ACTUAL HOT SPROTS TAKE: Events where judges determine the score/winner are NOT sports

One of the most frustrating things for sports fans is not knowing what the rules are for a sport they think they are experts on.

From the catch rule in football, to goalie interference in hockey. But what if you had no idea what the hell the people who determine the scores are thinking, and have no control over the points or rounds you are awarded for doing your best, and possibly better than the other competitors?

That’s the problem I have with sports like gymnastics, figure skating, and to an extent, MMA and boxing. That the winners aren’t determined by set scores like six for a touchdown; one, two, or three for a made basket. Your score is determined by a human being, who maybe woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning and decided they don’t like your hair, or outfit, or face, and have it out for you.

This is all a long way of saying: Events like figure skating and gymnastics, where a judge awards your score are NOT sports.

Everybody always screams that the refs are against them in the four big sports in America, but in figure skating and gymnastics, they might actually be right! (Seriously, read that article, they have chart and everything to prove how badly judges from different countries are biased.)

One of the most popular sports at the winter games, figure skating has long been plagued with controversy. The underlying cause is its unique judging system, say critics. Skating presents avenues for biased scoring that don’t exist in other Olympic sports.

Perhaps most important, the national skating federations, not the international body, pick which judges will be sent to a competition — and judges are allowed to score athletes from their own country.

“This, in my opinion, is a clear conflict of interest,” said Sonia Bianchetti of Italy, a skating judge at seven Olympics, “but the rules do not forbid it.”

In addition, judges who have been sanctioned for cheating can regain their eligibility to judge. Those who serve in leadership positions at their national skating associations are also still eligible to judge.

NBC News found that the pool of 164 judges eligible for PyeongChang’s figure-skating events, which start Friday, Feb. 9 (Feb. 8 in U.S. time zones), includes 33 judges — roughly a fifth of the total — who hold or have held leadership positions in their national skating federations.

How in the world can you possibly watch figure skating and not always have it in the back of your mind, as either a fan or competitor, and not think that the fix is in for whoever the host country is, or whoever decided to bribe the judges that week?

Another way to think of it is this: In the NFL you get six for a touchdown, three for a field goal; hockey gets one for every goal; basketball gets one, two, or three; baseball gets anywhere from one to four depending on the play. Those are set rules that are in the rule book and regardless of if an umpire or ref hates say Houston, if they legally score, they get those points.

Now imagine if figure skating or gymnastics judges ran one of those sports instead. “Hmm, well that was a touchdown, but his socks were a little droopy and he juggled the catch a little bit before scoring, so he only gets four for that one be /shrug/.” People would flip their shit (and the Patriots would probably go undefeated HEYO), and nobody would watch the games.

Yet figure skating and gymnastics, where I assume everyone is cheating or at least trying to at every turn, remain BY FAR the most popular events whenever the Olympics rolls around.

Now, some of you are probably thinking, “Hey, what about boxing and MMA, they have judges determine their scores and that’s just as much rigged as figure skating or gymnastics! So are those not sports also?” And you are completely correct, kind of.


Boxing and MMA have a way where you could still win without it going to the judges: a knockout. Really, there’s not a more definitive way to earn a win any sport than the knockout. Somebody is down on the canvas physically unable to continue. Yes, the ref could make a bad stoppage that leaves everyone wondering if it was rigged, but for the most part, if you KO someone, there is no doubt who won the fight.

And there isn’t anything like that in gymnastics. Yes, there are moves and routines that are harder to do and should score more points, but there is not a single move that automatically gives you a win like boxing and MMA has.

Now, this is not to say that gymnasts and figure skaters and whatever other sport that uses judges aren’t athletes, far from it. If you made me go out there and try to do even the most basic stunt in either sport, I would probably end up in the hospital for weeks on end and become a YouTube sensation. So this isn’t to diminish what they can do or how hard their event is.

I’m just saying that with the way the winners are determined, I have a very hard time taking it seriously.


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