As if the case for many people in the world, my days seem emptier in a post-Olympic universe. No longer am I waking up four hours earlier than I otherwise would have to watch a 50-kilometer race-walk, or a canoe race simply in the hopes of watching the United States take home a gold medal. While vast portions of the population did not endure the same kind of harsh sleeping schedule I endured during the Olympics, coverage of the events was inescapable and even those who otherwise would never watch gymnastics were glued to their televisions as Gabby Douglas took home the gold medal in the all-around competition. For those of you who were worried that you would have to wait four more years for the next international competition of this scale, have no fear; one only has to wait until next summer for the World Games.
Begun in 1981 in Santa Clara, California, the World Games originally showcased 16 sports not featured in the Olympics at that time. While some sports, such as softball, and baseball are sports that would later be featured in the Olympics, the World Games featured some specialty sports. The 1981 games featured such sports as casting in which one casts their fishing rod, without necessarily being in water, using a plastic weight. Bowling, tug-of-war, and inline speed and figure skating were all events in that opening World Games.
While the 1981 games featured 1,265 athletes, the World Games have grown exponentially; at the 2009 games held in 2009, there were 3,235 athletes from around the globe. Next year, in Cali, Columbia, more than 3,000 athletes are expected to participate in more than 30 sports. While the Olympics exposed Americans to such fantastic sports as handball and field hockey, the United States has not won a World Games korfball medal since 1985, nor have they won an orienteering medal ever, (a World Games event in which teams or individuals attempt to navigate themselves from point to point using a map and compass.) At the Summer Olympics, the United States and Australia typically dominate the swimming events yet neither of these two countries has ever won any of the 310 total medals awarded in finswimming at the World Games.
This truly unique international event is not to be missed. With the proliferation of hundreds of sports networks and thousands of hours of content that are constantly available around the globe, I cannot think of anything better to do from July 25 through August 4, 2013, than to align ourselves with Columbia's time zone (which is only one hour behind the East Coast) and watch a riveting canoe polo match.