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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympians

By 3rd Way

I like the Olympics. A recent review of their charter confirmed my admiration. Their charter states under the “fundamental principles of Olympism” Point One: Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. Point Two: The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity. Point Four: The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation, administration and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.

The thing I don’t I like about the Olympics, other than that whole rewarding-a-Communist-country-with-deplorable-human-rights-and-trade-policies thing, is the sense of elitism. Does anyone out there know somebody that is a synchronized swimmer? How many people can afford to own, train and compete with a show jumping horse? Who out there can afford to own and train with a racing sailboat?

There is a barrier between many of the world’s children and sports participation. Football (or soccer) is the most popular sport in the world because it is easily accessible. All you need is a ball and a place to kick it. A world event should showcase sports that everyone can participate in. As the world’s population moves into cities, the Olympics should showcase more sports that are practiced in the urban environment. I bet nobody knows a Pentathelete, but everybody knows a kid that rides or has ridden a skateboard.

Kids from all different backgrounds all over the globe ride skateboards. It is as easily accessible as soccer. All you need is a skateboard and a place to ride it. If the Olympic committee wants to meet the points of their charter and “blend sport with culture and education” and promote the “possibility of practicing sport” for all individuals, is there a better sport to promote than skateboarding?

If there was an American Olympic Skateboarding team the best athlete from Milwaukee that you have never heard of would have a good chance of making it. The video below is of Greg Lutzka skating the streets of Milwaukee before he left the city and became one of the top professional skateboarders in the country. It is pretty cool to see amazing tricks pulled off around recognizable landmarks.

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