Olympics are often remembered for their hosts, or perhaps specific feats. Except for the marquee meets and match-ups, most events are quickly forgotten. Between the summer and winter events, there are 35 sports. Few people remember shooting, badminton, or table tennis; even the scandals are fleeting. Sometimes, the Olympics add new sports. Beach volleyball made its official debut in 1996, and curling—the most ridiculous of sports but oddly addictive to watch—only entered the games in 1998. But as new sports enter the Olympics, some sports fall by the wayside. Amidst the chaos in the Middle East and the partisanship which marks this election year, perhaps it’s time to take a pause, look at something lighter, and remember the ghosts of Olympics past.
Baseball was an on-again, off-again demonstration sport at many twentieth century Olympic Games: 1912, 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1984, and 1988, before finally becoming an official sport in 1992. It didn’t last long, however; the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted them out of the games in a secret ballot. Softball had a shorter run, from 1996 through 2008. The elimination of both of these was a travesty. So too was Cricket, which made it only once, in 1900. While it’s hard to take a sport seriously where the athletes break for tea and lunch, given that billions of people would disagree, perhaps it’s time cricket made a comeback.
Not so some of the others which have long ago fallen through the Olympic cracks: