Olympic Sports that I’d like to see…
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reformed their rules and are permitting host cities to propose the addition of one or more sports for their game. Currently, the IOC is evaluating a list of 26 sports that have applied to be included in the 2020 summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo, and the list of sports is quite varied; ranging from chess to Sumo to tug-of-war.
The vague criteria for the new sport(s) are that it/they must be popular with young people, give momentum to Tokyo 2020 and meet IOC standards.
That can mean only one thing: video games in the Olympics.
After all, they are popular with young people, were revolutionized by Japanese company, Nintendo, and with interactive games and technology like Wii, or the Nintendo PowerPad, can offer every bit as much competition and entertainment as dressage or archery.
Sadly, Video Games did not make the list. And more disappointingly, neither did Lacrosse (although many are optimistic that the 2024 will re-introduce the game as an Olympic sport).
So, that means there is only one other sport that could possibly warrant inclusion in the Summer Olympics: Speedball.
Not to be confused with the potentially deadline drug cocktail referring to the intravenous use of cocaine with heroin or morphine in the same syringe, but instead an extremely fun and addictive game that, contrary to Wikipedia, was invented by our high school gym teacher (even though it probably wasn’t, I still believe Coach deserves the credit).
Playing Speedball was a rite of passage in our Jr.-Sr. High School. In fact, the game was kind of like the first rule of fight club. Despite having two older brothers that played the game every spring in gym class, they never talked about Speedball; although both can attest that it was one of the best parts of High School. But, it was something that you had to experience yourself.
Imagine a sport that combines the best of: touch football, basketball, soccer, European handball, and lacrosse. The rules were pretty simple: two teams of an equal number of players, take opposing sides on a football field, and each with a goalie inside of their team’s lacrosse net. Two players from each team start with a jump ball (using a soccer ball). The players can catch, pass, and kick the ball in any direction with the intent of getting soccer ball past the goalie by throwing (2 points) or kicking (3 points) into the lacrosse net or drop-kicking the ball through the field goal uprights (1 point). Sounds pretty simple, but there are a few catches:
A player cannot pick-up the ball with their hands directly from the ground. This means that a player can kick, volley, or lift the ball off the ground with their feet, but not their hands. The other team can intercept passes and claim possession from the other team.
If a player is tagged while running with the ball, then its a turnover and the possession changes to the other team. However, the tag can be avoided through the use of the “air dribble” in which the player that is about to be tagged tosses the ball in the air, while running, and catches their own pass after being tagged.
The game, if played with a good and honest group of people, can be incredible fun and the rules kind of sort themselves out as they go. In fact, I’m sure there are many rules that I’m forgetting, but my memory of first playing Speedball some 20+ years ago are still very vivid. And if the Olympic Committee recognizes the game of Speedball, then billions of other people across the world can share the same experience.
Until that day, we’ll just have to settle for the 26 potential sports vying for inclusion on the short list that will be announced on June 22nd, with finalists making a presentation in Tokyo in August 2015, before a final decision to be made a year later.