Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympic Soap Operas

The blogosphere (of which I am now a recalcitrant part) was incensed that Natasia Liukin received the silver while He Kexin of China won the gold, despite their identical scores on the uneven bars. But sports are about determining differences between almost equal competitors, and many times the outcomes are more arbitrary/subjective than not. Take a 7 game playoff series in baseball: there is enough subjective judging of the strike zone to change the result of the series. And in basketball, many players make it a point to try and trick the refs in order to earn foul shots. The difference is that gymnastics events, like figure skating, tend to wear their subjectivity more openly. And the rants against this subjectivity are misplaced.

Why? Because the judging and potential back-room deals make gymnastics more like a soap opera than a sport thereby bringing in viewers who are not sports fans, viewers who are more interested in the drama of the competition (and even the outrage over the results) than the actual events themselves.

If gymnastics officials know what's good for them, they'll make it even more subjective and, like figure skating used to do, include scores for costume and music selection (the old "presentation" score). Let the soap opera continue.


marc said...

"gymnastics more like a soap opera than a sport"?
Yeah. I love that episode when Nastia got amnesia and couldn't remember which one of the Hamm brothers fathered her secret love child.

marc said...

I also loved that part where that one gymnast's marriage was torn apart by a promiscuous pop diva---oh, wait! no, that was baseball. my bad.

Corry Cropper said...

Or the episode (on the swimming channel) where the French swimmer's boyfriend put nude photos of her online, then dumped her for an Italian swimmer...

The Olympics are just all-around classy.