25.8.04

THINKING ABOUT THE OLYMPICS. A juried performance is not the same thing as a competition. Dan Drezner has provoked lots of comments by observing,
This doesn't mean that judged competitions aren't exciting. Gymnastics, diving, ice skating can be entertaining, and they demand physical excellence -- but they're not sports.
On the other hand, the fact that an event is a competition does not make it a sport at 11D :
Is beach volleyball a real sport or is it the equivalent of the swim suit issue of Sports Illustrated. Is beach volleyball really just a way to ogle tall women in bikinis.
I put that question to a now-graduated college volleyball player who offered the following.

We all know that (women's) beach volleyball is going to be stereotyped for men's "ogling" and give them an excuse to say they're watching sports when they really just want to check out the chicks in bikinis!

But if you've ever tried to walk or run on sand on the beach (and not the hard, wet packed sand by the water), you know how hard it is to walk, let alone trying to jump and move to the ball. I'm always amazed at how much ground they can cover with just two people, especially playing at the level.

Most women's rights Nazis ... probably hate beach vball because of the focus on women and not the sport, but the reality is that men come out to watch women play in bikinis and hopefully along the way they will realize what great athletes they are, plus it helps attendance. Look at women's indoor college vball and how many males come to watch -remember the swimmers at NIU? There's also a reason the girls wear skintight uniforms and it's not because they are comfortable! It works both ways! I think both men and women benefit in some way...

Gains from trade, don't you see? The women of the fevered brow do not.

The Superintendent prefers competitions that make no distinctions as to weight or to sex. One-design planing-dinghy racing works that way. There is no reason, for example, to have separate mens' and womens' divisions for 420s or Solings.

The Olympics, though? Would it be possible to have the competitions without linking competitors to countries in national teams? Does a medal count really mean anything, when the most populous countries tend to harvest more medals (perhaps by fielding more teams?) Olympic performance as a proxy for national greatness was silly when U-boats commanded by 1936 graduates of the German Naval Academy bore the five rings on their conning towers; it was silly during the Cold War, and it is silly now.

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