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Games Need Youth Sports


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Oz IOC member John Coates has started a good debate in the papers here today. He camed out with a statement that he thought the games were in danger of having an aging demographic, and advocated new sports, especially skateboarding and surfing, to get the younger population more interested.

Dude, where's my medal?

Daniel Lane and Dave Berick

June 3, 2007

AUSTRALIAN Olympic Committee president John Coates is concerned the Games are becoming less relevant to young people and thinks introducing sports such as skateboarding may help grab their interest.

Mr Coates said he was alarmed by an international survey that showed the average age of television viewers who tuned into the Athens Games in 2004 was 40 and over.

"We're conscious of continuing to associate with young people," Mr Coates said, "but an international survey showed the Olympic movement was losing touch, a little bit, with them. The television audience was an older category."

He said the Olympic movement must look at adding sports that Generation Y - generally people born in the early 1980s - could relate to. Skateboarding and surfing were two that he thought could be considered.

"As far as sports that might appeal to younger people are concerned, we could look at skateboarding as a summer Olympic sport," he said.

"The skateboard ramp at Sydney Olympic Park is full of kids [and] there's plenty of council ramps.

"Surfing is another sport. There are 120 countries that surf; that's as many as some other Olympic sports. The London Olympic organisers are looking at a surfing competition at Cornwall in between the 2012 Summer Games and Paralympics.

"The last time the IOC considered new sports it looked at golf, rugby sevens, rollerblading, karate and squash. BMX has been added as a cycling event for Beijing, while mountain biking was added in 1996. Hopefully that will help attract some younger people."

There was a mixed reaction by skateboarders at Bondi Skate Park yesterday.

Lewis Maher, 13, from Bondi, said many of his boarding peers would jump at the chance to represent Australia at an Olympic Games.

"It'd be brilliant. A lot of people see skating in a bad light and if they let it into the Olympics, it would become more mainstream and accepted, which would be great," he said.

Lewis's friend, Riley Major, who began skateboarding three months ago, said he didn't understand why skateboarding couldn't be a part of the Olympic fraternity.

Professional skateboarder Michael Mulhall, 39, from Dulwich Hill said he was cynical about the motives behind the push.

"Skating's about self-expression and I can't see how it really lends itself to a regimented, Olympic-style competition," he said.

Mr Coates said the AOC had launched a range of initiatives to instil the Olympic spirit and values into the younger generation.

This month 500 schools will take part in Olympic Day, an online event that celebrates the Olympic Games through sport, education and culture.

"The Olympic Day allows schools to follow a format," he said. "It allows the students to design their own Olympic activity."

Bridging the gap

Although they are not on the official list yet, other sports have been given official recognition by the International Olympic Committee, meaning they may be part of the Olympic Games in the future.

Current contenders include climbing, bridge, golf, rollerskating and surfing. All of these sports (and their administrators) already adhere to the Olympic charter.

Some sports had early Olympic status before being dumped from the official line-up.

Tug of war was once an official Olympic sport, not to mention polo, rugby, lacrosse, golf, croquet and waterskiing.

Source: The Sun-Herald

Dude! Where's My Medal?

I'm certainly open to it. Maybe it's about time the games' sports program got a major overhaul?

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mah.. even if I appreciate the basic idea I hardly consider surfing or skateboarding so much popular among the young, compared to many other olympic sports, as the article would make us believe.

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I'm inclined towards the professional skateboarder's view. I'm open to the idea of new sports coming in, but I'm not sure what the desire would be among people in those sports themselves.

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I need to rant here. I, and this is just my opinion, feel that the emergence of these sports has been one of the most unfortunate developments in recent years. I once had a kid almost street-luge under my car, while I was driving!!! The proliferation of skateboarders has caused many near-accidents becuase the kids insist on skateboarding in the street when they have a perfectly good skate park just a short distance away. I hope they don't consider adding any of these sports, but that's only because of my personal experiences. These athletes have ESPN's X Games to display their talents.

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The main problem whit getting skateboarding in the SOG is the fact that there does not seam to be any clear governing body for the sport. As for Surfing, only an handful of places can stage a successful surfing competition.

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I'd like to see more about the study that showed the games were losing touch with the young and skewing to an older (40-year-old) demographic. If true, sometbhing MUST be done.

Ironically, it does seem London has tried exactly that with it's blanding (sorry, branding, that was a true freudian slip!!). LOCOG's spirit and intention can't be faulted, it's just a pity the execution was so embarassingly, horribly wrong.

As I said, I have a very open mind with having new, fresh sports added to the games. And yes, I know there's problems with the ones mentioned, but let's face it, ANY new sport would have problems to surmount, but nothing that can't be solved. Even surfing, as mentioned, would be problematic, but doesn't sailing already offer similar challenges to hosts (and is more expensive to mount anyway)?

But I really think the spirit is correct. Take Torino _ to me, snowboard cross was one of the delights and highlights of those games. Skateboarding could do something similar at the summer gams.

Certainly, I DO think there is scope for a lot of deadwood to be trimmed from the games. C'mon, even amongst all us Olympic fanatics, does anyone REALLY watch the likes of Modern Pentathon intently.

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No, i cant say i have ever watched Modern Pentathlon lol. Recently TVNZ carried a story about the inclusion of surfing at the olympic games. Professional surfers in New Zealand disagreed with surfing becomming an olympic sport. They didnt believe that surfing was needed as they already have sufficient world cup events where big money will be involved. There was talk of creating artifical wave venues for the sport. This would be a massive cost and the stadium could not be used as a multi sport complex. I personally dont think surfing will ever become an olympic sport. Skateboarding would be a waste of time as well. I think there are more worthy sports that should become an olympic sport such as Rugby sevens.

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I'd like to see more about the study that showed the games were losing touch with the young and skewing to an older (40-year-old) demographic. If true, sometbhing MUST be done.

I would agree with that view, but it just doesn't strike me that these are the right sports to attract the youth.

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I would agree with that view, but it just doesn't strike me that these are the right sports to attract the youth.

fair enough. And you may be right. Thinking on it, surfing, leaving aside the need for a venue with a deecent break, isn't exactly the most televisually photogenic of sports. And skateboarding? I assume they'd be talking something like half-pipe (Is that the term in skateboarding? I'm not into the technicalities of it) _ in which case it would be like half-pipe snowboarding at the WOGs _ all very well but over too quick abnd not visually exciting like the snowboard cross.

I suppose that begs the question then _ what sports WOULD work, and attract the young more?

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John Coats is one of the most powerful people in Australian Sport. He is heavily respected in the Olympic fraternity and was the catalyst behind the Sydney 2000 Bid.

A Lawyer by trade this guy knows what he is talking about.

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He might be influential and powerful, but that doesn't mean he's right all the time and on this, I think he's wrong. One survey does not prove the point and we need to see much more evidence of a growing trend.

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Add this, though, to the IOC's seeming enthusiasm to the "Yoof" oriented London logo, moves towards things like snoboard cross in the WOGs etc, and it also seems it's not just Coates but the IOC heirarchy in general that are looking to to poush the games towards more Gen-Y appeal.

I've got a lot of respect for Coates _ he's a very smart operator, knows how to play politics and business, and knows how to be effective. With Phil Coles now damaged goods and Gosper past his peak, Coates is Australia's best IOC member and certainly I tip him for a future role in the IOC's top heirarchy.

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In light of the BBC article saying the IOC is considering skateboarding for London, It would seem now that Coates was actually floating a notion/policy that had already been discussed by the IOC. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a case now of going through the motions of a decision that the IOC exec board has already decided on and will push through in Guatemala City.

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Interesting article that Rob's posted on the home page here (funnily enough, I didn't notice it when I first logged on here today, only came across it on my daily google search for Olympic tid-bits):

Youth and the Future of the Olympic

Do I detect a trend here? First Coates flags the survey showing the games audience is skewing older, then the "Yoof" logo, then the floating of the notion of skateboarding for the summer games (I think this is starting to look like a fait accompli). Now this.

Are we looking at a a remake of the games starting with London. Will Beijing be the last of the "traditional" games as we know them. The feature raises some interesting points and seems to be canvassing a MAJOR rejig of the games.

If that's the strategy, I'd say we're in for some major battles between the games purists and traditionalists and those pushing for change. Once again, I'm not against change, but it will infuriate many (witness the logo flap!). Take the article's comments on the Parade of Nations _ personally I'd love to see that scrapped and re-worked in some way that wasn't so long, tedious and boring. But I know for many people that is one of the most popular defining parts of the games.

It looks to me this whole move is shaping up as Rogge's attempt to stamp his legacy and revolutionise the Games.

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I think there is a problem with the so-called "youth-sports" - due the fact that Olympic Games takes place all four years for the summer- resp. winter sports, you can't take "in-sports", because the sport federations need time to build up structures, the athletes need to get good in the sports, etc. etc.

The time between decision of the IOC, that a sport should be part of the Olympic Games, and the transaction at an Olympic Games take to long - that is the reason why just sports like bmx, beach-volleyball were added in the past, because that are not new sports but just other ways of already implemented sports...

Another problem is that "in-sports or youth-sports" are created by indivualists - they just want to do a sport, which is not done by too many others - they want just to have a "kick"

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Actually, I've been thinking about this a bit today. As I've said, I'm not opposed in principle on youth sports, or totally rejigging the games format and rethinking the march of nations and other Olympic traditions. But I just wonder how important this "youth" market is? Are the games really only of interest to an older audience? Then why do we have so many younger members here? Why are the Olympics so popular still? And if "youth" sports were really so vital and imporrtant, how come the X Games already aren't rivalling the Olympics in terms of popularity? Do younger audiencesv really avidly watch the X Games or individual events like skateboarding etc and don't weatch the Olympics every four years? Are all these calls for tweaking the gamees towards youth a matter of just chasing a chimera dreamed up by marketing consultants?

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Do younger audiencesv really avidly watch the X Games or individual events like skateboarding etc and don't weatch the Olympics every four years? Are all these calls for tweaking the gamees towards youth a matter of just chasing a chimera dreamed up by marketing consultants?

... it is strange that skateboarding is taken as example that "youth sports" are implemented - skateboarding began in the early eighties - I remember it was a hype when I was much younger

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... it is strange that skateboarding is taken as example that "youth sports" are implemented - skateboarding began in the early eighties - I remember it was a hype when I was much younger

Not just the 80s _ skateboarding was big when I was in high school in the 70s!

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