Pointless Rant of the Week

Figure skating and ice dancing are NOT sports.

There. I’ve said it.

They aren’t sports any more than oil painting, cello playing, or ballet dancing are sports.

For something to be a sport, it needs to involve an athletic feat (or series of feats) that can be measured in an objective fashion.

You can have a COMPETITION involving figure skating if you like. But in the course of that competition, someone will have to be a judge, and – while that judge may look at some technical issues that are relatively objective – that judge’s final decision will be based on a subjective opinion about the artistic merit of what you are doing.

When you win because someone made a subjective observation about the artistic merit of something you just did, that is not a SPORT. I don’t care how much athleticism was involved – what you did is not ultimately an athletic accomplishment. It is an accomplishment in creative expression.

We KNOW why Bodie Miller stinks (and was grossly overhyped). He was .42 seconds off of the top run on the downhill, and he missed a gate in the combined. He then crashed and burned in a variety of other ways, all of which are directly, objectively measurable.

We know which hockey teams won which games because there were goals to be counted.

The victors in figure skating and ice dancing competitions can’t make the same claim. In the end, the main reason they got their gold, silver, and bronze CDs-with-ribbons-looped-through-them was because someone LIKED them better than they did the other competitors. Where’s the sport in that?

Imagine: in early February, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks meet for the Superbowl. They play 60 minutes of football. Then, after the game, the players go sit on the sidelines and hold flowers while they look at the scoreboard with nervous excitement.

The Steelers get good points for technical merit, but OH, LOOK – the football judges liked the Seahawks more because they appeared to be more graceful and intense during the course of the game. SEAHAWKS WIN!!

C’mon! Where’s the fun in that?

I say this not because I am a sports purist, but because I am bitter and resentful that, out of a typical four hour Olympic broadcast, three hours, fifty-eight minutes of NBC’s air time was devoted to figure skating or ice dancing. This left only two minutes for real sports. And what with all of the press conferences wherein various members of the US speed skating team whined about each other, there was often only a half minute left for anything else.

Coming soon: Why NASCAR isn’t a sport, either (followed by an apology to figure skating and racing fans the world over, coupled with desperate plea to stop sending profanity-laced emails)

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