My Olympic rant

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By The Staff

By Jeff Moreland

Editor/General Manager

I’m a sports fan, and there’s no questioning that.

I can sit and watch any team play baseball, basketball or football, regardless of whether I have an interest in them prior to tuning in to the game. It’s just one of those things where I love to see a good contest between two teams decided on the field of play, with nothing but the skills of the individuals playing the game to decide its outcome.

OK, so that’s a bit of a deep definition of my love of sports, but it’s meant to point out what I feel is most wrong with some of the most celebrated athletic competitions we’ve all been exposed to in recent days.

I don’t normally follow gymnastics, swimming, or other sports that are part of the Olympic games, but when the U.S. is competing, I’m ready to sit down and watch. I want to see my country win, regardless of what game is being played.

As somebody who likes to see athletes decide their own fate, it has become harder and harder for me to watch some of the events and see the athletes suffer at the hands of judges who decide the score.

Gymnastics is probably the worst in this Olympic games. When a gymnast completes a round of a floor routine, a vault or other event, it’s up to the judges to decide the score. Now, in my opinion, it’s bad enough that a judge has to be used, but with these sports, there’s no other way to count a score, so I guess I can live with it. What is harder to live with is that this year, the judges are able to sit and spend several minutes watching various angles and speeds of replays to determine what actually happened in the event.

In addition to wasting so much time for the viewers who tune in to see the competition, this is also not fair to the competitors. I think the judges should have to watch the competition live and make a decision on the spot with no video assistance. In baseball, basketball, football and other sports, officials have to make a snap decision. Even with instant replay in football, and soon to come in baseball, certain plays can be reviewed if they appear to be an incorrect call, but every play is not scrutinized for several minutes. If you’re job is to be a judge, make a call and we’ll all live with it.

In these games, even with the judges watching video replays, they can’t get it right. Nastia Liukin, who went on to win the overall gold for the U.S. in gymnastics, appeared to get the short end of the stick on what looked like a perfect vault Thursday night. She nailed the landing, but after reviewing the video, judges were able to find some minor faults, so they deducted points from her score. Give me a break!

Next comes one of my favorite sports, baseball, which has been changed to end a game quickly after it goes into extra innings. In Olympic play, a baseball game that goes into the 11th inning will be changed beyond recognition to fans who are tuned in to watch. At that point, because it has apparently taken longer than officials would like, a team gets to start the inning with runners on first and second base with no outs and start with the batter of their choice.

Olympics or not, this is still baseball, and that’s the dumbest rule change I’ve ever heard. If you don’t want to play the game, don’t play it. By putting in a rule like this, you obviously don’t care if a baseball game is completed, so why not just eliminate the game from the Olympics completely.

I know, they’ve done just that. After this year’s games, baseball, along with softball, will no longer be played in the Olympics. Sure, take real sports like these away, but let’s keep adding competitions, and not sports, like trampoline and rhythmic gymnastics. I think most of us got the better of our trampoline skills in grade school, and as for rhythmic gymnastics, I have trouble deciding whether it is more stupid to have an Olympic game where someone plays with a ribbon that looks like a cat should be chasing it, or tossing around a red rubber ball while dancing on a mat. Gymnastics takes a lot of skill and talent, but rhythmic gymnastics takes a lot of nerve.

OK, so there’s my Olympic rant. In a nutshell, we need to get rid of the video replays, along with the goofy events, and keep Olympic sports that are just that – real sports.