As the Olympic Winter Games proved, events need to evolve to remain relevant for future generations
At this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, Matthew McConaughey revealed that his hero was himself in 10 years. Really? Nevertheless, McConaughey’s point (or at least what I think his point was) is applicable to sports. Sports cannot simply look at themselves in the present; they have to look continuously at their future selves. Thus, when I heard comments critical of the recent Sochi Olympics (usually from people north of 40) for including X Games events such as snowboard slopestyle, I tried to point out that those critics were denying sports Darwinism. Sports are no more immune to cultural evolution and generational shifts than are music or art. Sports have to appeal to new generations of fans and reflect tastes and attitudes of those new generations.
I love the traditional Olympic events—to me, the downhill in winter and the 100-meter dash in summer are the purest and most exciting Olympic events. However, you can’t deny the excitement and appeal of short-track speedskating or the halfpipe or snowboard cross (and now ski cross). The Sochi Olympics were particularly successful in this regard, not only for the infectious enthusiasm of a new generation of fans who support these events, but also (to an American audience) for the fact that U.S. athletes had great success in them, taking gold in snowboard slopestyle and sweeping the podium in men’s ski slopestyle.