What’s in a sport?

For the first time in my adult life (I say adult because I had very little control over the remote as a tot or teen) I’ve been making a conscious effort to watch the Olympics.

And I’ve found myself wondering a bit about how the Powers That Be decide which sports make the docket and which ones don’t.

I’m no expert, but I always considered sports to be more or less universally accessible. Sure, some are more expensive and gear-intensive (hockey, skiing) than others (soccer, basketball). Some more popular in certain areas (Western vs. Eastern Canada for skiing) or countries (European vs. American soccor/football) than others. But for the most part, when I think of popular sports, there are generally amateur leagues for developing atheltes, for those who aren’t competing at a provincial/national/global level.

So what the HECK is the deal with luge, skeleton and bobsled?

Even biathlon (which I keep typing as “biathalong”) is a bit obscure, but at least I can say I know at least ONE person who did the biathlon as a sport (but I’m pretty sure that was just through her work in cadets).

I don’t know a single person who goes home and hits the luge track after work.
I’ve never heard of a guy rounding up his three buddies to jump in a bobsled for a run on the weekend.

Maybe I’m just hanging out with the wrong people, but these are not REAL sports. Real in that they are a part of everyday, common athletics. I’ll admit they’re fun to watch, but… why are they part of the Olympics? Are they more popular elsewhere? Are there skeleton clubs I’m not aware of? What’s going on here?

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2 Responses to “What’s in a sport?”

  1. Mongoose Says:

    Luge and bobsled are big in the Alps e.g. Switzerland and Austria. And they were a lot less high-tech when the Olympic movement got started. Biathlon is huge in nordic countries like Norway, and has a strong following in Canada. Other than hockey it’s probably the biggest winter sport for kids in Hay River

  2. Sarah Says:

    My cousin did luge! They get a lot of their athletes from other sports. So people don’t go to the Rec Centre and sign up for luge per se, but it totally is a sport!

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