Obscure sports abound at the Olympics

By Ben Conrady

The Summer Olympic Games are held every four years and, consequently, Americans bubble over with patriotic passion and egotistical confidence.

During these games, certain sports that get little recognition throughout any other time period are pushed to the forefront of our sports lives. Events such as women’s gymnastics and men’s swimming command both our television sets and our hearts.

As we discover our newfound love for sport, we sometimes encounter brand new events that stretch across the depths of imagination. These quirky sports are just another part of the Olympic games’ fun, and so I present to you the top five most obscure Olympic sports.


5. Table Tennis, more commonly known as “ping pong:” Table tennis is a game that has enjoyed popularity in game rooms and empty basements for several decades. While only introduced to the Olympics in the 1988 Games held in Seoul, South Korea, proposals to include table tennis in the worldwide event began as early as 1936. In ’88, the home country claimed both the gold and silver medals in dominating fashion. Four years later, China began a dominating run that has included top finishes in almost every Olympics since.

4. Synchronized Swimming: Synchronized swimming is a sport based off of water ballets, which were popular throughout 19th and 20th centuries. It depends on tightly choreographed dance routines and constant smiles from its participants to ensure a high score, and it has been a part of the Olympic games since 1984.

3. Trampoline: When you joyously jumped on your backyard trampoline as a young child, you probably never would have guessed it would one day be an Olympic sport. But since 2000, that’s exactly what it is. The Olympic version is a bit more intense than the backyard variety, as athletes bounce ridiculously high while routinely flipping three or four times repetitively. Also, the Olympic games don’t provide a safety net.

2. Race Walking: Race walking came in a close second for the most obscure summer Olympic sport. If you have never heard of it before, whatever popped into your head upon reading those two words is probably very similar to the actual event. Competitors race over long distances whilst following two distinct rules: One’s back toe cannot leave the ground until the heel of the front foot has touched, and one’s supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until their body passes directly over it. The result is a herd of competitors that look like they are in a race to the bathroom.

1. Equestrian Dressage: This sport has been an Olympic event since 1900 and has been going strong ever since. It requires a horse and rider to go through a series of prances and hops in a predetermined routine. The sport is defined as the “highest expression of horse training” by the International Equestrian Foundation, and it gained recent popularity in America when news spread that Mitt Romney owns a dressage horse.

So there you have the five most obscure Olympic sports. Be sure to tune in and show your American spirit.