Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Olympic Sports and Interest

In theory, the Olympics is meant to be a huge showcase for sports, opening them up to the world and exciting people about them so that they’ll want to do them. All that, of course, presupposes a sufficiently interesting sport. It might actually be possible for the Olympics to have the opposite effect on some people, so that after seeing a sport they had a vague interest in, they decide that it’s not so much fun after all.

Take fencing. I love fencing sabre, but I’m pretty sure that anyone who watched the men’s individuals would believe that it was purely about crashing into one another and waiting for the referee to sort it out.

Or take judo. I’ve recently taken it up, having grappled with judo people and found that they have good throwing and holding skills along with an emphasis on the top game that I like. Yet when you watch the highest level of their sport, it’s a stalling game. It’s not a game of throwing the opponent and then attacking on the ground. It’s a game of throwing yourself face down on the floor to keep from being thrown, and then turtling up on the floor until the referee stands it up. It’s a game, in many cases, of wasting five minutes and then winning with a minor score. And don’t get me started on the idiotic leg grab rule.

There have been sports that have been changed to make them more spectator friendly. Fencing is, in theory, one of them, though I have to ask “what spectators?” They did it by introducing visored masks that then proved very dangerous when fencing epee. What no sport ever thinks to do is concentrate on making itself as much of a genuine contest as possible.

1 comment:

Bavardess said...

Thank you for confirming what I suspected, which is that the men's sabre final was not typical. I've never really watched fencing before, but have been really enjoying the Olympic competiton. The Italian women in the foil were just spectacular (and that is much more what I always imagined fencing should be like).