Open Mic: Gymnastics Scoring Was Legit

Lisa HornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterAugust 21, 2008

Now that the "farce" of Olympic gymnastics is over, can we all go back to our ho-hum lives and hold our complaining to a minimum until a Pac-10 football officiating crew decides to give us all fits of anger in the next few months?

Ask most Americans what they think of Olympic gymnastics scoring, and the pro-China, anti-US debate will rear its ugly head.

On certain routines, the women's gymnastics scoring seemed to lack a consistency in taking obvious deductions on the Chinese women's beam, vault, and uneven bars performances.

Cheng Fe of China fell to her knees on her vault landing, yet still managed to get a higher score than most of her competitors and take the bronze away from American Alicia Sacromone, who landed both of her vaults.

Go ahead. Scream. Nobody is listening.  

The star treatment, always a huge influence in American sport, has now gone global. So put away your hankies and deal with it.

Special people get special treatment. It's no longer just in the entertainment industrysports have taken it to a new level. And Americans have benefited from the treatment more than any other country.

Watch an NBA game and try to remember the official rules of the game. They don't play by them anymore, and the stars get a hall pass more often than not when they violate a rule.

Traveling, according to the NBA, is taking more than two steps without dribbling the ball, yet Kobe, Shaq, Jason, Yao, Carmelo and Co. take two-and-a-half steps and don't get the whistle. Two-and-a-half steps is now accepted as legit in the NBA, even though it's an infraction of the rules.

If Kobe mouthed off to a ref, do you think he's going to get ejected? Uh, no. The paying fans won't stand for it. He's special.

He's the face of the NBA and they need more Kobe Bryants. They want more Kobe Bryants. He has earned the preferential treatment.

Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics will finally get the treatment, but he had to earn it. Rondo still has a way to go before he gets the hall pass. He's not special, yet.

The Chinese have dominated Olympic gymnastics competition since the Soviet Union broke up, and were considered the favorites to win the most medals in gymnastics. They earned that status.

They also had the home crowd behind them, and if you don't think that's a factor, go you-tube Mary Lou Retton's Olympic performance in Los Angeles. She won, but it was close. Her mega-watt smile (good for at least an added .50) and the crowd reaction put some intense pressure on the judges. Give American Pie the gold.

There's a reason why the host country does better in their medal counts: Crowd reaction to performances, more teams to enter in competition, and they don't have to travel. Besides, who wants a crowd of 20,000 booing a judge's evaluation of a routine? It can really damper the whole Kumbaya experience the Olympics is trying to project. The Seoul Olympics taught us that.

Did Cheng Fe receive a hall pass on her vault? Of course. But she also had a high start value. Plus, she's special.

Remember Paul Hamm in the Athens Olympics? He landed his vault on the scorer's table and still managed a 9.137 and ended up winning the all-around Gold.

Does this unfairness sound familiar, America? Hamm set the future bar, we just didn't realize it amidst our celebrating his gold.

What about Jonathan Horton? His high bar routine was stupendous, and could have been considered as great as Zou Kai's. But Zou Kai has a stellar reputation, as well as Yang Wei, and Horton, despite his great routine, was a freaking alternate on the men's 2004 team in Athens.

Horton is earning the star treatment, but still needs to do well in worlds before he gets the complete treatment.

Reputation and perceived dominance in a sport has its rewards. The USA Redeem Team will surely benefit from the treatment, while other teams will not. The Americans will double-dribble, push-off, travel, palm the ball, and to hell with the referees for blowing the whistle on them. It's "allowed" now.

Paris Hilton can still cut to the front of the womens' bathroom line and have her security guard hold back ten desperate women who have been patiently waiting their turn. It's how the world rolls.

Special people get special treatment and we, the second-class citizens of the world, know that. We don't like it, but hey, too bad. We, after all, allow it. It's how we roll.

The scoring was fair, consistent and legitimate compared to previous Olympic competitions, despite the probable disrespect the US got in this Olympiad. Those same American gymnasts will be bestowed the treatment if and when they compete in London 2012, don't kid yourselves. They earned it.

It's the American way. And now, the Chinese way.

China, for all of its attempts at appearing more westernized, has finally figured out how to play with the big boys and girls. Demand the star treatment. Expect the star treatment.

We taught them well.