Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DOH-mer Of The Week- Uneven Bars

To be uneven is to be unbalanced. It is a show of difference between one item and another. It is lopsided, inexact, irregular and unaligned. It is unequal, erratic, and weighted to one side. Uneven is a stanchion of gymnastics, along with the judging of Olympic games. Support for the home banner of stars and stripes may sometimes cast a false illusion of unfairness. But even through the dense fog of patriotism, it is evident when fleecing occurs.

In 2004, a Russian gymnast by the name of Svetlana Khorkina criticized the Olympic judging in Athens, claiming a show of favoritism towards the U.S. She followed up her statement by falling from the uneven bars and landing on her ass. And on a scale of comedic value, I would have given the bitch a “10”. Now I find myself in her position, and prepared to play the whiney bitch role, as 4 years later we move across the world.

Beijing is revisited, and this focus is on women’s (little girls) gymnastics. Here we’ll see athletes that have been training from the youngest of ages, sacrificing youth in search of perfection. We’ll then see them compete in an event where the score of “10” is nonexistent, letting each know they are less than perfect. Olympic Games are supposed to be free of politics, yet too often it’s politics deciding the order on a medal stand. And though champions are determined by a subjective judging system, the IOC should do a better job of masking favoritism and having it not appear so blatant.

The puberty of America finished with 8 medals, edging the Chinese toddlers by 2. But I believe it was “home cooking” that even made it close, unfairly awarding greater points for lesser Chinese routines. Drawing this conclusion was easy, as I watched judges hesitate to post scores. The wait should never be lengthy, when determining the individual score for one performance. The long pause between end of performance and the posting of an actual score can only occur if you take the time to compare other scores to determine just how much needs to be given to boost one girl above another or allow another girl to fall. It moved to a new level of embarrassment, as the crowd grew restless, and an IOC official had to approach the judges to inquire about the delay in posting a score for America’s Nastia Lukin. The fix was on, and Lukin was robbed. And the thievery wouldn’t end, as Lukin drew a tie for first on uneven bars, but receives a silver medal, based on a rare tie-breaking rule used by the IOC, despite the better performance. Yes, that’s my subjective take. Her performance was “better”.

There is no true measure to determine the greatness of a performance, when the system is based on opinions. It isn’t opinion that Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. It’s factual, based on head to head competition on a track. But gymnasts don’t race to the end of a beam, launch themselves higher on a vault or swing faster on bars. It’s all based on who likes you and who does not. But as subjective as it may be, the IOC has allowed unfairness to be more obvious, unlike the subjective voting of college football’s BCS or beauty pageants, that will at least cloud the favoritism behind a screen of smoke. Women’s gymnastics in the Summer and women’s figure skating in the winter. Two popular Olympic events, and two events swirling with more controversy than any other. Let’s go back to the days of just holding up a scorecard, when it all "appeared" to be fair. Scores were immediate, and leader boards changed just as quickly. The more you allow judges to prolong their decisions, the more focus will appear on that eventual score, sending ripples of scam throughout the world. This is something that hasn’t been fixed, and has been improperly addressed with new scoring methods. And for this, my DOH-mer belongs to the IOC. They can now go ahead and thank all the little people (judges) that made this possible. Just don't thank God or mention Jesus Christ, unless you want to be deported from the country before the games are complete.

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