Liam Morgan

They say you can never have too much of a good thing, but there are several instances in which the adage is proven incorrect.

Sport is rapidly becoming one of them. In this money-orientated and broadcast-dominated era, the number of competitions, multi-sport events and tournaments crammed into an already congested calendar has grown exponentially.

This is not necessarily a good thing. How much is too much?

I found myself asking that question after the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) revealed the first two editions of its World Urban Games would be held in Budapest rather than Los Angeles.

The new multi-sport event, featuring all the hip disciplines such as 3x3 basketball and skateboarding, will be held in the Hungarian capital - not Los Angeles as was initially announced in November - from September 13 to 15.

That is little more than a month before the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) stages its first World Beach Games in the American city of San Diego, which features sports such as - yep, you guessed it - 3x3 basketball and skateboarding.

On a conference call to announce the decision to move the World Urban Games from the west coast of the United States to Central Europe - one which has still not been fully explained - GAISF senior vice-president Raffaelle Chiulli insisted this clear clash was "not a concern" for the organisation.

But it might be for athletes who may have hoped to compete at both. Given a common gripe among professional competitors is the sheer volume of events they are expected to participate at, it makes little sense to add another to an already jam-packed schedule.

More generally, there is not room for another multi-sport event and the World Urban Games do not seem to fit in.

In 2019 alone, there are two Universiades, four continental Games ranging from the Americas to the Pacific, as well as World Championships across numerous Olympic and non-Olympic sports, which would be enough to satisfy the needs of even the keenest of sports fans.

This is not to suggest they are not worthwhile events, but it is more a depiction of the ballooning international calendar.

Now we have a World Beach Games and a World Urban Games, where the crossovers and parallels are there for all to see, and officials in Los Angeles are pressing ahead with staging their own street-style urban festival including the likes of 3x3 basketball around the same time as it was due to host GAISF's latest project.

The list could have also included another GAISF-led event, the World Combat Games, but plans to hold the inaugural edition in Chinese Taipei have been shelved for the meantime to fine-tune the concept.

Of course, there needs to be enough opportunities for athletes to compete but it is possible those athletes will see the World Beach Games and World Urban Games as inconveniences rather than a chance to win an international medal.

These events also cost money. The budget for the World Urban Games is around $7 million (£5.4 million/€6.2 million), with the figure for the World Beach Games likely to come in at the $40 million (£30 million/€34 million) mark.

While these numbers are significantly smaller than for the Olympic Games, for example, they still represent a considerable outlay for events which are not yet established parts of the sporting calendar and where the exact benefits for the host cities are uncertain.

Skateboarding is on the programme at both the World Urban Games and World Beach Games ©Getty Images
Skateboarding is on the programme at both the World Urban Games and World Beach Games ©Getty Images

At the risk of being dismissed as nothing but a sceptic, it is worth pointing out that the World Urban Games and World Beach Games are intriguing concepts with largely fun, youth-focused sports which move away from the old and into the new.

But the programme for the World Beach Games also includes disciplines such as beach wrestling and karate, the latest in an irritating trend from some organisations to simply move their sport to a different surface and call it a different discipline.

Neither beach wrestling nor beach karate are particularly prominent in any country and do not seem to fulfill a claim made by ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg that all sports on the programme "individually attract huge global youth audiences".

How many kids have you seen watching beach kata karate or beach wrestling?

Beach tennis might be something we have all tried in some form on holiday, with those paddle bats and an annoying rubber ball which ends up in the sea with frustrating regularity, but it is hardly a discipline the youth of today are desperate to invest their time in.

Not only is sport risking over-saturating its own market, but the spike in the number of events comes amid a backdrop of a reticence from cities and countries to bid for, and host, these competitions and multi-sport extravaganzas.

It also comes at a time where supply is exceeding demand for major events and when quantity has, arguably, been prioritised over quality. This would not be a good model for any business so why does it make sense for sport?

This is not a myth perpetuated by us in the cynical media; the evidence is there to suggest there are not as many bidders for the Olympics as before, a point made on these pages by some of my more experienced colleagues on countless occasions in the past.

Sports bodies are desperately trying to capture the appeal of the youth ©Getty Images
Sports bodies are desperately trying to capture the appeal of the youth ©Getty Images

It is not only GAISF and ANOC who are pursuing expansion rather than restriction, however.

World Rugby recently announced plans to create a new global competition, much to the ire of the Pacific countries in particular, while FIFA President Gianni Infantino is spearheading a proposal to form a global Nations League in football. More matches equals more money.

The International Hockey Federation has also increased the number of matches for players, but their new Pro League has been criticised as it demands extensive travel from teams and national associations, leading to a quite frankly ridiculous scenario recently where Germany's men flew to Buenos Aires for a game against Argentina which was called off and will not be replayed. Their reward? A 0-0 draw.

International Federations always claim they are doing it for the good of their most important stakeholders, the athletes, but more often than not their motivation is financial. They insist this money will be pumped back into sport but there have been too many examples of greedy officials using it to line their own pockets.

Money is clearly the main driver behind the growth in the number of sporting events we are bombarded with yet sport, on the whole, is struggling to find a balance between providing enough opportunities for athletes and loading the calendar with events many feel are unnecessary.

If this trend continues, it will not be long before the over-saturation of sport leads to a decrease in our enjoyment of it.

After all, too much of something can sometimes be a bad thing.