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Art Olympics

Well shiver my timbers and call me a dumbbell. The other day I talked about “Video Gaming as an Olympic Sport” and facetiously suggested a few new ones including writing a novel and caricature drawing. Well, who knew, but there were once art Olympics, or art contest at the Olympics. Total surprise to me but the founder of the modern Olympics, the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin had a vision which included art.

The artistic competitions were hotly debated and contested, getting off to a rocky start for Sweden in 1912. Only 35 entries were received. The categories for art were: sculpture, architecture, literature, painting and music. Not all categories were filled and gold, silver and bronze medals were not awarded in all. All art pieces could not have been previously published (though there were exceptions for architecture) and all had to relate to sports in some way.

Due to excuses of funding problems or note enough time, the next art Olympics were in 1920, then for the years of 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936 and 1948. The art categories sometimes had subcategories such as prints, paintings and water colors/drawings for the painting section, but it could vary from one Olympics to the next. After the initial entries of 35 pieces in 1912, there were usually over a thousand, and thousands of people viewed the exhibits.

The biggest problem was that the Olympics state that athletes must be of amateur status and it was contended that the artists were professionals. The art Olympics were canceled but the Cultural Olympiad took their place in 1956, showcasing various artistic forms in conjunction with the Olympics. I didn’t know there was a special name for the festivals and to tell the truth I’ve never heard of the Cultural Olympiad. But then I’ve never been to the Olympics and considering the Olympic committee’s penchant for branding, of course there is a Cultural Olympiad.

So, art is no longer an Olympic sport, alas. Video gaming could possibly become one, but I doubt it. But if you’re at all interested in being part of the artistic Olympiad for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics then you can check it out here: http://www.vancouver2010.com/en/CultureEducation/CulturalOlympiad/ArtistRegistry/Guidelines

And below is a database of all countries, medals and Olympic sports, including the art Olympics should you like to see who won. Nazi Germany won quite a few in 1936 Berlin Olympics. Somehow not a surprise. I’ll still dream of writing haiku, villanelles, sonnets and plays at Olympic speed and wiles.

http://www.databaseolympics.com/games/gamessport.htm?g=10&sp=ART&enum=130

http://www.databaseolympics.com/sport/sporteventlist.htm?sp=ART

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Video Gaming as an Olympic Sport

You think that’s a joke, don’t you? Well CBC’s The Current interviewed Johnathan Wendel today, a champion PC gamer who is campaigning to get video gaming as an Olympic Sport.

I’m sure there are many eyes a’rollin’ out there. But he argues that professional and champion gamers these days are fit and not eyeglass wearing, out of shape, pimple faced geeks. He runs and does sit-ups and his hand-eye coordination and trigger finger must be fast and accurate. As well, he must work out strategies to gain on his opponent or to be able to psych them out.

O…kay. So there is some activity with the eyes and the mouse finger and maybe spinning quickly around in your chair to answer the phone or grab a health drink while shooting down your opponent. But I know some gamers, adults, and I have to say they fit the stereotype of eyeglass wearing and out of shape. They’re past the pimple faced stage but I’m sure they imbibe their share of pop and chips. However, I also know at least one person who’s as likely to have Fillet Mignon and burgundy wine while gaming, and he has a doctorate in computer graphics.

I’m aware that there are more than the stereotypical video gamers out there and that to compete for any length of time in anything, be it word games or running, you have to keep in shape. This means eat healthy, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and exercise. But Olympic level? Mr. Wendell argues that there is as much activity as someone who is skeet shooting. Fair enough, but one thing the Olympics have in all sports and that’s actual physical movement that amounts to more than a shift of the eye or a twitch of the mouse finger.

We haven’t seen chess made an Olympic sport and darts has a better chance. I mean, when I played darts I considered it exercise. Shoot with the right hand, lift your pint with the left. Both sides of the body exercised and you get up to stand before the board. Actually, I’d love to see some medieval style darts where the darts were like short spears of up to a foot or so in length. But then I wouldn’t make it on the Olympic team no matter the length of dart.

I can see it now. The future Olympics; here are just a few sport to watch:

  • video gaming (with streamlined mice and chairs and special goggles)
  • Wii sports (in truth they’re closer to being an Olympic sport) alongside the same sports with real equipment
  • caricature drawing (it takes hand-eye coordination, artists must be checked for doping)
  • writing a book in three days (that takes speed of typing and a calculating, organized and creative mind)
  • dog walking (physical skill to weave around the leash while trying to control the beast)
  • cat brushing (make the pelt shiny and smooth and avoid the swift moving claws)
  • fly fishing (hand-eye coordination of getting the worm on the hook, casting the line and luring the catch, and not falling into the drink)
  • chess (oh heck, why not, it’s uh…stimulating)
  • card dealing (not poker but the shuffling, flipping and turning of cards in record time)
  • prestidigitation (just so I could use the word, sleight of hand, takes wiles and much coordination)
  • political double speak (takes fast wits, dodging hurled insults and making up things on the spot)

I wonder if Mr. Wendel knows just how much he could expand the realm of the Olympics. He could become the father of the new sports Olympics and cyber athletes, just as Bill Gates father the new computer age. And I know I could try out for several areas.

Ah yes,

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