Every time the Olympics roll around, the topic of whether obstacle course racing (OCR) should be an Olympic sport is revisited. Most recently Spartan opined on how it should be the Olympic sport (seeming to forget that they are just one piece of the overall sport of OCR). Olympic viewership is down, the Olympic governing board is corrupt and misogynistic, and hosting cities don't benefit financially from hosting. Perhaps the question we should be asking is does OCR want to be part of the Olympics (and if yes, why)?
NBC Rules the Olympic Programming Roost
In the United States, all sports were shown on NBC and their affiliates such as CNBC, USA, Olympic Channel, NBCSN and Peacock. Prior to the Olympics starting, NBCUniversal said it planned to show 7,000 hours of Olympic programming. That's a lot of TV, but let's be realistic here--if you really want the coverage, your sport needs to be shown during primetime. The sports shown on NBC during primetime tend to be the ones we see every year: women's gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, track and field, basketball, and soccer.
Is There a Business Case for OCR to be an Olympic Sport?
When I think about this question, my mind goes to whether there's a business case to be made, because isn't it ultimately about the money? The questions that come to mind for me as things such as:
What are the benefits to the sports that participate in the Olympics? Do they see increased participation? More sponsorship opportunities? More profitable (or an increase in) TV contracts?
Is there a perception that Olympic sports have more credibility? How does that influence participation and growth?
How does participating in the Olympics help the individual athletes for non-mainstream sports?
What would companies such as Spartan expect to happen in their sport as a result of participating in the Olympics and is there data to support these expectations?
What if your sport doesn't get any (or minimal) air time at all during the broadcasts? Then what?
My attempts to get answers for these questions for current Olympic sports didn't provide any insight. Don't get me wrong--I think it would be an amazing experience as an athlete just to go to the Games. But the sport itself needs to quantify what's in it for them if they become an Olympic sport. Because if there aren't any tangible benefits, then it seems like a waste of money.
What do you think? Should the money be ignored? Is this win-win no matter what?