Olympic Basketball Needs More Medal Events | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Olympic Basketball Needs More Medal Events

Updated: August 25, 2008

Now that the greatest Olympics of my lifetime (of 28 years) has concluded, it’s time for me to wonder, why do team sports get slighted in terms of medal events?

The dedication it takes for one to succeed at an individual event is truly amazing. All of the worldwide buzz and attention shed upon Michael Phelps and his accomplishment of eight gold medals is more than justified. At no point have I felt over-saturated with the media coverage surrounding Phelps.

However, something must be said about the unity and cohesion it takes to succeed as a team. It’s a display of the true human spirit of being able to work together to accomplish one goal. In my opinion, this is more difficult to achieve than striving for Olympic success alone….if only slightly, because my intent is not to subtract from individual competition.

Focusing on swimming, there are 14 individual medal events and three “team” relay events for both men and women. In comparison, basketball and other team sports have only one shot, each for men and women, in a tournament style medal chase. I’m concentrating on basketball because it is my favorite sport (and this is a Washington Wizards based blog), but basketball is also unique compared to other team sports in that you can practice many skills of the game by yourself. Granted, 12 total gold medals are doled out to each individual member of the winning basketball team.

Which brings me to the point of this post, we need more Olympic medal events for basketball. During NBA All-Star weekend, there are at least four events which would easily translate to the international level: dunk contest, three-point contest, and the skills challenge (each separate events for men and women….well, except for dunking, unless you want to use 8 ft. rims), and then a mixed-gendered shooting stars contest. And I feel confident saying that most other professional basketball leagues spanning the globe have similar events.

How cool would it be to see players from around the world go head to head in these newly added events? Plus, each one is entertaining in a unique way and would attract more attention to Olympic team sports (assuming that similar skills competitions could be set up for other team sports such as spiking a volleyball into a trash can or a soccer shoot out).

Now, the logistics of who would compete would be an issue. I can’t see only allowing players from countries whose teams have qualified for the Olympics participate. FIBA would have to be involved, setting up qualifying events in each of their continental tournaments (FIBA Africa, FIBA Americas, FIBA Asia, FIBA Europe, and FIBA Oceania).

Seemingly the greatest achievement of such individual event inclusion would be allowing countries, otherwise with no chance of ever qualifying for the team event, have hope that they can be represented on the international basketball stage. Such events in basketball would promote the globalization of the sport, and that’s something that FIBA, David Stern, and any other basketball governing body, should support.

Kyle Weidie on EmailKyle Weidie on GoogleKyle Weidie on InstagramKyle Weidie on LinkedinKyle Weidie on TwitterKyle Weidie on Youtube
Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.

  • brandon hoffman


  • www.stetsports.com

    If table tennis and badminton can be Olympic sports, surely the three-point shootout can get it in on the international stage.

  • dmosones

    Interesting thought. I imagine all those mythical guys on youtube would be competing if there were a dunk contest. That would certainly be something to see. I do think there is something to the idea but the issue I am trying to figure out is whether or not the novelty would diminish the spirit and seriousness of the team game. Don’t get me wrong, watching a 3 point contest on an international stage and the dunk contest being judged liked gymnastics would be awesome but I somewhat liken the athletes to those that compete in rhythmic gymnastics or the trampoline. Basically, basketball players that aren’t good enough to do the real thing. That said, I know how much I enjoy the all-star weekend events…

    On a different but somewhat related note, I am tossing around whether medals for some team sports should be weighted more for medal count reasons. Yes, it’s a backlash to China saying that they have more golds but I do think that the effort put forth by a team such as volleyball or basketball should count for more than one individual archer. I don’t think it’s going to happen and it’s purely for boasting purposes but hey, isn’t being better one of the main underlying points of any competition?