Breakdancing has become an Olympic sport. Yesterday the International Olympic Committee announced that breakdancing — which will be called “breaking” in its Olympic variation — will be one of the sports for the 2024 Olympiad, in Paris. Surfing, sport climbing, and skateboarding will be the other new sports at the Paris games.
The squash crowd isn’t happy about the decision. That sport has been lobbying for years to be added to the Olympic menu and has now been rebuffed — again. The decision to choose “breaking” over squash caused one champion squash player to say that the Olympics has become a “mockery.” I don’t know about the “mockery” stuff, but featuring skateboarding, climbing, and breakdancing will definitely make the Olympics seem a lot more like the “X Games.”
I’m not a traditionalist about what should be an Olympic sport. In its modern incarnation, the Olympics has never been confined to the events the ancient Greeks decided to include way back when. Adding new sports to the roster recognizes that sports is an ever changing area, and there’s no doubt that it requires talent, skill, and some degree of fitness to be a great breakdancer or skateboarder. But it seems like there should be some kind of line between a sport and an activity. And the champion squash player in the story linked above raises another valid point: many of the new Olympic sports won’t have an undisputed victor, like you would have in a marathon, the 100-meter dash, the shot put, or the long jump. Instead, we’ll need judges to tell us which “breaker” got the best score on his/her routine — which just adds subjectivity and possible corruption to the mix. If East Germany still existed, we’d likely be complaining about the East German “breaking” judge’s unfair scoring.
If breakdancing and skateboarding are official Olympic sports now, what’s next? Will videogaming — no doubt to be called “gaming” in its Olympic incarnation — be the next designated Olympic sport to break the squash players’ hearts?