Because the Olympics is comprised of 26 events divided into several disciplines, many of which people aren't even aware exist. Reasons for this abound, yet the most obvious answer would be that some sports either seem too ridiculous to mention or that popularity is key. The viewing public prefers to see Michael Phelps do his dolphin impression for world records rather than witness the battle for gold between Olympic trampolinists. And this makes sense.
Despite all the declarations of global togetherness, the Olympics have never really distanced itself from its original purpose: Fuck y'all; we're the best spot on Earth. Greek city-states existed under an interesting dichotomy which dictated that they rely on one another for military and political alliances but compete with each other for resources. As such, the Olympic Games became the most advantageous opportunity to demonstrate a particular region's superiority --the best athletes must come from the best city-states(1). Anyone who grew up under the auspices of the Cold War can see how this spirit of deathless conflict persists even to this day. However modernity seems to have transmuted the meaning of the Olympics, hosting the games is still a sign of economic capability and rank. After all, the games cost money. A lot of money.
Taking on the Olympics as a megaproject is a costly endeavor. For example, Montreal hosted one of the most expensive Olympics at a cost of $6 billion which took 30 years to pay off. Some analysts even surmise that the Athens games in 2004, with a price tag of $3 billion, may have helped weaken the Greek economy as it left a considerable lasting debt. Though Olympics typically overrun cost expectations, London is already 107% over budget at a possible $13 billion dollars. So, all in all, the Olympics cost a great deal of money. The duh-reaction to such an observation little belies the point. Olympics accrue massive costs for the areas in which they are held. Ergo, expenses must be recouped by any means necessary. In this day and age, that means advertising dollars.
Tourism and prostitution(2) alone won't foot the bill for the Olympics(3). Drugs might, but countries rarely seem to welcome an influx of drug money. So the only legitimate option left is to pour on the advertising. "During the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, the average cost of a 30-second ad was $250,000. In contrast, advertisers for the 2006 Torino Winter Games paid an average of $350,000 per 30-second ad(4)," and that price hasonly increased. DOW chemical spent $6 million dollars to have banners flying featuring their logo which wouldn't even be seen during the actual games(5). Technically, the games are free from advertisements, but that only really applies when the cameras are on the games. Unlike a baseball stadium, no commercial advertisements are allowed to be visible during the Olympics themselves. But TV stations do have to break for commercials from time to time, and there is always the official directory of services. For as little as £599 (roughly $939) a business can find itself placed snuggly in the Olympic business directory(6). None of this would seem odd at something like the Superbowl or the World Cup where the message is supposed to be one of domination. The end of result of a hard fought struggle is victory over a broken and crushed opponent. Yet, the Olympics constantly attempts to endorse some message of quasi-unity, global togetherness, all the while hailing only those who carry the most gold. A message extended to what it gives viewers. It's this thinly veiled hypocrisy which makes the games so easily satirized through a cynical lens.
Trampoline does sound ridiculous as an Olympic sport. One expects to see the competitors huffing paint before the contest, and the arena itself some Londoners' backyard. Dressage may get some attention this year because of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but who is really going to stay tuned for horse dancing? Badminton, field hockey, handball, these all get shunted out of sight. Yes, some commentary will be set aside to mention who is advancing over whom, but the games will only be seen on TV at 3 a.m. by half drunk insomniacs begging the television gods for something to dull them asleep. The Olympics will focus on the quick victories: the 100 meter dashes and such -- those competitions which offer immediate results and speedy points. Volleyball triumphs over (European) football; weightlifting trumps table tennis; and basketball overshadows archery.
This isn't to say what's right or wrong. The games are costly, and unlike Woodstock, someone is expected to pay off the bill. It's mainly to say: keep in mind what's really going on at the Olympics. A city has been scrubbed clean and every crack repaired and even some new shining edifices erected so the world can gather to see just how much money there was to spend on something that won't feed one hungry person. But fuck it. We won a gold medal.
1. This, in itself, lead to some interesting practices. In 630 B.C.E. Cyrene was founded by settlers from Thera. To aid the settlement, Sparta loaned three time champion Chionis. Apparently, the presence of Chionis alone, the prospect of settling with an Olympic victor, helped populate a colony and increase its political connections. Or in the instance of Sotades -- according to the historian Pausanias, "Sotades at the 99th Festival was victorious in the long race and proclaimed a Cretan, as in fact he was. But at the next Festival he made himself an Ephesian, being bribed to do so by the Ephesian people. For this act he was banished by the Cretans."
3. Some countries make the smart move of using Olympic Games as a means to push through prohibitively expensive infrastructure upgrades. Athens, for example, used the games as an excuse to improve Athens International Airport, formerly Eleftherios Venizelos Airport after the Greek statesman and revolutionary. Today, A.I.A. is Greece's main civilian airport and the 27th busiest in Europe. Subways systems, railways, city streets, air pollution, all get tackled in the run up to Olympic Games. Cities want to look their best; however, this doesn't always mean future tourism.
Flyvbjerg, Bent and Allison Stewart, 2012, "Olympic Proportions: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Olympics 1960–2012," Working Paper, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.