When it comes to the Summer Olympics, there aren’t a lot of weird sports. That’s because the ones that can raise anyone’s eyebrow are usually left out of the program.
Around since the early 1900s, demonstration sports are sports that promote themselves at events like the Olympic Games. Every year the host country would present a variety of different sports and one would be chosen for the Olympic program. This worked extremely well over the years as more and more events grew in popularity. But demonstration sports ended in 1992, as there were too many events in the Summer Olympics for officials to handle.
The following is just a handful of the sports that were hoping to be incorporated into one of the world’s greatest events.
1900 Paris Summer Olympics: Bowls
Popular in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Bowls (a.k.a. Lawn Bowling) is regarded as a precision sport. The goal of the game is to roll bowls (balls weighted on one side) closer to the jack/kitty (small white ball) than your opponent.
Although it sounds difficult, it’s a fairly easy game to understand. The sport has become so popular that the annual World Championships held in the U.K. are watched by approximately 3 million viewers via BBC TV.
Source: Leisure Sports & Activities
Source: Online Guide To Traditional Games
1900 Paris Summer Olympics: Ballooning
Believe it or not, Ballooning did try to fly high into the Olympic Games. Even though their attempt was unsuccessful, it still makes you wonder how competitive the sport could be if it was scheduled for Beijing.
How would athletes dress? Would there be ads on the sides of balloons? Would Olympic gold medalists do “Got Milk” commercials?
Source: Vermont Outdoor Guide Association
1900 Paris Summer Olympics: Surf Lifesaving
Originating in Australia in the 20th century, surf lifesaving isn’t exactly Baywatch. It’s actually a very important movement that once tried getting its competitive side into the Summer Olympics.
Evolved from the training activities of lifeguards, surf lifesaving can be claimed as “putting beach heroes to the test”. Some events include long boat rescue, R&R (rescue and resuscitation) and inflatable rescue boat racing.
The reason why most of us don’t know about it is because its mainly confined to Australia and New Zealand. For example, there are 305 surf lifesaving clubs in Australia that collectively patrol over 400 beaches.
Source: Coolum Surf Club
1912 Stockholm Summer Olympics: Glima
Even though some definitions and pictures of this event may seem gleeful, Glima is an ancient sport that requires a lot of strength and skill. As the Icelandic national style of amateur Folk wrestling, it’s considered to be a friendly sport. But that doesn’t mean it can’t combative. There are actually 50 different ways to execute a throw or a takedown!
1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics: Korfball
Similar to netball, Korfball is played in over fifty countries. Most popular in the Netherlands and Belgium, the team sport differs from others because it’s a mixed-gender game.
Even though it looks like basketball, it’s a lot more challenging. In Korfball, you’re not allowed to dribble or even run with the ball. Instead you’re supposed your teamwork skills to help lead your team to victory. Even though the demonstration sport was unsuccessful in 1920, it would be interesting to see it in the Summer Olympics today.
Source: Bristol University
1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics: Finnish Baseball
Move over hockey, Pesapallo (also known as Finnish Baseball) is actually the national sport of Finland. Created in the early 1900s, the sport is actually very similar to baseball. Pesapallo has three “out-bases” and a “home-base”. Players use a bat to hit the ball towards the outfielders and then move from base to base trying to arrive before the ball.
However, sports fans should note that Pesapallo isn’t entirely like baseball. One main difference is that the bases aren’t laid out in a zig-zag (instead of a square) on the field. Weird? Maybe. Highly entertaining? Definitely!
1972 Munich Summer Olympics: Water Skiing
Water skiing tried to make it into the Summer Olympics, but was sadly unsuccessful after their try as a demonstration sport in 1972. Even though the sport basically has to take place in a natural water body, it could have been a great addition to the Games. Since each Olympic program takes place at a different city, water skiers would be tested. Different venues mean different courses and that could have made events fun to watch.
Source: Loch Ken Water Ski School
Source: Adventure Blog
1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics: Roller Hockey
It can be surprising to see roller hockey on this list, but you have to take in consideration, rollerblades were huge at the time! However, it should be noted that roller hockey just isn’t hockey on “street skates”.
Roller hockey is actually made up of two different variations: quad and inline. Roller hockey (Quad) is played on traditional quad skates and allows players to move around with ease. Unlike Roller Hockey (Inline), the quad version is filled with fancy footwork.
Now it may seem like not a lot of people play the sport, but its actually popular in 60 countries around the world.
Source: The Roller Hockey
Are there any other demonstration sports you know of that should have been mentioned? Are there Olympic sports that you think shouldn't be in the program?
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