Thursday, August 21, 2008

Told Ya So . . .

The Summer Olympics are being torn with conflict over who the real winners should be.

Once again, the quality of judging is being attacked by those who chose to compete in a sport scored by the whims of nonpartipants. In gymnastics, the bronze medalist landed on her knees, but prevailed over cleaner efforts. Some are complaining that the athletes are too young - though I don't hear any athletes in real sports worrying that they'll get whipped by a 5th grade phenom. In greco-roman wrestling, the bronze medalist was so disgusted by the judging that he threw away his medal in the center of the ring. Even before the Spanish synchronized swimmers got in the pool, silly judges disqualified their swimsuits (alas, they brought along spares). Meanwhile, analysts are calculating the REAL Olympic medal count by ignoring all the judged sports and focusing on competitions that are decided on the field of play, rather than in the subjective feelings of some watcher.

In short, judged competitions breed acrimony (Sacramone?), not healthy athletic spirit. If prima donnas choose to specialize in a sport where their victory comes not on the field of play but at a judge's table, they ought to either accept the results or switch to a sport with objective scoring.

Having recently written on this topic and having heard impassioned defenses of such nonsports as synchronized diving and Dancesport (still makes me giggle to type that one), I realize that there are people who really like to watch nonsports, and the reason they want to be in the Olympics is because nobody will pay attention to them if they don't glom onto a real athletic competition, with true athletes competing in legitimate sports.

Some of us admire the Olympic motto ("Faster, higher, stronger") and some of us prefer the ethos of Project Runway ("Glam, glitter, fabulous"). I'm all about making everyone happy, but I hate to see a great institution like the Olympics being dragged through the mud of partiality simply because nonsports are destroying the spirit of actual competition.

Wouldn't it make everyone happier if we just separated the two? Every four years, we could have the Glam Olympics staged in someplace like Las Vegas or Atlantic City - a first class entertainment venue - and really put on a show. We could drop the pretense of "expert judges" (who seem to please nobody, from within or outside the sport) - and select winners through telephone survey, like American Idol does.

By all means, give the nonsports the attention they crave.

But don't sully the Olympic spirit by hosting a bunch of whiners complaining that their sports aren't scored fairly. We all agree on they aren't scored fairly, which is why the Olympics should be for real sports, and Las Vegas should be for glitzy spectacles.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an objective measure for you - googling *Olympic judging sucks* compared to *olympic judging success* results in a 555,000 to 236,00 victory for "sucks".

Kind of proves your point, doesn't it?

8/21/2008 7:36 AM  
Anonymous DKC said...

I look forward to the 2012 Summer Games. The Chinese Female gymnastic performances should be riveting since they'll be through with that nasty teething stuff.

8/21/2008 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Lance Weber said...

Sorry this is a little off topic, Dan, what do you think about the way the Chinese are tricking dissident citizens into revealing themselves?

From the New York Times:

Officials say that they received 77 protest applications but that nearly all of them were dropped after the complaints were “properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations.”

At a news conference on Wednesday, Wang Wei, the vice president of Beijing’s Olympic organizing committee, was asked about the lack of protests. He said it showed the system was working. “I’m glad to hear that over 70 protest issues have been solved through consultation, dialogue,” he said. “This is a part of Chinese culture.”

8/21/2008 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those wimpy gymnasts have probably been whining about scores since the sport started in the Olympics in


I don't think the Olympics can survive such a judged fake sport!

8/21/2008 5:00 PM  

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