Olympic Basketball and the Emergence of International Stars

Olympic Basketball is rich in history and thanks to the huge growth of international basketball in the past two decades it is only getting richer. Since the Dream Team took center stage in Barcelona in 1992 and NBA players have been allowed to compete in the Olympics international basketball has only become more competitive.

The emergence of world class international players over the past decades has led to the growth in popularity of international competitions such as the Euroleague, Eurobasket, the World Championships and the Olympics. Players such as Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Yao Ming, Andrei Kirilenko, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have become international superstars as the chance of getting a big time NBA contract has become real for international players.

It’s important not to forget though the international stars who brought the popularity of basketball to the world and I’m not just talking about Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson but foreign players such as Chicago Bulls three time championship winning players Luc Longley and Toni Kukoc or former Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis.

In recent weeks several American born players and European players have been leaving the NBA to go and play in Europe. We aren’t talking about 12th man on the roster players either with contributors like Carlos Arroyo, Carlos Delfino and Gordan Giricek leaving to play abroad in Europe. So what has brought about the international growth of basketball and the success of foreign players and leagues?

Well first lets not forget the reason why basketball has become so popular for kids growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. During that period the popularity of the NBA and basketball grow through the popularity and marketing of players like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and of course Michael Jordan.

These players became role models for a whole generation kids all around the world and basketball coaches in foreign suddenly had access to a larger pool of talent.

Traditionally around the world most kids have grown up playing soccer and basketball has been a less popular sport that most people stereotyped it as a sport only for freakishly tall people. Fortunately at the same time the younger generations have been growing taller as basketball has gone into the main stream.

Making it one of the most popular sports to play around the globe. With more technically and fundamentally coaches abroad and access to top young talent international basketball has been able to flourish. International high school and college programs are less regulated than in the United States meaning that coaching staff have access to work with players all year round. In the future its likely we will see more and more international stars playing in the NBA and NBA stars playing abroad and the globalization sport is only a good thing for the development of the NBA and the sport in general.

Elite Deaf Athletes Have Their Own Olympics

Every four years, the world becomes caught up in the Olympics. During that short span of days, people who might never ordinarily watch swimming, skiing, tennis or a pantheon of other sports, sit entranced and watch them, just because it’s the Olympics. The drama, the medals, the emotions – it’s almost addictive. “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat,” indeed.

For athletes with challenges that prevent their participation in the Olympics, there are the Paralympics or the Special Olympics. In the Paralympics, spectators can see athletes with physical challenges who may compete in wheelchairs or with the assistance of other physical adaptations. Athletes with mental challenges can also experience the thrill of competition in the Special Olympics.

But where do deaf athletes fit in? Their deafness does not, in itself, prevent athletic participation. Deafness does not cause a person to run more slowly, swing a racket less skillfully, or make a poor turn at the end of a pool lane. Why do we not see deaf athletes competing alongside Kerri Walsh and Michael Phelps?

There are two reasons. The first is that a deaf athlete would be at a disadvantage in competition because he or she could not hear the start pistol, whistles, bells, or other auditory signals. This could cause the athlete to start with a small delay. As was made clear with one of Michael Phelps’ wins, the smallest fraction of a second can make the difference between a gold medal and a silver medal. The second reason is that a deaf athlete could not experience the feeling of “inclusion” because he or she could not engage in spontaneous interaction with his or her hearing peers. There would always be a separation between the deaf athlete and the hearing athletes. Spectators are interested in the sports, but the participants also take away with them wonderful memories of the fun of meeting and interacting with other athletes. Much of this experience would be denied to deaf athletes simply as a result of their deafness.

What arena do elite deaf athletes have for international competition? In 1924, what is now called the Deaflympics were instituted under the name of the International Games for the Deaf. They were the first games held for a group with a disability. The Deaflympics are fully sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.

Like the Olympics, the Deaflympics are held in a different host city every four years. Since 1949 there have been both summer games and winter games as well. There are some notable differences, however, in how athletes qualify for these games and in how the games are run.

In order the qualify for the Deaflympics, an athlete must have a hearing loss of 55 decibels or more in the “better ear,” and must submit an audiogram, or a chart showing his hearing loss, to prove it. An audiogram showing borderline hearing loss comes under special review before the athlete is accepted into the games. Athletes are forbidden to use hearing aids or cochlear implants during the games. Instead of starter pistols, track events begin with a light flash; football referees wave a flag instead of blowing a whistle. In addition, unlike the Paralympics and the Special Olympics which are run primarily by non-disabled people, the Deaflympics are run by deaf people for deaf athletes.

Hundreds of athletes participate in the winter games and thousands compete in the summer games. Athletes and officials come from all over the world. These games offer a unique opportunity for interaction between deaf athletes who were educated in traditional schools solely for the deaf and those who came from a mainstreamed school environment, where they studied alongside hearing classmates.

Snowboarding and the Rise to Olympic Competition

Snowboard competition in the recent years has been gaining popularity among all winter sports. By reflecting back on the past history of snowboarding, we can view the process of how the sport gained popularity and even an inclusion of an Olympic game.

Roughly around the mid nineteen sixties, Sherman Poppen is believed to have started the snowboarding revolution. By nailing skis together for his kids, Poppen saw the marketing potential of the boards, decided to sell them. Production was underway and the revolution was put in order.

The very first snowboarding event/competition took place in 1982. This event was the precursor for the International Snowboarding Federation. Eventually as the years passed by, more and more competitions were held and more and more snow boarders appeared on the slopes. Many began to take notice of the rise of popularity and began to try out snow boarding for themselves.

In 1998, snowboarding climaxed in the Winter Olympics of Nagano Japan. Just four years later, snowboarding was one of the most popular and recognized winter olympic event. Snowboard competition, because of these advancements, continue to grow both in the United States and internationally. Nearly ever winter that goes by has a number of snowboarding events both home and abroad. Some of the competitions help many athletes prepare for the next set of olympic games. By constantly competeting, snow boarders are able to stay in shape and on top of their game.

The increased popularity of being an olympic sport as well as the sizeable fan base, has helped smowboarding propel itself to one of the most recognizable winter olympic games. The trend is set to continue. If you haven’t already, grab a snow board and hit the slopes. Who knows, you may be ready to compete in the next snowboarding competition.

The Olympic Games and Business

Nothing on earth can bring humanity together than the Olympic Games. It also applies that nothing can bring global business together than the quadrennial meet.

Last weekend, the mountain city of Turin, host to Italy’s industrial revolution and the holiest relic in Roman Catholicism, became host to more than 2,000 athletes from some 88 participating nations.

The twentieth edition of the Olympic Winter Games, like other Winter and Summer Olympiads, also brought in a host of businesses. These companies collaborate with the local government of the host city with guidance from the International Olympic Committee to ensure a successful staging of the sports meet.

How does funding funnel in?

The topic of funding starts with a tedious selection process that happens a year after the closing of a previous Olympic Games. Take for example the selection process for Turin and London which will host the thirty-first edition of the Summer Olympiad in 2012. All cities wishing to host the games must submit their proposal that describes the funding to be allotted for hosting. To take a cue from London’s winning bid, it proposed the construction of several sports venues plus the refurbishing of existing infrastructure to accommodate the daily influx of athletes and tourists. Their bid swelled to $15 billion. It was estimated that Turin spent some $9 billion dollars to successfully host the Games. It is expected that that figure will rise when Vancouver in British Columbia will host the twenty-first edition of the Winter Olympiad in 2010.

The money used for the bidding came from both the city government (it sometimes involves the federal or national government) and businessmen who are cashing in for free exposure.

One might ask what business got to do with the Olympic Games.

Well, every Olympiad brings together an estimated five billion people from all over the globe through television, radio, print, and the Internet. If one company chooses to advertise its product in the uniform of athletes, that is international publicity.

Aside from this unconscious method of marketing, there are tie-ups between broadcasters and companies. This is more evident in the onslaught of products continuously aired during commercials at a timeslot earmarked for the coverage of an Olympic sport. It is also noticeable how products are plastered on venues.

Kiteboarding Knocked Out of The 2016 Olympics

Kiteboarders around the world have been left stunned by the decision to exclude the sport from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In this article we take a look at the decision and the likely effect on the sport.

At a meeting in Ireland of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) on November 10th the earlier decision to include Kiteboarding in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio was dramatically reversed. Kiteboarding, which is currently the fastest growing watersport worldwide, had been chosen instead of Windsurfing.

In November 2011 an evaluation group was appointed to examine kiteboarding formats with the board events for Rio 2016 defined as ‘windsurfing and/or kiteboarding’. The Evaluation Group recommended that kiteboarding be included in the ISAF Event family, including the ISAF Sailing World Cup and the ISAF Sailing World Championships, but Council went one step further and selected Kiteboarding for the Rio 2016 OlympicSailing Competition as well.

Kitesurfers across the globe celebrated the decision feeling that kiteboarding had finally been recognised as a legitimate watersport and looked forward to the sport becoming more popular in the coming years.

However in a surprise reversal of fortune, the ISAF voted to overturn the decision and re-instate Windsurfing as an Olympic sport.

As you would expect reactions from the two camps are very different. Sir Richard Branson, who is a keen kitesurfer is quoted as saying “It is a huge disappointment for all kitesurfers worldwide who have been training hard since it was announced it was going to be in the Rio Olympics,” he said. “What a shame, too, for all the windsurfers who spent the last year training to become kitesurfers.”

A representative of the British Kitesurfing Association (BKSA) said: “Obviously we’re disappointed but we understand there was a lot of pressure from the windsurfing community, especially within those nations that previously voted in favour of the switch.”

Israel’s sailing chief, Yehuda Mayan, blamed the u turn on ambiguous language translations in voting for kiteboarding, saying that delegates had probably been confused. The Spanish Sailing Federation has since acknowledged that its representative voted for kiteboarding by mistake.

If this is the case, the ISAF should be ashamed by the lack of professionalism in their decision making process. Surely you would expect an organisation of this standing to have high quality professional interpreters at their disposal, to make sure that confusion of this nature does not occur.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has been at the forefront of those campaigning for the reinstatement of windsurfing and its performance director, John Derbyshire, said: “We have a very strong youth pathway and some 10,000 windsurfing members, so on their behalf we are delighted with the decision. We obviously have great compassion towards the kitesurfing community, with whom we have been working very closely.”

So it looks as though the “new kids on the block”- kitesurfing, will have to wait a little longer to gain recognition by the sailing establishment. However one thing is certain, the kiteboarding community will not take the decision lying down and will continue to campaign for inclusion in the Olympics, if not 2016 then maybe 2020.