Olympics are great but far from perfect. Here are six common-sense ways to boost the competition, national pride, and spectator enjoyment of the event.
- Only one team/individual per country per sport. Why give a country two or more chances to medal? By sending the single best team or individual, the dramatics and importance of winning at the Olympiad would be like college football, and that’s a good thing.
- Simplify gymnastic scoring. This year was the first Olympics to factor both a difficulty and execution score when judging gymnasts. Dumb. The result was confusion and unfair. Revert back to a single 10-point scale, and let gymnasts wow the judges with their skill, and nothing more. Also, let gymnasts change their routine difficulty at the last minute for added strategy.
- Enforce strict country representation rules. I’m tired of people living and training in the U.S. for several (if not indefinite) years but representing another country at the Olympics (this happens in professional tennis too). Seeing two Brazilians who have never visited Georgia but representing them as their beach volleyball team is comical. And hearing a selfish U.S. women’s basketball player who couldn’t make her national team say she’s only playing for Russia “to play basketball” misses the point. The Olympics are about national pride, yet the current system favors politics more than athleticism. The solution: make athletes prove their loyalty with residence before representation, and don’t let them bounce around.
- Foreign coaches shouldn’t be allowed (nationalized coaches are okay). This is similar to number three on my list, but again, the competing talent on the floor should represent a country, including coaching. If a Chinese man wants to move to the U.S. and start a gym, fine. If a U.S. baseball coach wants to make some scratch working for China, not okay. Want help? Send a national coach abroad to improve his skills, but don’t outsource talent.
- Penalize athletes for showboating. “Usain Bolt Celebrates, Then Wins,” read the Wall Street Journal headline after the 21 year-old Jamaican smashed the 100 meter world record. I like Bolt and enjoyed watching him compete, but his early antics (later tamed in his 200m run) were embarrassing and disrespectful. An official reminder of professionalism would do the event well.
- Drop lame or unfitting events. I’m sorry, but no one cares if you’re the world’s fastest rower under 150 pounds, and watching trampoline is boring. Regarding table tennis: while impressive, if we’re going to medal that, why not add a billiards and Street Fighter II as Olympic events? Those are gamers too, right?