Swimming Obstacle Race, for example, would probably get huge television ratings. Especially if a few Wipe Out-style elements were added.
Here are 7 quirky summer sports that have been discontinued by the Olympics, that will totally be revived in my own backyard this summer. A few will need some minor improvements; Lightsaber Swinging is a little more appealing than boring old Club Swinging, I think. Plus, we actually have lightsabers on hand. We do not seem to have any bowling pin-looking things lying around.
And some, of course, will need to be adapted. We don't have the River Seine for our Swimming Obstacle course, unfortunately. Instead, just dump every single pool toy you have into the pool. Voila!
1. Solo Synchronized Swimming
Solo Synchronized Swimming was held in 1984, 1988, and 1992. Apparently it took three consecutive Olympics before organizers realized that when you're solo, you're not synchronized with anyone. For home use, solo synch probably involves less screaming of "NO! YOU'RE LATE ON YOUR KICK!" between siblings. Bonus: less chance of kids whacking each other in the face.
2. Rope Climbing
Rope Climb was held in 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924, and 1932. Exactly the traumatic event you remember from gym class. First one up and down the rope without a thigh burn wins!
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3. Swimming Obstacle Race
Swimming Obstacle Race was only held in 1900. It was held in the River Seine, so swimmers had to contend with the current on top of managing a bunch of stuff in their way. Competitors had to climb over a pole, then scramble over a row of boats, and then swim under another row of boats. Why aren't they still doing this? Given the popularity of shows like Wipe Out, it seems like it would have enormous spectator appeal. For home use, just throw every single pool toy in the pool at once.
Walking of various distances was included as a "sport" in some form from 1900 to 1952. I'd insert a George Carlin-esque joke here about walking not being a real sport, but I've seen those racewalkers and they can clearly, easily kick my butt. This is a good one for backyard family fun because racewalking always looks awkward and invariably makes you wiggle your bum. Award points for style, not speed.
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5. Club Swinging
Club Swinging was kinda like juggling, except the clubs don't leave the hands. Basically it seems people swung bowling pins around in an attempt to be aesthetically pleasing. Held in 1904 and 1932, club swinging was the forerunner to rhythmic gymnastics. Of course, this will probably be more appealing to the kids if we re-name it "Ninja Sword Swinging" or something. Our family will most likely be incorporating plastic lightsabers into this event.
6. Dinghy Racing
Okay, fine, it was really called Firefly Class Yachting. But Dinghy Racing sounds better. This small-boat competition was replaced in the Olympics by the Finn Class, which is far less awesome sounding. For at-home use, use drinking straws to blow plastic bathtub toys across a baby pool, the kitchen sink, or even the tub. Also, be sure to use the word dinghy several times.
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7. Underwater Swimming
Seriously, this is all my kids want to do anyway. A 60-meter underwater swimming race was held in 1900, which apparently had the most awesome games ever. Participants didn't have to remain underwater for the entire distance; they were awarded two points for each meter swum underwater and one point for each meter swum above. Of course, underwater races didn't allow for much spectator appeal at the time. Let's hope that with the advent of underwater cameras, this event will come back. In the meantime, my kids are also big fans of seeing who can scream the loudest underwater.
- By Joslyn Gray
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