Well, it’s one of those years again. A year with an extra day. A year when those poor unfortunates born on the 29th of February can actually celebrate their birthday. And, particularly significantly, a year for the Olympic Games.
I have mixed feelings about the Olympics. Sure, I think it’s great when people who are good at running and jumping and throwing things can demonstrate to the world how good they are at running and jumping and throwing things. I actually kind of like sport and enjoy seeing sporting excellence celebrated. And besides, some of the events are genuinely exciting.
However, I can’t escape the feeling that the whole thing has gotten far too big. And it contains far too many sports. Sports like tennis and soccer already have plenty of showcases – they hardly need to be involved. And some other sports are just kind of silly. And don’t even get me started on the commercialisation and corporatisation of it all. Seems to me that it stopped being about sport long ago, and just one more way for the various corporate names that already saturate our lives to push themselves upon us even more. Not to mention the stories of corruption involved in deciding host cities, and the serious economic damage the games can do to those cities as the Olympic organisers enrich themselves.
So, Olympic Games in basic concept – good. Olympic Games in current incarnation – maybe not so splendid.
Which got me thinking, how could I fix it? If I ran the Olympics, what changes would I make?
My first instinct would be to cut right back on the scale of the whole thing. Remove all the random sports that don’t need to be there and focus on the core – the running and jumping and throwing ones. Maybe a little swimming, but not all that silly synchronised stuff. The gym stuff could stay too I reckon. But pretty much everything else could be easily turfed out.
But the more I think about it, the more my brain starts to free-form. It’s a bit like my writing. I can never think in just one genre. I’m always trying to mix things up. I think this is how my Olympics would end up as well.
So the running, jumping and throwing wouldn’t just be running jumping and throwing. They would be all mixed up. Sure, I know there are events like the decathlon where athletes do a mix of each. But they do them one at a time. In my events, you would be doing the running and jumping and throwing simultaneously. You may even add a bit of swimming for good measure, or some handstands and cartwheels. After all, why be restricted to just one event when you can do a whole bunch, all at the same time.
It might be a little confusing from the point of view of the spectators. In fact, to be honest I’m not sure it would ever catch on. But, on the off chance that the Olympic Games supremos ever approach me to take over the games, I wouldn’t hesitate to put this idea forward. The sponsors might hate it, but I reckon I’d love it.
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