GO FOR THE GOLD!
Here's everything you need to know about the Olympics eye-raising events
Breakdancing will be a full-fledged, medal sport in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Yeah, I know, hysterical. All week, I've been listening to sports talk hosts snickering, wondering how the hell the International Olympic Committee ever approved breakdancing as a sport.
Here's how. Breakdancing is physically demanding, takes creativity and strength, it's popular with young people, especially inner city minorities … and don't even think about trying it yourself. You'll wind up in traction at Ben Taub Hospital. As Bob Dylan once said, "don't criticize what you can't understand."
The fact is, breakdancing isn't much different from the floor exercise in gymnastics, In some ways, breakdancing is tougher - there's no breaks to catch your breath, and no padding on the floor. Simone Biles can jump through the roof doing a barefoot Triple Lindy, but can she spin on her head on a piece of cardboard? Can she airlfare, windmill and toprock like those downtown kids?
I think it's the "dancing" part that has folks wondering why breakdancing is coming to the Olympics. Actually, the name of the sport in the Olympics will be "Breaking." And it's one of five new medal sports for 2024. The others are surfing, karate, sport climbing (like wall climbing at the mall), and skateboarding (like at the mall after closing).
The Olympics are smart to invite new sports, to get younger. It's not like the Olympics are a growth industry. The 2018 Games in South Korea were the lowest-rated Winter Olympics ever. The 2018 Games averaged 19.8 million viewers in the U.S. The 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia averaged 21.3 million viewers. The 2002 Games in Salt Lake City averaged 31.9 million viewers. That's called trending in the wrong direction.
Ratings for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio were the lowest in 50 years, down 17 percent from the 2012 Games in London.
What do the Olympics have to lose by adding hip millennial events like breakdancing and skateboarding? They might actually gain viewers. If swimming and gymnastics and figure skating and ski jumping are so popular, how come Americans care about them only every four years? Go ahead, name one U.S. ski jumper. Or any ski jumper anywhere in the world.
There will be 339 events in Tokyo next year, that is, if the postponed once already Games are held. I'm thinking another false start, this time a complete cancelation. There will be too many athletes, judges, officials and possibly fans coming from too many places where COVID-19 still will be raging. Paris in 2024 already is downsizing, only 329 events will be held. Cross country is one of the sports on the chopping block.
If breakdancing isn't a sport, and shouldn't be in the Olympics, then what's rhythmic gymnastics doing there? That's totally dancing with a ball or ribbon or a hula hoop. You don't have to be the world's greatest athlete to be the second or third guy in a four-man bobsled. Synchronized swimming?
If ESPN can show the spelling bee, poker, hot dog eating and calf roping (all having nothing to do with sports), then breakdancing definitely belongs in the Olympics. What's next or ESPN, Parcheesi? Call of Duty?
It's not the first time the Olympics have held competition in non-traditional sports. Over the years, the Olympics have awarded medals in tug of war, croquet, motor boating, two-handed discus, and jai alai. I would love to see jai alai return to the Games, so I could play the 2-3-5-8 parlay, my standard bet at the Dania fronton in Florida.
Just to clear something up, I heard one national sports host saying he couldn't wait for the baseball competition at next year's Summer Games in Tokyo because he loves watching the U.S. dominate.
He might consider that the U.S. baseball team, ranked No. 2 in the world behind Japan, might not even qualify for the Olympics. Only six teams will compete in Tokyo, and four countries already have locked up berths: Mexico (which beat the U.S. in the Americas qualifier), Japan, South Korea and Israel. I know one of the Israeli players, Jeremy Wolf, the slugging leftfielder from the 2016 Trinity University D3 College World Series Champions. Go Tigers!
Two slots for the Tokyo Games have yet to be decided. The U.S. team, comprised of AA and AAA minor leaguers, will get one last shot in another "lucky loser" qualifying tournament.