Most Olympic sports are competed by individuals, or by teams that are are assembled from individuals in a selection or trial process.

But curling (at least in the US) selects existing teams to represent in the mens and womens events. (Even after reading the US curling site, I'm still not clear on how the mixed event is selected)

Are there any other sports where existing teams of players compete for selection instead of individuals? A team should be larger than 2 people for the purposes of this question, so not counting any pairs events.

  • Are you restricting this to only the actual players of the sport? Officials compete for selection as a team in some major tournaments e.g. FIFA World Cup officials are picked as a team and mistakes by just one official can get their whole team removed from duties for the remainder of the competition.
    – Nij
    Dec 4, 2017 at 0:06
  • Interesting. I hadn't thought about officials. I'll limit it to just players.
    – BowlOfRed
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:46
  • I'm not sure. So just a comment: 4-men bobsleigh? Dec 5, 2017 at 20:47
  • Yes, bobsleigh are existing teams as well.
    – dly
    Jan 5, 2018 at 7:22
  • @diy, do you have any more detail on that? The team page teamusa.org/USA-Bobsled-Skeleton-Federation/Features/2017/… suggests to me that individuals are chosen rather than teams.
    – BowlOfRed
    Jan 5, 2018 at 8:38

1 Answer 1


Curling and maybe rowing.

I couldn't find anything official, and I didn't understand all the information I found on rowing.

I went down the list of Olympic sports and made my own list of sports that seemed to involve team competition. Most are pretty obvious, but several I wasn't certain of. Sailing in particular appears to only have events with one or two sailors at a time, so not a team event for this question.

My list:

  • athletics (some track relay events are teams. Not sure of any others here)
  • basketball
  • cycling (team pursuit)
  • football
  • gymnastics artistic
  • gymnastics rythmic
  • handball
  • hockey
  • rowing
  • rugby
  • swimming (some relay events are team competition)
  • synchronized swimming
  • volleyball
  • water polo
  • bobsleigh
  • curling
  • ice hockey

As this is my own list, there could be mistakes. Many of the major sports I know (like team USA basketball and ice hockey) have a national team that is composed of selected individuals. For the others, I tried to find information on the selection process.

The only ones that seemed likely to be similar to curling to me were bobsleigh and rowing.

Everything I could find for bobsleigh suggests that individuals are selected onto the national team. I don't know how the competing teams are put together, but it appears to be after team selection, not before.

The last one that bugged me is rowing. There seem to be different procedures for selection by different rowing classes. So while some individuals are chosen, I got the impression that some classes might be selected as a crew through trials. If anyone knows more detail about rowing to rule it in or out, that would be appreciated.

  • I think you should make "My List:" into "The list of sports I searched:". The way it is now it appears to be a list of sports that meet the OP's criteria. May 5, 2018 at 4:33
  • I'm not 100% certain about rowing, but it is indeed complicated. Because outside the Olympics, the most competitive arena in the sport is often intercollegiate athletics, it's not uncommon for entire university boats ("teams") to show up at selection camps to contend for selection. (The well-known book "The Boys in the Boat" documents the University of Washington heavyweight 8 being selected for the 1936 Olympics and eventually winning gold, but I'm not sure how common that is these days). But it's also not uncommon for boats to be put together "on the fly" at selection camps.
    – pjmorse
    May 7, 2018 at 15:29
  • I suspect this is a thing in rowing because rowers working well together is a huge part of a successful crew - you can't just drop the eight strongest rowers in a boat and expect it to be faster than all the others.
    – pjmorse
    May 7, 2018 at 15:33

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