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Thread: Why figure skating is not a sport

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Why figure skating is not a sport

    Turin 2006 Winter Olympics - Yahoo! Sports

    Now, before you whip off your Risport and spike the blade through my aorta, please note that I think figure skaters are not just athletes, but remarkable athletes.

    Figure skating requires strength, speed, stamina, dexterity, balance, timing, guts and just about everything other imaginable athletic skill. Certainly, more athletic skill than I could muster.

    But figure skating is a competition, not a sport, and it has nothing to do with how difficult or entertaining it is. It is simply a matter of how the winner is determined. It is the same for gymnastics, diving, beauty pageants or anything that chooses a champion solely by human judging.

    A sport needs to have a quantifiable way to determine a winner and a loser. There can be no debate about the scoring system. A ball must go into a goal or through a hoop; a runner must reach home or finish before the others. The winners run faster, jump higher, score more.

    In some sports a clock is used to determine a winner, but the clock is not subjective. Besides, you can't have 53 guys racing down a ski hill at the same time. The clock is a judge, but it is an objective one.

    Figure skating has none of this. Everything is about interpretation of success. It is about what the judge thinks, believes, feels. There is nothing absolutely quantifiable. Yes, the number of revolutions in a jump counts, but in the end if two people do the same jump, a human has to decide which one he or she likes better.

    That is not a sport.

    Figure skaters wear elaborate costumes in an attempt to appear more appealing, more flowing, more beautiful. The women (and even some men) wear makeup, they get their hair done, they wear jewelry, they play stirring music.

    An ugly person would stand at a considerable, if not insurmountable, disadvantage in skating. Sasha Cohen would whip them every time.

    As absurd as the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan drama that propelled skating into stratosphere was, it was based partially on the fact that it is a competition, not a sport. Harding was a powerful skater, possibly better at all aspects of skating than Kerrigan. But she was shorter, stockier and less feminine. Although Harding had defeated Kerrigan on occasion, she knew she was at a disadvantage against the taller, prettier, more graceful Kerrigan.

    So she conspired with her boyfriend to have Kerrigan whacked in one of her skinny little knees.

    In a real sport, this wouldn't have been necessary. Ugly people can win in track, in skiing, in the NFL, in soccer.

    Beauty doesn't matter. Style doesn't count. There are no judges.

    Some will argue that referees are essentially judges, determining who scores and who doesn't. But a referee is merely there to assure order and make the competitors follow the rules.

    Yes, in most sports, the referee has the freedom to determine right and wrong by what he sees – a false start, an illegal advantage – but he is not determining the final victor. His assignment is to simply ensure fair play. The refs can't just say that while one team scored more points, they thought the other one was better anyway.

    This creates a bizarre paradox where something like curling is a sport and figure skating isn't, even though to compare the level of necessary athletic ability is comical. But it is what it is. You have to be a stunning athlete to compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest but that doesn't make it a sport.

    There is one exception to this no-judges rule: boxing (or kickboxing, or other fighting sports). This is fine because a clear victor can be achieved with a knockout (no judge needed). The judges are only used when the fight has gone on so long that it has to be stopped for the safety of the competitors. If they keep beating on each other, someone could die.

    Of course, the presence of judges is why boxing is considered the most corrupt sport.

    Other than that, no judge should ever determine a winner in a true sport. When you have that, whether it is ice skating, gymnastics or diving, you have a competition.

    It isn't any different than American Idol. It can be fun to watch, the athletes can be talented and tenacious, it can be a great competition, but it isn't a sport.

    It just isn't.

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    Elite Member yanna's Avatar
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    Interesting spin on the Harding-Kerrigan thing. I never found Kerrigan prettier than Harding to be honest. That horse-face was just too much.

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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    An ugly person would stand at a considerable, if not insurmountable, disadvantage in skating. Sasha Cohen would whip them every time.
    Tell that to Irina Slutskaya.

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    Elite Member Sialia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    Tell that to Irina Slutskaya.
    I'm going to hell for snickering at that (among other things).
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    Figure skating is as much a sport as snowboarding IMO.

    The weirdest and most questionable winter sport for me is the biathlon. Whoever thought mixing cross-country skiing and rifle shooting was an interesting idea was nuts.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Nope, biathlon's great! You're pushing yourself to ski as quickly as possible, adrenaline, hard breathing, etc. then you have to calm the breathing and quickly focus to hit the target before switching gears and ramping up to move again.

    If figure skating is a sport, so is ballet.

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    I agree that looks can play a big role in who wins in a figure skating competition. I haven't watched it in years, but I remember Alexei Urmanov and Elvis Stojko competing for gold at the Lillehammer Olympics. Alexei had a tall and graceful body and a beautiful face. Elvis was stocky and, as one commentator put it, had the face of a Norwegian troll. The judges clearly loved Urmanov, and he was not going to lose unless Elvis skated flawlessly and Urmanov fell flat on his face at least once. It may be that Urmanov earned the gold, I can't remember. But I think he would have won even if he hadn't.

    I agree Kerrigan had a horseface. I don't think she was prettier than Harding. But she had a more graceful body type. I certainly preferred Harding's impressive athleticism over Kerrigan's (relatively) pathetic little jumps, but a lot of judges prefer grace. Which further illustrates why figure skating is not a sport. (And I was so glad Kerrigan didn't win. I couldn't stand her.)

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    what about stupid curling. They never breath deep or break a sweat or even get their heartrate up
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    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    Who told this guy he had the right to define what a sport is? Merriam-Webster defines it as "physical activity engaged in for pleasure."

    Funny how he's only defining a sport as something men traditionally excel at: chasing around a ball and punching each other.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoAmI View Post
    Merriam-Webster defines it as "physical activity engaged in for pleasure."
    ergo, sex is a sport

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    Elite Member Fly_On_TheWall's Avatar
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    I think if you can spin in the air three times and land on a small blade....It's a sport.

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    There is a certain amount of quantifiable scoring in gymnastics and I'm assuming in figure skating as well, because they seem to have a similar method. Routines are assigned a point value based on difficulty. So, the athletes who perform the technically more difficult or complex moves have the opportunity to achieve a higher maximum number of points than athletes who aren't as fast/strong/talented and can't do the more advanced combinations. To a trained gymnast, skater, or judge, it's very obvious who is giving the superior performance based solely on technicalities, rules, and requirements. There are specific forms and positions that you are expected to maintain while performing a skill. Specific ways you are supposed to land. A specific rotation on every flip and turn. You definitely CAN tell by looking who is doing it correctly according to the regulations and who is not, or which athlete is giving a better performance. The guidelines and scoring standards are pretty specific, and to someone trained in these sports, achievement of these benchmarks and failures are easy to see. Just not as obvious to the untrained spectator as throwing a ball through a hoop.

    Every violation or error also has a set point deduction value. It's just not as subjective as the author seems to believe. another.

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    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    ergo, sex is a sport
    Actually one of their definitions is "sexual play".

    Southernbelle, that was a great post. I saw a segment during the Olympics that showed how they decided whether the proscribed number of rotations of a jump was completed (for example, looking at the angle of the boot as it hit the ice). It was a mystery to me in the past, but now I realize that scoring a jump is much more technical than whether they fell or not and how nice it looked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    Nope, biathlon's great! You're pushing yourself to ski as quickly as possible, adrenaline, hard breathing, etc. then you have to calm the breathing and quickly focus to hit the target before switching gears and ramping up to move again.

    If figure skating is a sport, so is ballet.
    Agree. Not questioning the athleticism, skill and artistry of skaters but it's judged subjectively so therefore it's art, not sport.
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    Lots of sports are judged subjectively. In equestrian sports the hunter division and dressage are all judged subjectively. Diving, too. Are we not calling them sports anymore?

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