Defining “Good Sports”

Something I love about the Olympics is considering what is a good sport, and what is not.

My keys for makes a “good sport” are loosely:

  • There are men and women who participate in the sport
  • Most humans will naturally discover if they are good at the sport relative to their peers
  • A large number of countries field athletes in the sport

Based on those rules, it’s good that baseball and softball were dropped.

  • The barriers to entry should be low, and equipment should be inexpensive (running/soccer = good, horse jumping = bad)
  • The competitors per square foot should be high when a dedicated field is required (basketball/badminton/boxing = good, rowing = bad)
  • The more uses a field of play has, the better (volleyball, track, soccer, field hockey, badminton = good, Canoe Slalom = bad)
  • You can see the competitors, and judge relative strain (track, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, weight lifting = good. Fencing, swimming = bad)
A rant against Canoe Slalom

Canoe Slalom is my target for the Olympic sport that needs to be killed off. I actually like it as a sport, but it shouldn’t be an Olympic sport. The fact that the courses are man made, and need to be pumped seems to be a huge waste. If you’re going to do white water rafting, it should be done somewhere where it naturally occurs.

The Sydney games course only cost $6M, which is less than I expected. The Lee Valley White Water Centre for the London Games cost $50.2M, which is more in line with what I would expect.

The number of listed competitors for Canoe Slalom is 84, and I think is the only discipline that uses that venue. Based on that calculation, that venue cost $600,000 per competitor.

The Canoe Slalom is an event that almost nobody is going to naturally discover a talent for. It’s much more likely that it has competitors just because it happens to be an Olympic sport.


Comments (4) left to “Defining “Good Sports””

  1. Triztan wrote:

    But by your criteria bobsled is bad (equipment, etc.) and that can’t be true because bobsledding sooooo co00oo0ooool. =/

  2. ben wrote:

    Winter Olympics isn’t as good as summer in general based on this criteria.

  3. Triztan wrote:

    Assuming the corollary of your logic is that bobsledding must then be graded on a curve and, therefore is “good” in it’s proper context, I’m with you.

    Canoe Slalom can go _____ itself.

    We didn’t even have to resort to a foot race.

  4. ben wrote:

    Bobsledding is absolutely cool.

    It’s not something that I think people do recreationally though. I like the sports that people do, or can do recreationally, and almost universally go watch competitions in their region.

    And not require some crazy “use once” venue.

    Actually, the Winter Olympics break all those rules, except for maybe the ice skating, and therefore can’t be held to that standard.

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