Dom Joly: Hang on to your joysticks for Olympics with video games

Trackside and Trigger Happy: The skills needed to get to the top level in Call of Duty 4 are far superior to those required of an air pistol "athlete"

These are my very first Olympics and overall I'm absolutely blown away by the whole thing. It's the sheer scale of the operation that defies belief. Sometimes, when I'm rushing between venues I do wonder whether it hasn't all got a little bit out of hand. There are certain events here that just don't feel ... right – they don't feel Olympian somehow, but it's an intangible thing. Football and tennis are two that immediately spring to mind but I thought I was just being unfair. Then I shared a scary Beijing taxi to a BBC studio with Steve Backley, the formidable ex-javelin thrower. He summed the whole conundrum up perfectly. In his view, nothing should be at the Olympics if being there doesn't represent the pinnacle of their sport. He was bang on. Overpaid footballers and spoilt tennis stars have enough glory moments for themselves – an Olympic medal is just another gong to stash in their trophy cribs.

The "Backley Theory", as I now call it, doesn't quite solve all my concerns. It doesn't explain why some top international sports are in the Games and others aren't. If you're going to have tennis and football, then why not golf and cricket? Both used to be – cricket was in the Paris Olympics of 1900 and consisted of two teams – England and France. The French team was made up almost exclusively of diplomats from the British embassy. Golf was also an Olympic sport but was discontinued in 1904.

Also, why are quirkier events such as beach volleyball or synchronised swimming eligible when others are not? How about skateboarding, waterskiing ... even dodgeball? God, I love dodgeball – now there's a fun spectator sport.

The Winter Olympics seem to be a lot hipper than their summer cousins. The half-pipe, trick skiing, hot-dogging etc are now part and parcel of the whole thing. Such gnarly activity would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago, but there is no equivalent in Beijing. Well, maybe one – BMX, the only new sport allowed into these Olympics (fortunately for GB we're favourites), and not one was allowed into Athens. Baseball and softball have been eliminated from 2012 onwards (at least they got that right – thank the Lord, how dull are they?) but nothing else has been discarded since 1936 when they discontinued polo.

So what makes something eligible to be included in the Games? The rules state that "to be added to the Summer Olympics, a sport or discipline must be widely practised by men in at least 75 countries on four continents and by women in at least 40 countries on three continents".

Well, with that criterion in mind – how about they crack on and add some new stuff like paintball, table football or video gaming?

I love table football and that's got to be as exciting to watch as table tennis. It might even be a football tournament we could qualify for.

And I'm not joking about video gaming either – with the advent of online gaming, hundreds of millions of people are already involved in vast virtual worldwide competitions and the possibilities for games are endless. What big difference is there between someone squeezing the trigger on an air pistol and a button on their joystick?

I would even venture that the skills and training needed to get to the top level in a video game like, say Call of Duty 4 are far superior to those required of an air pistol "athlete".

OK, I'm a little biased on Call of Duty 4 because I play it a lot and it has a really freaky thing that allows you to see how much of your life you have spent playing (sorry ... training) on it – I've currently spent 23 entire days of my life on it (that's 552 hours last year alone).

My overall point, however, is a serious one: why not have video games in the Olympics? They are all about intensive practice, extreme hand-eye co-ordination, extreme competition and they just happen to be unbelievably popular.

I think it's time that the International Olympic Committee really took a big, brave step and did a bit of culling around the edges, using the "Backley Theory", of the spoilt big-money sports. Keep the Olympic core of track and field, swimming and gymnastics, and then get really adventurous around the fringes.

Maybe they should be opened up to a vote. I, for one, am going to get some serious training in on Call of Duty 4 when I get back from Beijing. You never know what might happen at 2012. I might just get that call telling me that my country needs me and don't worry ... I'll be ready.

While we're at it – one of the things that the Olympics has really made me rethink is whether we shouldn't be represented internationally in all sports as Great Britain rather than as our individual home countries. Aren't we just further weakening our chances of international success unnecessarily?

I'd understand it if we never, ever did it, but in the Olympics we all compete under one flag (even grumpy Scot Andy Murray), so why can't we do it for everything else?

To be GB or not to be GB? That is the eternal question

While we're at it – one of the things that the Olympics has really made me rethink is whether we shouldn't be represented internationally in all sports as Great Britain rather than as our individual home countries.

Aren't we just further weakening out chances of international success unnecessarily?

Aren't Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, England just three countries too many?

I'd understand it if we never, ever did it, but in the Olympics we all compete under one flag (even grumpy Scot Andy Murray), so why can't we do if for everything else?

Beginning of the end – again

One of the real joys of being out in the smog in Beijing is that I can avoid the beginning of the Premier League. I'm really not big on football, so this is always a sad time for me. It means that the dark nights of winter approach and cricket is coming to an end... Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible