We Made a Sport: Jump Rope Sprint

The challenges and rewards of trying to make a new Olympic sport
Share |

I got 6 stock brokers, 14 doctors, 2 lawyers, 17 accountants and 8 other lawyers to watch the first 2 lawyers

"You know, I’ve never been called about this before," Mark Krull laughed into the phone.

Mark Krull is my uncle. He is a retired patent lawyer and inventor living in Bend, Oregon. He is the man behind the Nautilus Select-Tech dumbbells and other successful fitness products. His latest venture is much more ambitious. Along with two partners, Stephen Ihli and Eric Small, he aims to get the sport of jump rope sprint added to the Olympic Games, as soon as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. They have been working on this new sport since 2010.

Their main promotional material is a narrative film, a faux-documentary version of what has actually happened to them thus far on their quest. JumpRopeSprint is a charming and goofy film, meant for families and has been shown at a series of festivals. Krull, in addition to executive-producing the movie, also worked with Ihli to invent a new jump rope specifically tailored for competition and team training. They sent me a production sample along with a copy of the film.

Jump rope sprint (let's call it JRS for short) is still in early stages of development at a competitive level, but its roots are well established in training regimens for athletes, mostly in track and field. Krull told me that many athletic doctors recommend jumping rope while running as a way to learn the right way to run. You can't heel-strike when you're jumping rope, and the activity helps build knee-drive strength, an essential part of sprinting.

The rules of the infant sport are simple and adhere to USA Track & Field (USATF) guidelines for sprinting events as strictly as possible. The new wrinkles are 1) you must jump over the rope once per stride and 2) any tripping on the rope is cause for disqualification. This necessitates a perfect sense of timing and rhythm in order to maintain a rapid pace, while clearing the rope as low as possible. Krull described JRS as a "total body version of juggling." The video evidence suggest that it's a sort of 'applied hurdles,' where you have to clear an obstacle, an obstacle that you repeatedly create and remove with every stride.

I decided to get out there, #journalism style, and see what it was really like to jump rope sprint. I grabbed the jump rope Krull sent me and walked to the sidewalk to give it a shot. Krull recommended that I begin my training by jumping rope in place, then gradually alternating feet, and finally leaning forward. On my first jump, I landed too early and whacked my thigh with the rope. A linear, purple bruise lingered for days to remind me of my mistake.

I practiced for 15 minutes, the amount of time I was told I would need to become serviceable as a JRS practitioner. This was not enough. I was steady whipping parts of my body and not making it much further than ~30 meters before disqualifying myself. I was not a genius of jump rope sprint, but I did discover the thrill of getting a rhythm down at a medium-high speed. It’s not as easy as it would seem, but it’s fun.

The most recent breakthrough for the sport was inclusion as an exhibition event at the Iowa Games, which is basically the Olympics for people in Iowa, and includes some distinctly Midwestern sports like 3D Archery, horseshoes, and pickleball. For the very first time, JRS will be part of a USATF-sanctioned event, and several 100-meter races will be run between track events at the games. The hope is to use this exhibition as a springboard into other competitions in the near future.  

Krull remains realistic about the prospects. "We need energy," he told me, "more people out there working with us." The unfortunate reality for an upstart sport is  the process that leads toward Olympic status is long and daunting. Many hopeful sports have been pruned off even after gaining status as demo sports, like bowling, wushu, and roller hockey. Making matters tougher, the IOC shut down the inclusion of official demo sports after the 1992 Barcelona games.

For such a young sport (barely two years), it seems quixotic to even have Olympic inclusion as a goal at times. Still, there is steady progress. Krull told me a future goal is to get a demo at an event like the Prefontaine Classic, one of the premier events in track and field. The national television exposure at the Pre or a comparable big-time track event could drum up interest in JRS beyond the athletic training world.

While a cameo at a large annual track event might build a significant foothold, leveraging that foothold into a system of youth JRS leagues and international competition will be very difficult. The founders do have one elite athlete on board, however. Lashinda Demus won silver in the 400-meter hurdles in London last week. She owns the American record and third fastest time ever in the event. Demus is featured in the movie and also owns the women's world record for 100 meter jump rope sprint (13.96 seconds). In the film, she discusses the benefits of JRS training for her hurdling. Also featured in the movie is Buddy Lee, who wrestled at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Lee’s post-Olympic resume includes stints as a motivational speaker, jump rope champion, online jump rope salesman, and trainer for Olympians. He has expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of making JRS an Olympic sport, but is, like the inventors of the sport, realistic about the process and inherent challenges.

The International Olympic Committee decrees that a sport cannot be added to the games unless it falls under the jurisdiction of a federation. These federations can be as specific as the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne, which governs solely the pentathlon, or as broad as the International Association of Athletics Federations, which is the somewhat confusingly named federation (association?) that controls most track and field events. However, having a federation, even one that is recognized by the IOC, isn’t enough to get your sport added. Tug of war was an event from 1900-1920, and still has an international federation recognized by the powers that be. Those powers decided in 2009 that every summer Olympics held after 2016 will have 28 sports, with 25 fixed and three that could change every four years, depending on a series of votes by various committees. The IOC is an organization that deeply believes in bureaucracy.

USATF, an affiliate of the IAAF, is the agency that would regulate jump rope sprint. Participation in an existing, IOC-recognized federation like USATF would be a leg up for JRS. Since the activity falls under the umbrella category of ‘Athletics,’ jump rope sprint would not have to displace any other event per the established limits for number of categories of competition. Instead it would merely need to be elevated to Olympic status by USATF and join the extensive list of Athletics events.

Official documents state that for a sport to be added to the Olympic roster, it has to be “widely played,” defined as a minimum of 75 countries practicing the sport. This definition of what makes a sport worthy of inclusion in the games makes sense, since the Olympics are a great exercise in globalization, an exhibition of the world’s best all meeting on one stage. Of course, the significance of Olympic competition is defined not by the universality of the sports but of what happens, the human drama.

The sports played at the Olympics therefore need to be judged by their cultural significance as well. Only 49 nations have ever competed in water polo in the Olympics and only 20 have medaled, but it has such a significant niche in Hungary and other Eastern European countries that its place on the docket is secure. That lack of universality didn't preclude a water polo match from being one of the all-time most dramatic—and memorable—Olympic moments.

Before the 1956 Olympiad in Melbourne, the USSR quelled a bloody rebellion in Hungary, which forced the defending Olympic champion Hungarian water polo team out of the country two months prior to the games. In the semifinal match (known as the “Blood In The Water Match”), the Hungarians beat the USSR 4–0 in a match that was ended early due to excessive violence both inside and outside of the pool. The Hungarian victory didn’t end the bloodshed back home, but the psychic rewards of their subsequent gold medal showing were huge. JRS is unlikely to be a proxy battlefield for the next cold war, unless it suddenly gains a foothold in Iran or North Korea.

The only sports to be included at all summer Olympics since 1896 are swimming, cycling, fencing, athletics, and gymnastics. These sports are elemental. They primarily involve the human body and the limits of its endurance, with the exception of cycling and fencing, which utilize fairly basic equipment. For a sport to be Olympics-ready, it must be simple or it must be of serious cultural significance, or both.

In all likelihood, jump rope sprint will never really achieve broad cultural meaning. The best hope for the necessary massive expansion in participation lies in growing the sports’ popularity within the track and field community. The extant track event of hurdles already channels the basic human skill of jumping over things while running. JRS is really only a variation of size and application. This similarity could serve JRS well or it could hinder it, casting it as a sort of lesser imitator. But steeplechase is already a kind of sexed-up hurdling, and both sports benefit from the similarity. There's no reason jump rope sprint couldn't catch on.

Mark Krull and the other inventors of JRS understand that their campaign for Olympic status is a long shot, one that many sports have tried and failed. They remain very excited about this project, odds  and all.

“Inventors have to have thick skin,” Krull noted. He said that for it to succeed, they need “lucky collisions” to happen at several levels—hopefully just not many collisions between jump ropes and shins.


Share |

Comments

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.
Diabetes Management Tactic

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. foot pain

We believe that everyone deserves a chance at moving ahead with their lives. In our Mitigation services we strive to provide the Court with your history For our other court appointed services, our goal is to help provide the most up to date and relevant interventions. northern lights seeds

This variety in salary per customer can be ascribed to the sort of administrations gave and the profundity of administrations.Seoexpert

After reading your article I was amazed. I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. I feel very grateful that I read this.Online Marketplace

Awesome article! I want people to know just how good this information is in your article. It’s interesting, compelling content. Your views are much like my own concerning this subject.
pistolet a bille

I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post.
Burnout

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. Things To Do

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. law job

Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more
wedding in Prague

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. ドイツ旅行

Awesome article! I want people to know just how good this information is in your article. It’s interesting, compelling content. Your views are much like my own concerning this subject.
Buero-Bedarf für Gewerbe günstig

I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post.
Scheda grafica

Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here! kostenlose Sextreffen

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article. I am just pretty happy to sign up ones own guestbook these days. Dear cheers intended for giving this specific
Web Design Essex

Nigerian Politics This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading. It is not everyday that I have the possibility to see something like this.. solar panels Oklahoma

Malta Passport wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. virgin hair wholesale suppliers

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. insurance lead generation

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. b2b support

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.
ca cuoc the thao

http://lipshtickx.tumblr.com This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading. http://thegreatwavesoflife.tumblr.com/ It is not everyday that I have the possibility to see something like this.. https://lifehacker.joomla.com/

http://www.moneybizhome.com/what-we-should-know-about-frothing-non-dairy-milks/ I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. http://ziggy-sharp.tumblr.com Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. http://cherry-totomatos.tumblr.com/

After reading your article I was amazed. I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it. CUSTOM SUITS HOUSTON

I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will locate that extremely useful...
best weight loss pills for women

Fort Worth Traffic Violations Attorney | Dentist Houston First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. Best SEO Companies in Houston | ac repair coupons

quote on home insurance Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. homeowners insurance leads

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. cheap car insurance rate

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. nonton video bom teroris

I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post.
tourist tube london

life size animal statues I researed valuable information on this point as I am working on a class project. Thank you posting useful information and its now becoming easier to accomplish this task. Wood floor sanding services London

The most recent breakthrough for the sport was inclusion as an exhibition event at the Iowa Games, which is basically the Olympics for people in Iowa,grafgram instagram photos

The most recent breakthrough for the sport was inclusion as an exhibition event at the Iowa Games, which is basically the Olympics for people in Iowa,grafgram instagram photos

After reading your article I was amazed. I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.
Sasha Sidhu

I have enjoyed this great information so much. This was really very interesting and helpful to read. I cant wait to read more from this site.
property refurbishment company

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. iherb rewards

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. xmodgames

Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here! check out

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. Deutschlands beste Casinos

Really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us.Great site and a great topic as well i really get amazed to read this
safeinternet-shop.com

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. do my paper Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.

Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here!
Best cologne for men

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
home insurance quotes

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates.
affordable kitchens and baths

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics.
affordable kitchens and baths

Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this interesting and knowledgeable article. dowry section 498a

Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here!
Importing Pets in to Sri Lanka

Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.
cheap car insurance texas

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics. home insurance rates by zip code

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.
best band saw

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. golden retriever puppies for sale