Today: Last Update:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Op Ed: Trick Moves for Skateboard Betray IOC Pledges to Sports Federations


    06/16/07

    ATR Editor Ed Hula.  
    (ATR) Transparency appears to be an illusory ideal for the IOC, as evidenced by the machinations it seems willing to pursue to bring skateboard into the Summer Olympics as an unlikely discipline of cycling.

    After one clumsy attempt after another in trying the change the program for the summer Olympics, the IOC has moved into the realm of secret talks and strange alliances in order to advance the admirable cause of rejuvenating the Olympic program.

    It took a leak from Lausanne last week to reveal that IOC officials and representatives from the International Cycling Union and International Skateboard Federation were engaged in discussions to bring skateboard to the 2012 Olympics as a discipline of cycling.

    While IOC President Jacques Rogge and other IOC leaders have professed the need to bring more youth-oriented sports to the Olympic program, not once has an interest in skateboarding been publicly expressed.

    The question appears to have gone over the heads of an increasingly irrelevant IOC Program Commission. All five of its recommendations for new sports were rejected by the IOC in 2005: golf, rugby, karate, squash and roller sport. Skateboard, no less popular then, failed to earn a mention by the commission which seemed to pay little mind to youth-driven sports.

    Roller sport, which claims skateboard as discipline, would seem to be outside the loop, too. The proposal to add roller sport to the Olympics in 2005 included track and road events, with nary a mention of skateboard.

    In the wake of the debacle at the 2005 IOC Session, Rogge pledged a more open and consultative process with the Olympic sports federations and those hoping to join the program. The IOC has tried to be as clear as possible in the requirements to join the program, such as the organization of a federation, the number of countries practicing and the staging of world championships that are universal.

    Yet skateboard, which appears to fall short of those standards, appears to be on its way to the Games, leaving on the outside those sports trying to follow the rules.

    With UCI and the IOC on course to accept finagling as a legitimate tactic to bring a new sport to the Olympics, will it behoove softball or baseball to strike an alliance with other sports that use a ball, such as tennis or handball, in order to aid a return to the Olympics?

    If it happens, the addition of skateboard to the summer Olympics could be a pivotal event, a test of whether the sport can help reverse the declining interest of young people in the Games. And while skateboard may provide a spike, what to do about the rest of the Olympic program will be a tougher problem to solve.

    The IOC has not made things any easier for itself would seem to be outside the loop, too. The proposal to add roller sport to the Olympics in 2005 included track and road events, with nary a mention of skateboard.

    Op Ed is a weekly column of opinion and ideas from Around the Rings founder and editor-in-chief Ed Hula. Comments, as well as guest columns are welcomed: comment@aroundtherings.com