My main thought though is what a great idea head-to-head knockout novel writing is as a sport! Monty Python got there first with the sporting potential (“Oh dear, it looks like Tess of the D’Urbevilles all over again”), but they missed the opportunity of literary greats grappling like Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in the film version of DH Lawrence’s Women in Love. Who wouldn’t want to see Dickens and Hardy or Amis and Rushdie going at it mano a mano? You could put a Jane Austen versus Charlotte Bronte contest on pay-per-view! Well maybe not, but direct comparison can be illuminating and perhaps improve our understanding of which writers we like and why.
One of the best ways to understand one writer’s limitations is to look at another’s strengths. For example, selecting at random a passage from PG Wodehouse or John Le Carre and putting it up against an excerpt from The Da Vinci Code will demonstrate that it is perfectly possible to write non-literary fiction and still craft intelligent, attractive English, but that Dan Brown doesn’t. Contrast the characters and the coherence of the plots of say Philip Roth’s Indignation with Don DeLillo’s Point Omega and in my opinion you learn a great deal about who is probably the greatest living American writer (clue: It's not De Lillo). In pitting Ernest Hemingway against James Baldwin ("the pick of the first round clashes, Gary") we may acquire an understanding of who is the better writer, or at least arrive at a better appreciation of the two 20th century titans’ respective merits. Good luck to Mr Spencer on picking a winner for that one.
So with the Olympics now having started, and quite magnificently, in London, Rio needs to find a way to follow what let’s hope is a great Olympiad. What better way than by introducing a new sport that will be like no other at the 2016 Games?