Monday, August 11, 2008

How to improve the Olympics

You might have noted that the Olympic games have started; you might also have spotted the two biggest flaws in them: the rather overblown ceremonial aspect, with its undertones of totalitarian and nationalistic showing off, and the fact that most of the sports are far more fun to take part in than to watch.

Anyway, since London is hosting the thing next time around, I'm sure the organisers would welcome my advice on how they can put on a better show next time round. With regard to the opening ceremony my advice is not to bother.

It's not that as some of the more cringing and foolish commentators have suggested that Britain given nothing of value of to the world. However, understated modesty is one of the more appealing aspects to the British national character and I'd far rather showcase this than the rather less attractive jingoism and pomposity. Of course, the organisers could indulge themselves in royal-style pomp and ceremony and showcase all sorts of achievements in literature, philosophy, science etc, but why bother? The United Kingdom spent the 200 years between 1757 and 1957 rubbing its superiority in the face of the rest of the world, so there's probably no real need for any more vulgar boasting.

Better, by far, to let the athletes troop in the the stadium in a dignified and calm fashion. Get the Queen, or Prince Charles, or President Blair, or whoever is in charge by then to read out an exhortation to the athletes to play the game. Wish them all luck. Let them file out. Remember halfway through that they've forgotten to light the flame, bring them all back in. Light it. Give the president of the IOC a firm handshake. Wish them all luck, again, and get on with it.

(Alternatively: if anyone could top the famous Australian prank in which a pair of burning underpants atop a wooden chair leg were substituted for the real Olympic flame then that would be most welcome).

As for the sports themselves, darts and snooker should certainly feature. They might even help boost GB's medals total, but what really counts is the sports in which drinking and - in an ideal world - smoking feature heavily ought to be encouraged. Some other traditional British events like cheese rolling would help in this regard.

Olympics past also offer a number of events (pretty full list here) which sound like far more fun to watch than the stuff currently on the TV. Given that this is the rationale for including sports like beach volleyball (I note there is no GB team at present; I'm happy to offer my services as a selector for 2012 by the way) I don't see why the duelling pistol event, swimming obstacle race or bicycle polo shouldn't be added to the list.

This BBC blogger makes a good start with his observation that a revival of live pigeon shooting would be most welcome, but there are so many other animal events which could be included: fixed and moving bird target archery or running deer shooting*, for instance. But it's the equestrian events that offer the most appealing prospects. The 1900 games featured an equine high jump and long jump and a return of these events would certainly be welcome. However, what would be most impressive would be to introduce a triple jump for horses: for skill, artistry and athleticism it would be unbeatable.

Except, perhaps, for chessboxing.

*NB: they didn't use real deer and I think the bird target archery was similarly cruelty free. However, they did shoot real pigeons. Good. We should hold it in Trafalgar Square.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Anyone who defends the inclusion of beach volleyball could not object to poledancing becoming an Olympic sport.

And yes, I agree; the opening ceremony should be a low-key affair in 2012. Better to save the money because the public roasting will be the same wahtever happens.

Puss

5:35 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Whatever makes you think I would object to poledancing becoming an Olympic sport. I think that's a splendid idea.

I'd also like to see poker and competitive drinking in there.

5:42 pm  
Blogger dominic said...

London? Lahndan? Laaaaaahndaaaan?

Turns out the mountain biking is being 'eld twixt Mount Zion (South Benfleet) and Hadleigh Castle ere is good old Sarf Essex (fantastic views dahn to Canvey and across to various power stations in North Kent)

I'll give yer Lahndan. It's the Castle Point (don't pronounce the "t" in the 1st word) Olympics, innit

9:47 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Essex boys telling me how to pronounce words; whatever next? Remember it is not pronounced 'carsle'.

9:58 pm  

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