Why I don’t see Freestyle Football becoming an Olympic Sport
There’s no doubt that freestyle football is growing in popularity, recognition and participants. Mainly due in my opinion to social media these days, it captures the attention of many people with ease.
And why not? Our sport is a beautiful blend of many things: hard work, creative minds, grace, an incredibly supportive community consisting of people of varying cultures and backgrounds from all over the world. The list goes on.
But the cogs in my head were fully in motion as I spotted on Facebook an ongoing discussion of a topic which has often been imagined and considered by many freestylers already:
“Is it plausible that one day freestyle football could become an Olympic sport?”
My honest feelings are no it can not. Certainly not as things are at the minute and I shall elaborate why.
But firstly, it’s probably important to explain my own personal standpoint. I would certainly consider myself a ‘purist’ when it comes to Freestyle Football. If hypothetically I were only allowed to compete in one competition, it would be Superball. Or a competition of this kind of nature. Why? Because it’s by freestylers, for freestylers. It is freestyle in its ‘purest’ form. So winning this (one can dream haha) would be the most valuable to me.
If like me, you would put yourself at this end of the spectrum, maybe you would be similar to me when I say I am not 100 percent sure about how much publicity freestyling should get. I say this because I am not entirely sure bringing something like this away from the ‘raw’ and ‘underground’ scene is always the best outcome. Certainly pros and cons that I will no doubt write about another day. The effects of which can potentially have a damaging effect on the ‘value’ of the sport that things such as Superball stand for. (would potentially have to be on an enormous scale here to have this effect but you get my point I’m sure).
Already I am seeing social media stacked bin shots, trick shots etc and all other things that continue to tip-toe around the grey area that is the divide between ‘Freestyle Football’ and everything else. I am merely saying with increased growth in the sport, it is hard to accurately suggest what direction the sport would move in and how it would be perceived.
The point I’m getting at is that even with participants growing in numbers alone this is not enough to warrant something becoming an Olympic sport right? There has to be a demand for it.
In order for this to happen freestyle would have to reach the levels that current Olympic sports already occupy. Now, a major issue here is that the Olympics isn’t just something that occurs in the summer every 4 years.
The Olympics is made up of God knows how many hours of practice for athletes as they train towards the event. In addition to an insane amount of planning by committees.
Therefore, there needs to be adequate facilities, funds and support to us, the athletes! Something which is far from a reality at the minute. Sponsorships are a rare novelty and facilities for most are a responsibility down to you.
The above paragraph is intended to be made a comparison between other current Olympic sports, in my opinion money is a huge factor and it is also a mediator to how big this sport could grow.
I’m not intending to come across as pessimistic. We should consider though that technically, Freestyle Football is still a new, niche sport. At the rate it is growing the prospect of making it into a competitive realm of the Olympics would be somewhat surreal. But all ideas start off like that and prosper with the right signs of encouragement.
My biggest critique of the idea of why I don’t see it becoming a reality is actually a more simple one: the issues of objectivity.
For the sake of discussion, I am assuming when we talk about freestyle becoming an Olympic sport, most freestylers are referring to the battle format. 2 freestylers, 3 minute, alternating every 30 seconds etc.
This is the bit that causes the most difficulty. There is always going to be a huge amount of subjectivity, bias etc. In judging. I can certainly agree with the argument that this is something that makes our sport unique and great, but on the Olympic stage this is simply not welcome.
While there are already sports in the Olympic games that contain elements of subjectivity (gymnastics, equestrian, figure skating etc), I feel as a spectator, and also for a neutral, this is something that once again you simply would struggle to determine how to perceive the criteria in judging freestyle battles.
I guess the classic example would be for someone back home cheering a backflip way more than a PATW combo. But it’s a valid point. How do we bring the rest of the world up to speed with ‘the judging criteria’ that is currently in place for various competitions? How do we make it as objective as possible? It’s an ongoing debate which I personally don’t see a perfect solution unless we radically change the whole sport.
Overall in conclusion I do not see Freestyle Football becoming an Olympic sport. Certainly not anytime soon anyway. I am not totally against the idea either though. I am quite on the fence about it as it would have lots of pros and cons. One of the pros however is to inspire others, and what better stage to do that than the Olympic games.
Thanks for reading!
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