This week's column:
Why Isn't Inline Skating in the Olympics?
August 8, 2012
Hi, Bill: It's frustrating to see the Olympics play out again without inline skating! Do you think we will ever be included in the Olympics? - Dennis from California
Hi, Dennis: That is the Million Dollar Question. I wish I knew the answer. All I can say is that hopefully someday our dreams will come true.
Over the years, the leaders of our sport have tried repeatedly to persuade the International Olympic Committee to give us a seat at the table. But they have never succeeded.
They had a good shot before the Sydney Olympics in 2000. But they made, in my opinion, a big mistake. They hired an athletics (track and field) coach to present our case to the IOC. And that didn’t work.
It would have been better to have a skater representing us — someone who was passionate and believed in our sport.
We had another thing going for us in 2000.
Australia, the host nation, was then the top roller speed skating nation. So it had a reason to push for roller sports to be included in the program.
Eight years earlier, in 1992, roller hockey was a demonstration sport at the Summer Games in Barcelona.
How did that happen?
Simple. Then IOC-president Juan Samaranch grew up playing roller hockey — he was a goalie — in his native Barcelona. In addition, Spain, the host nation, was one of the top countries in roller hockey.
In 2005, the IOC instituted a process of regularly reviewing the sports for the Summer Games. But as far as I'm concerned, the process is a sham.
Consider what happened in the last review in 2009.
The IOC established a number of criteria for sports to meet, such as worldwide reach and organization.
Roller speed skating met all of the criteria and was named as one of seven sports under consideration for the 2016 Summer Games.
But the night before the scheduled vote, IOC president Jacques Rogge reportedly told the delegates to vote for rugby sevens and golf. And that’s what they did.
Rugby sevens and golf were added to the roster for the 2016 Summer Games, and roller sports was once again left out.
One thing that might explain why rugby was chosen is the fact that Rogge is a former rugby player. Like Samaranch, he was pushing his own barrow.
As for golf, it was riding a wave of popularity due to the celebrity of former star Tiger Woods.
With golf in the 2016 Olympics, we will have a bunch of overweight millionaires vying for medals during the day and sipping champagne and whiskey in the evening.
What ever happened to the Olympic ideal: longer, faster, higher?
It seems like it has been replaced by fatter, slower, richer.