Becoming an Olympic Sport

Part of the fun of watching the Olympic Games is seeing the varied and often unique array of sports offered as part of the Olympic repertoire (for a general article on Olympic sports, Wikipedia is your friend). Sports change with the times, meaning that outdated ones get phased out, and sports that have been highly popularized are added in.

Some discontinued sports include tug-of-war, jeu de paume (colloquially, lawn tennis) (also, don't feel bad for not knowing it, it only appeared in the 1908 Summer Olympics), lacrosse, cricket, croquet, and more. Some sports follow a cycle as International Federations change as well as International Olympic Committee administration. Golf, for example, was last included as an Olympic event in 1904 but will make its comeback at the 2016 Rio Games.

There was much outcry earlier this year when the IOC made an announcement that wrestling was being bumped to the rotating list of Olympic sports that are not guaranteed to be included in every Olympics, starting in 2020. For these reasons, wrestling has been forced to adapt in order to retain its place. As many more sports become popular and fall under consideration by the International Olympic Committee, even the most ancient of Olympic sports will need to adapt to keep up with modern times.

This brings me to my main topic, the next Olympic sport- Ultimate Frisbee? College and high school students alike are most likely familiar with this sport, and it is growing yet in popularity. Ultimate Frisbee has been around since the 1970s, and membership in college clubs has more than doubled in the last decade. Ultimate Frisbee is not simply a US phenomenon, either; Ultimate players hail from 42 countries around the world!

It is clear that Ultimate Frisbee has a substantial fan base, but what does the IOC take into consideration when the add a new sport? The IOC reviews sports often for "relevancy." When a country hosts the Olympics, they must get approval from the IOC before they add or delete any sports. Part of the reason this may be is that some countries, without checks and balances, would attempt to add sports that their teams would exceed in and delete ones where they have historically performed poorly. I have not been able to find a comprehensive resource listing the steps that the IOC takes to add or delete sports- anyone with this information should feel free to comment and let me know!

What are your thoughts on including Ultimate Frisbee as a future Olympic sport? Do you feel that there are sports on the docket that could be considered outdated? Comment below!


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