Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, I do hereby proudly present my method for fixing the very broken Winter Olympics.

I'm not referring to the coverage of the Olympics, which is also very broken. NBC has done an atrocious job of translating the Olympic Games into a televised product (please God, kill me before I have to watch another kleenex piece on the personal struggles and demons of Athlete X). I am just referring to the Games themselves. I propose the two following very simple rule changes:

1) Any sport where the gear that is worn/ridden/carried weighs more than 20% of of the competitor's weight will be removed from the Olympics*.

This rule removes all of the stupid sports like bobsledding and luging, where the "athlete" sleds down the hill. Yes, I realize these "sports" are dangerous, and require some skill, but they are no more worthy of being an Olympic sport than NASCAR is. If you enjoy watching people drive, that's cool, but no gold medal for them.

2) Much like bachelors degrees in college are either a bachelor of science (for areas of study that are typically judged objectively), or a bachelor of arts (for more subjectively judged subjects), I would like to divide the remaining Olympic sports into two camps. We'd have the Objective Medals and the Subjective Medals**.

I'm not saying that figure skating is any better or worse than short track speed skating (actually, in this case, I am, because short track speed skating is absolutely the coolest sport in the Winter Olympics), I'm merely saying that a gold medal awarded for being the fastest skater is very different from a gold medal awarded because a judge thought your hands were artfully posed. Apollo Ohno, you get an Objective Medal. Ice Dancers and Shaun White, enjoy your Subjective Medals.

(And, yes, I realize that even in the Objective sports, like slalom, sometimes a human judge must intervene to disqualify someone, but that's not the same thing as trying to judge the quality of a performance.)

Ta dah! I fixed it!

Oh, hell, while I'm at it, let's fix a few other sports:

Soccer: You can have amazing play after amazing play that result in no score. If I see a great sequence of of passes, and a remarkable shot on goal, I want that to result in a goal MUCH more often. How about making the goal a little wider? Maybe 10%? I'm not asking for basketball-style scoring here, but if the average game ended up with a score of 4-3 instead of 1-1, I think that would be much more satisfying (also, fewer shootouts this way too).

Baseball: All the time off between playoff games allows teams to just keep re-using their top 2 or 3 pitchers instead of their whole pitching staff. This means that the team and skills that got you to the playoffs are not the same team and skills that you'll use to win the playoffs. That sucks. Get rid of all those off-days please.

College Football: Bowl games are boring and a terrible way to pick the best team. Meanwhile, college basketball has maybe the MOST exciting way to crown a champion. How about learning from the basketball side of the house and starting a December NCAA Football tournament?

What did I miss?

* The 20% number may be altered once further study on the matter has been conducted

** The names "Objective Medals" and "Subjective Medals" have not yet been market-tested and are subject to change.


Anonymous said...

Not sure I agree with #1 as-is. I think so long as you power the equipment with your body, you can have as much equipment as you want. I'd hate to see cycling or rowing fall into the N%-of-body-weight scheme.


Sue said...

What about summer olympics? how will you fix them? I'm not sure if fencing would be objective or subjective.... probably subjective.

Mike said...

Pablo, cycling and rowing are good counterarguments. I need a simple rule that gets rid of the vehicles that are gravity powered and just get steered down the hill. There's a difference between a skier and a bobsledder and that's what I'm trying to get at.

Sue, I don't know how fencing is scored. Is there style involved or are all the points based on contact? If it's contact, we can replace judges with touch-sensitive outfits, right?

Sue said...

Points are for touches - but if both fencers touch then the referee decides who had "right of way" - THAT is the subjective part. Very subjective.