February 18th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

simply for "OTIWTPTA"

Edit:  But yeah, I have to agree with you.  My parents taught me to never hit women, but this one is just ASKING for it.  (sarcasm intended...)

I wonder if she considers Figure Skating a sport?  If so, the skills are quite similar.  And the lifts they do take a lot of strength and coordination.  Sounds like a sport to me. 



February 18th, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

I don't understand her argument at all. It seems like she thinks figure skating is a sport but that ice dancing isn't, and that by being similar, ice dancing is degrading figure skating. Or something, the article doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

To be honest, I'm not sure it's worth reading. Seems like she thinks ice dancing is superficially silly (e.g., the costumes, the terminology like "twizzle"), which seems to be the entirety of her issue with it.


February 18th, 2014 at 8:15 PM ^

There's been a lot of good discussion in this thread, so I'm not going to hammer anything home too hard. But I will leave this here for anyone who comes across this thread again:





That's a screenshot of how Meryl and Charlie received their free dance score at the Olympics. You can see that each element has a 'base value' from which they can deviate from +3 to -3, called the 'Grade of Execution' or GOE. This is basically graded like the inverse of golf. If they execute the element as perfectly as it can be executed (factors including speed, strength, quickness, etc.) then they will receive a +3 on top of their base value, like a hole-in-one. If they fall, they will receive a -3 on top of the base value...triple bogie. One thing to note is that a +3 may not really be a '+3'...it may be as small as +0.5 or as high as +3 depending on what kind of element it is.



One other thing to note is that each element has 4 different levels, each with a different base value. You achieve a higher level (level 4 being the highest) by adding difficulty to a given element (for example, in pairs skating, doing a 1-handed lift would give you a higher level than a 2-handed lift).



Where a lot of the "subjective" discussion comes in is in the 'artistic mark', where a judge can give the skater a seemingly-arbitrary point value based on what they deem to be better style, creativity, etc. However, as other have mentioned, 4 out of 9 of the judges' scores are thrown out, so you're left with a solid core of the median of the judges' opinions. It really isn't that subjective when it all comes down to the final score.



Hope this helped people understand a little better.


February 18th, 2014 at 12:22 PM ^

I view it the same as cheerleading. Not a sport by itself, but when judged against other teams it becomes one. The key to something being a sport is having competition.


February 18th, 2014 at 12:24 PM ^

I am not an ice skating fan by any stretch of the imagination.  I don't necessarily enjoy it and I certainly don't understand it, but I can at least respect it as a sport.  More so than that, I respect my wife's opinion on the topic.  As I mentioned yesterday in an Olympic thread, is that my wife was a figure skater (she skated competively, nationally and internationally, mostly in synchronized skating, which is not an Olympic sport at the moment, but certainly seems like it will be).  Thus, when she says something about figure skating, I shut up and listen.  

Her opinion, based on first and secondhand experience is that ice dancing (as compared to pairs, or individual or synchro) is the most difficult and requires the most skill of all the other skating mediums.  If that's what she thinks, then by god, ice dancing is a goddamn sport.


February 18th, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

My daughter skated with Ann Arbor's Hockettes for several years, and participated in national and international competitions. I can't say that I find any variety of figure skating truly interesting as a sport, but to deny the athleticism and teamwork of synchronized skating or pairs ice dancing is stupid.


February 18th, 2014 at 1:50 PM ^

There are a number of team photo posters for competitions in '99/2000 still up on the wall in my daughter's bedroom (my wife would skin me if I even suggested taking them down) and I bet your wife is in some or all of them. I'll mention her name to my kid (who will be 30 this year-arrgh.)


February 18th, 2014 at 12:34 PM ^

You are a wise husband . . . "If that's what she thinks, then by god, ice dancing is a goddamn sport."

There are just some hills that it isn't worth dying on. This is one of them. I considered my time watching ice dancing last night next to my wife a prudent investment of time. It wasn't unenjoyable, was better than much of the drivel on TV, and my better half enjoyed that I was with her.


February 18th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

I don't consider any event thats outcome is decided by a panel of judges to be a sport.  Sorry.  Ice Dancing is an athletic competition that takes great skill and grace, but it's not a sport.


February 18th, 2014 at 12:50 PM ^

For those too young to remember:

"The final, on the last day of boxing at the Games, was a rout, Jones, barely bothering to raise his guard, landed 86 punches to Park's 32. The Korean took two standing eight counts and was twice warned by the referee. NBC's Count-A-Punch recorder scored the rounds 20-3, 30-15 and 36-14 in Jones's favour. Watch the footage – it's an utterly one-sided affair.

The three judges didn't think so. Bob Kasule of Uganda, Uruguay's Alberto Durán and Hiouad Larbi of Morocco gave Park the fight, two others giving it to Jones. As the referee, Aldo Leoni, raises Park's hand, the Korean fighter looks entirely embarrassed. Leoni himself looks disgusted. "I can't believe they're doing this to you," he whispered to the distraught American.

The medal ceremony is equally cringeworthy. Jones received huge cheers, Park, standing on the top of the podium, couldn't have looked more sheepish had he been bleating and swathed in wool. He held the American's fist aloft. Jones still looks shell-shocked. "I don't blame him," said Jones. "He didn't score the fight. That's the worst I've ever been dealt in my life. They put the silver medal around my neck, and I took it right off. I won't put it around my neck ever again."


True Blue Grit

February 18th, 2014 at 1:07 PM ^

where the outcome is totally determined by a panel of judges.  And the bigger problem becomes when there's an almost total lack of objective criteria used to decide a score.  Boxing at least has some objective criteria they can use (# of punches landed, whether they got knocked down or not, etc.)  But with ice dancing and figure skating, I guess I don't understand what, if any, objective criteria they're using.  As you say, it seems pretty biased and random a lot of the time.  When "style" starts to become a big part of the scoring, that's what loses it for me. 


February 18th, 2014 at 1:31 PM ^

You not understanding the criteria doesn't mean there aren't any. Basically, they have a number of elements, some required, some optional, each with a maximum score. What each element consists of and requires is pretty well defined. And what NOT to do is also fairly well defined, with specific point deductions for each category of failure. Do A with no errors, get X points. There is certainly some subjectivity in that, but it's not like the judges sit back, watch, and say, I liked that a lot, 10 points!

Now that said it does take an expert to decipher all of that (and I am definitely not one at all), so I can see the unapproachability of it being a challenge to enjoying it as a sport (that's part of why I don't tend to watch it myself). But frankly most of the scoring in figure skating / ice dance / gymnastics / freestyle skiing / synchronized diving is less subjective than say, whether or not to call holding in football or a charge in basketball.

Actually those are decent comparisons - a successful triple toe loop is more rigidly defined than what constitutes pass interference, twizzle synchronization or lack thereof no harder to spot than a charge/block call. Yet the latter examples don't automatically make you dismiss their respective sports.


February 18th, 2014 at 12:27 PM ^

I kind of put everything that has "judges" in a different category. If you're not competing against a clock, opponent or team it's just a different animal if one is being judged. I'm not taking anything away from anyone just my Opinion.




February 18th, 2014 at 12:37 PM ^

give me a break.

I'll say it again...obviously the realization of how hard ALL those athletes (Yes, I'm calling them athletes) put in on their craft is most definitely sport-worthy.  As a former high school and college swimmer, I can tell you without a doubt that diving is indeed a sport.

oriental andrew

February 18th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

football is obviously not a sport, as it requires "judges" and "referees" to make "judgements" about whether a play is valid or not, often based on arcane and non-sensical rules.  Ditto basketball and baseball and hockey and soccer.  A strike is a strike is a strike, unless it's called a ball.  It's a fumble unless it's not.  The only REAL sports are races and track events (and I'm sure some others I've forgotten about which are as black/white as you can get).  


February 18th, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

These judges or referees don't get together after a football game to decide who won the game.  While they have an outcome in the end result, the two teams on the field do end up "deciding" the outcome.  Unless it's the refs in the Seahawks-Packers game.



February 18th, 2014 at 2:24 PM ^

Here's the problem with that analogy.  Everything from pass interference to the strike zone to a charge/block call has very specific instructions about what defines that.  The job of the referees and umpires is simply to watch and make a yes/no determination.  Yes, there's judgment involved, because that's unavoidable when watching in real time - but that's still a world apart from "Here are three jumps which all fit the definition of a triple axel.  Which triple axel was best?"

Hell, even in the racing events there are umpires making "judgment" calls, like, did someone false start.  If there are rules, there has to be an enforcer of the rules, which is what a referee is, not a determinant of the score.

There's one guy in charge of watching any particular play at any given time.  You don't have five umpires watching the strike zone and then voting on each pitch.  In judging events like halfpipe, diving, figure skating, etc., the judges can all look at literally the exact same move and assign different scores.  There's a very good reason most judging events eliminate the top and bottom scores.


February 18th, 2014 at 2:31 PM ^

So you're saying that every single umpire calls exactly the same strike zone in every game? Every football ref allows exactly the same amount of grabbing before he calls pass interference, every play, every game?

Clearly, you CAN show the same play to different refs and get different outcomes - we see it every year. And skating jumps are actually at least as well defined as penalty calls - must jump from a certain edge, rotate exactly the right number of times, land on a certain edge. And the form is somewhat subjective, but not undefined. You are just unfamiliar with the definition.


February 18th, 2014 at 3:36 PM ^

No, I didn't say one word of that.  What I said was that one umpire looks at one pitch and calls it a ball or a strike.  Whereas five judges look at literally the exact same McTwist and offer different opinions.  I'm not talking about a different trick from the same boarder or the same trick from different boarders, or a similar jump from the same boarder with different judges, like you're talking about pitches and pass interference.  I'm talking about one, and only one, jump, with five different opinions.  There is no such equivalent in baseball, hockey, football, etc.

Now I did talk about "three different triple axels."  But here's the thing that you missed.  A triple axel has a definition.  Pass interference has a definition.  If a ref sees something that fits the definition, he throws the flag.  Period.  He doesn't go, "OK, that was pass interference, but let me assess how much and what yardage is deserved and so on."  Three skaters can land a jump that is defined to be a triple axel, and still there's room to say, "well, that was a pretty good triple axel, that one sucked and was all sloppy, and that one was awesome."  A referee has no such discretion.  His only job is to decide whether it was pass interference.

Don't be a condescending dick about how familiar I am with definitions when you're setting up straw men like that first paragraph.


February 18th, 2014 at 4:39 PM ^

Actually, football has multiple refs, and often they see different things. Hence the ref huddles that occur multiple times per game. Certainly we see cases where the former ref commentator or the replay guy sees the same thing and calls it something else. That's not a straw man, that's a legitimate part of the argument that you want to skip over based on the number of officials involved.

And saying that baseball is less subjective because there's only one umpire is silly. That means one guy's opinion has full force. If anything, having 9 judges, of which 4 are thrown out, is less subjective because any 1 judge's subjective opinion plays a lesser role. Are the calls "simpler" in baseball/football? I guess, but the fact that opinion sways a call from strike to ball, safe to out, rather than from 9.50 to 10.0, does not automatically make the baseball ump more objective. Doesn't it just make each subjective call weightier?

Do skating judges differ? Sure, but not by as much as you'd think - 10% maybe? Enough to swing a close competition, to be sure, but show the same element to 9 judges and the scores look pretty consistent. So subjective is true, but that's a far cry from just random, unpredictable opinion. Is it more subjective that baseball? Probably. But my point is that the amount of subjectivity you're willing to accept is inherently arbitrary, so drawing a hard sport/not sport distinction is a flawed exercise.

I'm not setting up straw men, I'm following your argument to its logical conclusion. The reality is that refs differ from call to call, game to game, despite your assertion that there is a firm definition and a simple up/down call. That's inherent subjectivity that can sway a close game. And if pointing out that your argument reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how modern judged sports actually operate makes me a condescending dick, then I guess that's just your subjective opinion, man.


February 18th, 2014 at 5:12 PM ^

The refs in football, baseball, soccer, and hockey do not determine the actual score as much as they enforce rules. A touchdown is worth 6 points, however it happens, a field goal is always 3 points, a run is always one point, and goals are always 1 point. You may debate what preceeded the scoring of those points, but if you say touchdown I say 6 points.

After a figure skating (or diving or moguls or ice dancing or gymnastics) routine, you do not know the score unless you are deciding what the score is. Football refs may huddle on a PI or other penalty, but they do not huddle on the value of a touchdown. As for bobsled, it's timed with no other scoring component, just like the alpine skiing disciplines.