Watching the Olympics

Look at the lyrics to Elvis Costello’s Watching The Detectives. Start by changing the word ‘detectives’ to ‘olympics.’ You don’t have to change a whole lot else. It’s just waiting to be picked by Weird Al Yankovic for his next song parody…

We’re sitting here watching the Mens’ Scynchronized Cannonball (Platform Diving) and wondering how far they can go to dream up more made-for-TV sports to take attention away from the real sports taking place.

First of all, in my opinion, if it can’t be measured by time, distance, or points (i.e. real points caused by something physical like a ball or person crossing a line, not a judge’s impression.) it isn’t a sport. It might be art, it might be a dance, but it’s not a sport.

How can you compare a performance from one year to the next unless it can be measured? Can you have a ‘world record’ in gymnastics? No, because it’s judged subjectively. A foot race, a pole vault, a basketball game, etc. can be because you can measure them in some way.

So we’re watching some synchro-diving and the commentator is picking the U.S. team apart based on something noone else can even see. Actually, she was picking every team apart pretty badly. It seems like they are judged more on how much they splash when they hit the water than by the difficulty of the dive. Get a life! Guess what, water splashes…

So, I’m sitting watching this, totally bored by it and my mind starts to wander. What if…

What if the Russian coach was caught pouring some secret polymer into the water that dispersed across the surface and suppressed all splashing, then degraded in 30 seconds leaving splashy water again?

What if the Chinese team came out and got perfect 10’s every time, no matter what dives they executed?

What if the German team was disqualified when it was discovered their athletes were genetically-bred to have a skin surface that didn’t have any friction with the water and made less of a splash?

What if the American team came out with high-tech, custom designed-in-wind-tunnels, cone-shaped swim helmets and glided into the water without a wake?

Silly? Yes, but no more so than the arbitrary and totally made-up for the Olympics sport in the first place.

Posted in Rants, TV
3 comments on “Watching the Olympics
  1. Later, through unplanned circumstances (sitting in an hospital waiting room) I watched way more of the Olympics than I intended. For 3am, it’s not bad TV, since there is nothing else worth watching on.

    I got to see another sill permutation of a non-sport – Team Gymnastics. First of all, Gymnastics is one of those subjective sports where it’s performance is in the eye of the beholder, not any actual physical attribute that can be measured.

    Then, in order to add another ‘sport’ category where countries can possibly win a medal, they made Team Gymnastics up. A group of gymnastics represents their country, then competes in a bunch of gymnastic events – Pommel Horse, parallel bars, floor exercise, rings, etc. Two team members must complete each event, then the scores are somehow aggregated for the team.

    It made for good theater, waiting for the score to be revealed, (which took excruciating amounts of time.) watching the performer who needed an 8.5 score to keep his team in the running, jumping when they made a slip-up. Great TV, but still not a sport…

    I realize this isn’t a new Olympic sport. Competing as a team is part of the gymnastics program. But what does it prove? Nothing. Why not just average all the individual scores from all the gymnastic events and get a ‘team’ score? Why hold a seperate team competition? Simple. It’s good TV and the sponsors want it and it inflates the number of medals awarded.

    Still, not sport.

  2. Mark Gritz. says:

    The best event so far that I have see was watching Bela Karoli try to do color commentary during the individual girls event the other night. We made up a little game at our house called “What the heck did Bela say?”

  3. Frank Gritzmacher says:

    “Why not just average all the individual scores from all the gymnastic events and get a ‘team’ score?

    This is a very valid question because I know in the Equestrian event, it is not done this way.

    Equestrian (which I have no clue how is an Olympic Sport considering the horses do all the work yet the humans get the medal) is comprised of 3 events spanned over 6 days. Dressage, Eventing and Show Jumping comprise the events. Each rider uses the same horse for all three events. Dressage is much like Gymnasics or Figure Skating, the rider on horse strut around a dirt rink for a few minutes displaying various strides, struts, walks and stuff. Boring as it gets, and they get judged somehow. Each rider’s score goes to their individual score AND their Team score. So each nation in Equestrian, competing for the Team Equestrian medal has 4 riders an horses and their combined totals are tallied, but these very same totals also count for the individual Equestrian medals as well. Its sort of confusing but once you understand how its done, it just seems the simplest way.

    I feel the Gymnastics should follow that same format. Gymnast A shouldn’t have to do 2 separate pommel horse routines if he wants to compete for the individual medal and the team medal.

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