Five of Our Favorite Failed Olympic Events
5 mins read

Five of Our Favorite Failed Olympic Events

It’s always fun to talk to your friends about the weird sports they play. At Purdue (and a few other universities I’m aware of) there are Quidditch teams.

They literally set up hula hoops on poles and run around a field with a broom between their legs while throwing balls at each other.  I have yet to figure out what they do with the Snitch… but those matches get intense.

And while all these strange sports keep popping up, we keep coming up with even stranger ones to include in the Olympics.  It’s not a new concept.  For centuries, there have been – shall we say “unique?” – sports going in and out of style.

What are we hoping to see in Olympic Games to come?  Our managing editor has a good friend who is an active advocate for the inclusion of karaoke in the games.  In his words, after a particularly athletic David Bowie routine, “Until karaoke gets the respect it deserves and becomes an Olympic sport, this is all we have.”

CNN and 11 points recently posted lists of sports that once graced the fields and pools of the Olympic games, and we’ve done a little more research and a lot of deliberating to bring you…. drumroll please…. our Top Five Favorite Failed Olympic Sports.

5.  Tug-of-War

In elementary school, there’s track and field day which is supposed to resemble the Olympics, but really it’s the dreadful day where you’re in P.E. all freaking day long.  Back in school, Tug-of-War was either your favorite track day sport, or the most humiliating experience of your life.  Come to find out, this game was once featured in the Olympics in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920.  With teams of eight working against each other, the goal of this sport was to pull the rope six feet in your team’s direction.  Great Britain proved that it has some boss Tug-of-War skills, winning two gold, two silver, and one bronze.  The United States only won one of each medal.  After which, it folded its arms, scowled and huffed, “I don’t want to play this game anymore.”

4. Live Pigeon Shooting

PULL!  Hunting is a common pastime for many people.  Dad bringing home a great big elk (and the family eating nothing but elk meat for the next year and a half) was probably the single greatest thing that has ever happened for my family.  But in that case, at least there was a use for the hunt.  Not so much in the 1900 Olympics in Paris.  Live Pigeon Shooting was an event where athletes attempted to shoot as many pigeons as possible.  Whoever shot the most, won.  In this case, the winner shot a total of 21 pigeons, and the total death count was roughly 300 dead birds.  Given that no French man in his right mind wanted to clean up that mess (and just imagine if PETA existed back then!), this was the only time live birds have been used for sport during the Games.

3. Delivery Truck Driving

As much as we would love to test the delivery speed between UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service, we’re not so sure the other nations would appreciate it as much as us… and we already know who would win (Cough, only right turns, cough).  This sport played a part in the 1900 Paris Olympics, which we’re realizing was apparently the weirdest Olympics ever.  The French won a landslide victory in this event, while the rest of the countries scratched their heads and said, “Umm… you want me to deliver a package in your city with no map?  You’re a bunch of buttheads.  No.”  And that was the end of that.

2. Solo Synchronized Swimming

We’re going to have to get a dictionary because the last time we checked, Solo and Synchronized were kind of numerically incompatible.  This oxymoronic sport (amazingly) wasn’t introduced in 1900, but in the next weirdest decade in history: the 1980s.  In this event, a water dancer would choreograph a routine to music and receive a score based on how well she followed the music with water in her ears.  As people everywhere were became more aware that irony didn’t have a place in the Olympics, the sport faded out.  By 1996, the event was a joke that people made in passing.

1.  Poodle Clipping

We’re beginning to think the 1900 Olympics were just one great big Parisian joke where everyone tossed an idea in a hat and whatever got pulled out qualified as a sport.  In the poodle clipping event, 128 participants collected the poodles of the city (and being Paris, there were probably a good deal of them).  Their goal was to groom as many poodles as possible in two hours.  The winner was a French woman who clipped 17 poodles, and once again every other country raised an eyebrow and went, “No… really?”  And as it seems was the case with roughly half the events in the 1900 Paris Olympics, this was the one and only time Poodle Clipping took place in the Olympics.


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