Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aug. 19: Olympic Teeth-Gnashing Over Rules

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Tropical Storm Fay and a crashing computer have scrambled things a bit, so just a little today on the Olympics.

Which rule is worse, the one in gymnastics that no longer allows ties for medals, or the one in baseball that automatically puts two runners on the bases and allows the team to decide where to start in the batting order if the game goes into the 11th inning and later?

I have my perogative to rule it a tie.

With the gymnastics rule, American Nastia Liukin lost a chance at a gold medal in the uneven parallel bars, Thomas Bouhail of France lost a gold in the men's vault, and Louis Smith of Britain lost a silver in the pommel horse.

Reuters said it was an International Olympic Committee decision. What's the matter? They'd have to spend too many marketing dollars on two athletes, rather than one?

Actually, the baseball rule is even crazier. Nothing thrills baseball fans more than a classic that goes extra innings - the Florida Marlins' 11-inning-win in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series comes to mind. So what does the International Olympic Committee do? It penalizes the participants of such games in international baseball; both Taiwan and the United States lost games last week, in part because of such ridiculousness.

Participants in both sports should appeal these rules; even if the IOC rules against them on legal grounds, those who protest will win in the court of public opinion, which could prompt the IOC and the sports federations to change the rules to something with more common sense. Common sense has been the big loser at these Olympics.

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