If there is one fact to know about me, its that I absolutely love sports, not only do I love all the main stream sports like American Football, Soccer, Baseball and Basketball, I love all the other sports that people tend to push to the back burner, such as gymnastics, handball, sailing, and archery.
The Olympic Games are some of my favorite times within the sporting world because all these sports that people tend to forget about are put on the spotlight. With over 11,238 athletes and 339 events the Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the entire world and as the World gathers to watch these athletes compete, most people begin to watch these sports that they never would be watching otherwise. When watching the Olympics with friends and family, people begin to speak comments that make the blood boil within me such as “why is this sport even in the Olympics?” or “come on that play would be so easy even I could have done that.” These specific comments made me realize that so many Olympic sports are incredibly underrated, and very misunderstood. These athletes have had to undergo years of training in order to perform on the worlds biggest stage. I want to bring light to some of these sports that are underrated and give some perspective as to why these sports are so difficult and worthy of our admiration. There is much more going on in each of these sports that the untrained viewer is not even aware.
The 400 Meter hurdles is a race that is one loop around the track and 1/4th of a mile. It is considered the longest of all the sprints in the track and field world. However, the nature of this event feels like anything gother than a sprint. Not only do athletes need to all out 100% sprint, they need to maintain this speed throughout the entire race. This race also has what is called a staggered start.
During the 100 meter dash, racers start on the same starting line. For each lane in the 400 meter dash,
every runner starts at a different spot along the curve of the track. Although this makes the race equal, it
creates an illusion for runners. The runners have no idea where they are relative to the competition
meaning that they have no sense of gauging when to “conserve energy (if that even exists) or reach top
speed. If this isn’t difficult enough runner need to jump over hurdles that are 1.067 meters 42 Inches high.
In order to reach maximum speed, runners cannot simply jump over the hurdle with room to spare, they
need to be as close as they can to the hurdle without tripping to that they can reach the ground faster and
run. (IN my track practices we would place dimes on the hurdles and have to knock them off with our legs
but clear the hurdle without tripping. Keep in mind that runners need to time their step to jump at the
appropriate time, and position meaning that runners cannot go too fast. You may be thinking, “but wait I
thought you said it was an all out sprint?” Yes it still is, so runners need the perfect balance of form,
stamina, and technique in a grueling race.
Water Polo is a form of handball except it is played in the water, and one comment that onlookers often say is “Water Polo looks so slow”, and this comment infuriates me with a fire of rage and anger.
Few people get how insanely taxing Water Polo is. For starters each match is four quarters of 8 minutes, however the clock stops when the ball is out of play, so most Water Polo quarters are at least 12 minutes. Athletes are treading water for the entire duration meaning that they are treading water for well over an hour. Secondly, Water Polo is an aggressive game Onlookers may judge water Polo as a slow game by looking at the waters surface, but most of the action is under water, because it is harder for referees to judge fair plays under water, players get extremely aggressive under water. There have been stories of people hiding forks in their swimsuit and stabbing the opposing team and pulling hair, what other sport has this type of aggression even attempted? Like any full contact sport there is an immense amount of strategy and plays that once again go above and below water keeping each match interesting and on edge.
We all know that falling intentionally from high places is not in our natural DNA, so divers already have an immense understanding of the difficulty from the public. But what the public fails to understand about diving is the execution of dives, particularly upon entry into the water. Most of the scoring deductions are all based upon how much splash in generated when entering the water. The goal is to have absolutely zero splash. A good dive will even have this “ripping” sound. This is no easy feat. If you do not believe me go to the nearest pool and try to dive into a pool and create no splash. The diver needs to literally through their body into the chasm created by their hands upon entry in order to perform this. If the diver is even a degree away from being completely vertical, a splash is generated causing severe deductions. Yes the flipping and twisting from death defying heights is difficult, but now add the fact that you have to do so without a splash and completely vertical is all the more challenging.
A regular game of volleyball has six players and is played with the dimensions of 29’9 by 59’. A Beach volleyball court is 26’3 by 52’6 meaning that the court is not much smaller. In addition, the court is only manned by two people per team. This means that each player needs to be able to get the ball when it reaches any corner of the court. Not only is there less people, sand is also much more unforgiving when it comes to jumping. If you have ever tried jumping on sand you will know that your range of motion when jumping is severely limited meaning that any spikes are blocks become that much more difficult. Also, please do not take this as me saying that beach volleyball is more difficult than regular volleyball, getting into why regular volleyball is difficult is a completely different subject matter and well worth looking into.
What could be could be difficult about rowing? Isn’t it just one continuous motion? Wrong.
Rowing is one of the most underrated sports in the entire Olympics. The boats are not like your average row boat at the cabin, these boats are ultra thin meaning that if one person leans slightly off of center the entire boat can tip derailing any chance of medaling. The boat is so tipsy that all rowers need to keep their core tight and engaged the entire time. In addition to balancing each rower needs to row at he same pace in order to optimize speed. As everyone is facing backwards this is an incredibly difficult feat to accomplish. Not only do rowers need to keep rowing in sync they need to make sure that they row completely straight. If one rowers thrusting power is slightly off, the boat will begin to veer of course and any hopes of winning are derailed.
As the worlds biggest sporting even continues, I hope that you can find a new appreciated for all the
sports the Olympics has to offer and develop a new sense of awe and awareness of just how talented
these athletes have to be in order to compete at the highest level for their sports. Too often we can get
caught up in all the mainstream sports that we forget about how vast the sporting world actually is in the
first place. Have a great time watching the Tokyo 2020/2021 Olympics.
Jacob has always been passionate about athletics. He enjoys anything active, outdoors, and with people. Jacob desires that every Christian stays true to their own individual gifts and talents rather than become the ideal person people may want us to be at times. He has been an avid leader in local youth groups, mentor to others, and even a Christian Missionary in Scotland. Jacob is currently studying Business and Marketing through the Minnesota Community College program. He would love to get to know you and your own story as well. If his story resonated with you or you need someone to talk to reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.