Written by Austin Anderson & Media by Morgan Johnson.
Since 776 B.C. in ancient Greece, the Olympic Games have captivated audiences. There’s something special about witnessing other human beings achieving incredible feats in the sports arena. Surely, the Olympics have proven that people all around the world are capable of outstanding things. One of the first games ever practiced in Greece was the sport of wrestling. Wrestling used to be more brutal than it is today, but the objective of ancient wrestling was very similar to modern wrestling. Two opponents attempted to toss each other on the ground three times, however the few rules instilled only discouraged biting and male anatomy grabbing. The limited rules of ancient wrestling must have made for a gritty spectacle. Even today wrestling is still a very popular sport that involves two people feuding with all their might to throw their opponent to the ground. Unfortunately, rumors have circulated recently that wrestling will be cut from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Since wrestling is such an important part of the history of the Olympic Games, many Olympics fans were outraged by the potential elimination of the sport from the 2016 games. If the Olympics dropped wrestling, however, there would be an open slot for the beloved American past time: baseball. A few years ago the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided not to include baseball in the 2012 Olympic Games. However, the IOC decided to keep wrestling as an Olympic event for the 2016 games. This means baseball won’t be included in the 2016 games. When wrestling and baseball are fighting to keep a position in the Olympics, some people might wonder: what sports are more important to the IOC and sports fans? What sports are so important that they can close the door on baseball?
The Olympics have hosted some crazy events in the past years. Some events don’t last, but surprisingly, there are a lot of fairly obscure sports that are a part of the Olympics. In the first modern Olympic competition in 1896 (in Athens) the IOC limited the amount of events to nine, but that number has increased to the upper twenties in recent years. Some sports between 1896 and present day are nothing short of shocking, hilarious, and just strange.
Live Pigeon Shooting
In the 1900 games in Paris crowds gathered around to watch a group of exceptional marksmen test their accuracy as they shot at target pigeons. However, the pigeons weren’t made of clay. That’s right. The 1900 games marked the first and last time that live animals were slaughtered for Olympic competition. It’s hard to imagine the excessive shooting and dropping of live birds without picturing the Nintendo masterpiece of the 1990’s: Duck Hunt. In this case…Pigeon Hunt.
My personal favorite strange game that is consistently a part of the Olympics is race walking. Race Walking sounds like an appropriate event for seventy year old women, equipped with zip up exercise suits and hand bands. But the race walking is a very real event. Since 1904, race walking has been a part of the games. The sport is exactly what it sounds like; a bunch of competitors trying to walk ridiculously fast, without breaking into a run. All contestants must always have at least one foot on the ground at a time while trying to go as fast as possible. The result is a strange I’m-about-to-pee-my-pants-shimmy-walk that is a beautiful spectacle. The shocking thing is that race walking is still a sport in the Olympic Games to this day, and is apparently more important than baseball and wrestling.
Some other obscure sports that have found their way into the Olympic Games are solo synchronized swimming, Tug-Of-War, and Club Swinging. Although, without the innovation of club swinging, the Olympics may never have gotten to experience ribbon dancing or hoops!! Oh what a terror that could have been for Olympic fans everywhere. Club swinging was just as blunt and simple as it sounds. During the Olympics of 1932, this event involved brawny men in tights swinging clubs in a rhythmic fashion. After the 1932 Olympics, the delicate art form that is club swinging was never seen again in the Olympics, which was just heartbreaking for club swinging fanatics everywhere.
I don’t mean to downplay anyone’s passion, and I’m sure I would be terrible club swinger. Although, it’s interesting to see strange sports like race walking survive for a hundred years in the Olympics, while baseball has to fight for its place. The term “sport” is fairly relative, but I do find it hard to believe that Olympic fans are more interested in seeing the prancing head-bobs of race walkers, than the towering 400 foot homeruns of baseball hitters.
Mungin, Lateef. “The 10 Strangest Olympic sports.”Cnn.com. July 25, 2012. Web. October 12, 2013. <edition.cnn.com>
Hickman, Matt. “9 Peculiar Summer Olympic sports that have been discontinued.” Mnn.com. June 12, 2012. Web. October 12, 2013 <www.mnn.com>
Unknown. “Ancient Olympic Games.” Olympic.org. 2002. Web. October 12, 2013. <www.olympic.org/ancient-olympic-games>
Unknown. “MLB Soon allow MLB in Future Olympics.” Rbimagazine.com. August 2008. Web. October 12, 2013. <www.rbimagazine.com>
Unknown. “Olympics.” Ancientgreece.com. 2012. Web. October 12, 2013. <www.ancientgreece.com/s/Olympics>