Despite being one of the most popular watersports, water skiing is not recognized as an Olympic Sport. It was featured in the 1972 Munich Olympics as a demonstration sport but has not gained the Olympic committee’s approval since. Water skiing can be competitive and exciting, so why is it not an Olympic sport yet?
Water skiing is not an Olympic sport because it involves a complex scoring system, requires gas-powered boats, and lacks universal popularity. The biggest hurdle to water skiing in the Olympics is its reliance on engine power.
This article will discuss why water skiing is not an Olympic sport in detail. It will also look at why the Olympic committee repeatedly rejected adding this sport and whether it has a chance of ever being added to the Olympics in the future.
Why Was Water Skiing Rejected As an Olympic Sport?
Water skiing can be competitive and brings some thrill not present in many sports. It’s also a relatively safe sport and matches the competitive scoring requirements present in many sports. In addition, there are many successful water skiing tournaments worldwide that attract an enthusiastic audience. So, why has water skiing been rejected from the Olympics?
Water skiing has been rejected from the Olympics primarily because of variable human factors, a reliance on technology, and a lack of worldwide popularity. Even though its popularity is rising, there are still questions about judging procedure, viewership enthusiasm, and competitiveness.
Let’s break down each of these factors to understand why water skiing didn’t get Olympic approval:
Water Skiing’s Reliance on Technology
The reliance on a gas engine is the primary reason why water skiing isn’t an Olympic sport. The Olympics has largely been focused on sports that require little to no equipment.
Water skiing requires expensive motorboats and other equipment, which could be difficult for the Olympic committees to organize and evaluate.
Black and White Judging in Water Skiing
Water skiing is very similar to Olympic horse riding. There are certain obstacles that the athletes have to pass at a specific speed. Either the athlete makes the turn within the boundary or not. This often makes it difficult for judges to gauge which athlete made a better turn.
Similarly, judges may struggle to measure tricks performed by skiers since water skiing is a fast sport. Until a set of clear scoring rules is introduced, it’s unlikely that water skiing will be approved at the Olympics.
Water Skiing Lacks Worldwide Popularity
When water skiing was presented to the Canadian Olympic Committee, more than 30,000 online voters backed the sport’s Olympic inclusion. Unfortunately, while recreational water skiing is popular worldwide, water skiing as a sport is only practiced in a few countries.
However, this trend is rapidly changing with more people starting to practice variations of water skiing. The recent boom in wakeboarding will also help the sport grow worldwide.
How Technology Affects Water Skiing as a Competitive Sport?
One of the primary reasons for not including water skiing in the Olympics is reliance on technology. However, since boat power and skis will be the same for all participants, there shouldn’t be a competitive gap caused by technology.
The technology used by boats has evolved and significantly impacts the water skier’s performance. Yet, when you consider that all participants ski with the same boat, this technological advantage becomes obsolete.
Moreover, the ski design is very similar to the wooden skis of the 1800s. Therefore, technological advances have not changed the sport of water skiing significantly. The scoring issues have more to do with the boat driver than the boat capacity.
Can the Boat Driver Affect the Water Skier’s Score?
The boat driver won’t significantly impact the water skier’s performance in recreational water skiing. However, the boat driver can significantly affect the skier by adjusting speed control and course correction timing on a higher competitive level.
An experienced driver completely changes the skier’s performance this way. This is a significant hurdle to Olympic inclusion since the primary control should be with the athlete in any sport.
However, different proposals have been put forward to solve this problem. The best solution would be to make water skiing a dual-person sport. Both the boat driver and the participant will be on the same team, and both will share the medal. This may solve the driver-skier team conflict and result in more competitive water skiing competitions.
Is Water Skiing Not in the Olympics Due to Its Environmental Impact?
The environmental impact of gas-powered boats has affected the decision not to include water skiing in the Olympics although it hasn’t been cited as an official reason. Most Olympic sports are “engine free,” and water skiing doesn’t fit this category.
Many other Olympic sports rely on some form of technology. For example, shooting, skateboarding, and sailing are all sports that can’t be done without technology. However, even shooting is powered by potential energy, and no other Olympic sport is gas-powered.
So, unless solar-powered or gravity boats are introduced in water skiing, it’s unlikely that the Olympics will accept it.
Can Water Skiing Ever Make It to the Olympics?
It’s unlikely that water skiing can make it to the Olympics in its current form. However, if the sport establishes suitable scoring rules and guidelines that fit the Olympic standards and overcome the issue of its environmental impact, the Olympic Committee might consider it.
Meanwhile, wakeboarding and cable skiing have a better chance of being approved since they meet many of the requirements for Olympic sports.
It will most likely take time since the Olympic committee is hesitant to add any sport that’s not athlete or gravity powered. Yet, with the probable inclusion of motorsports and e-sports in the near future, water skiing may not be far away.
Water Skiing Not an Olympic Sport – Summary
The popularity of water skiing is growing rapidly, and many people are pushing for its inclusion in the Olympics. However, certain human and technological obstacles will have to be removed to include the sport in the Olympics.
In addition, with more global water skiing tournaments taking place each year, it may not be very long before water skiing makes its way to the Olympics. But for now, you’re better off trying to get a medal with snow skiing instead!