22 August 2008

The Modern Pentathlon: Bane of Sports Snobs and Goal of Past Olympian

Everyone is a critic (present company included).

So it is not that surprising that a journalist has his nose out of joint about the International Olympic Committee deciding to do away with softball as an Olympic sport until future notice. Now, granted, the United States wins it hands down every time the Summer Games roll around. I tend to agree -- because no other country is winning is no reason to get rid of softball.

Nevertheless, a writer for MSNBC says that if the IOC wants to be rid of sports, get rid of more obscure sports. The writer, obscure himself, says start with the modern Pentathlon, an event that combines five separate sports -- shooting, equestrian, running, fencing and swimming. This obscure writer's beef with this obscure event: no one knows what it is. But that is where he is wrong. People who take part in the shooting sports, equestrian events, running, fencing and swimming ARE aware of the event.

Anyway, here is his take on softball's demise at the Olympics and the invention of Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

I am a fan of the Pentathlon, which combines three skill sports with pure athleticism. I'm not surprised that a sports snob would look down his nose at something that combines so many disciplines. It's too easy to make fun of something you don't understand. Plus, Baron de Coubertin was an eccentric who also is easy to poke fun at .

IN RELATED OLYMPICS NEWS, you need to take a look at this wonderful feature video story about Olympic Pentathlon competitor Sheila Taormina of the United States. Already a past Olympian, competing in triathlon and swimming relay events, she had a dream to compete in a third different event. She chose the Pentathlon. Amazingly, she had to learn three of the five sports in order to compete, and nearly lost her home to foreclosure because -- being new to this particular event -- she was unable to secure sponsors to help offset her training and travel costs.

The second of these two stories is incredibly inspirational and worth the time. Be sure to watch the video continue after NBC's inserted commercial break. Plus, you might learn a little bit more about this event. While it is a sport not terribly well known to the general population, the Pentathlon (in my estimation) requires far more athletic ability than badminton.

Of course, now I will have to keep looking over my shoulder for the next few months. Surely, I will have offended the fanatical followers of and participants in competitive badminton . . .

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