July 30, 2012


I took to the comments of a recent post to defend the Olympic movement on the basis of individual competition and excellence, and the opportunity for athletes to measure themselves against each other to find the best in the world. I also said, "If the Olympics were a competition to see who could be the most "average" I would ridicule and despise them." I meant this as comparative example rather than the prescience it has now become.

United States artistic gymnast Jordyn Wieber is the reigning world champion in her sport. In qualifying events for the final field of twenty-four gymnasts from which medals in the Individual All Around competition will be awarded based on score, Wieber's score was the fourth highest. Despite this, Wieber will not be allowed to compete for a medal versus the three who scored higher than her and the twenty who scored lower. Jordan Wieber was disqualified, not by some infraction she committed, but because two of her American teammates also made the All Around final and did so with scores higher than hers. For reasons that can only be interpreted as egalitarian, IOC rules prohibit more than two individual athletes from the same nation advancing to the finals.

Boo! Ridiculous. Two other athletes, one from Great Britain and another from China, suffered the same injustice although their scores ranked them 21 and 22 respectively and neither of them is the REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION IN HER SPORT.

Weiber is not the only loser in this sad saga. Whomever ultimately wins the gold medal will not be able to say she is the best artistic woman gymnast in the world. One who may have kicked her ass all over the spring floor was told "get lost - thanks for playing."

I plan to write my congressman. On this count, the Olympics suck.

UPDATE: David Wallechinsky, author of 'The Complete Book of the Olympics' said the Olympic philosophy is "we want to spread the wealth, we want to spread sport to other parts of the world."

But Wieber's failure to make a final that her scores suggest she clearly deserved points to a philosophy run amok, says Mr. Wallechinsky. "Sure, let them compete in the Olympics, but you don't have to let them compete in the final," he says.

Click through for a good background on the rule, first imposed for the 2004 games.

Don't Demand the Unearned Philosophy Sports Posted by JohnGalt at July 30, 2012 3:13 PM

In one of the first events that awarded medals this weekend, Italy swept women's foil. Does the IOC just arbitrarily pick out certain sports to restrict national over-representation in the finals? Or do they just not think it needs to be regulated in sports that the US isn't likely to dominate?

Posted by: AndyN at July 30, 2012 4:26 PM

Andy: The IOC doesn't make these kinds of rules. Official ruling bodies of the various sports set them; for example, in swimming each country only gets two people in any single event, in track, three.

I stay away from the "judged" sports like boxing and gym. Only guaranteed to get my blood up, after what I've seen in boxing, figure skating, ice dancing, etc. over the years.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 30, 2012 4:54 PM

Let me quibble with my friend Ellis and in support of AndyN's valid observation. The IOC may or may not have made this "Olympic rule" but it applies to their games and as such they are accountable for it. Furthermore, the IOC most certainly does make "these kinds of rules."

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 5:12 PM

For the 2016 Summer Olympics, the IOC will be adding a new position to their staff, with the title of Handicapper General. There will be some interesting new methods for ensuring that no nation and no competitor dominates.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 30, 2012 5:24 PM

Brother jg, to clarify - the sports federations make up the competition rules. The IOC and the organizing commitee make all the even stupider rules about teeth grilles and threatening businesses who arrange five bagels like the Olympic rings...

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 30, 2012 6:17 PM

And to clarify my position: nothing like this ever happens on "Kudlow & Company."

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2012 6:23 PM

Fair cop, Guv. And yet, I still love baseball despite the DH.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 7:25 PM

Nooooooo! Kudlow is off for two weeks, for the Olympics.

Posted by: Jk at July 30, 2012 11:10 PM

Upon further review, including your update, I agree. The Olympics suck.

I will still watch women's beach volleyball, however.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 31, 2012 3:22 PM | What do you think? [9]