LINING UP "FORE" A NEW SPORT
Apologize for the lame headline, but it's been a while since I checked in under my Olympic blogging umbrella and I'm a little rusty.
Taking a breather here between travel blog entries and twitter entries (hey, there's still a newspaper to put out, too) and ran into a Bloomberg wire item about a favourite subject; golf in the Olympics. As editor of the Star's golf magazine and an avid but lousy player, it's always fun to think about what will happen with plans to get golf into the five-ring circus.
According to Bloomberg, the International Golf Federation has submitted a 76-page document to the International Olympic Committee that outlines how 60 men golfers and 60 women players would compete ina four-round, stroke-play competition to determine medal winners if golf gets the nod for the 2016 Games, which could take place in Chicago.
"Never before, in both mind and spirt, have all levels of golf around the world been so united towards a single goal," federation officials said in a statement.
A friend of mine in the Olympic movement says she's heard the pleas from golf about sportsmanship and the Olympic ideals and how golf matches up with the Olympic movement and that she's impressed. But who knows what chance they have of success.
The plan calls for the top 60 players to be based on official world golf rankings. Generally speaking, it sounds like there would be a maximum of two players per country, although the top 15-ranked players would be automatically eligible and wouldn't count under the formula.
The U.S. has five men in the top 15, while England and Sweden both have two.
The federation said the golf schedule would be fixed so that there wouldn't be a conflict in dates, which might mean having to move the British Open from late July or, more likely, the PGA Championship from its usual August date. They also said the best players in the world would be available, although it's unlikely anyone could be forced to play.
Tiger Woods has sounded a little iffy on the idea. But Canada's Mike Weir, who jumped to number 17 in the world rankings after coming second at Pebble Beach on the weekend, has appeared eager.
The last time golf was in the Olympics was in 1904 in St. Louis, when George Lyon of Toronto won the gold medal - and walked through the clubhouse on his hands to celebrate.
Also trying to get onto the agenda for 2016 are baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, squash and softball. Softball appeared to pick up a solid head of steam when the U.S. monopoly on the gold medal was broken at the Beijing Games. If softball gets back in, that would leave baseball (which is having PR problems galore of late), rugby sevens, karate, roller sports, squash and golf to battle it out. Although there's no guarantee the IOC will even vote to add two more sports in the first place.
"We are confident that our responses to the IOC questionnaire will position our sport favourably as we move into the final run of the bid process," said International Softball Federation president Don Porter.
Said International Rugby Board chief Bernard Lapasset: "Sevens is already successfully integrated in major international multi-sport events such as the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games, the Pan American Games and the World Games and it has a proven track record of filling stadia - the Commonwealth Games 2006 Sevens tournament was attended by 150,000 over three days, second only to track and field."
IOC voters will take up the issue at a meeting in Copenhagen in October. They'll also decide at that meeting where to stage the 2016 Summer Games. The four finalists are Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. Some guy named Obama might be pushing for Chicago, we hear. But Madrid has former IOC boss Juan Antonio Samaranch in their corner.
HOCKEY LOGO ... BLAH, BLAH, BLAH
Don't know about you, but this big fuss over what logo the Canadian hockey team wears on its uniforms strikes me as really dumb. Sure, let's be historical. But isn't the point to win the gold medal and not to worry about what Canada's team is wearing when it finally competes?
Guess I'm just not enough of a hockey guy.