Maybe it's just because we've grown so codependent, or maybe you have this conversation with yourself every Olympics, but did 302 events in 26 sports seem short?
Olympic sports have come and gone from the games through the years (pistol-dueling, anyone?) and there is an ever-growing list of sports seeking approval or already approved.
There is an IOC-imposed cap on the number of sports and athletes at an Olympic Games, which means any addition requires another be gone from the games forever. Whatever will we do without synchronized swimming!?
While we can look forward to rugby sevens and golf 2016, the IOC votes next year on 2020's host and the official sports list. Here are our picks.
Baseball and Softball: Not Popular Enough?
Baseball and softball have been a part of the summer Olympics off-and-on since 1912 and every summer Olympics since 1984. One might argue they've been given their fair shake at Olympic glory and failed. Then one might find herself exiled and stripped of her US-citizenship. Additionally, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig consistently refused to change up the schedule every four years so the US could send its best competitors. So what's the point?
After voting the sports out, IOC head Jacques Rogge cited lack of "universality" necessary for such a worldwide sporting event. He also made a point of noting another criterion: compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The decision (made by a committee, not just Rogge) left American baseball fans fuming, quick to denounce Rogge's rationale as everything from anti-American to anti-baseball, and most definitely personal.
But worry not, baseball fans. The International Baseball and Softball Federations (IBAF and ISF) aren't giving up. They announced plans late July to merge into one "International Federation" (IF) to increase their viability. The IF's immediate priority is winning the hearts and minds of athletes worldwide. Until then, the IOC's vote is unlikely to change.
Surfing: Not as Outlandish as You Might Think
Becoming an Olympic sport is a lengthy process. Each sport must have a body to represent its international interests (such as baseball and softball's IF). In this regard surfing is way ahead, with an IOC-recognized international federation, the International Surfing Association (ISA), already hard at work making surfing an Olympic dream-come-true.
There are a few obvious obstacles. Practically speaking, there's the logistics of adding a wave pool to the host city, adding to a multi-billion-dollar tab (though Rio managed to find space for a championship-worthy golf course). Then there's the added red tape. It's easier to approve a sport that's a "discipline" of an already-approved, existing sport category because the IOC doesn't have to get rid of another sport to make room. For example, snowboarding was easier to add in 1998 because it was a discipline of snow skiing. Surfing will technically be the first sport of its kind.
If the IOC didn't create such a needlessly labyrinthine bureaucratic maze in order to qualify, surfing would already be an Olympic sport. The Olympics are supposed to symbolize of the unifying power of sports beyond national or class boundaries. Surfing started that way, its international popularity has only increased and most surfers will say its inclusion is past-due. We can just put it in golf or equestrian ballet's spot, since neither makes any claim at accessibility.
Skateboarding: Dude, Chill. It's Just Success
This year the IOC met with skateboard officials in Switzerland about a timetable for vert skateboarding's incorporation in the Olympics. Because skateboarding is so edgy and "The Olympics would-uh, like, change the culture of skateboarding forever!" this is somehow controversial. Oh, and "skateboarding isn't a sport!"
Newsflash: if individuals that participate in your hobby take sponsorship deals, the culture has already changed forever. If you can score and compete at this hobby, it's a sport. Oh no! A group of people wants to give you the opportunity to be valued and rewarded for your dedication so you don't have to sell your soul at some minimum wage job! You also have the chance to inspire an entire generation and help guarantee the sport's accessibility to thousands. No one has suffered how you have suffered.
Dance: We Can Dance If We Want to
Bias-alert: I used to dance competitively. This also means, however, that I can beat any of your arguments as to why dance should not be an Olympic event. First of all, I have two words: synchronized swimming. Two more: figure skating. There's also the less-laughable example of gymnast floor routines. The Olympics already cater to feats of athleticism that aren't traditionally score-able.
If a judge can deduct .5 from a gymnast for a slight downward momentum before she rises on a pommel horse, or a point for one fewer turn in a pirouette on ice, then provided the judge knows the routine, he can fairly score dance. I imagine it would be difficult to fairly score disciplines that don't use things you can assign point value to like arabesques, leaps and turns, which would exclude types of dance. But maybe that's why I'm not the head of the International Dance Federation.
I make fun of synchronized swimming quite a bit, but not because I don't consider it to be a show of skill and athleticism. It goes back to that accessibility thing. Given its more than 500-year existence, a ballet company in almost every large city in the world and the popularity of shows like So You Think You Can Dance, I think dance has already done the work of winning hearts. It just needs to win some stubborn IOC minds.
Cricket: Is This a Country Club or the Olympics?
Cricket doesn't get any love from the US. However, much like soccer, it's popular almost everywhere else. I personally have no idea how it's played and would only know it by the Shaun of the Dead bat by sight. But because of its international appeal, this more than any other excluded sport begs the question: why do you hate everything we love, IOC?
It's a (relatively) inexpensive addition for the host city, it's popular all over the place and it showcases athleticism and sportsmanship. The IOC should be eating this up. Aside from the cap on the number of sporting events, I can't think of a reason it's not an event already.
If the Olympics is truly about bridging socio-economic and racial gaps through the universal appeal of sports, the IOC has some inaccessible sports to get rid of: equestrian events, golf and synchronized swimming to name a few. If baseball was so easy, you'd think horse ballet would be a no-brainer. In 2009 the IOC held a virtual congress where common folk like you and me could weigh in. Look out for a possible recurrence next year and maybe your favorite sport will become a 2020 Olympic reality.
(Image courtesy of Creative Commons)