Refreshing the Summer Olympic Games

How I’d Refresh the Summer Olympic Games

Update the Summer Olympic Games: A modest proposal to clear some space for events that test athletic prowess while phasing out events I think are lame.

With the Summer Olympics Games upon us, all eyes will be on Rio and the athletes who’ve spent their lives training for this moment.  Traditional events like track and field, swimming, and gymnastics will dominate much of the coverage, while most obscure events (handball?) will have a grand total of zero minutes of airtime on NBC.

Throughout the Olympic Games, events have come and gone. Men’s cross country running was once an event (1912-1924) and nations competed against each other in tug-of-war (1900-1920) for the gold medal. This year, kite surfing and sevens rugby will make its debut at the Games.  The list of past events is long, as trends have changed and the tastes of athletes and organizers have evolved.  My point? Refreshing the current lineup of events is not just precedented, it’s routine.


In a (light hearted) attempt to refresh the games, let’s examine the current line up of every event at the summer games and determine whether or not nations should continue to fund and focus on these sports, or whether teams should spend energy and funds on events with a greater appeal.  This is important: Nations and teams spend real money on ridiculous events, when that money could and should be spent on real athletes with broader appeal.  I’ll also add events that I feel would enhance the appeal of future games.

You’ll notice I’d like to see any event with subjective scoring done away with. While most are perfectly legitimate events, the Olympics should be about sports, and I’m a believer that sports are determined objectively. No exceptions.


Keep it.

Athletics (Track and Field)

  • 100m – Keep it.
  • 200m – Keep it.
  • 400m – Keep it.
  • 800m – Keep it.
  • 1500m – Dump it. Replace with standard mile.  Keep all the other events metric, fine, but a mile is a damn mile.
  • 5000m – Keep it.
  • 10000m – Keep it.
  • Marathon – Keep it.
  • 110m hurdles – Keep it.
  • 400m hurdles – Keep it.
  • 3000m steeplechase – Keep it, and give it more prominence.
  • 4x100m relay – Keep it.
  • 4x400m relay – Keep it.
  • 20k race walk – No, no, no.
  • 50k race walk – You’ve got to be fu*(ing kidding me.  How is this an event?
  • High Jump – Keep it.
  • Pole Vault – Keep it.
  • Long Jump – Keep it.
  • Triple Jump – Cancel it.  Long jump is good enough.
  • Shot Put – Combine Shot, Discus, and Hammer into one event. Not sure how, but having thee throwing events is lame. Throw all three and furthest combined total wins?
  • Discus – See above.
  • Hammer – See above
  • Javelin Throw – I can go both ways on this.  In theory it’s cool, but watching it is awful.
  • Decathlon – Phase it out. Sorry Caitlin, too complicated to figure out the scoring.  Yes, they’re awesome athletes, but I’d rather see the best athletes compete in each event, not really good athletes compete in all of them.


  • 50 mile trail race
  • Bring back cross country.  This was a mens’ sport in the ’20s in the Winter Games.  Bring it back for both sexes in the summer. Distance: 10k for both.
Olympic sports
Women’s steeplechase


Cool sport, but nope, not Summer Olympic Games worthy.


Nothing against the sport, but we’ve already got a league for that. Dump it.

Beach Volleyball

Amazon women in bikinis spiking balls at each other? Approved.  I’m also fairly certain that the women’s event has greater viewership than the men’s.

These women are awesome.
These women are awesome.


Replace with MMA.

Canoeing and Kayaking

Eh, too many events in a small event like this. Eight mens events and five for women? Pare it down or you’re cancelled.


Mountain, Road, BMX, and Track. If they get four surfaces, running should get more than two, right?.  And sorry, but BMX should stay in the X-Games, not the Summer Olympic Games.


The only addition I’d make: Bring back the Madison. Sounds like a fun one to watch.


Get rid of all the subjectively-scored events, which means the entire sport.


Add new events for highest, longest, most flips, etc.


Dump it all.



Sword fighting? Hell yes. Keep it.


You’ve got the World Cup, that should be good enough. Cancel.



Unless they’re scored objectively, cancel every event.


  • Iron Cross Endurance Challenge: How long can you hold it?
  • Vault-jump: How long can you jump from a vault?
  • Balance beam grappling. Who can stay on the longest?
Iron Cross Endurance Challenge
New event: Iron Cross Endurance Challenge


Not the traditional  handball played on playgrounds with sliceys and bubble-ups, this is a weird mix of basketball and football. I’m sure it’s fun, but it’s gotta go.


Replace with Sepak Takraw.  Hell yes. Part volleyball, part gymnastics, part hackey sack. Totally awesome and appropriate for the Summer Olympic Games.

Sepak Takraw. My spellcheck hates it, but I love it.
Sepak Takraw. My spellcheck hates it, but I love it.

Field Hockey

Don’t know enough about the sport.


Replace with MMA, or institute an objectively-scored Judo event with tap outs.

Modern Pentathlon

Cross country running and laser guns? YES.
Cross country running and pistols? YES.

This has the most potential to be really freaking awesome: Fencing, horse jumping, swimming, and a combined xc run and shooting event?  I’d say that’s a pretty stout group of disciplines, but one that needs a light refresh. Two options: Either add a fencing component to the equestrian event, or scrap the horses completely and add something awesome like table tennis. And since 09, the shooting discipline has been with a laser gun run off AA batteries. Bring back some firepower and give them .44s.

Not a sport.
Not a sport.

Rhythmic Gymnastics

No, no, no. Cancel.


We have canoeing, kayaking, and rowing? Gotta whittle them down into fewer events somehow.


I love sailing, but sorry, not worthy of Olympic status.


olympic refresh
Too many options.

Can’t we combine it with an endurance event like they do in the Biathlon?  Besides, there are something like 15 different disciplines within the event. Pare it down, or it’s gotta go.


Keep most events, but add open water endurance swimming.

Not a sport.
Not a sport.

Synchronized Swimming

No, no, no.

Table Tennis

Hell yes, but call it by its rightful name: Ping Pong.


Same as boxing and Judo.  Tap out, or it’s cut.  In all honesty, I don’t know the differences between Judo and Taekwondo, but there’s no way in hell we need both.


Same as golf. It’s already got a big enough platform. Cancel.


Same as gymnastics.  Make some awesome subjectively-scored events, and I’ll support it.  Highest jump, most flips, most people jumping without bonking their heads…

Tons of fun, and really skilled competitors, but a sport? No.
Tons of fun, and really skilled competitors, but a sport? No.


Nope, it’s already got a huge stage.

Water Polo

Keep it. Those are some tough athletes.

Weight Lifting

Pretty much the epitome of athletics, but I want no limits on steroids. Let ’em go all the way and see what the human body is capable of.


Like Weight lifting, it’s classic. Keep it.



Do you agree? What did I miss?  Did I axe a sport you really enjoy watching?  Did I leave in an event that needs to hit the chopping block to make room for others?  What are you most excited to watch during the Summer Olympic Games?


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