The Winter OlympicsPosted: February 21, 2010
I’ve been catching bits and pieces of the Winter Olympics. The skill, devotion and bravery of the athletes are inspiring. All the same, I’m considering a change that I think would make the games more enjoyable to watch.
I was watching the Ski Jumping competition and marveling at the calm displayed by the competitors as they competed in what must be the most counter intuitive sports ever devised.
Consider what these people do. They ski down a ramp with a precipitous drop at the end. They fight the instinct to slow down and ease over the drop, instead allowing momentum to launch them toward a landing point far below. Additionally, to maximize their distance, they lean forward over their skis, essentially facing the onrushing frozen ground. There are no flailing arms, no terrified screams, no sobs of relief at the bottom.
You see, the real problem with the games is that all the right people are competing.
What if there were competitors in the Ski Jump who had never participated in the event before? Bobsledders who had never seen ice outside of a glass? Figure skaters who had never worn sparkly clothing?
There is a place for skill, daring, grace and the practiced precision of the athletes who have trained for years to represent their nations. Those people should never have their day in the sun (or snow, as the case may be) stolen from them. Perhaps there should be a place, side by side with those people, for the talentless, fearful, clumsy and slothful among us.
In that spirit, I propose a few options that would radically change the Olympics while keeping their spirit and increasing viewership of the games.
My proposals are based on the principle of an Olympic draft. As the Olympics approach, nations would continue selecting their best athletes in each event. At the same time, they would also have an equal number of their citizens drafted by the International Olympic Committee as Drafted Athletes. Drafted Athletes would be randomly selected from the entire population. Their expenses would be covered by the nation they represent and they would be expected to compete unless there was a clear and compelling medical reason that precluded it.
The drafted athletes would compete in events that they had no actual experience in. They would not know they were going to be a Bobsledder, a Biathlete or a Hockey Player until they arrived at the host city and were given a uniform. Picture the bravery of the well-trained ski jumper contrasted against the screams of the drafted ski jumper.
I’d leave it up to the IOC as to how to fit the drafted athletes into the games. Perhaps there would be competition among the drafted athletes immediately following that of the skilled athletes.
Maybe the better solution would be to intermingle the drafted athletes with the skilled ones. What if an inspiring pairs figure skating performance was followed by a performance by an accountant and her partner, an electrician, who just met backstage where they were given skates and matching sequined outfits?
As a bond building step between the skilled and drafted athletes there could also be combined medals added to the games. For example, the time of the trained bobsled team from each nation could be combined with those of the untrained teams.
In the end, the final choice of how to implement this idea is going to be up to the International Olympic Committee. I can’t do everything for them. I’m handing them a good idea. It is up to them to run with it.