest in ice dancing, but I'm not sure I see how sitting on your butt, flexing your ankle, and moving your hands slightly to one side qualifies to merit the name "sport" either.

Charlie has it right. Ice h... (Below threshold)

Charlie has it right. Ice hockey is the ideal olympic sport because it combines speed, grace, dexterity, teamwork -- and all that other airy stuff -- with a clear outcome. Mind you, I'm talking about ice hockey as it's played in olympic events, not the NHL variety.

Tanya, far be it from me to... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Tanya, far be it from me to defend NASCAR (I don't think I've ever seen more than five minutes of it in my life), but I will say this: the one time I drove almost one hundred miles an hour, it was on a deserted Vermont interstate and I was scared spitless. Those guys go about double that and take 90-degree turns while often within inches of other cars. And it's a team sport; ever seen the pit crews? That's almost a ballet in and of itself.


I'm actually not criticizin... (Below threshold)

I'm actually not criticizing Nascar, I just think that'd be going back too far in the other direction.

I drove from Raleigh NC to Daytona several years ago, and was running extremely late for an appointment. I ended up driving with my speedometer buried at 135 mph for about half an hour on I-95, white-knuckled. I have a reasonable amount of respect for anyone who can do that for a living. But as a spectator sport? Not so much.

Now if they did it on ice...

I believe that they are alr... (Below threshold)

I believe that they are already considering auto racing for the Olympics. I wish I could find a link, but I read that somewhere recently.

Too funny and so right but ... (Below threshold)

Too funny and so right but I do LOVE figure skating but I spend my weekends watching GOLF AND NASCAR. Those are my favorite sports to watch because so much time, effort, action, ability and THEIR LIVES and LIVELIHOODS on an INDIVIDUAL basis is really put to the test. NASCAR just finished - this time with Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin actually finishing in 4 and 5 place unlike last week when they were in 4th and 6th place but on the last leg they both got flats and came in 25th and 27th place. Bobbie Johnson lost another engine but these drivers are put to the test every time they go out there; it's physically debillitating and exhausting and for Dale to continue driving, then driving 5 hours like that and today in the golf's version of LINKS, the ROAD RACE, being able to physically endure this, is what makes them OLYMPIANS.






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