Raising the Bard

ShakespeareWomen’s boxing is one of the more controversial additions to the list of medals available at London 2012, but it isn’t entirely new to the Olympic calendar.

The sight of two women bashing each other round the head first appeared as a demonstration event at the 1902 games in Paris, but didn’t catch on. I suppose it was too much for Pierre de Coubertin’s French philogynous sensibilities to bear.

It is just one example of sports that have fallen in and out of favour with the IOC over the years, but for me it is the non-sporting competitions that are the greatest loss.

Like the Engravings and Etchings category in the Painting division, or Lyric and Speculative Works of Literature. Then there was the Mixed Sculpting event, although whether this implied a mixed sex team isn’t clear.

In 1948 there was dispiriting news for the Italian Gabriele Bianchi who could only manage a bronze medal in the vocal music category, even though he appears to have been the only entrant.

But by far and away the greatest loss is the Town Planning event held at four Olympiads and won in Los Angeles in 1932 by English architect, John Hughes, for his design for a Sports and Recreation Centre with Stadium in Liverpool.

You can find a full list of Olympic medalists in art competitions over at Wikipedia. Sadly they fell out of favour after London 1948 because they breached the spirit of amateurism since that is how the artists made their living between games. Ironic really, given the professionalism of the modern Olympics.

It set me thinking though – what non-sporting events are we missing from London 2012? The obvious one for me would be Freestyle Blogging, but I wondered if you had any suggestions.

Specifically, which new events would give different countries the best chance of winning gold?

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

6 comments… Add yours
  • Suggestive Pudding 24th July 2012

    Some suggestions:-
    Greece – Tax dodging
    Scotland – Moaning about the evil English, The Highland Clearances and Culloden.
    America – Fast food consumption/high school massacres
    France – Scornful glances and pouting lips
    Sweden – Best knockers.
    Yorkshire – Common sense, cricket, poetry, farming, deep sea fishing, fish and chips, moral strength and Yorkshire pudding making.

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 24th July 2012

    A technical point YP – Yorkshire isn’t a country, despite what its inhabitants might think. And if it were, I doubt if Tact and Diplomacy would be its strongest event.

    As for Sweden, surely the Brits would be up there in the Best Knockers category after all the comments about security, Olympic official car lanes, etc.

    Reply
  • Roger Green 24th July 2012

    1902? The Paris Olympics would have been in 1900.
    And has not Scotland, Wales, et al participated in international sports? Why not Yorkshire?

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 24th July 2012

    You’re right Roger, there was no 1902 games, but the women’s boxing demonstration bout did take place in 1902, venue unclear, at least according to Wikipedia.

    You’re also correct that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have appeared in competitions in their own right right, notably football, rugby and cricket. However, as far as the Olympics are concerned, they are all lumped together as Great Britain.

    This has caused some problems for the GB football team. This idea has been resisted in the past by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland because creating a Great Britain team could jeopardise their national status as far as FIFA is concerned.

    But in any event, Yorkshire is a county, not a country, a province or a principality and so wouldn’t be eligible anyway.

    Reply
  • john 24th July 2012

    I cannot abide Boxing
    I feel physically sick at the thought of it….
    now where does THAT come from?>

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 24th July 2012

    John: It probably comes from too much empathy and feeling every blow. Mrs P is the same and I can’t say I’m too keen on boxing either.

    Reply

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