If, as a climber, you are confused as to what ‘sports climbing’ is, resident crank Ard Arvin has some inside knowledge:
I have it on good authority that sports climbing is a form of buildering. It’s the climbing of various sports, like traversing a badminton net, scaling the basketball hoop, and ascending those equestrian gate thingys without them falling off (my favourite event). I, for one, am stoked on this new sports.
And lets not forget the addition of basesball, skatesboarding and surfsing. Of course, this might all stem from the IOC’s confusion as to what sports climbing is called, but until then, let’s stay excited and forget the fact that the IFSC chose some bastard crossbreed of an event in a clumsy attempt to placate all critics simultaneously.
On a more sombre note, all round nice guy and outdoor pursuits coordinator Martin Clist had some thoughts on the continuing sportisation of climbing:
1. The IOC are a corrupt shambles who take money from every awful corporation going (McDonald’s sponsoring sport?!) and embody nepotism, opaque practise and venality.
2. There is no evidence that there is a link between elite performance and grass roots take up. In fact, the more money pumped into the elite levels, the less money there is for sport at participation level. Football is a classic example, with stratospheric (and frankly disgusting) money at the top level accompanied by an increasing drop in participation at the lower levels.
3. All the things that are good about climbing (being outdoors, trusting your mates, having a great time with friends, enjoying and respecting wild places, having an adventure) are none of the things in the olympics.
4. All the things that are great about teaching climbing to young people (trust, communication, teamwork, overcoming fear, joy of movement) are none of the things in the olympics.
5. The word ‘competition’ in sport has been shown to actively discourage young people (esp girls) from participating. I think it’s great that, currently, climbing is not necessarily associated with competition in the minds of most people.
6. Many Olympic sports are mired in drug scandals and other forms of cheating.
7. The Olympic selection process instantly involves politics and general nastiness (see the current state of British cycling). Whilst it must be nice to be one of the handful of people who will benefit from the opportunity I honestly don’t see any benefits to the wider climbing community, to whom the Olympic version of climbing will bear no relevance to our ‘sport’ as we understand or practise it. To use a parallel example: British canoeing puts a huge amount of resources into promoting and supporting the competition side of the sport when (by their own statistics) most paddlers have zero interest in this aspect and would prefer to have the money put to better use elsewhere.
I don’t see how the association with the Olympic brand can be a positive thing for this sports.
So. As we chow down on our McDonald’s and feed the ever-growing obesity epidemic by associating sugary pisswater with athletic achievement, let us celebrate the ongoing globalisation of bread and circuses. Go Rio, and roll on Tokyo.