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Every 4 years, the Summer Olympics return to our collective radar, reminding us how much we sporadically love swimming, running, and gymnastics, when they’re wrapped in an American flag. It’s a near perfect two weeks of television, time-zones and tape delays be damned, as we remember old favorites and pretend to know stuff about new superstars, primed to make their mark on a global stage.

I say near perfect because there are a few places that the International Olympic Committee could improve their offerings. I know it’s hard with hundreds of events over the course of weeks, so I don’t blame them for imperfection. Hey, even Katie Ledecky won a silver medal once.

But luckily for the IOC, and for you, I am here to provide a few suggestions and tweaks to the Summer Games.

I’ve got some ideas that would make the Olympics a bit better. I am not the hero you were asking for or deserve, just another white guy who thinks he can make an international situation better, while typing into a computer and sitting on the couch.

Let’s start with water polo, a sport that is merely tolerable to watch.

The problem is there is so little difference in gameplay each time the teams swim up and down the pool. I don’t exactly understand how they don’t either score on every trip or on no trips since every possession seems to be perimeter passing and a shot at the end of the shot clock. I propose a simple fix: we put one friendly dolphin in the pool with both teams. The dolphin will swim around and just get in the way occasionally. It is a harmless, majestic, and most importantly, unbiased creature who will serve as the wildcard that water polo needs.

Next up, let’s fix the hurdles.

Hurdles are awesome and always a high drama event. But in the two main hurdles events (the 100/110m and 400m) the hurdles are always in the same spots, meaning the race is very choreographed. I know that doesn’t mean it’s easy, but the hurdlers train to know exactly how many steps they’ll take before leaping. I want the 400m hurdles to place the 10 hurdles in random spots, which won’t be unveiled to the athletes until 30 minutes before the race. Now it’s a competition of running and jumping without all of the muscle memorization. (For the record, no hurdles would be placed dangerously close to one another. I’m not a monster.)

One of the most enjoyable events I’ve watched in 2021 has been 3×3 basketball.

Played outside, with a 12 second shot clock, 3×3 hoops is a non-stop thrill ride. The teams play to 21 (by 1s and 2s) or for 10 minutes. A fun wrinkle is that the game doesn’t stop for a check ball after baskets, but instead the defensive team takes the ball out of the net and clears it, before starting their possession. Watching 3×3 is roughly 5 times better than 5×5, which means we must take it to the next logical progression, 1×1, which I assume would be either 10 times or 25 times better than 5×5. With an 8 second shot clock, offense can’t stall and dribble to nowhere. Every basketball player grew up on a diet of 1×1 games, so why not put it in the Olympics?

Let’s get to the lightning round so we can fit everything else in:

  • Whitewater boating (officially called Canoe/Kayak slalom) is awesome, so let’s get some swimmers in there and do whitewater swimming.
  • Track cycling is a category of events that is wide ranging and too confusing, but you get to say “velodrome,” which means we can’t get rid of it completely. Let’s simplify it. Two riders on a track start on opposite sides of the velodrome track and bike in the same direction. The race ends when one person passes the other. That’s it. It’s strategy, speed, endurance, and an awesome watch. Best part is that we won’t know how long the race will take!
  • Same thing but runners. You could even throw a hurdle in there!
  • I would remove shooting altogether, just to see how Republican senators freak out and make it a campaign issue.
  • I also don’t need synchronized diving unless we do it with the same number of competitors as synchronized swimming. And that number is eight.
  • Adding one swimming event called “The Underwater Swim” where racers go as long as they can before coming up for a breath.

We only have 3 years until the next Summer Games so we’re really going to need to make some quick decisions on this one. I’ll be here waiting for the IOC to call. I know they are big fans of The Prompt.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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