China Favored Again in Confusing Gymnastics Scoring

Daniel ChausseContributor IAugust 18, 2008

As your typical college-aged American, I'll be the first to tell you that I have very little knowledge pertaining to the sport of gymnastics.  However, I do enjoy watching those men and women from around the world flip and stick every four years in the Olympics.

That being said, I, along with most of my fellow fair weather gymnastics fans, am very confused by the scoring in many of the events.

I understand the concept of the starting value and execution scores.  I understand that deductions are what the judges are responsible for and that the highest mark someone could receive is their starting score plus a perfect execution score of 10.

What I do not understand is how so many deductions are missed for certain athletes, which is a confusion shared by gymnastics experts such as Bela Karolyi and Tim Daggett.

Many would say that the Chinese have assembled some of the best gymnastics teams on both the men's and women's sides for this Olympics, and I would agree.  The high-flying stunts of the Chinese this year have had little competition from other competitors.

Yet, whenever someone seems to have beaten a Chinese gymnast, the scores rarely reflect the level of performance. 

From Shawn Johnson's low score on the balance beam during the women's all-around final to Alicia Sacramone's loss to Cheng Fei despite a fall by the Chinese gymnast, things have not seemed fair coming from the judges' table.

The fact that two executed vaults do not receive a high enough score to beat one good vault and one tremendous flop is more than my fragile mind can handle.

Tonight was a different story, however, when it wasn't just the judges who were in on the controversy, but also the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

A rule passed by the IOC stated that there could not be a tie in scoring that would grant more than one person the same medal.  This is understandable.  However, the method in which tie-breaks are decided is not. 

Statistics prove that averages are more accurate when they are taken from a larger pool of people.  The IOC rules decided to go the other direction. The tie-break takes away the lowest scores until a winner emerges. 

This travesty of a system destroys any point in having a panel of judges because the winner may ultimately be decided by a single judge's score.  Something needs to be done about this mockery of a scoring system and it needs to be done before the next Olympics.