Do any Olympic sports use navigation skills? Divers and gymnasts show amazing spatial awareness but it’s not quite navigation. The more you think about it the more it is apparent that navigation skills hardly feature at all. Most competitors have spent the past four years training in an identical environment. The only difference is the presence of other competitors.
Hours of repetition just doesn’t sound right for navigation skills. Navigators, after all, prove their worth by boldly going where no man has gone before.
I have a theory that long ago orienteering used to be an Olympic sport. The problem was, where did one stand as a spectator? Where is the best place to see people making stupid mistakes and getting lost? Impossible to know. Second best was gathering at the last 100m straight. It was not as much fun but at least you were guaranteed some action. Over time it became clear that it was even more exciting to hold back the leaders to let the navigationally challenged catch up and then let everyone start the last 100m together. Now the navigation bit is left to the competitors to carry out in their own time. It’s called finding the stadium.
Earlier in the Rio games officials had to use bolt cutters to get in to a stadium having lost the keys. This would make a great spectator sport but you would have to be given prior notice in order to get a good seat. Sport only works in an unreal world of constraints and rules.
What makes the Olympics fun to watch is that all the action takes place in a perfectly prepared subset of real life where the objectives are 100% clear and opportunities for “doh – now why did I do that” silly blunders have been minimized. Hence we do not see people achieving world-record times over 1000m but being disqualified for having accidentally run the wrong way. We don’t see people turning up in the diving pool wearing fencing gear. We don’t see Andy Murray arriving for the tennis final having left his kit at home along with his pack lunch.
No, sport is escapism and total cock-ups do tend to ruin the enjoyment.
Now why isn’t cricket an Olympic sport? I rest my case.