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The 11 Dumbest Sports at the Summer Olympics

by: Esteban On  Monday, August 6, 2012

dumbest olympic sports

One of the best things about the Olympics is that you get to watch sports you don’t normally see. One of the worst things about the Olympics, however, is that some of these sports are just straight up dumb.

What makes an Olympic sport dumb, you ask? Well, it could be any one of a number of things. For example, it might be that the concept is bizarre, or that the athletes look kind of silly doing it. Also, it could just be that the sport, while great in theory, is boring to watch in actuality. Or, lastly, it could be that the sport doesn’t make sense as an Olympic event, either because there’s little or inferior competition, or because there are other sports that would make more sense.

You get the idea. So today we’re counting down the 11 dumbest sports at the Summer Olympics. But let me just preface this list by saying I mean no disrespect to the athletes who compete in these sports. They are real athletes, their skill is legit, and they are probably more successful that I will ever be. It’s just that I have absolutely no interest in watching what they do.

So who comes in at #11? Just click on “next” to find out.

11. Men's Soccer


Men’s soccer is, without a doubt, the most irrelevant sport at the Summer Olympics. I mean really, does any soccer fan give two you-know-whats about this event? FIFA doesn’t want the Summer Olympics to compete with their World Cup, so they only allow players 23 and under to participate, with each team being given 3 age exemptions. This makes qualifying for the Olympics a bit of a crap shoot. Thus, this year, there is no Argentina, no Germany, no Netherlands, no Italy, no Portugal, and no USA in the Olympic soccer competition. So while in every other sport a gold medal means you’re the best in the world at what you do (no matter how ridiculous it is), this is not the case in soccer. It means you’re best group of 23-and-under players any country bothers to assemble.

So, really, there’s just no point.

10. Taekwondo & Judo

These sports are not boring or bizarre. They make dumb Olympic sports, however, because they’re kind of random. I mean, why taekwondo and not karate or kung fu? Or why judo and not aikido or Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

Actually, I’ll tell you why: these sports were introduced as demonstration sports when the countries that invented them hosted the Olympics, and they’ve been around ever since. In the case of Taekwondo, it was introduced as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, then became a full medal sport in 2000. In the case of Judo, it was introduced for the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo, then became permanent from 1972 on.

Now, these sports are awesome to watch, it’s just that it seems dumb that only two of the world’s martial arts get to be in the Olympics. Meanwhile, there are 17 different swimming events and 23 different athletics (i.e., track and field) events. Would it kill them to add a couple more martial arts events?

9. Tennis

olympic tennis men's medalists

The Olympic tennis competition actually has the top players in the world competing. And tennis is a pretty exciting sport. So why is this considered dumb? Because the best tennis players in the world already play each other all year long anyway, and the sport already has four tournaments that are considered the ultimate championships. Olympic tennis, therefore, is really superfluous. Every four years, it’s just another stop on the pro tour.

Oh, I’m sure it means something to the players to be able to represent their countries. And in the case of Great Britain’s Andy Murray, I’m sure his gold medal victory over Roger Federer on home soil will probably be the highlight of his career. But for most tennis fans, Olympic tennis is just another event. And while I’m not saying they should get rid of it, tweaking the format might be a good idea. (How about a Davis-cup style team competition?)

8. Beach Volleyball

Yeah, I know everyone loves beach volleyball on account of the minimalist uniforms. But when you actually stop and think about the sport itself, you realize it’s pretty dumb. Why? Because it’s played on sand, which is probably the dumbest sports playing surface ever devised. It’s like someone thought, “hey, is there anyway we could take a frenetic, action-packed sport like volleyball and slow it down? Oh, I’ve got it, let’s play it on sand.”

Are the athletes who play beach volleyball impressive? Sure they are. But there’s still no denying that something people used to do on the beach to work up a sweat before swimming has become an Olympic sport. What’s next? Paddle ball? Frisbee?

I feel fairly confident that, if the women didn’t wear tiny bikinis, this would not be an Olympic sport.

7. Synchronized Diving

Synchronized diving is regular diving that is watered down. How so? Because instead of simply judging how awesome or not awesome a particular dive is, they judge how synchronized it was. Thus, if your synchronized diving partner isn’t as good as you, you can’t do the best dive you’re capable of. So the overall quality of the competition is watered down. Of course, some would say, “oh, but the synchronization is what’s so great,” to which I would say, uh, no. They don’t have synchronized javelin throwing, or synchronized balance beam, do they? No, because everyone knows that would be dumb.

6. Rhythmic Gymnastics

From an artistic point of view, I’m sure rhythmic gymnastics is great, what with all the leaping and prancing and ribbon-twirling. But from an athletic point of view? Yeah, pretty dumb. It’s not that the women who do rhythmic gymnastics aren’t athletic, it’s just that if I want to watch this sort of thing I’ll go to a Cirque du Soleil show, or watch America’s Got Talent.

5. Badminton

Look, badminton is a fun game to play. That’s why we play it at family picnics. But you know what else we play at family picnics? Horseshoes, washers, and that thing where you throw beanbags through the board with the holes in it, and those aren’t Olympic sports.

Now, I’ve tried watching Badminton, and I like it when they hit overhead shots. That’s exciting. But most of the time it seems like they’re hitting high-arching underhanded shots, and I just don’t find it enjoyable to watch.

I know they love this sport in Asia, so I’m not saying they should get rid of it. But I don’t see why they play badminton and not squash or racquetball, which are considerably more awesome on account of the fact that they use balls that fly at 150+ mph instead of lame shuttlecocks.

4. Steeplechase

In case you don’t know what the steeplechase is, it’s that race at the Olympics where the runners have to leap over hurdles and puddles of water. It originated in England in the mid 1800s as a kind of cross-country race. Athletes would run from one town to the next, using the steeples of the town’s churches as guides, leaping over walls and streams along the way. When the modern Olympics were conceived, they included a track version of the event, and it’s been there ever since, even though it’s just plain stupid. (Jumping over puddles? Really?)

And hey, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s stupid. The IAAF didn’t include the steeplechase in it’s World Championships until 2005. So they waited over a hundred years for this dumb event to die out before giving up.

3. Dressage

Don’t let the fancy French-sounding name fool you here, folks. Dressage is basically horse-dancing.

Seriously. They actually call it “horses ballet” sometimes.

The idea, of course, is for this event to be “the highest expression of horse training.” What this means is that the rider sits on the horse while it hops around, doing a bunch of little horsey jigs.

Sure, rich people could use their loads of cash to fund orphanages or feed the homeless. But teaching their horses to dance is so much more fun.

2. Modern Pentathlon

In the modern pentathlon, athletes compete in five completely unrelated sports: pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, equestrian jumping, and cross-country running. Apparently these were all skills at which the noble gentleman was supposed to excel back in the day. Now, however, the few noble gentleman left in the world prefer teaching their horses how to dance, and so the only people who possess this combination of five skills are the 60 or so athletes who figured this was the only way they’d ever make it to the Olympics.

So, sorry modern pentathletes, your even is lame and they need to shut it down.

1. Race Walking

This is probably the dumbest sporting event ever conceived. I mean, what is the great human feat, here? Other sports test how high we can jump, or how fast we can swim, or how far we can throw something. This sport basically tests how fast we can get somewhere without actually doing that which would get us there the fastestā€”running.

And if the mere idea weren’t dumb enough, there’s the fact that it just looks flat-out ridiculous.

So there can be no doubt: race walking is hands-down the dumbest sport at the Summer Olympics.