Modern pentathlon is by far our favorite Summer Olympics sport, topping even our beloved hammer throw. There’s just something inestimably cool about an event that’s modeled after a 19th-century military mission. Plus you have to dig the fact that the fifth place finisher at the 1912 games was a 28-year-old U.S. Army lieutenant named George S. Patton. (How he got beat out by four Swedes, we’ll never understand.)
But recent years have been rough on modern pentathlon—it’s just not the draw that it once was, and it’s status as Olympic event is seemingly in peril. The sport’s tsars have done plenty to tweak the format as of late, smooshing all five events into a single day, and combining running and shooting into a biathlon-like whole. But still the young’uns are resisting the pentathlon’s charms. So what’s next? Think space carnage:
The world governing body, Union International de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), have commissioned a series of trials that will see lasers replace bullets on the shooting range.
They are hoping the move could appeal to a younger generation of fans and will also help circumnavigate problems with gun laws, especially ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.
We only see this working if those lasers are directed at fellow competitors, rather than at distant targets. After all, who among us doesn’t enjoy a good game of laser tag?
In all seriousness, we’re conflicted about this proposed change. We do love lasers, and we’d hate for modern pentathlon to disappear from the Olympic map. But we’ve got a purist streak, too, and we have to ask—at what point do these ratings-centric alterations taint the soul of the sport?
(Laser-cannon image via Classic Johnny Quest; it’s apparently a screenshot from the “Mystery of the Lizard Men” episode)