Forget the athletes, what is the best Olympic sport?
While the IOC may have more gold up for grabs than a garage sale at Mr T’s house, maybe it’s time someone stood up and awarded the most important gold medal of them all. That is, a gold medal for best Olympic sport.
The Olympics essentially exist as the sports version of those tacky, yet enticing, Las Vegas style all-you-can-eat buffets. Some exotic delicacies on the menu you’ll take a tiny nibble of before politely coughing into a napkin and leaving well alone for the next four years.
Others, like a crisp green salad, will seem refreshing at first but quickly become bland. And finally there’s the old favourites, which you will happily gorge on to you are lying under the table taking deep breaths while someone rubs your face with a damp cloth.
Yes, not all Olympic sports are created equal. Thankfully, though, much like the judges scoring at the rhythmic gymnastics, it is clear for all to see what the results should be. The answer to what is in fact the greatest Olympic sport can be easily deduced via specific objective criteria.
For starters you can count out any of the running, swimming, cycling or just general ‘go the fastest’ type events. We’re talking about sports here, not a contest to see who can exercise the quickest. Sport needs to be about enjoyment, not grim self improvement. Don’t these people have reality TV weight loss shows?
You can also run a red pen through any sport that requires competitors to have some sort of complicated apparatus like a gun, a bow, boat or horse etc. By law of averages, these events are always going to be skewed towards the toffy-nosed boater hat wearing private school kids who were putting together Maseratis while we were playing with Meccano.
If there’s anything a good sport needs it’s the ability for the kid from the blocks to be able to stick it to the bourgeoisie on the school bus.
Now while the heavy metal sports of weightlifting and chucking stuff do get a gold star for their low equipment requirements and relative straight forwardness, they do lose significant points for their athlete’s presentation.
No disrespect, but when the competitors look more like the bloke who ordered a dozen Chiko rolls in front of you at the fish and chipper last Friday night, it doesn’t exactly set the theme to Chariots of Fire running through your head.
On the flipside to this, gymnastics can’t be the winning sport either, for the simple fact that looking at their Greek statue perfect rigs can’t help but dent the loyal fan’s own self-confidence.
No, athletes should be a bit like that health insurance ad; a healthier version of yourself that we can imagine obtaining if only we had more time, money, talent etc.
The winning sport also needs to be hotly contested, occasionally a little bit rough, but with an emphasis on scoring points rather than hurting people. It should be cute when the little tackers at home copy what they saw on TV. You shouldn’t have to worry about being kicked in the shins for the next fortnight or your five-year-old suplexing your dog in the backyard.
That is, it must have a ball (and no sticks, bats, weapons of destruction etc).
Scoring in the sport should also be often enough to keep you watching, but not so incessant that a scoring manoeuvre lacks any sort of gravity outside of the final minute.
There should also be room for the occasional blooper, with athletes and fans pausing to have a laugh at someone else’s misfortune.
Obviously, the winning sport will also have the Olympics as the pinnacle of its competition calendar, and not exist as an afterthought for rich billionaires who think the phrase “Gold Medal Winner’ will look killer on their after-dinner speaker circuit CV.
And, perhaps most importantly, it needs to be a sport that Australia has at least a half decent chance of scoring a medal in for both sexes (hey don’t look at me like that, you want to watch this thing on free-to-air TV, don’t you?)
And the winner?
Yes, a surprising but deserved winner. Think about it. It’s easy to pick up, played by pretty fit looking people, a little bit rough, good for the odd ‘falcon’ or wardrobe malfunction and all you need is a body of water and a ball to play.
That’s gold! And has absolutely nothing to do with one of the goalies from the Aussie Stingers threatening to injure a close family member if I didn’t award the sport the top gong.
Now look, I realise it’s not really in Roarers’ nature to argue one sports supremacy over another.
However, in the interest of fairness, if you would like to contest the outcome of what in fact is the best Olympic sport, you have approximately forty minutes to lodge a written appeal in the below form.
The panel eagerly awaits your reply
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
- London 2012 Olympics