I hate to act like a sulky child, but I’m done with watching the Olympics this year.
I have complained about the premise of the games before, and I stand by the fact that all sports are really just barely repressed jingoism with a smidge of violence and injury and a heaping scoop of misogyny thrown in, but I am drawn into the Olympic coverage every year just the same.
This year, however, I am done with it.
It wasn’t just the complete debacle with the women’s semi-final soccer game between Canada and the US. Yes, the game was officiated by an idiot (Christiana Pedersen needs to lose her job, or at least suffer a lifetime ban from the Olympics, for the way that she called that game), and yes FIFA completely ignored the glaringly biased stupidity of the ref in favour of attacking the rightfully furious Canadian players who had been robbed of a gold medal match, but if that had been the only idiocy I had witnessed I might yet want to keep watching.
But, as anyone who has been watching the Olympics knows, it wasn’t.
While I no longer follow professional boxing, I still enjoy watching the amateur competitions from time to time. That is, I previously enjoyed it. I will no longer partake, as the officiating at the London 2012 games has been catastrophically bad. Of roughly ten bouts that I watched, at least half of them ended with some kind of controversy. The most recent was Canadian Custio Clayton’s “loss” in the quarter finals, a fight where he took two of the three rounds, battered the hapless Brit nearly senseless, and somehow was given only half the points he should have gotten by all of the judges present. It was disgusting to hear the official decision, and the even hometown crowd knew it when they heard it.
I wish I could say it was just Canada getting shafted these games, but it isn’t.
Staying with boxing alone, a sport I feel at least marginally comfortable analyzing, look at how many other controversies have come up. Jose Larduet of Cuba lost a match where his opponent did nothing but clinch throughout the entire bout (AIBA rule 12.1.9), and when he appealed the decisions he was officially eliminated from the tournament. The same thing happened to Siarhei Karneyeu of Belarus when he was robbed by another serial hugger.
At least Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu got his decision reversed when he somehow lost a fight where he knocked down his Azerbaijani opponent six times in a single round. Now, I’m no lawyer, but please explain to me how you screw up this instruction from the AIBA Technical and Competition Rules book:
13.4.1. When a Boxer is “down” as the result of a blow, the bout shall not be continued until the Referee has reached the count of eight, even if the Boxer is ready to continue before then.
13.9.1 At the Elite level, when a Boxer has three (3) compulsory counts in the same round or four (4) for the whole bout, the Referee shall stop the contest
Where’s the gray area in that?
I guess I’m just tired of the lack of response from the Olympic committee. It would go such a long way for someone at the top to look at this and say, honestly and fairly, “Yeah, we are really messing up on these decisions. We hired the wrong people, didn’t do the checks we should have, and we haven’t been holding the accountable for their actions. We’re hurting the athletes, we’re hurting the spirit of the games, and something needs to be done to ensure that the young men and women that have worked so hard to be here are going to get their fair shake. We need to restrict the power of people that clearly have an agenda or can’t handle the pressure of their positions. This isn’t a question of appearances; our officials are getting it wrong too often and too blatantly. Something needs to be done, and we are going to do it.”
I’m still anxiously waiting to hear that. When I do, maybe I’ll want to watch the games again.