What Lessons are the Olympics Teaching?

Should the Olympic Games be politicized?  Should the rules governing amateur sports be controversial?  Or, by definition, should the games display the athleticism of the competitors, their talents, abilities, love of sports, and the spirit of fair competition?  Shouldn’t competition be the name of the game? Apparently, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which governs competitive gymnastics, does not think so.  Until the Jordan Wieber “controversy” I was unaware of the rules governing gymnastics competition.  They almost read like an excerpt from The Communist Manifesto.

Jordyn Wieber, the 17-year-old US Olympic gymnast and reigning women’s all-around World Champion, won the gold medal at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships last October.  She came to these Games as the media-anointed favorite for the Olympic gold.  Yet she failed to qualify for the women’s individual all-around gymnastic competition Sunday, after placing third behind two of her US teammates.  And by the slimmest of margins in scoring.  Yes, she knew the rules going in.  But are the rules “fair”?

The women’s all-around individual competition is composed of the top 24 athletes, BUT, only two athletes per team can qualify. Jordyn is certainly among the top 24 gymnasts in the world, but she will not be in the all- around finals competition.

I remember similar rules governing the sport of figure skating and limits to the number of teams that can qualify per country.  The ISU also made changes to their judging rules after two gold medals were awarded in the 2002 Olympics pair’s figure skating competition. (More)  That scandal sparked my disillusionment and eventual disinterest in the Olympics and international sports competitions.

Jordyn is the latest victim of a pervasive, creeping, worldwide, socialist agenda that has infected not only Europe and the United States, but now apparently, the world of amateur sports.    I came to this realization when I read the news on the internet Sunday afternoon.   This glaring incident most recently displayed at the London Olympic Games highlights the theory that you cannot guarantee nor equalize outcomes through rules and regulations, no matter how well-intentioned.  I did not realize that other athletes in gymnastics and other sports have had similar experiences in prior competitions.  There is a similar rule pertaining to the Olympic trials and a per-country athlete limit.  So what is the goal? Is this a way to give athletes who cannot qualify on their own merit an opportunity to medal?

Rules are rules, right?  Except the rules have changed.  And we can no longer have a sweep on the medals podium.  That might make someone feel bad.

The controversy surrounding Jordyn’s third place finish overall in the competition continues to swirl.   She will surely compete as part of the US Women’s Gymnastics team in the team portion of the competition.  As part of the collective.  And certainly, her teammates are counting on her skills to help them win the gold.   But for Jordyn, her lifelong dream of competing in the individual competition, after her stellar competitive career, is now over.  She has been labeled by some as the first of  many tragic stories we will hear about in these Olympic Games.

Yes, the Olympic Games should showcase athletes from every country.  But, does that guarantee any athlete a spot in the individual finals, or on the podium for that matter?  Does it guarantee every team a medal? Can we equalize results?  This story demonstrates what occurs when “we are all winners” and “everyone gets a trophy”.  No, it should not work that way.  Not in sports, nor business, nor life.  Hard work and ability should be acknowledged and rewarded. Why are some so fearful of competition? We need to wake up and see the consequences.  They were etched clearly on Jordyn Wieber’s face on Sunday afternoon.

Aren’t the Olympics all about doing the impossible, achieving more, striving for excellence, and breaking records?  The spirit of winning and losing on the field of athletic competition is at the heart of the Olympic Games.  Athletes strive each and every day to achieve higher standards through dedication, perseverance, training, and competition.  Shouldn’t medals be earned and awarded for true merit?  With these kinds of governing rules, those goals are unattainable. Should the athletes just cease to compete because it’s not fair if one person wins?   Let’s just hand out medals to everyone.

Can you say Socialism, anyone?


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