2012 Olympics: 10 Sports That Must Be Added to Future Summer Games
The London Olympic Games feature 32 different sports and 302 unique medal-worthy events.
The modern Olympics certainly resemble nothing of the ancient Olympic Games. For starters, all the athletes wear clothes in the modern Games (please remember for every volleyball comment you can think of, there is an equal opportunity for a shot-put joke—you are welcome for THAT mental image).
The evolution of sports from the ancient Olympics to the modern Summer Games has been extraordinary. Could the ancient Greeks have ever imagined synchronized diving or table tennis? Can you imagine trying to explain BMX Supercross to Socrates?
As the Games move on from one generation to the next, the International Olympic Committee must look at which sports best represent the current athletic climate. It's important to hold on to the traditional Olympic events, but that should not come at the expense of including more popular sports in future Games.
The 2016 Olympics in Rio will include a few new sports that aren't in London: rugby sevens, golf and kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, which will replace windsurfing.
Still, there could be more. Here is a look at some events the IOC must consider for future Summer Olympics.
There really is no understandable reason why the IOC removed softball from the Olympics other than, perhaps, looking to remove a sport the United States habitually dominates. In four Olympic competitions, the USA won three gold medals and one silver—in Beijing after the IOC had ruled to remove the sport—thereby relegating softball to the scrap pile with baseball.
It makes sense that the IOC removed baseball. With the Olympics coinciding with the MLB season and Bud Selig's consistent refusal to stop his season to allow players to participate in the Olympics (a fight NHL commissioner Gary Bettman faces every four years), the IOC removed baseball from competition seemingly because it became a bit of a farce to award a medal to a sport that clearly wasn't sending the best athletes in the world.
Whatever the reason for cutting softball—be it the United States' dominance or its close affiliation with baseball—it was a short-sighted decision. The sport should have never been gone, so obviously it should be back in the Olympics.
With golf finally being included in the Olympics in 2016, the opportunity for a second golf event is too easy for the IOC to ignore.
The logistical issue with golf is that future host cities will need to find or build championship-caliber golf courses to host the Olympic competition. With a golf pentathlon, that wouldn't be necessary at all.
In addition, getting the world's best golfers together for what amounts to a skills competition would garner a huge amount of international attention.
The events for the golf pentathlon would be driving distance, driving accuracy, putting, chipping and distance approach.
Driving distance, accuracy and chipping are rather self-explanatory in how the IOC could determine winning scores. For putting, the event could factor in putts of different distances, rewarding players for making short and middle-distance putts and giving a nearest to pin score for lag putts.
The unique event would be distance approach, which would enable participants to get a closest-to-pin average from 100, 150 and 200 yards.
All of these events could be done on a practice range, enabling fans to pack an arena to watch the world's best show off their skills.
The golfers will already be there, IOC. Get this one done.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter tried very hard to get beach soccer into the Olympics for 2016 in Rio. The request was recently denied (along with our next sport), leaving many in the international soccer community rather dejected.
Beach soccer is not only a growing sport around the world, but it's fun to watch as well. With the popularity of beach volleyball at the Olympics, it stands to reason the IOC would try to create as many beach events as possible.
Combine that with the overall popularity of soccer, and it would be shocking if beach soccer is not included in the 2020 Games.
Futsal, which was also denied entry into the 2016 Olympics with beach soccer, is actually a perfect Olympic sport.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and futsal is ostensibly indoor soccer played on a hard court with five players on a side.
The depth of talent around the world would not be an issue to field a proper Olympic futsal tournament. The event could be held in a similar venue to volleyball or handball (it could even share a venue with one of the indoor events to save money on building additional Olympic structures), and fans would love it, as it has all the merits of outdoor soccer with far more action and scoring.
One can make the case that beach soccer was a bit of a stretch for inclusion, but it makes no sense why futsal is not an Olympic sport already. The IOC certainly needs to take a look at the sports currently held at the Olympics and realize futsal fits in quite naturally.
Pankration (or Mixed Martial Arts)
Pankration was an ancient Greek event held at some of the first Olympic Games. The fighting discipline combined elements of boxing and wrestling with what was the foundation for today's modern mixed martial arts.
With the popularity of MMA spread across the world and the natural tie-in to the ancient Games, it would make sense for a modified mixed martial arts event to be held in conjunction with the Olympics.
Would the IOC put together an octagon with ring girls? Probably not—though an event using the same principles and skills of MMA would be a huge success in the Olympics.
Bowling was a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Twenty nations competed in the event, and then the IOC never included it again.
We can't blame the IOC for trying an event at least. It doesn't make sense why bowling would not be included in the Olympics, as it has to be considered as "athletic" as archery and shooting.
Heck, if the IOC wanted to liven up the bowling competition, it could have it at night, turn out the lights and make everything glow in the dark. It could even sneak in bonus pins for the competitors to win extra prizes. That's what every bowling alley in America does to keep the sport relevant, after all.
Seriously, it doesn't make much sense why bowling would have been an Olympic failure, especially given the sport's logistics and competitive balance.
Cricket was held at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. There were two teams, one from England and the other from France, made up mostly of people from England.
Cricket never appeared at the Olympics again.
Now cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, with countries all around the planet fielding competitive teams.
The main reason to include cricket in the Olympics, however, would be to involve the part of the world where the sport is most popular.
It's no secret that countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan aren't exactly Olympic athlete breeding grounds. Including a sport like cricket would serve to bridge a gap between that part of the world and the rest of the Olympic countries, especially considering the sport's huge following in England and Australia.
If the Olympics are truly about celebrating the global world of sports, cricket seems a must to include in future Games.
Racquetball and Squash
It truly makes little sense why squash (pictured) or racquetball is not included in the Olympic Games.
Both sports are self-contained—they are played in a giant box, for crying out loud—and can be played in both singles and doubles. Moreover, the sports are extremely taxing physically, which could serve as a strong justification for inclusion over a sport like bowling.
The structure of these sports, combined with the ease of scoring and ability for many countries to compete, makes it odd that the IOC denied both requests for inclusion in the 2016 Games. It will be very surprising if one or both stay out forever.
Touching back on the "beach is beautiful" logic the IOC employed when finally including beach volleyball back in the 1990s, it seems somewhat inexplicable that surfing is not a part of the Olympics. With windsurfing being a part of the Games, soon to be replaced by kitesurfing, it stands to reason that actual basic surfing get a chance too.
The issues are likely more of a logistical nature, in that surfing needs water with waves, while windsurfing and kitesurfing really just need water and wind.
Waves can be made, however, and with the increased technology on wave pools, surfing in the Olympics could be exactly like beach volleyball, in that neither would necessitate a venue anywhere near the actual beach or natural body of water.
If the IOC used a man-made wave system, the technology could produce near exact wave conditions for every rider (unlike, say, the ocean), giving judges the ability to score surfers consistently and fairly.
Plus, let's be honest, the IOC has not shied away from sports that highlight the human physique. Adding a sport that includes dozens of shirtless athletes and competitors in wetsuits and bikinis would not be terrible for television ratings. Athletic competition be damned, adding surfing would just make good business sense for the IOC.
Shaun White is one of the most recognizable American athletes at the London Olympics, and he's just some dude hanging out, watching his friends and taking advantage of being a huge celebrity.
White's crossover from the snowboard half-pipe to the skateboard version is nothing short of extraordinary. The IOC should see White's celebrity and crossover appeal as a way to bridge the gap between fans of the Summer and Winter Games.
With the addition of BMX, the IOC made it clear it is looking to stay relevant and current, thanks in part to the far-reaching appeal of the X Games.
Unlike the Winter Olympics, there are not a lot of sports at the Summer Games that will get the younger crowd to tune in. The athletes may be teenagers in some of the sports, but the audience surely is not.
Why not, then, bring in one of the consistently most popular "extreme" sports in history? White wants it. Surely the top skaters in the world would show up to compete for the gold. The fans would love it too.
Of all the sports that could—and should—be added to future Olympic Games, skateboarding may be the smartest of them all.