Olympic Breakdancing Is a Mistake (5 Sports More Suitable…
2024 Olympics Breakdancing
The news that Breakdance will be part of the next Summer Olympic Games, to be disputed in Paris in 2024, surprised me. Olympic Breakdancing… is this a good idea?
No, that was an awful choice.
Don’t take me wrong here: I have nothing against Breakdance by itself. In fact, during my teenage years and early adulthood, I admired friends that made some sick moves at the sound of Jay Z, Usher, and Nelly.
OIympic breakdancing, however, fit’s the Olympic games as much as a Beatbox competition.
From all the reasons to be against its addition, the most evident is that the Olympics are becoming too subjective. I mean subjectivity in a sense where the best athlete or team is not decided by an absolute measure, like the fastest runner, the highest jumper, or the team that scores more goals or points.
Let’s first check the sports that debuted at Tokyo 2020 and if absolute measures or judges giving grades decide their winners:
- Sport Climbing: Absolute (the fastest wins at speed climbing, or the one that completes most tasks in bouldering).
- Surfing: Decided by judges.
- Skateboarding: Decided by judges.
- Karate: 50% absolute (Kumite) and 50% decided by judges (Kata)
- Baseball/Softball: Absolute
Half of the new sports rely on judges to decide who wins. That opens the way to polemical situations, like what happened between Medina and Kanoa Igarashi at the Surf semifinals. Even before the recent additions, the Olympics already had plenty of categories decided by specialists and their evaluations: Synchronised Swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Trampoline, etc.
The higher the proportion of medals distributed by judges, the higher are the chances of unpleasant polemics, like accusations of critics favoring certain nations.
Nobody doubts that Marcell Jacobs was the fastest runner at the Men’s 100 meters at Tokyo 2020. But millions question the result of the duel between Xiao Ruoteng and Daiki Hashimoto at the men’s gymnastics all-around event.
The subjectivity of the Olympic breakdancing scoring system is not the only reason to oppose its insertion at the Olympics.
Other Reasons Against Olympic Breakdancing
- It is dominated by a single country — the USA — who won more world championships (25) than the 2nd (Korea) and 3rd (Netherlands) best countries combined.
- It is very culture-specific. Yes, we know that thanks to Hollywood, American pop culture is widespread. But the olympics should not be a symbol of a country’s artistic dominance over others. What if we include Mongolian throat singing as an Olympic event then? The olympics should not be about culture shock, but sports.
- It is too recent — when my father was a teenager, Breakdance was not even a thing. Therefore, it still didn’t pass through the test of time as other sports like Artistic gymnastics or Cycling.
Other sports deserve far more to be part of the Paris Summer Olympic Games of 2024 than Breakdance. Below are 5 of them.
During obstacle course racing (OCR) competitions, athletes must overcome physical barriers, climb over walls, carry heavy objects, cross bodies of water, crawl under barbed wire, or jump between bridges. The hardest competitions challenge both mental and physical capabilities — as intended by de founder of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Obstacles are often similar to those used in military training. It tests the extremes of human endurance, strength, speed, and dexterity.
- Action-paced sport, attractive to watch.
- Do not depend on natural conditions like surf or sailing.
- The number of adherents exploded in the last decades.
- It is becoming popular all over the globe. A recent competition reunited participants from over 100 countries.
- There are dozens of franchises (Spartan Race, Legion Run, etc.) but the sport’s ruling federation (FISO) is still in its first steps. To have a solid international federation is a pre-condition to become an Olympic event.
Lacrosse is a team sport that demands good reflexes, agility, and skill. It also has the fastest-traveling ball among all games: speeds over 160 km/h are common in professional leagues.
It is the old organized sport in North America, invented by the natives from the Great Plains. On two occasions, it was part of the Olympic program: 1904 and 1908.
- Strong International Federation, with well-defined ranks, rules, and qualification criteria.
- Most of the added Olympic sports are individual. Lacrosse could balance the mix since it is a team sport.
- Demands specific installations — a lacrosse field — that can be costly for the host country, and become useless later.
- Reduced popularity outside of the Anglosphere. Only 3 countries (the USA, Canada, and Australia) won 59 of the 69 world titles disputed so far.
Polo, just like its soaked cousin water polo, is a team sport based on scoring goals using a ball. Here, however, the players are not in a swimming pool, but riding horses.
It may sound strange to someone the idea of football mixed with horse riding. Polo, however, is way older than football. While the sport of Pelé and Maradona has barely 130 years, its mounted version has 2500 years — they played the first matches in Central Asia between competing tribes.
There is a chance, in fact, that Polo inspired the British elites to develop football.
It was an Olympic event in the past, from Paris 1900 until Berlin 1936. It is often an elitist activity — like most equestrian events. But the 3 most victorious countries are not from the first world.
Even more surprising, all of them are in South America: Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, with respectively 5, 3, and 2 world titles.
- It is present on every continent. During the qualifiers for the last World Polo Championships, 4 teams were from North America, 4 from South America, 4 from Europe, 4 from Asia, 2 from Oceania, and 1 from Africa.
- It has an Olympic past.
- Well-establish international federation.
- It demands an enormous amount of space. A polo field is six times larger than a regular football field.
- It is expensive to transport and accommodate horses during the Olympic games.
- Countries from a single continent dominate the sport.
Strongman (Also Known as Strength Athletics)
Perhaps one of the more difficult sports to champion for inclusion, but try to view it to weightlifting as the decathlon is to athletics, finding the best all-rounder within the pursuit. Luke Bradshaw, for Culture Trip.
Some disciplines in strength athletics are similar to weightlifting. It is also common that weightlifters compete with success in strongman competitions.
Strongman events, however, are far different from traditional weightlifting. They test physical endurance to a degree not found in other strength sports and rely on trivial, daily-basis applications that any common citizen would do.
Example? Except if in a gym, nobody goes around lifting barbells. Meanwhile, we often need to carry furniture or pull a vehicle when the battery is dead. This is what Strongman championships are about — except that instead of pulling a Toyota Corolla, they push loaded trucks.
In his book Antifragile,Nassim Taleb made an excellent case for Strongmen training:
People who build their strength using these modern expensive gym machines can lift extremely large weights, show great numbers and develop impressive-looking muscles, but fail to lift a stone
A curious fact: Iceland, a country with less than half a million people, has 9 gold medals in the World’s Strongest Man. It makes them the 2nd most successful nation in this sport, just after the USA (12 golds). Other strong countries are the UK, Poland, and Lithuania, with respectively 6, 5, and 4 golds.
- It is inexpensive: no need for large stadiums.
- Attractive to audiences, easy to understand.
- Simple rules and objective criteria.
- I cannot imagine any cons. If you know any reason for the Olympics not having a sport where athletes carry large stones or wooden logs while adding olympic breakdancing, please tell me in the comment section.
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Levi Borba is CEO of expatriateconsultancy.com, creator of the channel Small Business Hacks, and best-selling author. You can check his books here, his other articles here, or his Linkedin here.