BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mark's Thoughts: Olympic Gymnastics Judges

Judging the Judges(A happy Birthday to me edition)...

What does it take to be an Olympic Gymnastics judge? When you think crooked, lying, shifty, and self-serving; you think of politicians. Bill Clinton for example. (Another August 19th birthday, happy birthday Mr. President) Unless it is an Olympic year, in which case gymnastic judges take center stage. Think about these soulless men and women. Before them are mostly sixteen year old girls, (unless they are judging China's sub-16 or Germany's plus-33 gymnasts) who have dedicated their entire lives to competing at this level. They have been removed from normal life either voluntarily (US gymnastics) or for the betterment of the country (Chinese gymnastics). They perform amazing, other worldly performances, only to have to stand and wait for a score that is only partly based on the routine they performed.

Judges seem to base their scores on many different factors. Some judges base their scores on feelings towards the gymnasts nationality. This Explaining the Eastern-European/Eastern-Asian judges uneven scoring. There are judges that base their scores on where the competition is being held. This accounting for the major judging errors occurring in favor of the China in this year's Olympics. Then there are the judges that merely take money or have person vendettas that influence their scoring. In other words, the average gymnastic judge would say and do things that would make Simeon Cowell blush. The odd thing is the sport is built on the idea that controversy will occur, and that is one of the appeals of the sport. The soap opera like judging system keeping people watching waiting for the next disaster to take place.

This strict and unfair scoring system leads to more emotions from the gymnasts. The only thing the gymnast can do is try and perform their routine perfectly. They know that any little error in the routine, and they will be bashed to pieces by judges who are looking for opportunities to take points away. So when mistakes do happen the emotions and tears come to the surface of the gymnasts, making for great drama. Even when the gymnast perform their routine perfectly it still isn't a guarantee they will do well in the standings. The scores are based so much on the difficulty rating that gymnasts can make multiple mistakes/fall and still score better than a flawless routine at a lesser difficulty.

How can we stand for such injustice? Good thing this type of thing only happens in gymnastics every four years. Oh...wait. That's right we follow the BCS. It has all the same elements. It rewards teams with lesser records because they play "more difficult" competition. The rankings are filled with bias from coaches in the same division who are looking to inflate the difficulty of conferences to save their jobs; to sports writers that have school colored glasses on. (Dick Harmon is a great example of this) There is also the influence of ESPN over the voters, and the decision makers of the BCS. Why do they do it this way? They do it for the money. They want to build the drama during the regular season. If you have a system designed to help some and hurt others, it drives people to watch the polls more from week to week. It causes fans of the schools cheated in the BCS process to speak out. They know the system they have will cause controversy and that is why they follow it. It creates the drama that people crave in sports.

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