Water Skiing vs. Lame Olympic Sports
There is no event in the world like the Olympic Games. The best athletes from across the globe gather to compete for the highest honor of all sports. Who couldn’t enjoy watching these competitors draw from a lifetime of training and hard work to represent their homeland and strive for glory? Watching the 2010 Winter Games reminds me what I love about the Olympics: the rivalries, competition, pride, defeat, elation, speed, agility, brute strength, stamina and pure adrenaline.
Glued to the television; my heart pounding; I feel like I am standing right there as the thrower delivers the stone from the hack. The sweepers start sweeping vigorously as the skip starts calling the line. One sweeper’s hand slips on the boom, while calling the weight and, oh no, they burn the hammer before it reaches the hog line!
Yes, curling really gets my juices flowing. Watching non-athletic individuals play an intense version of shuffleboard, to me, captures the essence of the Olympics. All of this excitement has pushed my mind ahead to the 2012 Summer Games. With more events and more participating countries, the Summer Olympics provide constant opportunities to get lost in the type of exhilaration curling provides. It is really no surprise that water skiing has not gained its place in the Olympics when you consider the other summer events that are clearly head and shoulders above it in the “excitement” category. Consider these heartstoppers:
Rhythmic Gymnastics was introduced to the Summer Games in 1984 as an individual event, with the group event being included in 1996. If you can see through the sequin outfits and whirling ribbons, hoops, balls, etc, you will notice the technically demanding elements such as pirouetting and artistic effect. Thus, the event is a combination of extreme cheerleading, ballet and jazzercise. Talk about a mind-bending mesh of disciplines – the Ancient Greeks could never have conceived of such a competition.
Also, introduced to the Olympics in 1984, Synchronized Swimming has become a popular contest. Perhaps its popularity is a result of the fact that almost everyone can relate to this event. Most people have swum sometime in their life or even swim frequently. Also, many have at some point in their life taken part in some form of line dancing and felt pretty cool about it. It is also easy to imagine doing at any age. For example, picture your grandma’s water aerobics class doing the “Electric Slide” in the pool and you have low-grade synchronized swimming. Once again, we see how much we have advanced from the simple minded Ancient Greeks and their concepts of “athletics”.
Rumors are spreading that the 2012 London Games may include Ballroom and Poll Dancing. Ballroom Dancing began to make a push for entry and I recently heard on the radio that Poll Dancing is going to try to ride in on Ballroom’s coat tails. These would be two great events to show once and for all that the modern world has a greater understanding of the Olympic Spirit than the Games’ ancient founders. Clearly, all those ancients ever cared about was who had the most endurance, strength, speed or who could will themselves the adrenaline needed to rise above their humanly abilities in heat of competition. The ancients didn’t understand the importance of style points, choreography and I’m pretty sure sequins had not been invented, leaving competition togas blank.
Events such as Equestrian have gotten smart and changed with the times. In ancient times, speed, jumping and agility were paramount. When Equestrian made its official Olympic debut in 1900 it held onto its legacy and held Polo and Jumping events. After being dropped from the 1904 games, Equestrian changed its tune and added the events of dressing, eventing and show jumping. Since this time, Equestrian has evolved to be more glamorous and less gutsy – a smart move.
Unfortunately for our favorite sport, it’s just a little too “old school.” Water Skiing embraces those ancient ideals of extreme fitness, raw power, blistering speed and sheer adrenaline. With everything from badminton to wrestling, the Summer Games just don’t have any more room for a classic style sport like water skiing, in which competitors go head to head in a “do or dye” type format.
The modern events we’ve discussed seem to have one thing in common. They are not sports. They are all highly skilled, pseudo-athletic events but seem to be more related to the arts than to athletics. In no way does this make them less difficult or less worthwhile – it just means that they take a different type of talent. Just like NASCAR (sorry fans) is not a sport. It takes loads of skill and training to become a great NASCAR driver but it is not athletic skill. It also requires incredible skill to be a world-class tournament tow boat driver but we skiers don’t give trophies and the prize money to the driver.
Perhaps we should push to enter show skiing into the Olympics first. Show skiing involves the athletic skills of balance, strength, teamwork and coordination but crosses them with the artistic appeal the Olympic Committee seems to be going for. Plus, I’m pretty sure sequins can be involved, which always helps. Maybe then, three-event skiing can poll dance in behind our show ski friends. It’s a pyramid scheme; I admit it. What are your ideas?