It’s easy to see the logic behind most sports at the Olympics
Running fast was necessary to get away from predators, to chase down prey, or simply to get from A to B. Swimming, canoeing, rowing and sailing represent a progression of increasingly clever modes of water-based transport, while the same applies to cycling and land transport.
Archery and shooting were important for hunting. Boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling were handy for fighting off others who wanted a share of your food and possessions when a bow or a gun was not close at hand.
The ball sports are included because, well, they are undoubtedly sports. Games used to have fun. And the likes of pole vault and weightlifting follow the Olympic slogan of ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’, which are useful attributes when you need to fight off a bear or get over something really tall.
Yet for the life of us we can’t work out the following five sports.
5. Synchronised swimming
Sure, we can appreciate the athleticism, and their incredible ability to hold their breath whilst doing vigorous exercise. But what exactly is the point of it? The human mind’s desire for some sort of symmetry and conformity went too far with this one, and we’ve ended up with a team of clones performing ultimately inconsequential actions in a swimming pool wearing far too much waterproof make-up.
4. Men’s Football
It’s football, but with so many limitations as to render it completely meaningless. FIFA don’t want the Olympic competition to impinge on their World Cup territory, so it’s not a full senior tournament. But neither is it an Under-23 tournament, which would at least lend some sort of value to the whole thing. Rather it’s a bunch of Under-23s with three old cronies thrown in, which gives it a real exhibition football feel. And yet they still hand out real medals. No wonder they couldn’t even sell all the the tickets for it, even in a nation with Britain’s hunger for the game.
Like the synchronised swimming, there are things to admire. Like how they don’t get dizzy with all that twisting and turning. But it’s been many thousands of years since we had to swing between trees, so things like the parallel bars and the rings are a bit outdated. And what is the point of a ‘sport’ that your common man can’t understand? When Japan lodged an appeal about the final judgement in the men’s team category, not even the judges seemed sure whether the gymnast’s dismount was intentionally staggered or whether it was just rubbish, so how were we meant to know?
Seriously? Don’t get us wrong - we loved a good bounce on the trampolin in our youth, and marvelled at our friend’s ability to bounce higher than us and do forward and backward somersaults. But what exactly does a ‘Barani’ (a front somersault with a half-twist) or a ‘Triffus’ (a triple somersault with at least a half-twist) achieve, and how did this become an Olympic sport? There is a place for these things, but it’s called the circus.
An event that says, ‘Let’s see how quickly you can cover 20km, without going as quickly as you can.’ It makes no sense at all, and has to be the most boring sport at the Olympics. If they incorporated tiddlywinks at the Games it would be more watchable. What makes it far worse though is how warped competitive walkers’ legs become on account of holding themselves back. They look unnaturally rubbery while they’re walking away, and freakily bandy when they finally stop. Given that the point of walking (if you’re not just trying to get from one place to another for practical purposes) is to improve physical health, surely disfiguring your legs for the sake of not going too fast is a bit counterproductive.