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I'm right on with ray in this one. I think these events require incredible athletic skill. But I think the context of the event itself is so heavily based on subjective criteria that it can't really be called sport.

Analogies have been made to blown calls in football or other sports. In those cases, if you see a replay, you can figure out whether or not there was a poor interpretation. There is an absolute right and wrong that can be viewed, if you had the ability and willingness to make decisions based on the tape. If you think your guy was down before fumbling despite the ref's call, you can go to the tape. If you have a good enough picture (which doesn't always happen), everyone can agree on the fact of the situation.

That isn't the case with a judged sport. Replay any of these performances, and have the judges rate them, and you'll STILL end up with differences. There is no way to ever accurately rate these athletes. The performance is subjective, and so are the ratings. The analogy doesn't hold.

There's too much opportunity for bias. The judges know who they're rating and what country they're from. Whether bias is intentional or unintentional, it's there. Remember the fine days of the cold war, where all the Western Bloc nations would rate down the Eastern Bloc athletes, and vice versa? That's a more blatant example. But it is also easy for a judge to have in the back of his mind "Wow, Khorkina was really good tonight" and judge generously or "Khorkina is acting snide" and judge harshly. And it may not even be intentional but it could be a subconscious measure.

Ultimately, what I don't like about judges sports is that there's really no such thing as an upset. There's a pool of about 6-8 people that you could name at the beginning of the competition, and one of them is going to win it. Maybe the favorite will choke and someone else will win, but you're not going to get some completely obscure gymnast coming out of nowhere to win it all.

Compare that to the 1980 Hockey team. Or the 2004 Iraqi soccer team, or the 2004 Puerto Rico basketball team, of the Chilean who won the men's tennis singles, and so on. No matter what anyone things of you, if you get on the track or in the pool or on the ski slope or whatever your field is, if you can deliver the best performance, you win. You get the 1999 Rams winning the Super Bowl. You get the 1987 Twins winning the World Series. You get the 2004 Detroit Pistons beating the mighty Lakers. You get true, unexpected upsets.

It just doesn't happen in a judged sport. Again, maybe the favorite falls off, but one of the predetermined favorites still ends up on the podium. You don't get a no name, no respect athlete emerge and capture the competition from everyone else.

You can still get great athleticism. You can still get great performance--Paul Hamm's comeback shows the heart of a champion. But you'll never have the drama of the Miracle on Ice in a judged sport. The judges would never let it happen.

Last, an official's decisions may affect outcomes of other sports, but if an official blows a call in a football game, there were still 100 other plays in that game for the athletes to overcome the one error. If a judge decides to mark you down, you can't do anything about it. You're completely beholden to the whim of the official, no matter what else you do.

If everyone can't truly win the competition, it isn't a sport. Judged events fail that mark.

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