Team Sports at the Olympics


It is a source of constant frustration to me that team sports are not recognised in the same way as individual sports at the Olympic Games. The fact that people can have discussions about 'The Greatest Ever Olympian' and base it purely on total medals one is ridiculous. For example, I would suggest that someone who never finished below first place, winning 3 Olympics Gold Medals over 4 Olympiads, should at least be in the conversation about the greatest ever. But when you stack up these achievements its easy to be distracted by the number of medals won.

The fact that to win a medal in a team sport you have to compete for two weeks, with one gold medal available at the end is the source of this discrepancy. Many countries, who look solely at the medal count to assess the value of an athlete or sport, will choose to invest in sports where one person can win multiple medals rather than team sports. The reason? Because it is cheaper to fund this so is a 'better return on investment'. The solution? More medals for team sports. Simple.

So rather than complain about it, I'm going to make some suggestions (some more realistic than others). I'll focus on volleyball but it could be used for other team sports:
  1. Firstly, and most importantly, do the same as boxing and award Bronze Medals for both losing semi-finalists. Bronze medal games are evil and should be stamped out in everything, for all time. Forcing semi-finalists to have to play a game they don't want to play, but still don't want to lose, is just plain mean. (precedent - boxing)
  2. Count the number of medals handed out against the medal tally. For example, if there are 12 players in the team this should count for 12 Gold Medals in the medal tally. When the team returns home every one of them is considered a Gold Medallist (not 1/12 of a medallist), so why not recognise it in the official tally?
  3. Award a Team medal, based on the cumulative results of both the men and women's teams combined. This would be another 24 golds. (precedent - equestrian)
  4. Do this for beach volleyball as well (as many as another 8 medals). 
  5. And, of course, a Total Domination round of medals as well, combining the results of beach/indoor/men/women.
  6. Hand out medals based on the number of matches won. Keep the same competition structure, but, if at the end of the event, the winners have won 8 matches, then each player gets 8 gold medals.
  7. Olympics is a 'numbers game', meaning that adding more athletes is always a problem. The solution to this is for each the athletes there to do more:
    1. Nominate one person from each country to compete in a Vollis (a common description of a one-on-one game) tournament. (precedent - swimming)
    2. Have 2 players from each country play a two-on-two competition
    3. Have 3 players from each country play a three-on-three competition
    4. Have a mixed pairs competition
    5. Mixed vollis?
    6. I think you know where this is going..............
  8. And lastly, award individual medals as well as team medals. (precedent - gymnastics)
    • Best Spiker
    • Best Server
    • Best Defender
    • Best Setter
    • etc
As I said at the outset, some more realistic than others, but why not?

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