Fixing the Olympics

If the top 10 female swimmers at the 2012 London Olympics all belonged to the same country, they would have added a combined total of 15 gold medals to that country’s medal tally. If the top 10 female archers at the 2012 London Olympics all belonged to the same country, they would have added a combined total of 2 gold medals to that country’s medal tally. Doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

 

Sports like swimming and gymnastics have a disproportionate impact on the overall Olympic medal tally – not to mention the record books – for the simple fact that there are more medals available to individuals and countries who excel at these sports than there are to those who excel at others. No matter how talented she might be, an archer is never going to break Michael Phelps’s record haul of 8 gold medals from a single Olympics. Not unless she shoots a few gymnasts.

 

I’ve put some thought into how we could tighten up the Olympics in order to create a competition where the overall standings aren’t skewed quite so dramatically by the results in a few medal-heavy disciplines. I really think I could make a difference but the IOC won’t return my calls, which leaves me with only one course of action. I need to start my own international sporting competition.

 

At the Philympics, the swimming events will be greatly curtailed. The first thing I’ll do is get rid of all the novelty strokes. Butterfly is the egg and spoon race of Olympic swimming and everybody knows it. There’s no place for it in any serious sporting contest. The objective in every Philympic swimming race will be to cover the prescribed distance by any means necessary (excluding jet-boat).

 

Next, I’ll cut out the intermediate distances. When you boil it down to its essence, the primary practical objective in the majority of serious, real-world, swimming scenarios is either to swim very fast or to swim very far. If you’re not avoiding a shark or setting out for the horizon then you’re really just goofing around. When you evaluate the existing Olympic swimming events with this in mind, it becomes clear that the 50m freestyle and the 10km marathon swim are the only races you need. Everything else is just filler.

 

So there you have it – the swimming program for the inaugural Philympic Games:

 

  • Men’s 50m freestyle
  • Men’s 10km marathon swim
  • Women’s 50m freestyle
  • Women’s 10km marathon swim

 

See how this works?

 

Now that we have the swimming events all sorted, the next step is to evaluate the remaining Olympic sports for Philympic suitabilty. To begin this analysis, I’ve applied the following general guidelines.

 

No subjective scoring systems
While I appreciate the remarkable skill of a world-class gymnast, the Philympic Games will only accept events whose scoring systems are based on objectively measurable criteria. The Philympics are a sporting contest, not a talent show. The gymnasts, divers and synchronised swimmmers of the world will have to watch from the sidelines with the breakdancers, poets and mimes.

 

No weight divisions
Weight divisions are consolation prizes for the genetically unfortunate. There are no height divisions in basketball. There are no hand-eye coordination divisions in table tennis. Either you’re blessed with the genetic gifts required to compete at the highest level in these sports or you’re not. The same should be true for weightlifting and all the fighting sports. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, and the best is usually a 300 pound Lithuanian.

 

No cock and ball sports
Philympic events should measure capabilities that have a current or historical practical application. As the puritans taught us many years ago, it’s wrong to play around with cocks and balls just for the fun of it. As such, the sports of Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Football, Handball, Hockey, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball and Water Polo will have no place at the Philympic Games.

 

No team events
The Philympics are about individual performances. The only people who care about relays and other team events are people who can’t win anything on their own, and people who want to win a second medal for doing essentially the same thing that they did to win their first one. The Philympics will not pander to either of these groups.

 

Based on the guidelines described above, we’ve already eliminated a number of sports. Now let’s have a look at what’s left, starting with the ‘A’s…

 

Archery

 

Olympic events
Men’s Individual; Women’s Individual; Men’s Team; Women’s Team.

 

Analysis
Archery sets a good example for other sports. Organisers have resisted the temptation to introduce separate events for firing arrows over different distances, or from different types of bows. Competitors shoot at targets from a set distance (70m) then the judges add up the scores and the highest score wins. Simple. The only modifications required here are to remove the unnecessary team events and to add flaming arrows.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Individual (Flaming); Women’s Individual (Flaming)

 

Athletics

 

Olympic events
Men’s 100m; Men’s 200m; Men’s 400m; Men’s 800m; Men’s 1500m; Men’s 5000m; Men’s 10,000m; Men’s Marathon; Men’s 20km Race Walk; Men’s 50km Race Walk; Men’s 4 x 100m Relay; Men’s 4 x 400m Relay; Men’s High Jump; Men’s Long Jump; Men’s Triple Jump; Men’s Pole Vault; Men’s 3000m Steeplechase; Men’s 110m Hurdles; Men’s 400m Hurdles; Men’s Javelin Throw; Men’s Shot Put; Men’s Discus Throw; Men’s Hammer Throw; Men’s Decathlon; Women’s 100m; Women’s 200m; Women’s 400m; Women’s 800m; Women’s 5000m; Women’s 10,000m; Woman’s Marathon; Women’s 20km Race Walk; Women’s 4 x 100m Relay; Women’s 4 x 400m Relay; Women’s High Jump; Women’s Long Jump; Women’s Triple Jump; Women’s Pole Vault; Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase; Women’s 100m Hurdles; Women’s 400m Hurdles; Women’s Javelin Throw; Women’s Shot Put; Women’s Discus Throw; Women’s Hammer Throw; Women’s Heptathlon

 

Analysis
Where to begin? There are numerous changes required here. Before we start, let’s break athletics down into its core components – the running events, the jumping events, the running and jumping events, the throwing events, and the multi-sport events.

 

Running events
The “very fast or very far” principle should apply to running as it does to swimming. Any race that’s longer than 100m and shorter than a marathon will have to go. The relays are out too, of course. And the walking races are just plain silly. Let’s never speak of them again.

 

Jumping events
The high jump and long jump will stay. I think you can probably guess what happens to the triple jump and pole vault.

 

Running and jumping events
I don’t think the hurdling races require a sufficiently different skillset to warrant their existence as separate events from the pure running races. The ability to run very fast takes you a long way towards winning a hurdles race. The ability to step over a few small fences along the way appears to be less important.

 

Throwing events
Four separate events for throwing stuff is obviously overkill. I’d like to cut it down to one, which would have to be the javelin. Of the four throwing implements, the javelin covers the greatest distance and has the most historically significant practical application, not to mention occasionally providing macabre secondary entertainment value by spearing an innocent bystander who wasn’t paying attention.

 

Multi-sport events
I like the idea of a cumulative competition covering individual performance across a range of sports but I think the heptathlon and decathlon are limited in their scope. We can do better. We must do better. We will do better. Details to follow.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s 100m; Men’s Marathon; Men’s High Jump; Men’s Long Jump; Men’s Javelin Throw; Women’s 100m; Woman’s Marathon; Women’s High Jump; Women’s Long Jump; Women’s Javelin Throw

 

Equestrian

 

Olympic Events
Individual Dressage; Team Dressage; Individual Show Jumping; Team Show Jumping; Individual Eventing; Team Eventing

 

Analysis
There are three basic elements in Olympic equestrian: dressage, show jumping, and cross country jumping. There are standalone events for dressage and show jumping, and a multi-disciplinary event called “eventing”, which includes dressage, show jumping and cross country jumping segments.

 

I don’t understand how dressage works, so rather than taking the time to learn, I’m going to assume that there’s a subjective element to it and thus eliminate it from the Philympics.

 

And show jumping just seems like cross country jumping for horses that don’t really like the outdoors. I think we can live without it.

 

That leaves us with cross country jumping, which we will include in the Philympics as a standalone event.

 

Furthermore, equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against one another in individual competition. I can only assume that this is the case because women are better at it than men. To give the male riders a fighting chance, the Philympics will re-introduce gender segregation to the equestrian competition.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Cross Country Jumping; Women’s Cross Country Jumping

 

Fencing

 

Olympic Events
Men’s Individual Foil; Men’s Individual Epee; Men’s Individual Sabre; Men’s Team Foil; Men’s Team Sabre; Women’s Individual Foil; Women’s Individual Epee; Women’s Individual Sabre; Women’s Team Foil; Women’s Team Epee

 

Analysis
Lose the team events. Lose all the different swords. Lose the boring, one dimensional playing field.

 

Add some banquet tables. Add a grand, sweeping staircase. Add a chandelier.

 

If we’re gonna have a swordfight, let’s have a swordfight, damnit.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Swashbuckle; Women’s Swashbuckle

 

Modern Pentathlon

 

Olympic Events
Men’s Modern Pentathlon; Women’s Modern Pentathlon

 

Analysis
The modern pentathlon requires competitors to ride a horse, shoot a pistol, run, swim and fight with a sword. It was first held at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, and was designed to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier. It’s about as modern as Fred Flintstone’s stance on marriage equality.

 

If I had to modernise the modern pentathlon to simulate the experience of a 21st century soldier, based on the limited knowledge of modern warfare that I’ve gleaned from various movies and television shows, the new events would involve doing pushups in the rain, driving a Humvee, launching a smart bomb, alleviating boredom and coming to terms with the frustration and mundanity of post-combat life in the midst of an oblivious and ungrateful civilian population.

 

I’m not sure how that would play on television, though.

 

Philympic Events
None

 

Megathlon

 

Olympic Events
None

 

Analysis
Superceding the decathlon, heptathlon and modern pentathlon, the megathlon will be a cumulative competition covering every event on the Philympic roster, from archery to weightlifting.

 

Audiences can look forward to mediocre performances across the board, as weary athletes, exhausted beyond belief after hours and hours of strenuous competition, desperately try to remember the rules of sports with which they’re not overly familiar.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Megathlon; Women’s Megathlon

 

Paddling Sports

 

Olympic Events
Men’s Canoe Single (C1) Slalom; Men’s Canoe Double (C2) Slalom; Men’s Kayak (K1) Slalom; Women’s Kayak (K1) Slalom; Men’s Kayak Single (K1) 1000m; Men’s Kayak Single (K1) 200m; Men’s Kayak Double (K2) 1000m; Men’s Kayak Double (K2) 200m; Men’s Kayak Four (K4) 1000m; Men’s Canoe Single (C1) 1000m; Men’s Canoe Single (C1) 200m; Men’s Canoe Double (C2) 1000m; Women’s Kayak Single (K1) 500m; Women’s Kayak Double (K2) 500m; Women’s Kayak Four (K4) 500m; Women’s Kayak Single (K1) 200m; Men’s Single Sculls; Men’s Pair; Men’s Double Sculls; Men’s Four; Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls; Men’s Lightweight Four; Men’s Quadruple Sculls; Men’s Eight; Women’s Single Sculls; Women’s Pair; Women’s Double Sculls; Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls; Women’s Quadruple Sculls; Women’s Eight

 

Analysis
One person in a boat, two people in a boat. Four people, eight people, this paddle, that paddle. Where does it all end? At the Philympics, it ends with one person rowing down a river and one person paddling a kayak through a slalom course.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Kayak (K1) Slalom; Women’s Kayak (K1) Slalom; Men’s Single Sculls, Women’s Single Sculls

 

Pedalling Sports

 

Olympic Events
Men’s BMX; Women’s BMX; Men’s Mountain Bike; Women’s Mountain Bike; Men’s Road Race; Men’s Individual Time Trial; Women’s Road Race; Women’s Individual Time Trial; Men’s Sprint; Men’s Keirin; Men’s Team Sprint; Men’s Team Pursuit; Men’s Omnium; Women’s Sprint; Women’s Keirin; Women’s Team Sprint; Women’s Team Pursuit; Women’s Omnium

 

Analysis
It’s very tempting to jump on board the recent trend of creating and naming cycling events whilst under the influence of mind altering drugs. The Keirin, anyone? The Omnium? What’s next? The Pandemonium? Where hundreds of cyclists line up along the tops of two gigantic opposing ramps then hurtle down towards the centre and crash headlong into each other like the opposing Middle Earth armies in the opening scene from The Lord Of The Rings?

 

Sounds pretty cool, actually.

 

But no, we should keep it sensible. Because the Philympics are going to be nothing if not sensible.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Road Race; Men’s Sprint; Women’s Road Race; Women’s Sprint

 

Pummelling Sports

 

Olympic Events
Men’s Boxing- Light Fly (49kg); Men’s Boxing-Fly (52kg); Men’s Boxing-Bantam (60kg); Men’s Boxing-Light (60kg); Men’s Boxing-Light Welter (65kg); Men’s Boxing-Welter (69kg); Men’s Boxing-Middle (75kg); Men’s Boxing-Light Heavy (81kg); Men’s Boxing-Heavy (91kg); Men’s Boxing-Super Heavy (+91kg); Women’s Boxing-Fly (51kg); Women’s Boxing-Light (60kg); Women’s Boxing-Middle (75kg); Men’s Judo – 60kg; Men’s Judo – 66kg; Men’s Judo – 73kg; Men’s Judo – 81kg; Men’s Judo – 90kg; Men’s Judo – 100kg; Men’s Judo – +100kg; Women’s Judo – 48kg; Women’s Judo – 52kg; Women’s Judo – 57kg; Women’s Judo – 63kg; Women’s Judo – 70kg; Women’s Judo – 78kg; Women’s Judo – +78kg; Men’s Taekwondo – 58kg; Men’s Taekwondo – 68kg; Men’s Taekwondo – 80kg; Men’s Taekwondo – +80kg; Women’s Taekwondo – 49kg; Women’s Taekwondo -57kg; Women’s Taekwondo -67kg; Women’s Taekwondo -+67kg; Men’s 55kg Greco-Roman; Men’s 60kg Greco-Roman; Men’s 66kg Greco-Roman; Men’s 74kg Greco-Roman; Men’s 84kg Greco-Roman; Men’s 96kg Greco-Roman; Men’s 120kg Greco-Roman; Men’s 55kg Freestyle; Men’s 60kg Freestyle; Men’s 66kg Freestyle; Men’s 74kg Freestyle; Men’s 84kg Freestyle; Men’s 96kg Freestyle; Men’s 120kg Freestyle; Women’s 48kg Freestyle; Women’s 55kg Freestyle; Women’s 63kg Freestyle; Women’s 72kg Freestyle

 

Analysis
There are far too many Olympic events based on people beating the shit out of each other. In addition to the plethora of unnecessary weight divisions, there are also unnecessary distinctions between fighting techniques.

 

I had originally planned to consolidate all of these different fighting techniques into a single, UFC-style, mixed martial arts tournament but then I started to have concerns about the objectivity of scoring such an event.

 

A fight is scored objectively when the first person to fall unconscious, to submit or to die is deemed to be the loser. But simple scoring systems like this are rare in modern fighting sports. Most incorporate a partially subjective points-based system that relies significantly on the discretion of the judges. This goes against one of the principle tenets of the Philympics.

 

While my lawyers consider the legal ramifications of introducing a “fight to the death” event, I’ve been forced to consider alternatives. And believe it or not, the closest thing that I can find to a purely objective fighting sport is sumo wrestling.

 

In sumo, the first person to touch the ground outside the ring with any part of their body, or to touch the ground inside the ring with any part of their body other than the soles of their feet, loses the bout.

 

It’s simple. It’s objective. It has very funny outfits. What’s not to love?

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Sumo; Women’s Sumo; Men’s Fight To The Death (Tentative); Women’s Fight To The Death (Tentative)

 

Sailing

 

Olympic Events
Men’s RS-X; Men’s Laser; Men’s Finn; Men’s 470; Men’s 49er; Men’s Star; Women’s RS-X; Women’s Laser Radial; Women’s 470; Women’s Elliot 6m

 

Analysis
Somebody tell me which is the most sensible out of all these stupid boats and let’s just race those. I’m very tired.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Undetermined Sailboat; Women’s Undetermined Sailboat

 

Shooting

 

Olympic Events
Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions; Men’s 50m Rifle Prone; Men’s 10m Air Rifle; Men’s 50m Pistol; Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol; Men’s 10m Air Pistol; Men’s Trap; Men’s Double Trap; Men’s Skeet; Women’s 10m Air Rifle; Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions; Women’s 25m Pistol; Women’s 10m Air Pistol; Women’s Trap; Women’s Skeet

 

Analysis
I see a lot of different guns here, people. What’s next? The Women’s 50m AK-47? Those are for sporting use, aren’t they? My lobbyist tells me they are.

 

Shooters need to take some inspiration from the sport of archery. They should pick one weapon and one distance and stick with it.

 

But you tell them. I don’t want any trouble.

 

Philympic Events
Men’s 1,000m Sniper Rifle; Women’s 1,000m Sniper Rifle

 

Triathlon

 

Olympic Events
Men’s Triathlon; Women’s Triathlon

 

Analysis
The introduction of the megathlon has already seen the demise of the decathlon, the heptathlon and the modern pentathlon. What possible hope did the triathlon have when megathletes will have to do everything that triathletes do before breakfast, and then butter their toast on a kayak?

 

Philympic Events
None

 

Weightlifting

 

Olympic Events
Men’s 56kg; Men’s 62kg; Men’s 69kg; Men’s 77kg; Men’s 85kg; Men’s 94kg; Men’s 105kg; Men’s +105kg; Women’s 48kg; Women’s 53kg; Women’s 58kg; Women’s 63kg; Women’s 69kg; Women’s 75kg; Women’s +75kg

 

Analysis

All the weight divisons will need to go, of course. And while we’re at it, do we really need to continue with both the ‘clean and jerk’ and the ‘snatch’? Surely one dose of sexual innuendo is enough. Besides, people are only interested in the snatch because they want to see a dude drop a barbell on his head. It seems like a very impractical way to pick something up. In Philympic weightlifting, the objective will be to lift the prescribed weight above your head by any means necessary (excluding forklift).

 

Philympic Events
Men’s Weightlifting; Women’s Weightlifting

 

In Conclusion
A streamlined showcase of athletic excellence, the Philympics provide a genuine alternative to the bloated, bureaucratic mess that is the modern Olympic Games, and at a fraction of the cost. And with fewer events to attend, guests will have more free time to spend injecting money into the local economy at tacky souvenir shops and overpriced eateries.

 

If you would like your city to host the inaugural Philympic Games, leave your submission in the comments section below.

 

 

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