"Well, does it really matter?" she asked me. "Like, obviously they're not going to win if they fall or whatever, but the judges really can just give them whatever score they want, right?"
As a moody tween and an avid gymnastics fan, I was outraged that Jennifer just didn't understand the ins and outs of our complex sport. I grew older and I realized that this is quite a popular view amongst the general public. You may remember this summer, when Yahoo! tried to rank the difficulty of each Olympic Event, the columnist claimed that gymnastics was not a sport and asked "how tough can it be to ... wink at some French judges?"
We, as fans, are outraged by the ridiculous notion that judges just arbitrarily "choose" who wins. But on some level, could this supposed misconception be correct? Clearly, there's a code of points in place which judges are supposed to follow. But what happens when they choose not to?
While the sport is, and will always be, somewhat subjective, there are rules. And as snarky as I was on twitter about the scoring at this meet, it's important to recognize that when judges make the choice to disregard the rules, they make a mockery of the sport. You can sugarcoat it in any way that you want, but the bottom line is : awarding gymnasts scores that they did not earn is cheating. The sport doesn't just lose fans when its judges so blatantly cheat, it loses the public's respect. And frankly, with age falsifications, public abuse scandals and the typical glitter and glam involved in the sport, gymnastics can't afford to lose any more respect.
Something has to change. Utah's scoring was an embarrassment. I encourage you to watch routines, particularly Tory's Vault and Bars and Georgia's Beam and ask yourself, "Did judges award scores based on how they TRULY thought the gymnasts performed, or did they disregard the rules to gain approval from 16,000 fans?" I know what I think.