I was reading at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5850632/ that many sports are going to have a harder time getting included in the Olympics in the future. The International Olympic Committee recently re-evaluated each of the 28 "sports" included in the summer games to determine which should remain. Here's my proposal:
"A sport may remain if and only if it can be reasonably and briefly expressed in terms of the greatest family of sports--hockey"
This results in:
- field hockey
- soccer (foot hockey)
- handball (hand hockey)
- water polo (water hockey)
- polo (horse hockey)
- boxing (net-less hockey)
- street hockey (new!)
- roller hockey (new!)
- ice hockey
- ice soccer (new!)
- ice handball (new!)
- ice polo (new!)
- ice boxing (new!)
Let me know if I left anything off.
For those of you who are not familiar with the controversy over Paul Hamm's gold medal in the men's all-around gymnastics at the Olympics, check out http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5784651/ to catch up. Here's my simplified version of the story, which I will try to make interesting for those who don’t follow gymnastics religiously:
The men's all-around gymnastics competition consists of a bunch of male athletes performing flips and gyrations on various apparatuses dragged in from the local junkyard. Each apparatus differs slightly because some have ropes tied to them or bars welded on or whatever. I think one of them had most of a broken bathtub while another used the chassis of an abandoned ’57 Chevy. Regardless, there are judges who rate each athlete for their performances based on a pre-decided scale that varies based on the difficulty of moves (and model year of Chevy, I believe). However, the athletes aren’t really judged on how well they perform—instead they start with a given score based on the difficulty of what they plan to do, and the judges take points away every time they mess up.
Still with me? Fantastic.
During the competition in this year’s Olympics a South Korean gymnast, Yang Tae-Young, was given the incorrect starting score for his performance of his raised-army-surplus-stretcher-with-no-canvas event (they call them “parallel bars”). As a result, his score was .1 below what he would have deserved if they had gotten it right. When it was all said and done, American Paul Hamm earned the most points (or relatively lost the least, sort of), and Young ended in third with the dirty, dirty bronze. The difference of their scores was .049.
This is where the controversy explodes. Based on popular opinion, Young should have won the gold and Hamm the silver, while the official silver medal winner would slide down to the bronze. Unfortunately for this case, the official ruling states that the judges’ decisions are final and that once a medal is awarded it cannot be taken back. Okay, I don’t know that for sure, but every news site and station seems to take it for granted, so I will as well. There have been a ton of proposed solutions, but the only solution the people in charge will accept at this point is for Hamm to give up his gold.
This next part is my explanation for why I feel Hamm should not return the gold.
Hamm won the gold medal. He began his last routine with a goal in sight for the gold, so when he achieved it he deserved the gold. Although I can understand the argument that Hamm would have come in second if the Young mistake were not made, I don’t think it should be accepted as a given.
Let’s switch things up a little and put the same situation in basketball terms. Pretend you’re on a team that’s losing by one point with three seconds left. The team strategy is pretty straightforward: you do your best to land whatever basket you can get. In fact, the easier the basket, the better. After all, you only need to win, and it doesn’t matter by how much. Suppose you get the ball and put up your best 2-point lay-up and it goes in—hooray! You’ve just won the gold medal by one point. Now, suppose that two hours later the referees are reviewing the game and realize that the 3-point lines painted on the court are twelve inches too far. When recalculating the shots, the referees come to the realization that your opponents would have had two 2-point shots really count as 3-point shots, assuming the people responsible for the lines hadn’t screwed up. As a result they determine that you really should have lost by one point. Is this guaranteed to be true? Absolutely not! Had the score been different in the least, you would have played differently. Assuming everything else played out in the exact same way, your team would have had to go for 3 in the last few seconds just to tie, so there’s no way you would have gone for the lay-up—unless you knew you’d be fouled. Had that butterfly not flapped its wings, the tornado could have been prevented altogether.
Now, how does this relate to gymnastics? Although competition in gymnastics isn’t direct in the same way, there is a very real level of competition when it comes to selecting the difficulty of routines and even more impact in the performance of athletes themselves. Sure, there’s no way to guarantee Hamm would have performed better if he had a higher score to beat—but assuming he wouldn’t isn’t guaranteed either. After all, he had a score to beat and he did it. Who’s to say he wouldn’t have nailed the 3-pointer from half court if he had to?
This next part is my explanation for why I feel Hamm should return the gold.
Regardless of whether or not he deserved to win gold, popular opinion seems to be growing in favor of Hamm returning the medal. In fact, there is a good chance that he will never be given the true respect an Olympic gold winner deserves from the world. Giving up the gold medal may be the only way he can get that respect, although it will be at the expense of long-term glory. Although I don’t have intimate knowledge of his situation, I’d like to believe any potential endorsements he’s lined up for would not be withdrawn by his honorable abdication of the gold under such circumstances—especially considering that he is one of the few main players in this story who have done nothing wrong. Playing the innocent, honorable victim may be the right thing for his career after gymnastics (as if I had a clue here). For a man with true personal and professional self-respect, giving up the gold medal should mean little. He knows he won it, and anyone who really matters to him should know the same.
Paul Hamm has the opportunity to be the brightest American star in the world’s eye, especially in light of the lowlights of these games from countries around the world:
- Banned drug use (nine athletes banned so far): http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5837305/
- Illegal tactics such as the Kitajima dolphin kick—whatever the hell that means—along with the expected whining (which is actually sort of legit here): http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5746636/
- Non-countrymen-stocked teams such as the Greek baseball team of mostly Americans: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5774074/
- Whining from Russian female gymnast Svetlana Khorkina about scores being pre-decided in favor of Americans: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5788468/
- Hundreds of other public and private issues
At the end of the day, the decision of what to do with the gold medal is Paul’s. I didn’t watch his event. I don’t care about gymnastics. I’m used to people hating Americans for much more valid reasons. I probably wouldn’t even know about this if there was an English non-news television channel in Beijing (where I was all last week). After a few weeks, this topic will never again arise outside Olympic or gymnastic circles. I guess I don’t have a really good reason to care about what he even does.
And I really don’t.
Nick Hodapp, Visual C++ product manager and all-around good guy, is leaving Microsoft next week to go make video games. Nick joined Microsoft a few months before I did and was always a good person to learn "new guy" stuff from and bounce stupid "new guy" questions off of (because he had been asking them a few months before I was). I must admit that I'm a little jealous of Nick's new job, which is as at Oberon Media, makers of Inspector Parker, one of my favorite casual games. Although I'm sad to see him go, I'm especially glad that he isn't landing at a competitor :-)
I saw a commercial on Fox and went to check it out at http://fox.com/familyguy/. Although they're not showing new episodes yet, it's pretty clear that they're going to have them sometime next year. On the downside, it seems like they're just biting off of what the Cartoon Network did a few weeks ago with respect to showing Seth McFarlane's favorite episodes. They're also producing a show by Seth called “American Dad“, which makes me believe there really is a limit to any individual's creativity.
In the meantime I have to get them to pick up Futurama again and find a way to bring Aqua Teen Hunger Force back to the Cartoon Network daily.
By the way, if the producers of any of these shows need a guest voice, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll [probably] work for free!
After months of great late-night cartoons, which included the brilliant acquisitions of Family Guy and Futurama, the Cartoon Network has decided to drop Aqua Teen Hunger Force to one 15 minute episode a week (on Sundays at midnight) instead of the twice daily dosage many of us have become accustomed to. The way I see it, fans have several options:
1. Boycott altogether...but let's be serious--it's just a set of cartoons :-)
2. Watch Sealab 2021 and learn to enjoy it. Although it seems pretty stupid, so did ATHF when I first came across it. Now I own the DVDs.
3. Buy the DVDs and watch them when we would have watched the same episodes on TV.
Let's hope it won't take as many blog entries to bring it back as it took for Family Guy--because I'm willing to do it!
Dan Fernandez (the below average demolitions transportation expert) is complaining about the heat in Seattle at http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2004/07/30/201459.aspx. He might be right, but I can get from my bed to to my car to my office and back without leaving an air conditioned environment. Besides, I paid my dues in a 10x10 dorm room in New York for 4 solid years (no breaks) with no air conditioning and did just fine :-)