Gymastics and Diving are not Sports

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
After watching the Olympics the last few days, I can say without hesitation that neither Gymnastics or Diving are sports. They are great and entertaining competitions, but neither of them are sports. How can I say this.

I define a sport to be the following
  • There must a a physical activity involved which requires strength, speed, or endurance and which would quickly lead to exhaustion
  • There must be a competition between two or more individuals or teams
  • There must be a clear and OBJECTIVE winner
The last part is what dooms Gymastics and Diving as not a sport. It just is not objective enough. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt this Olympics. I tried to believe that the judges used objective measures in order to deduct points from each of these events, but it simply is not true.

I watched as China's Fei Cheng landed on her knees and yet somehow ends up with a bronze medal. I don't know a lot about Gymnastics, but I know you shouldn't be able to land on your knees and still be considered one of the three best in the world.

I watched diving and saw one dive which recieved a 4.5 from one judge and a 8.0 from another. How objective can an event be when two people, supposedly looking at the exact same thing, come up with such radically different results?

To be fair, other sports have their subjective elements. Baseball has an umpire call balls and strikes, and basketball has refs who blow calls all the time (whether for money or just being plain blind). But this is not the main focus of the game. You winning or losing is not, in general, dependent on someone else's subjective call.

So sorry fans of Gymastics and Diving. I know you love your competition. I agree, it can be fun to watch. But it just isn't a sport.

Phelps Phan

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The story of the Olympics thus far has to be Michael Phelps. The guy just won eight gold medals and in the process set seven world records. It's a feat I'm sure won't be surpassed in at least a generation if not longer.

I could go on and on about how awesome he is as an athlete, but others could do a better job than I. This is especially true given the fact that I can barely swim as is. I blame my Asian genes for not being able to swim, I didn't see that many Asian people in the water. It is most likely due to just how my body is. I try to explain to people how my feet just sink in the water. I tell people this and they try to give me tips on how to float. I tell them, "I just sink, you don't understand", but people who can float just don't understand how someone who doesn't float can't.

Interesting enough, following Michael Phelps throughout the game, they had a piece on why Michael Phelps was born to swim. They described how he had short legs but a long torso. I probably have the exact opposite problem. My legs are long for my body and my torso is short. As almost everybody's legs naturally sink, and you use your torso as a buoy to float the rest of your body, this very much explains why I have more trouble swimming than the average person. Guess I won't be winning any gold medals in swimming any time soon.

But how awesome would it be to have "Greatest Olympic Athlete" on your resume? I mean, what employer isn't going to want to talk about that? What employer isn't going to at least grant you an interview? The hardest part of getting any job is just getting in the door to get an interview but having something like this would just be crazy. it probably would be of bigger benefit outside the swimming world than in it.

2008 Opening Ceremonies - The Chinese Rock!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


That about sums up what I thought of the 2008 Opening Ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics. The amount of creativity, artistry, and imagination was off the charts. This seriously might have been some of the best blending of art and technology that the world has ever seen. The ceremony itself was just beautiful. The costumes, the performances, and the props were all outstanding. The highlight, for me, was most definitely the movable type performance where they simulated blocks of Chinese characters making up a movable type system. I thought it was amazing before I saw the ending, and then when it was shown that it was all human driven, it drove the whole thing off the charts.

But in reality, I'm not at all surprised that this was easily the best Opening Ceremonies of all time and probably will be for quite some time. Being Asian, and Chinese specifically, I learned one indelible truth growing up, face is everything.

"Face" in Asian culture is quite difficult to understand unless you grew up in it. While Western civilization also takes how others perceive you to be important, the Asian culture takes it to a whole other level. It is often why certain stereotypes exist for Asian people. You have your children do well in school because it is a reflection of what a good parent you are. It is why being a hospitable host is so crucial to the culture.

So the Chinese, with the rest of the world watching, went over the top. They made sure that others would look at these games, and remember it as the best ever. They spent $300 million on the opening ceremonies alone. They practiced it for years and every detail was thought of. They wanted to be sure that everyone else in the world knew what an amazing country China was, is, and will someday become. Boy did they deliver.