Ron Morris

Morris: Extreme Makeover, Olympic Games edition

For sheer athletic competition nothing beats the Olympics, summer or winter version. From weight lifting to alpine skiing, the drive of athletes to outperform one another is the essence of the Games.

Unfortunately, like everything else in society, there exists too much of a good thing. Here are three rules for downsizing the Olympics and returning both the summer and winter games to what they originally were intended to be: individual competition at the highest level.

1. No team sports

The Summer Olympics got to the point of being silly when they added baseball a few games ago. Baseball is a wonderful game - but it does not qualify as an Olympics game.

There is nothing more memorable in Winter Olympics history than the United States' "Miracle on Ice" victory in the 1980 Games. It should never have happened. Team sports ruin the Olympics. Watch about 30 seconds of women's ice hockey and you will understand.

Men's basketball in the Olympics always has been a travesty. It was no fun when the United States dominated international competition. Then it got worse still when the U.S. came up with the brilliant idea of using professional players.

You might want to argue in favor of two- and four-man bobsledding teams. Sorry, not an Olympic sport. How about relays in track and field? Sorry, not an Olympic sport.

Allowing team sports in the Olympics is paramount to high school and college athletics making golf, tennis and cross country team sports. You can't find the letters t-e-a-m in golf, tennis or cross country.

Give me individual sports only. The marathon is exciting stuff in the Summer Games. So, too, is alpine skiing in the Winter Games.

2. No judges

Any event whose outcome is determined by judges is not a sport. Gymnastics? Not a sport. Figure skating? Not a sport.

All competition should be determined on the playing field or ice or swimming pool. It should not be determined by the German judge suffering from a hangover.

Do not counter with the argument that most sports use officials. Those folks are there to police the sport. They do not determine the outcome. They are officials or referees.

Before you mention boxing, let me offer a solution to make that one that could be retained in the Olympics. Eliminate judges by changing the rules to ensure that all fights end in a knockout or technical knockout. Thus, no judge needed.

3. Lengthen some events

The 100-meter dash moved into the category of mundane many years ago. The race became boring because every runner essentially is the same. The difference between first and eighth is less than a split second.

Many events in the Winter Olympics provide the same kind of finish. Tatjana Huefner of Germany won the women's luge Monday in a combined time of 2:46.524. The 17th-place finisher, Julia Clukey of the United States, must have sneezed sometime during her four runs because she finished in 2:49.360 - a different of 2.8 seconds.

Here is a solution. Lengthen the courses. If the luge run is one mile, make it two miles. In track and field, no more sprints of less than 400 meters. In swimming, instead of four butterfly laps, make them go 10 or 12.

Give me the heptathlon. Give me cross country skiing. Give me real Olympic sports. No teams. No judges. Just sports.

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