25.8.08

THE TORCH HAS BEEN PASSED. Chicago's promoters continue to make the case for the 2016 Summer Olympics. A Milwaukee radio station suggests setting the events to the north. The United States representatives earned high marks for sportsmanship, with basketball's "redeem team" being praised for their support for other teams.

On the lighter side, a Chicago Tribune article proposes scaling the medals, based on the ease of the sport. The 100m sprint rates the smallest medal?? On the other hand, "Sure it takes great vision and steady nerves, but so does needlepoint" perfectly characterized the 10-meter air pistol competition. Olympic gold?? The stakes are ordinarily a teddy bear at the midway. I think, though, that decathlon ought to rank ahead of balance beam. I'd have to look up the name of this year's champion, from the U.S. Once upon a time (Bob Mathias, Bruce Jenner) that winner got a Wheaties box or (Rafer Johnson) to advise Bobby Kennedy. To be sure, balance beam is challenging, but the description, "The field measures a stingy 10-centimeters wide and is obscured by your feet. Every movement counts—and is scrutinized under a spotlight with thousands of spectators staring down at you. One slip of the pinky toe and …" misses one thing. I recall a commentator during the all-around competition noting that eventual beam champion Shawn Johnson got marked down for not looking enough like a gymnast. Over the weekend, I observed a barrow competition that used similar criteria ("this pig is a bit narrow in the middle.") In the former case, the configuration of the competitor ought not affect the evaluation of the competitor's maneuvers. In the latter case the configuration of the competitor affects how much bacon the competitor brings home.

There's a difference. But then, I've developed skepticism about a number of those judged displays that have become Olympic events. I think it goes back to "8.9, 9.1, and an 8.2 from the Soviet judge." Didn't matter if that was figure skating or gymnastics.

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