Monday, February 17, 2014

OLYMPICS, DAY 10: The Worst Judge Ever

In any judge-based sport in the Olympics, sooner or later there will be a dispute regarding what the judge thought of some performance or other, especially if the difference between what they thought and the athlete thought would cause a difference in medal positions. Figure skating and gymnastics can consider themselves lucky if they can get through an Olympics without a huge argument on their hands from somebody who felt they got slighted, especially if they share a nationality with whoever it was that benefited from the decision.

But these usually tend to be over often technical matters that the average person needs explained to them. An incorrectly-recorded starting value, a particular element of the routine that may not have been taken into account, the average score of the judges not being calculated correctly, something like that. You ever see an instance in a baseball or football broadcast, where people are assumed to be generally up on the rules, and then some rather obscure rule comes into play and the commentators have to stop and explain what exactly this rule is that's being invoked? That's pretty much all the time in not just a gymnastics or figure skating broadcast, but really any Olympic sport that isn't immediately familiar to the local audience. How many times have you gone over the basic rules of curling with someone online so far, or had them explained to you by what is inevitably a Canadian or a Scot?

That said, the worst judge of all time does not need any technical talk to claim the prize. The judge, who goes unnamed by history, presided over gymnastics in London 1948. As you know, at that time scores were judged on a 10-point scale, with Nadia Comaneci making history in Montreal 1976 by being the first person to max out.

She didn't set the record for highest score from a judge, though. Because an unnamed female Czechoslovakian gymnast in London beat her by 28 years, when the Worst Judge Ever gave her... a 13.1.

Out of 10.

If it helps narrow it down as to who it might be, Zdenka Honsova ranked first overall in the individual standings, though there was only a team event for women that year. She also ranked first in the balance beam and the rings (they just competed in those and the side horse, which none of the Czech women scored all that great on, though Honsova was the strongest there too). A score that high would surely have bumped someone up, and she's the highest up, so she's the most likely. But that's pure speculation and guesswork.

Whatever your beef with the judge, if they stay within the scale provided to them, that's at least a start.

No comments: