Skeeball Should Be in the Olympics

Skeeball is one of the most recognizable games of the past 100 years. The objective is simple enough, even for the youngest of gamers to understand, yet the skills necessary to compete at the highest level, or obtain the arcade’s high score for that matter, requires an immense amount of practice and precision. Unlike Skeeball’s second-cousin-once-removed, bowling, simply hurling the ball down the lane in a semi-straight line will not result in a respectable score. To truly master the art of Skeeball, rolling the ball down the center of the lane won’t give you the points necessary to obtain legendary status. Only painting the corners, where the big points reside, will tally up your score properly. Beyond simply aiming, there’s a depth-perception component to the game of Skeeball that bowling cannot compete with. Skeeball is the ultimate combination of bowling and a game of H.O.R.S.E.

Let’s be honest, not all Olympic sports require an incredible amount of athletic ability. Of course the majority do. But then there’s archery; an impressive skill that entails an incredible amount of practice and training. Not necessarily athletic ability though. To claim Skeeball should automatically be eliminated from the Olympics because of the lack of athletic ability necessary makes the argument invalid.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) holds a vote after each Olympic year to decide which sports will be included at the following Olympics. According to Rule 48 of the Olympic Charter, a maximum of 28 sports can be included. Think back to the games you’ve seen televised: curling, sailing, and archery, to name a few. Adding a sport to the Olympic roster is based on its world-wide popularity. Of the people reading this article, were any of you on your school’s curling team? That’s not to say all the sports mentioned aren’t great fun, impressive to watch and entertaining.  One could argue however, based on popularity alone, Skeeball is one of the most recognizable sports of last century. Simply put, the guidelines placed upon which sports will be included in the Olympics are loose at best.

Playing arcade games, of any kind, requires a certain level of skill; hand-eye coordination being amongst the most obvious. Timing, dexterity, concentration, speed, anticipation, accuracy and multitasking are all sport-related (and real-world) skills the best gamers master. Skeeball, we can argue, requires the greatest combination of prowess.  Understanding velocity, inertia, rotational physics, and the lane’s terrain are all crucial to becoming a Skeeball expert. Skeeball is like taking a free throw by rolling it down a bowling lane and off a ramp – 9 times in a row. Turn on ESPN 2 on a Tuesday at 3 in the morning, and you’ll find all sorts of interesting “sports;” Darts, billiards, poker, spelling bees, fishing. Is Skeeball really that different than any of these?

And even if we can’t agree on adding Skeeball to the Olympics in 2014, the discussion should at least be opened to including video gaming of some sort, in the future. 100 years ago, saying snowboarding should be in the Olympics would have either raised eyebrows, or led to being asked, “what’s snowboarding?” If curling is in the Olympics, and poker is on ESPN, then the least we can do is let the conversation begin.

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