Up Close & Personal With Olympic Sailing

May 26, 2012

Did you know that the pictograms for the individual Olympic sports change with each Olympics?   A quick look at the 2012 Olympic pictograms makes one thing painfully obvious: sailing is the only sport where the sports "equipment" actually overshadows the athlete! Can you identify the sport for each icon?  Which icons give you the best physical sense of the sport? Which make the sport look like something interesting to watch?  The diver, with toes pointed, spinning in a tight tuck?  The basketball player in mid-air about to dunk the ball?  The Beach Volleyball player fully outstreatched going for a dig? In every other Olympic sport's pictogram, the physical effort involved is visible, if not compelling. As an Olympics spectator, it is mesmerizing to watch the athletes move with strength, agility and trained precision, (especially in slow-motion replays, where their lightnening fast moves are slowed to reveal their true mastery). And then there's sailing, with the athletes little more than tiny specks, dwarfed by their boat and sail. If the icon conveys any sense of physical effort, it seems more involved with the sail than the athlete. As spectators, do we see arm, leg and stomach muscles tensing with effort? Can we see the athletes' masterful agility during tacks and gybes? Can we relate to their hiking or trimming or helming like we can when the soccer player kicks the ball; the bicyclist pedals up a hill; or the swimmer takes a stroke? The 2012 Olympic sailing pictogram is an accurate illustration of the currently raging debate in our sport - how to better appeal to, and engage, the general spectator audience.  It's a difficult challenge. To me, though, it sure seems that the closer we can get, the better. DJ

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