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Selfies and the Youth Olympic Games future


In American teen parlance, the word “tryhard” is a noun. It means when someone tries hard to appear
a certain way but all that effort does is make that someone all the more contrived. Here is how to use
“tryhard”: when the president of the International Olympic Committee posed with a group of young
athletes for a staged selfie shot in the opening ceremony of the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing,
China, over the weekend, the IOC was being such a tryhard.

The disconnect this moment illustrates is so profound that, in a way, it’s almost a good thing that it happened. Because, if the Youth Games really are going to stick around, and that is a serious question for debate, this can be the moment everyone can look at and go, OK, let’s see if we can go forward from here and find something actually authentic that might actually speak to young people instead of trying to manufacture something. To start from the very top: There is no question the Olympic movement needs to reach out to young people, especially teens. Everyone in a position of authority within the movement agrees about that.

The issue is whether the Youth Olympic Games is the means and method by which to do so. It is by no means a sure thing that the Youth Games is a viable concept. I wrote as much in 2007 when, at its all-members assembly in Guatemala, the IOC authorized the idea in the first instance.

I was in Singapore, a mentor for the inaugural Young Reporters program, for the first edition of the Youth Games, and though the organization of those Games was by every important measure a success, the fundamental problems confronting the Youth Olympic Games then are still the same challenges now, and they are going to be the same going forward.

One, the sports calendar is already completely overloaded. This year, just as it was in 2010 and just as it will be in 2018, we have already had the Winter Olympics and Paralympics; the soccer World Cup; and the Commonwealth Games. Now YOG?

This article was republished with permission from Karl-Heinz Huba, the editor and publisher of the Sport Intern.


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