Ranking The 2016 Olympic Sports

By Ryan Hammer on July 17, 2016

There is a total of 39 sports in this year’s summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Some events are the same as always and some you probably have never heard of.

That being said, here is all you need to know: ranking the sports that are best to watch from 1 to 29. The reason there are 29 spots for 39 sports is because some sports deserve to be categorized into one. For example, there are technically four different kinds of cycling … no thank you.


1. Handball

New to the Olympics, team handball will be the most exciting/entertaining and watchable sport in this year’s games. Not only is it a high scoring, fast-paced physical game, it is new and intrigues people, like myself. After a goal is scored the goaltender grabs the ball out of the net and can restart right then, keeping the game constantly moving.

Handball highlights

2. Table Tennis 

As always, ping pong is one of the most exciting sports to watch in the Olympics simply because you cannot wrap your brain around how the ball hits the table every time when they hit it with such force. The best ping pong rallies are some of the most exciting events in the entire Olympics. Seems like China usually has an advantage being that there has never been an Olympics where the Chinese did not receive a medal.

Crazy table tennis rally

3. Badminton

I never knew this was an Olympic sport until now. I also never knew how intense badminton is on an international level. It is played with the same rules we all played with in middle school gym class. The only difference is they either hit the ball as hard as they can or as soft as possible and they play on a tiny court. It is a lot like ping pong on a bigger scale and the ball (birdie in this case) cannot touch the ground.

Crazy badminton rally

4. Beach Volleyball 

Everyone knows beach volleyball (2 versus 2) is better than the indoor volleyball (6 versus 6). The women’s side provides attractive/athletic women rolling around in sand. It is just a known fact that everyone loves watching both the women AND the men in beach volleyball.

5. Track & Field 

The main reason why it is so easy and fun to watch track & field is because there are so many different events and they are constantly running. There really is nothing more exciting in the Olympics than a neck-and-neck track race on the last straightaway. There are too many events to list but some personal favorites are the 400M hurdles, 4 x (anything) relays, and the javelin throw.

6. Swimming

As Americans, we are biased to loving swimming events because of Michael Phelps. Just like track though, neck-and-neck swimming races are sensational to watch and also more common. The best swimming event by far is the 4 x 100 medley relay: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.

7. Soccer

Even though almost all of the best players in the world elected to play in their respective tournaments (Euro and Copa America) instead of the Olympics, there will still be mass amounts of young talent on display. Soccer is also the world’s sport and is always watched by millions. No USA is hard but it means we are unbiased … for the most part.

8. Water Polo

Water polo seems to be the hardest sport to play because of the continuous water treading combined with handball type skills. The impossibility of playing it seems to be what interests the fans the most. Water polo is a lot like soccer in a sense that the ball is passed around the goal mouth a lot until someone decides to make a move towards the goal. No fast breaks or special plays seem to hurt the excitement for the sport.

9. Canoeing 

Another one that is mysterious because no one watches. A lot like slalom skiing in a sense that the two athletes in the canoe have to steer their canoe through poled gates along the course. The course is a manmade downhill curved track with water currents and rapids as powerful as that in natural Colorado rivers. A true underdog to entertain the lot, so keep an eye out on it.


10. Basketball

Basketball is a sport everyone loves to watch until it’s in the Olympics, simply because the United States wins every time. It is a true battle for second place but still a sport easy to watch and easy to understand for the lot.

11. Golf

Depending on whether you can watch the U.S. Open at home on Sunday afternoon by yourself will determine how entertaining Olympic golf will be for you. The reason golf is an enjoyable watch is because the network will always cut to someone shooting so there is truly never a dull moment. And in the event of a close finish, magic could be made on hole 18.

12. Rugby (sevens)

A true man’s sport it is, rugby is 7 versus 7 in the Olympics and hard to understand. People may say they understand the rules of rugby but they are lying to your face if they are American. No one understands why they hold people in the cheerleading pyramid or punt the ball at random times. Another sport that is hard to understand so it is enjoyable to watch.

13. Pentathlon/Triathlon

These two events are the true test of athletic ability with massive amounts of competitors and unpredictable finishes. The pentathlon involves a full day of running, shooting, equestrian, swimming and fencing. The triathlon features swimming, running and biking all back to back to back. Just like golf, the cameras always show something that is ‘happening’ for the fans at home.

14. Gymnastics 

There are three different kinds of gymnastics and if you have ever played Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games you know the trampoline event is the best. There is of course the trampoline event, the floor routine (rhythmic gymnastics), and gymnastics on the beams and bars and all (artistic gymnastics). Gymnastics is tolerable only because every routine is different than the one before. And it’s funny that there probably is not one girl above 5-feet.

15. Indoor Volleyball

Because beach volleyball is so great it decreases the entertainment value in regular 6 versus 6 indoor volleyball. Not much excitement here until there’s a massive spike in an opponent’s face.

16. Tennis 

Another sport that is entertaining in the end, but tennis matches are more than not predictable in the end — meaning that when the match is almost over and you decide to start watching with one game left, you know who is going to win. That being said, there are always upsets and that does create some pandemonium.

17. Rowing

Rowing is a team of 10 people with a caller at the end of the little boat. The only thing that makes rowing watchable is the fact that it is so amazing that the rowers row in PERFECT unison and never miss a stroke. I will never understand how one team gets ahead so easily but it’s only one team versus another or maybe three to four at a time, so that is no fun.

18. Judo/Taekwondo 

Technically two different events but if you watch both you would never know the difference. If I was on the Olympic committee I would combine them and call it karate. They are in robes and eye each other down hard until someone does some real wild high kick and then it seems that they get a point for that or something.


19. Cycling

There are four different types of cycling. FOUR! The audacity of the Olympics to have even more than one because no one watches cycling at all. The one that you might catch yourself watching is the indoor one because they go super fast and cut each other off and the course is tilted completely sideways on the turns.

20. Sailing

Believe it or not sailing is one of the most challenging sports physically. The competitors are tightly holding on to ropes while their bodies are parallel to the water almost touching it and their boats are perfectly perpendicular to them and the water. It is a long distance race to the finish line with tons of people going at once. It is like marathon swimming on boats.

21. Fencing

It’s one versus one on this long padded platform while both competitors wear the same exact all-white gown with a mask with long skinny swords that look like oversized kabob skewers. The two are trying to be agile enough to dodge the other’s poke attempts while they try to make any contact with the person. First one to touch the other with their magical skewer gets a point and then they reset.

22. Archery 

I have never watched archery live before but I imagine it is like the 18th green in golf in a sense that it is silent while the shooter is underway. The archers need 100 percent focus to aim for the bullseye. The best shooters somehow constantly hit or hit right around the bullseye which is something to marvel at. Do not be too mad if you are not able to catch a glimpse of archery this summer.

23. Diving

The dives they complete are without a doubt spectacular and impossible to duplicate but the entire event is just watching them prepare and walk up the diving board because the dive is two seconds long. Synchronized diving is good to think about watching because it seems so hard until you watch it and then turn to another event to watch, so no need to waste your time.

24. Boxing

Boxing is great to watch outside of the Olympics because that is where the best fighters in the world will actually be: prize fighting, because they love making money. These boxers will be 99 percent unheard of before the Olympics because they simply are not world famous professional fighters. People watch boxing for the names because most of the time it is 12 boring rounds decided by a split decision.

25. Shooting 

Shooting events are the same thing as always, and I still do not understand why it is even considered a single sport. When it is in the pentathlon I understand but by itself, no way.

26. Equestrian 

It is like a dog show event; someone on a horse runs around a course, jumps over a couple of hurdles and then somehow gets a really good score from the judges and you would never know why. As the rankings tell you, I would rather someone display their very athletic shooting skills.

27. Wrestling

Wrestling can definitely be entertaining at times but watching the big sweaty men from random countries push each other out of a circle is just not for me (and basically everyone else). The way they get points is essentially when they pin people and no one is moving and you do not know if you should cheer or not.

28. Weightlifting 

They pick things up and put them down. Quite a joy ride …

29. Field Hockey 

The ball cannot go above knee level, you can only use one side of the stick and I would imagine after a full game of being bent over every player would need back surgery. Sorry not sorry field hockey, you officially are the worst Olympic sport.

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