Everyone loves the Olympics. All those feelings of national pride and international camaraderie stir. You get sucked into the against all odds and last chance stories. They make for really gripping television (other than the opening/closing ceremonies, which is generally just an overview of the host country’s heritage as told through ribbon dancing).
In my experience, while everyone loves the Olympics, old people really love the Olympics. It’s like watching badminton quarterfinals finally gives that 5AM wakeup a sense of patriotic purpose. My grandmother used to obsessively watch the Olympics, because she loved having constant stream of new summer programming that required little effort to follow, a bonus for the hard of hearing.
I get wrapped up in all the competition and pageantry, too. I start knowing the names and times of the world’s top ten freestylers and hurdlers. I’m not like this for every sport. Events like the canoe kayak slalom have never really held my attention. I’m not saying we should get rid of them, but I would like to suggest a few additions to the official Olympic roster. If ping pong and rhythmic gymnastics are gold medal worthy, I think these feats should be as well.
Believe it or not, tug-of-war once was a summer Olympic sport. I’d like to petition to bring it back. Movies and television shows of my youth like 90210 and Saved by the Bell made it seem like games of tug-of-war were a requisite part of summer. And that you were likely to fall in love with the cute boy from the opposing team who dragged you into the center. I am 28 and have never participated in a single game. I feel cheated. I would really like it if the International Olympic Committee included this event once again, so I can at least live vicariously. Otherwise, I think I’ll have to crash some corporate picnic or elementary school field day.
2. The Three-legged Race
Speaking of field day, the three-legged race was clearly the highlight, at least for me. I used to pick my partner a few weeks before and insist that we forgo games of tag during recess to practice. I appreciate that it’s as much game of coordination as it is speed. But the real reason I love it is that it’s an event for any age. It would be like the curling of the Summer Olympics. Nothing chokes me up more than watching people who are theoretically past their prime besting their younger competitors. The three-legged race gives everyone that chance. I’m holding out hope that I will one day see a pair of middle-aged dads on the podium.
3. Cliff Diving
I actually love watching diving. I had a brief career as a diver at 9 that promptly ended when I hit my head on the board. Still, I know how hard those tiny tucks with minimal splash are, so I support the sport. All I’m asking for, though, is a more scenic venue. There have been a few instances like Barcelona where they hold it outside, but when it’s indoors? There are few things more depressing than the sparsely populated stands of an indoor diving event.
4. Roller Skating (or really any California Games event)
Frankly, I’m surprised wheeled sports haven’t made an entrance into the Olympic arena (not even bikini hockey?). California Games classics like skateboarding and BMX landed in the X Games, but what about roller skating? Does it not deserve the same sense of ceremony and competition? Jumping over those cracks and banana peels was hard. And have you ever tried to ‘shoot the duck?’ I spent pretty much every summer day between 1989-1992 in rollerskates, and I still could barely master it. It could be like the warm weather version of ice skating with similar ridiculous costumes. The Summer Olympics with all its spandex leotards and mesh shorts doesn’t have nearly enough glitter and feathers. Let’s change that.
I’d also like to make a plea for another California Games event, surfing, to be included as well. The male surfers don’t even need to get in the water; they can just stand shirtless in front of camera. Sorry hacky sack, but you’re not making the cut.