ESPN.com has ranked the top 100 greatest summer Olympians of all time. Surprise Surprise, Michael Phelps came in No. 1. Such a travesty has never been more insanely perpetuated by the public than saying someone is a great Olympian simply by the total number of medals they accrue. Let me be clear, I have no problem with Phelps, who is an unbelievable athlete and probably the greatest swimmer of all time. I have a huge problem with the way both the Olympics and sports like swimming are set up.
Problem #1: Why the fuck are there strokes in swimming? Imagine if there were equivalent regulations in running. There would be the straight forward mile, the skipping mile, the backwards mile, the side-shuffle mile. The rule in any race should be “Race you to there. First one wins. Go.”
Problem #2: There are 17 Olympic swimming events. Regardless of the stresses placed on athletes, why should a swimmer be able to rack up multiple medals for repeating efforts? Why is a swimmer able to rack up 8 medals and a wrestler, or a basketball team only able to win 1 medal? Let’s explore the previous problem and split Basketball into quasi-sports: the Only Dunking Game, the Only Left-Handed Dribbling Game, Basketball with a 35 second shot clock, and Basketball with a 24 second shot clock… the possibilities are endless. Do you honestly think that if we split Basketball into 17 pseudo-sports, the same Olympic basketball players wouldn’t notch piles of medals?
Problem #3: Swimming, like all races, isn’t even a real sport. Definition of a real sport: you have to be able to play defense. In all parallel races, you’re simply competing against the same stopwatch that every other participant has in the history of the event.
PS - I know I own at making up acronyms. Wannafightaboutit?