Olympic Sports

Indoor Volleyball is a great sport to get behind during the Games

Since I was a kid, I gravitated towards the lesser popular things in sports. The minor leagues, mid-major basketball teams, etc. I guess it is that underdog appeal, just taken to the next level in following those teams and stories from the beginning, not just near the Cinderella end. So it should come as no surprise that when the Olympic Games arrive, I enjoy Archery just as much as Swimming. In fact, I remember being younger and imagining a TV channel where each channel was dedicated to a sport. That wish has materialized during the last few games as each sport is broadcast live online (through NBC Sports), giving us the joy to pick which sport and event to watch. Needless to say, my production drops off during those two weeks.

This Summer Olympics feels different because of the awful going-ons in Brazil. There are certainly issues (see this NY Times article) and one should not ignore the many problems for Brazilians directly caused by hosting the games. But despite my guilt, I (just like the rest of the world) will tune in and follow/watch these games. Stadium Journey has a nice preview of the stadiums and venues, so I wanted to highlight the sports you should check out. Here in the United States, we have a remarkable variation of sports with many options for both participation and attending. Thus, it is hard for a “foreign” sport to squeeze in and find attention. The Olympics provide a great opportunity to learn, follow and enjoy something you may not be used to with competition at it’s best. Even though the popular Olympic sports only shine once every years, I invite you for a couple nights to skip the heavy dosage of prime-time swimming, storytelling, track, commercials and beach volleyball and check these out…

1)  Handball

A combination of basketball, soccer and hockey…what’s not to like! I know that anyone that is a general sports fan would love this. Europe is the continent that plays the most and it certainly is a mix of our favorite sports. Enjoy some highlights.

2)  Volleyball

While the beach is fun, I prefer the 6-on-6 indoor game. High Schools and Colleges have decent participation and I played in an intramural league in college that was a blast. The last few years, I’ve visited a couple NCAA venues and really enjoyed watching the contest. The strategy involved is intriguing and the matches are quick and fun to watch. Have you ever noticed how happy the women’s volleyball players are? I think this is the only sport with so many smiling athletes. 

3)  Table Tennis

OK, there is a bias here because I had some heated ping-pong battles in high school. It can be hard to follow with the speed of the ball, but the rallies are intense. I love when someone throws a drop shot in there. Like tennis, there is both singles and doubles.

4)  Badminton

Similar to table tennis, the birdie goes at light speed (like 200mph fast) and unlike a bright, yellow tennis ball, the white shuttlecock is hard to pick out. Nonetheless, it’s great to watch and it would be even better if NBC brought back Bill Clement to commentate.

5)  Trampoline

Anytime this comes on, I feel like everyone collectively says “Oooohh Cooool”. Visually appealing, trampoline offers remarkable routines and skill. The intricacies and scoring of the sport make it hard to completely get in to, but there is certainly a hook that will have observers glued on it for awhile.



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