Friday, 22 August 2008

reiterating - sport should be objectively measurable

Something tells me that I made this point back when the Athens Olympics were on, but here we go again - it deserves reiteration.

Judges/referees/umpires in sport should judge fact, not merit. "Sports" which are decided by judges' scores should not be in the Olympics. This includes:
  • Gymnastics, including both rhythmic and artistic gymnastics, and trampoline (which make up 18 gold medal events)
  • Diving, synchronized or otherwise (8 gold medals)
  • Synchronized swimming (2 gold medals) (Frankly, this one isn't a sport by any reasonable criteria).
  • Equestrian dressage (2 gold medals, plus the dressage component in the 2 eventing medals)
  • The winter olympics has a whole swag of events, including figure skating, ski jumping and probably things like the freestyle skiing - jumps and moguls and stuff.

30 less opportunities for people to quite reasonably complain about judges' subjective decisions costing them medals. In particular, anyone who argues that rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, or figure skating are legitimate sports is flat out kidding themselves.

There is also a group of sports for which the judging of points or facts can be very arbitrary. The following are on shaky ground, and should be either dropped or told to make themselves more objective:
  • Fencing, in which something like 75% of touches are simultaneous, and scores thus effectively become subjective. Get a machine to do it, for crying out loud - if it works for Operation and Sale Of The Century, then it can work for Olympic fencing.(Ed: My reading suggests they have moved to electric judging, although I still question the real significance of striking someone 41ms before being struck oneself.) 10 gold medals
  • Walking, in which a judge's call about breaking contact with the ground or bending knees frequently decides the outcome. 3 gold medals.
  • A lot of the combat sports, i.e. taekwondo (8 gold medals), judo (14 gold medals), wrestling (18 gold medals) and even boxing (11 gold medals) at times, are very prone to "judgement calls" by judges.

Incidentally, I also have a nice little pile of other sports that I would like to see banished, headed by water polo and modern pentathlon, but I'll have to leave them for a day when I have a more cogent argument than "I think they're rubbish".


Sharmin (Tinni) Choudhury said...

All this stems from a narrow definition of sport but we both know that sports, like art is open to interpretation. I mean, what would you call gymnastics if it is not a sport? It is certainly not art, consisting as it is a series of exercises designed to show of the gymnasts physical prowess. Which incidentally is what sports are to me. The fact that gymnastics is judged on merit is irrelevant. People will always whine, especially Americans when they are not winning. However, just because gymnastics causes the most whining doesn't discount it from being a sport.

Incidentally, figure skating is a sport because once again the whole purpose of the figure skating is to show off the skaters physical prowess. Ice Dancing on the other hand is skating on thin ice in terms of a sport. The latter is more art then sport and belong in the olympics about as much dancesports. Although, we are both in agreement regarding dressage but I don't care about the fact that dressage is judged, I object to it because in essence it shows of the horse. You know, a bit like a dog show.

Lastly, I am glad you didn't make the point about modern pentathlon and water polo being banished because you think they are rubbish. Because I think golf, cricket and rugby are rubbish. Indeed, I am infinetly glad that none of those are olympic sports.

Sally said...

Snoring, drinking and pie eating are all objectively measurable.

Jim said...

The olympics are not just about sporting performance - they are about sporting competition, about athletes measuring their performance against the best athletes in the world. Any competition in which this comparison comes down to the subjective whim of a panel of judges, is in my opinion, a flawed competition. I'm not claiming that they are not sports (as snoring, drinking and pie eating, while commendable activities, are not sports).

As for figure skating, its not a competition, its a demonstration, a performance. Personally I find it an unedifying dog and pony show, but putting that aside, my reason for disliking its appearance in a forum for sporting competition is that the performances cannot be objectively compared.

As for the insinuation that I'm only attacking sports that Australia suck at, that's bollocks - removing these sports would not move us up the medal tally at these olympics, and I couldn't give a damn if it did or didn't.

Now, back to a day of snoring, in preparation for drinking and pie eating, at an objectively judged sport, which I subjectively judge as the best sport in the world, but that unfortunately has no place in the Olympics.