My eSTEEMed sports enthusiasts -
Nearly one year ago, the Summer Olympics in Rio were in full-swing, and the world was being gleefully exposed to the best athletes in today's competitive landscape. Over the course of the two-week tournament, there was more than 11,000 athletes competing for 306 sets of medals in 28 sports (39 events).
Generally speaking, the sports that are broadcast on network television are those that are most popular, most intriguing, and - as a result - most difficult for the average human with moderate athletic ability.
While many people just like to watch the best-of-the-best compete, there are some hopeful (i.e. delusional) people like me who actually think they could be a part of the 2020 ceremony in Japan as an athlete themselves.
For anyone who has had even the shortest dream of competing, I've got exciting news!
Here are the top 3 sports that just might be your ticket to the games:
- Handball - What is Handball? Think soccer, but with your hands. Then throw in the nerdy perception of dodge ball, and you have yourself a cult-ish sport that somehow squeaked into the Olympics.
It seems that Handball was created and is played by all the athletes who never figured out that soccer was a foot-only game. It is also a game that no one watches (as evidenced by the video below ) and that the USA is terrible at. If you want to get to the Olympics in 2020, this might actually be your best chance.
- Rowing - You sit in a boat, and you row...in a straight line...with at least one other person and sometimes SEVEN other people. There are no fast-twitch necessities, no freakish body types required, and really no strategy involved.
In fairness to all the (Ivy-League) rowing athletes out there, perhaps it's one of those sports that actually has a ton of unseen strategy known only to those who compete in it - like wind speeds, drafting, currents, the reflection of the sun, or anything else you want to try to make up.
But regardless, if you start by hopping on the rowing machine at your gym, and crank it to the highest level, you could very well be one step closer to stamping your ticket to Japan.
- Men's Water Polo - For the USA, Water Polo is clearly not our best sport. While we did win silver in 2008, we were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Croatia (who ultimately won gold) in the London Olympics. In fact, since that last showing in 2012, there have been nine (9) first-time Olympians to the team and a new head coach. Nonetheless, they were far from metal contention in 2016 - but US Women took gold!!
Anyway, talk about rebuilding the men's team...and opportunity!!
- Shooting: get a gun and go shoot targets for 6 hours a day and you will likely become better than 99% of the US population.
- Equestrian: the real athlete here is the horse, right? Find one of those special horses that are bred every other year, and you're on the fast track - pun intended.
DISCLAIMER: I realize that these are some bold claims. In fact, they could even be considered naive or reckless. So let me be clear on some of the basic qualifications:
In order to be an Olympic athlete, you have to possess athletic abilities that are above par, that are versatile, and that can be improved upon. Just because you play in a softball or ultimate frisbee league, doesn't mean you are an athlete. Sorry to burst that bubble.
You also must possess the basic necessities for each sport (i.e. you have to know how to swim very well in order to play Water Polo; you must have a steady hand and good vision for shooting; and you must have some sort of hand-eye coordination and running capacity for Handball). There are really no exceptions.
Perhaps most importantly, you must be coachable and dedicate a relative majority of your time to honing your skills and perfecting your craft. All while doing whatever you have done to live your life up to this point. By no means can you simply show up and qualify for the Olympics. You will need to work hard for the better part of four years if you want to have a chance.
Best of luck,
The fan who thinks he can play better than the pros