Author: oromagi ,


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It seems to me that the Olympics is irrationally overburdened by the Greek anachronisms the organization re-instated in 1896.  Specifically that the Olympics should take place every four years in one place.

Now, I understand that scale and infrequency are part of what lends the Olympics its sense of occasion but I think the ultimate goal of promoting athletics and modelling peaceful international competition and cooperation are undermined by that very scale and infrequency.

  • The massive scale of the event places an unreasonable burden on the host city to build facilities- often single use facilities that are demolished or else decay through underutilization.  
    • Such overbuilding is hugely inefficient. The same amount of money could represent valuable infrastructure investments if spread around to many metropolises in need of new or improved facilities.
    • The burden to build too much infrastructure on a 12-year deadline seems to regularly promote corrupt overcharging by builders as well as corrupt bribing of Olympic officials to bring all that wasteful new construction to town- money that is never re-couped by the events themselves.  Some argue that hosting the Olympics improves a host cities reputation but I don't think that claim can be quantified so I'm skeptical.
      • Spreading new construction money around would allow more efficient use of existing infrastructures and smaller-scale targeted improvement might also substantially reduce Olympic corruption.
    • Because many different events must be crammed into one metropolis, many sporting events must suffer non-optimal or even totally inappropriate conditions-too warm or too cold, artificial ice, or sand, or grass, or water, etc.  Spreading out the Olympics geographically would allow a better match of sport to geography and allow some cities that could never possibly host the whole gamut of events to shine geographically or specialize in a reputation for one kind of sport.
  • The Olympiad (4 year cycle) model is based on the ancient Greek calendar which included one leap day per year for a 1461-day base cycle.  That ancient model does not reflect our global sense of seasonality anymore and puts a lot of pressure on athletes.
    • Many athletes in many different sports hit their peak athleticism for a much shorter window than 4 years and never get a chance to show off their best on the biggest athletic stage by misfortune of birthdate or an injury that occludes their one shot at greatness.
      • Making many sports annual events would allow many more athletes an opportunity to shine internationally and more accurately reflect the athletic body by eliminating the pressure of happenstance injury or off-peak performances.
        • It seems a shame that we may never learn the names of the best athletes in a sport because a single fault of timing or circumstance.
        • Some athletes might have less such peak consideration (team sailing, perhaps or ) and could be free to determine the best time cycle to promote their sport.
    • Furthermore, many sports only get an international audience at the Olympics and the four-year gap severely discourages continued interest.
      • Annual events should increase audience interest and allow more narrative to emerge in less-watched sports.
    • The time pressure to run so many sports simultaneously means that many  smaller events get occluded by more popular events and never get a real shot at increasing interest in their events.  Spreading events out across the year would give smaller events a better chance to be the most interesting sporting event on tv.
PROPOSAL1:  Spread events out geographically, lending Olympic prestige to a wide variety of international communities that might be very appropriate for one or two events but totally incapable of hosting the big show.

PROPOSAL2:  Customize iterations to the sport- many sports would enjoy improved competitiveness and audience interest from an annual cycle.

PROPOSAL3:  The technology of audience viewing is changing faster than the 12-year cycle of rewarding broadcasting rights.  The Olympics would do better to take control of the broadcasting of their international events on a digital channel of their own, which would allow them to stay more nimbly on top of changing viewership models.  Done right, The Olympics could realize far more direct profit from advertisers than they might by selling broadcast rights 12 years out.

PROPOSAL4:  The Olympics could improve their brand considerably by seeking to be the venue for all international contests.  The World Cup, for example, is another Olympiad style international contest that might do very well under the imprimatur of the Olympic brand. That particular event might be too popular to be interested but there are plenty of other international contests that might improve their brand by joining  the Olympic brand umbrella. If the brand maintained a reputation for fair conduct and consistent standards, the Olympics could go a long way to standardizing international competitions across a wide variety of athletic matches.