Let’s Discuss: Olympic Eventing

In the face of those that doubt Eventing’s place in the Olympics, that say it doesn’t require skill or strength or whatever that X factor is that apparently makes you worthy of being deemed an Olympic athlete… I say watch this.

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/ever-wonder-which-summer-olympic-sport-most-dangerous

No one enjoys watching falls, and I admit my stomach lurched multiple times watching this video. But the fact of the matter is that eventers lay everything on the line when they leave the start box, every time. It boggles the mind to try and understand how every 4 years we have to defend ourselves on two different fronts to the “unhorsey” public.

The first front being that we find ourselves insisting it’s not easy to be a 4* eventer, which is most easily demonstrated by showing those naysayers how quickly things go wrong if you are not at the top of your game. The second front being the constant battle to make our sport safer and yet still retain the essence of what it means to run across the country.

The eventing community itself has been having a lot of internal dialogue about our place in the Olympics. Does the IOC’s dictates hurt our sport? Do they neuter our ability to keep the essence of the sport alive? Some would say yes, and that the final castration came in the adoption of the short format several years ago. From the other side of the coin, does our place in the Olympics offer us a platform for public viewing that gives us an opportunity we so desperately need- to get financial and other support from those not in the trenches of the sport- and does that make some of the IOC’s constraints worthwhile?

I certainly don’t have the answer, but would love to hear your opinion- what do you think? Is the Olympics the right venue as the pinnacle of International Eventing? If so, how do we use that opportunity to garner public support for the sport? If you think we should abandon our tenuous position in the Olympics, what do you think the sport would gain from being free of the IOC’s constraints and rules?

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: Olympic Eventing

  1. I think Equestrian sports as a whole can benefit from the PR afforded by being in the Olympics, but clearly something is not working. I definitely don’t know the best answer, but I think a lot can be done to make our sports more accessible to the general public, without having to change the format of eventing or any of the other Olympic sports. Some examples would be choosing commentators that are helpful for the non-equestrian, making the way scoring works much more transparent, and talking about what goes into preparing a horse and rider for the Olympics.

  2. I can’t help feeling that most Olympic sports face controversy surrounding their place in the games, and would even go as far as saying that it’s beneficial as it creates further hype around the event.

    Before the games even started I was seeing posts floating around Facebook advising people to tune in to the eventing as the viewers were being monitored to decide if the sport should be removed. I later saw an almost identical post regarding cycling I think it was, and a part of me thinks its just a marketing strategy…

    Nevertheless, I’d be sad to see eventing dropped from the Olympic games. They’re a great platform to promote equestrian sports to a non-equestrian community, and a great opportunity for our riders to gain some media exposure to secure well deserved sponsorship.

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