Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Controversy and Abuse of the Olympics

So, continuing in the Olympic vein, since I can’t seem to break out even when I don’t watch it, I’m weighing in on the whole Paul Hamm thing. I sincerely feel awful for the poor kid. This is ridiculous. It’s his gold medal. Let it lie.

The reason I have finally come to this conclusion is a good point that Martini brought up today, which is that apparently after a review of the tapes, the South Korean gymnast apparently performed a hold that would have deducted 2/10ths of a point. Thus, had the scoring started at 10.0, which is was supposed to, the score still should have been 2/10ths less. According to my math, that would have knocked him out of medal contention entirely, since the scores were so close.

I understand the frustration behind missing a gold medal or any medal by fractions of points. I agree Alexei Nemov was robbed last night. The other night, I was rooting for Svetlana Khorkina too, until she got all bitchy about Carly Patterson. I can see the frustration of the South Koreans. But you don’t see Brendan Hansen, well, that’s not really a good example since I think Aaron Peirsol made some choice comments for him. Anyway, you don’t see the Australians protesting their free relay silver. The Americans touched the wall first. That’s the way it works. The Australian women soundly beat the entire rest of the field in the IM relay because they had two world record holders in the final two legs. Unfair? Not really. The idea of a relay is to load your team with your best swimmers. Seems totally fair to me.

I mean, I’m probably comparing apples and oranges here, which I recognize. I guess since I stopped participating in gymnastics and figure skating when I was very young and never got very good at trampoline in college, I don’t always understand the athletes as much as a those in a sport like skiing or swimming, which I actually competed in later in life. The fact of the matter is, these athletes have given up everything in pursuit of Olympic glory, so clearly, it’s a big deal.

Rather than hounding poor Paul Hamm about giving back his medal, shouldn’t we be focusing on giving Olympic judges more tools to judge subjective sports like gymnastics as accurately as possible? I understand that instant replay is unique to American sports like football, but I think it could be very useful in a subjective sport like gymnastics. Thus, the judging becomes much more fair and much less likely to be affected by human error. The judges are given the facts rather than just saying, “Well, I think I saw…”

On a slightly different note, the most appalling thing I saw last night was an ad claiming that since the US “liberated” Iraq and Afghanistan, there are two more free nations and two fewer terrorist regimes participating in the Olympics. The hell? The IOC is considering asking Bush to pull the ad, seeing as it directly violates several statues of the IOC charter. Well, I guess that’s asking Bush to have some respect for an international body and we all know how he feels about those. Gah.

Quote of the Day: “The use of an Olympic emblem must contribute to the development
of the Olympic Movement and must not detract from its dignity; any association whatsoever between an Olympic emblem and products or services is prohibited if such association is incompatible with the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter or the role of the IOC as set out therein.” Chapter 1, Rule 17, Bye-law 11.4, Olympic Charter.

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