There are many strange games and sports in the world. This is because anyone can create a sport. You could invent a game today, register it, find some competitors, and by the end of the week you could be setting up a local tournament in trampoline bottle washing. Yet these sports will never reach worldwide appeal because they are far too strange. Many great sports struggle for a worldwide fan base as despite their brilliance they don’t have an audience of the right size. This is one important role that the Olympics plays. The Olympics is deemed the pinnacle of sporting achievement. Every four years it tries to highlight the top athletes in the world across a range of sports and disciplines. While some sports like running have been a key part of the Olympics since it was created, others have joined much later. Kitesurfing is the latest sport to be trailed at the Olympics and if the trial goes well it may become a permanent fixture. It is the duty of the Olympics therefore to only accept the greatest of sports to preserve the image of the competition and the pride that is associated with a gold medal. However, looking through the history books it is easy to find a number of strange sports that were included as part of the Olympics that are no longer in existence. How these “athletes” were ever given a gold medal is a huge mystery.
The distance dive
I want to start by talking about one sport that I think the Olympics should bring back. The idea is simple. Athletes dive into the water and swim as far forward as they can on one breath. To make it more difficult they can’t move a single limb. They essentially coast forward on one breath as far as they can. While it is hard to argue that the achievements of the winner of this competition equal that of Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, it would still be pretty interesting to know the limits of human potential in diving underwater. No? Just me? Ok then..
Tug of war
While it is a great game at a family picnic, it is hard to imagine that the Tug of War was once an Olympic event. The game featured from the Olympics in 1900 all the way through to the 1920 Olympics. Teams of eight simply pulled the rope and the strongest team won. It was removed in 1920 and never returned.
The long jump
Don’t get me wrong the long jump is a fantastic event and the fact that we see records continue to be set in this simple movement shows that it is an incredible sport. I have no issue with the long jump, at least not the current long jump. However, in the Paris games in 1900, there was a second long jump competition performed by horses. Athletes would ride horses and try to jump the furthest. While not bad in theory, in reality, it was terrible to watch. The winning horse made it a total of 6.1 meters. The human world record today is 8.95 meters.
There are so many weird sports out there that it should come as no surprise when one sneaks into the Olympics. It is similar to when strange words sneak into the Oxford dictionary. They shouldn’t be there but everyone is allowed a bit of fun sometimes. It is surprising that so many of these sports have now become family picnic activities. The tug of war, the rope climb are two examples. Yet the horse jump, on the other hand, should never have been a sport and we can only hope that it never features at our family picnic.