Monday, March 1, 2010

Some post-Olympics reflections on figure skating...

I'm going to write another post later strictly on what is probably the most divisive of Olympic sports, figure skating. By "divisive," I mean in this case that there is always a strong and vocal contingent of people who think figure skating pretty much sucks, isn't even a sport, and certainly doesn't belong in the Olympics. In direct opposition to that opinion remains the simple fact that figure skating routinely brings in the most televised viewers out of all of the events, and it is staged in the largest-capacity arena out of all of the events. Like gymnastics, success is measured by a judging panel, which means that even under the supposed control of a very calculated and objective set of scoring rules, winners are crowned via not just an ounce of subjectivity in the judges' preferences. This, of course, creates competitive environments ripe for controversy - and since most people like watching drama unfold, like having strong opinions about said drama, and LOVE finding fault with the judgments by panels of "experts" in competitions small and large, watching figure skating appeals to most people, who can then passionately debate the results later on.

The judging subjectivity, in my opinion, became particularly evident when it came to one infamous American figure skater - Johnny Weir. Despite being a three-time US National Champion and serious competitor at World Championship events, the focus on Weir has always been more about his theatrics and indeed, his sexuality. Though he certainly invites a bit more attention - and perhaps, drama - than your average athlete (see his tiff with animal rights organizations over fur on his costumes and his reality show, "Be Good Johnny Weir") even the NBC Olympic commentators were able to acknowledge at the end of both his short program and his free skate that he certainly delivered in his performances and lived up to the hype. However, he finished in sixth place, behind several skaters (including the bronze medalist) who had more obvious stumbles and falls; meanwhile, to the untrained eye, Weir looked as if he skated perfectly in both programs. Thus, the discussion over Weir's ranking has been rife with reasons why the judges seemed to skew the supposedly objective scoring against him.

This video hilariously sums up what I believe definitely contributed to the overlooking of Weir as a possible medalist and overall serious contender at the 2010 Olympics. (For those who haven't seen "That's Gay" or any other Infomania videos before, you've really got to spend some quality time checking them out. My other favorite series is "Target: Women.")

1 comment:

  1. that way that you put it (which i dont nessesarily disagree with) you make it sound like olympics are really a business. getting together the right combination of 'sports' to attract the most sponsers/viewers under the guise of world sport competition. i guess a competition w/more 'real' sports woudl be world games but noone watches that =P