Drop it: Dressage
Dressage can be captivating to watch. The rider directs the horse with a series of imperceptible leg movements along its belly, prompting it to move seamlessly between each of the balletic movements required in a successful performance. The discipline requires mastery on the part of the rider; getting a horse to trot in time to “Live and Let Die,” as Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin did to claim the 2012 Olympic individual gold medal, is quite a feat. But the sport, rather like shooting, seems to emphasize skill rather than athletic ability. The other equestrian disciplines — show-jumping and eventing—make intense physical demands on riders, who must cling to their horses as they gallop through cross-country courses and clear 5-foot fences. And while dressage riding no doubt leaves equestrians feeling saddle weary, it doesn’t appear to push them to the limits of human exertion. In Rio 2016, the International Olympic Committee should at least start giving the horses medals too.
Add it: Men’s Synchronized Swimming
Only allowing women to compete in Olympic synchronized swimming is like forcing boys to play with G.I. Joe and girls to play with Barbie. We’ve moved beyond 1950s gender norms in other parts of society, yet the Olympics still lags behind when it comes to aquatic ballet. Why shouldn’t men compete in synchronized teams–as women do–or pair up with women, as they do in figure skating? There’s obviously talent and desire out there—just Google Kenyon Smith, Bill May, Niklas Stoepel and Britain’s Out to Swim Angels if you’re skeptical. The introduction of women’s boxing to the Games this year was an unequivocal success. At Rio 2016, the Olympic Committee should do away with all gender-specific sports, and let the mermen swim.