Sunday, August 10, 2008

The 12 Sports Discontinued from Olympic Competition, Worst to Best

The Olympics are upon us, so let us dig into the theme! The years during which these sports were included in the Olympics are given.

12. Water Motorsports (1908)

Okay, this is one that I think we can all agree was a mistake. You can't start having vehicle races as part of the Olympics. Next, you'd be making something like NASCAR or F1 an Olympic event, and honestly, given the year that they tried this one, I'm betting the only reason they didn't do car racing was because nobody had cars yet that could go over, like 15 mph. Anyway, the Olympics is pretty clearly supposed to be about human capabilities and competition, not racing friggin' boats.

11. Rackets (1908)

Honestly, this one loses a lot of points in my book just for having an awful name. Rackets? Really? That's the defining feature of your sport, which clearly no other sport already had, that you're going to have people recognize you by? This is like when you and your friends made up a sport in your basement involving a tennis ball and the blue splotch on your unfinished basement and a ping-pong paddle and your adjustable pool basketball hoop, and you invented all sorts of crazy rules, and you called it something awesome like "Super Kill Paddle" or "Bask-Ping-Ten-Splotch." When these jerks did it, they called it "Rackets." Also, the only entrants were British. That's right, an entire Olympic event where only British people entered. You know it's because it was a totally made-up sport that pretty much took place in Britain's basement, too. Fuck Rackets. 1908 was a shitty year for new Olympic sports.

10. Roque (1904)

Okay, see those people in the pictures at the top of this post? Do they look active? Would you guess they are sitting around and posing for brooding turn of the century mood portraits or playing a sport? Can you even tell which people are spectating and which are playing? Answer: they are all playing, becuase Roque is the most boring sport in the world and absolutely nobody would want to watch that. I don't even know if that's true, but the Wikipedia entry on roque is like, two paragraphs long and so boring that I couldn't even make it all the way through it. According to Wikipedia also, "an unknown amount of people" played in the event. That's because they surveyed people afterwards to see if they played Roque, and many of them could not remember whether they had been napping or playing this game. Oh, and the name is almost as bad as "Rackets": it's "croquet" with the first and last letters removed. Yeah. I hope I never find out what Roque actually is because I'm sure it sucks.

9. Croquet (1900)

The only year in which Croquet was played at the Olympics was 1900, which means, yes, they realized it was terribly only to bring back its apparently retarded cousin "Roque" back eight years later. But Roque has already taken it pretty hard on the chin, and the only reason that Roque is lower on the list than Croquet is that it's almost certainly an inferior version of the same game. Anyway, Croquet isn't too bad of a game, but neither is chess, checkers, backgammon, Settlers of Catan, World of Warcraft, or that Flash "Don't Shoot the Puppy!" game. That doesn't mean that any of them should be Olympic sports. Given some of these, I'm actually surprised that Bocce ball was never an Olympic sport. Anyway, the one year this was an event, all the medal-winners were French, which is basically definitive proof that this isn't a sport.

8. Jeu de Paume (1908)

Speaking of France, Jeu de Paume is a pretty transparently French sport that is apparently like tennis, but with hands instead of racquets. Now, consider how many French people competed in this French sport of France: ZERO. The entire competition for this year was between the U.S. and Britain. The one truly redeeming factor of this sport (other than the sport itself, which seems like it might be decent): the Bronze medalist this year was Neville Bulwer-Lytton, 3rd Earl of Lytton. I can truly say that it is sad today not to live in a time when a 3rd Earl of Lytton can't pull himself up by his bootstraps and win a bronze medal.

7. Polo (1900, 1908, 1920-24, 1938)

While it's better-known than some of the sports that follow, and maybe objectively more widespread in play, Polo loses huge points for being the original classist sport: it's basically designed to be prohibitively expensive. You need horses, riding gear, helmets, one of those wacky mallets (part of it is actually called a cigar...a CIGAR!), and oh, did I mention, fucking horses? I know that the equestrian events now at the Olympics require horses (and ergo super-rich people), but what they don't require is the ability of FOUR obscenely rich people who WANT TO PLAY POLO to be able to get together and practice...PLAYING POLO mind you, at regular intervals, for you to have what could be called a good polo team. I would like to suggest bringing this sport back, only making it Segway polo instead, because it's really a better representation of the demographic that would have any desire to play or see polo.

6. Cricket (1900)

Jolly good! That's my personal description of cricket based solely on years of being exposed to comical British stereotypes. I bet this game would be great to play after a nice yobber of a meal of fish n' chips. Then we could hit a bobby in the bollocks and get all knackered. But don't you nutters take the piss out of me! This is what you look like when you're playing Cricket:
In a word, British.

5. Golf (1900-04)

Alright, we're getting now into about the borderline between whether or not it would be cool to bring back these events for the Olympics. On one hand, golf is a pretty old and well-established outdoor activity, actually fairly interesting to watch, and forces people to dress funny as hell. On the other hand, it would place pretty ridiculous restrictions on the cities that could host the Olympics. Oh, and's not a sport. Really, nobody who has ever really played golf should argue for it being a sport. An anecdote to illustrate: I used to work on a golf course. It was a pretty sweet gig; I was paid decently well to get up really in the morning and mow all the greens, then go around raking all the bunkers, etc. One day I saw a guy with one of those oxygen tanks hooked up to him, out on the ninth hole, playing a round of golf with his buddies. I started laughing to myself thinking about how obviously this means that nobody can justify golf as a sport anymore if you can play it while hooked up to a breathing apparatus. Immediately after, I felt kinda bad for laughing at the guy. Then he hit a bad shot and threw his club.

4. Basque pelota (1900)

Alright, this is the first in my "seriously, bring this shit back" section. I don't know if you guys have ever wandered around the higher-numbered ESPN's to see a match of this game, but it is fucking awesome. It's similar-looking to raquetball, but instead of rackets, the players have little scoops, and they whip balls at speeds up to something like 180 miles per hour at a wall. (Jai Alai, if you have seen that, is a specific variant of Basque pelota, and bringing that in instead of pelota would also be acceptable to me.) Seriously, though, it's clearly athletic, fun to watch, and 180 MILES PER HOUR. Damn. Make it happen.

3. Lacrosse (1904, 1908)

Lacrosse has been getting bigger in the U.S. as of late, so possibly we will see a push for this to become an Olympic event again sometime soon. I am all for that, becuase Lacrosse is sweet. It's fun to watch, crazy athletic, and probably best of all, has a Native American mythos about it. I don't really know how much of the pop-culture idea--that Native Americans used to subsitute the game for war--is true, but since nowadays we pretty much subsitute the Olympics for war when all the countries get too mad at each other and need to blow off some steam, it would be a welcome addition.

2. Rugby Union (1900, 1908, 1920-24)

In a word: YES. Continuing the idea that we should use the Olympics to blow off steam that might otherwise cause world wars and such, rugby is pretty much the ideal way to do this. In a perfect world, the Olympics go like this:

America: "Finland, you are a bunch of smarmy fucks about your universal health care system."

Finland: "Please do not bomb us."

America: "No, we are going to kick your ass in rugby and put that health care to some good use."

Lesson: if we brought back rugby, all of the countries would become anthropomorphized.

1. Tug of War (1900-1920)

If this was still an Olympic event, it would be the best Olympic event. Except, may I make one recommendation: no country is allowed to actually have a tug of war team. Therefore, the tug of war teams must be comprised of all your Olympians from other sports. This would be the ultimate, then, you have all of your all-stars from different sports tugging on the same side against all of the all-stars from a different country. You'd probably limit it to one person per sport per side. You can finally have a matchup that, in part, pits between Michael Phelps and...I don't know, whoever some famous Judo guy from Japan is, I wouldn't know these things. Also, they all have to wear the uniforms they would for their sport, so Phelps is in a swimsuit, and Kobe is wearing basketball gear, and Judo guy is in his judo suit, etc. Let your imagination run wild. It is the Olympic event to beat all Olympic events. I have no idea why this was ever discontinued, and I want it back.

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