The Olympics are so special because for 16 days, swimming, shot put, field hockey, rowing and other “marginal” sports are a lot more interesting and a lot more talked about than the most popular sport in the world – football. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I would like to focus on things football can learn from what makes the Olympics so fascinating.
1. It’s all about dosage. For an Olympian, it’s very clear what the most important competition is. An Olympic medal is more important than winning a world or European championship, because the Olympics only happen once every 4 years and the whole world is watching.
Therefore, every heat is crucial, and every slip is a tragedy. This makes everything a lot more thrilling to watch, and gives the audience around the world many monumental moments. A regular football season has the soap opera called “the league”, the more serious series called “The Champions League”, and a mini-series or two, like the ”national cup” and “league cup”.
In short, there are simply too many games, with too little true peaks and climaxes. Football should shorten its schedule. It’s a formula that the NFL achieved long ago: Less games = more interest in each game = crucial moments = eventually more money.
2. True knock-out. Olympic athletes know they have one chance to qualify and one chance for a medal. It makes them focus and usually brings out their best.
Football seems to have endless “second chances” – in the group stages and in the knock-out rounds. A league format has its advantages, but tournaments such as the Champions League or Europa League should feel a lot more like the Olympics.
Make the footballers focus and bring out their best, and make each tournament game crucial.
3. The Olympics answer the questions everybody likes to talk about: Who’s the fastest member of the tribe? who can jump the highest? who’s the strongest? who’s the toughest? Questions that I’m sure the very first homo-sapiens asked themselves and tried to figured out in all sorts of competitions.
They Olympics provide “global answers” to these questions. These questions also exist in football, even though it’s a team sport. Everybody wants a clear answer as to who the fastest footballer is, who’s the best passer, who has the best technique, who’s the strongest tackler and so on.
That’s why I think that it would be cool to conduct the “Football Olympics” every four years.
Competitions will include 100 meter heats, keepy-uppy challenges, dribbling between cones, shooting rounds, wrestling battles and more. I bet a lot of TV stations would battle for the media rights and sponsors would be interested.
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