Sports or Entertainment?
The 2014 Winter Olympics just wrapped up with the closing ceremony. It was quite the production of pageantry and choreography. And that’s what it was supposed to be. A show. Entertainment. Like the Miss America contest or WWE wrestling. Personally, I preferred the games themselves to all the dancing around and music and props on a stage.
My favorites events were the alpine ski races. Fastest one down the hill wins, even if you ski on one leg. There were also a couple of pure sports drama moments in the hockey games. Always with the winner determined by most goals scored. But these types of objective measurements don’t always determine the winner.
Sometimes it’s a panel of judges that say who wins. In 1988 the games had exactly one event that was determined by judges – figure skating. The 2014 version of the games had 17 such subjective events including slopestyle skiing, moguls, half pipe and even ski jumping. You’d think the ski jumping gold medal would be determined by who jumped the furthest. Not so. There are style points judged by a panel that make up around 50% of a contestant’s score. Doesn’t great form correlate to a longer jump? So why do we need the judges?
One of the 2014 Olympics' biggest controversies came when Russian figure skater Adelina Sotnikova edged out South Korean Yuna Kim for the women's figure skating gold medal. Kim skated a nearly flawless routine. But it wasn’t enough in the eyes of the judges who use such criteria as physical, emotional and intellectual involvement, style and individual personality, and projection – which the Skating Federation defines as "radiating energy resulting in an invisible connection with the audience" – to determine the winner. Shocking that a Russian skater was awarded more points because of an invisible connection with the audience in an event taking place in Russia.
Perhaps people just love the drama surrounding the constant controversy. In any case, the subject event trend looks to continue. Is it sports or is it entertainment? You be the judge.