Drop It: Synchronized Swimming and Rhythmic Gymnastics
In London, for the first time ever, every Olympic sport had women competing. The last hold-out, women’s boxing, proved one of the most thrilling disciplines at the Games. So it’s time to ditch a pair of anachronistic women-only events: rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. I understand that these two activities require stamina, flexibility and in the case of synchro, a trusty pair of nose clips. But these sports are like cheerleading. They evolved into sports in part because women were excluded from male competition. That era is waning. Besides I don’t trust any sport that requires prodigious amounts of mascara.
Add It: Sepak Takraw
You may be saying, “Sepak What?” Fair enough. This Southeast Asian sport in which you propel a rattan ball over a net using anything but your arms is the world’s best spectator sport. Imagine volleyball crossed with soccer and a good dose of gymnastics, with athletes doing mid-air somersaults to spike the ball with their toes.
I realize that Sepak Takraw isn’t yet a global sport: It’s popular, in different variations, in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines. But judo and taekwondo weren’t well-known until after they were introduced at the 1964 and 1988 Games respectively. Besides, more people play Sepak Takraw now than enjoy many other Olympic sports, like, say, Keirin or Omnium cycling. And in the balmy climes of Southeast Asia, most male athletes play Sepak Takraw without a shirt. If brevity of clothing helped popularize beach volleyball, then Sepak Takraw has toplessness on its side too. Imagine the marketing potential.