February 22, 2010
Let's hope for sunlight on the Olympics...
...and on the processes of its governing body. For while attention may presently be directed on its decisions addressing competitor safety, does anybody really understand how the International Olympic Committee determines the roster of "Olympic sports" ?
It was July 2005 when the IOC (via secret vote) decided to drop baseball and softball from the storied global stage, an event I was reminded of last week as I watched youngsters in thermal pajamas glide through the air sans trapeze in something called "half pipe." The chief theories as to why baseball and softball met their demise centered on lack of worldwide participation and North/South American domination of the event. While snowboarding is certainly a curious spectacle, is the novel competition any more global in allure or diversified in result?
Statistics reveal that between 1998 and 2006, only two countries (USA and Switzerland) won gold medals in men's half pipe, and that these same two nations, in fact, won 7 of all 18 medals awarded in the sport. In fact, going into this year's contest (again topped by an American), only two continents had ever won medals in the competition. By comparison, between 1992 and 2008, 6 nations from 4 continents took home medals in baseball. Moreover, the figure of 39 contestants in this year's men's half-pipe air pageant is misleading: All but 10 scored less than 35 out of 50, indicating an ambitious but less than Olympian field.
Which makes the 2005 decision on baseball all the more suspect. And which magnifies the need for the IOC, a Swiss corporation representing over 200 individual nations, to engage in more openly deliberative processes. Share some Board minutes. Issue explanatory written decisions. Show us more consistency and rule of law. Earn higher scores from ancient Greece.
February 22, 2010 | Permalink