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Finally, a Reason to Watch Court TV?
August 2, 2002 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Finally, a Reason to Watch Court TV? An Olympics skating vote rigging Russian mafia fraud trial--what fun! Hope this happens, and I hope in happens in New York's Federal Southern District, because, well, what fun to bring down a stupid sport (And remove it from television); discredit the French, Russians... I want seats to this one! Or Perhaps E! will provide the coverage?
posted by ParisParamus (14 comments total)

 
Figure skating: the WWF for girls.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2002


F1 racing: WWF for geeks.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:56 PM on August 2, 2002


Metafilter: WWF for bloggers. Paramania's runnin' wild in NYC!
posted by DaRiLo at 3:09 PM on August 2, 2002


This isn't nearly so surprising when you know about Russian hockey.
posted by dhartung at 3:23 PM on August 2, 2002


dhartung, fascinating link on Russian hockey influences. Scary stuff.
posted by bullitt 5 at 4:21 PM on August 2, 2002


Is it really necessary to call it a "stupid sport" and gloat over removing it from tv (which will never happen -- the ratings are too good and the demographic too valuable to advertisers targeting women)? It's just flamebait. This ground was well covered in February, but come on.

Figure skating just might be the only sport in which the women's version is more popular than the men's version, so of course that makes it an easy target for some. I would like to see a higher level of commentary on this story, frankly. Cheap shots are useless.

The existence of corruption at some level does not invalidate an entire sport. Baseball seems to be alive, though maybe not well at the moment. It may indicate that the entire competitive structure, governing body, etc. need an overhaul. (Cinquanta should have nothing to do with figure skating. He is, to be blunt, an idiot as far as the figure skating side of the sport is concerned.) But the basic athletic activity is a good one and worth saving. If you don't like it, watch football instead.

Incidentally, you might want to read the actual federal criminal complaint against Tokhtakhounov. It's quite interesting.
posted by litlnemo at 6:58 PM on August 2, 2002


bullitt 5: There's more here and here.
posted by mediareport at 10:45 AM on August 3, 2002


Figure skating just might be the only sport in which the women's version is more popular than the men's version

Gymnastics, tennis, and lighten up.
posted by owillis at 11:08 AM on August 3, 2002


I forgot about gymnastics, so that point is taken; is women's tennis really more popular than men's? I haven't paid much attention to tennis in years but I always thought the men's side of the competitions was thought to be more prestigious. Tennis is interesting, though, in that both the elite men and the elite women are well-known names among people who don't even really follow the sport. Is there any other sport with that much equality? (I suspect some Canadians might find figure skating to be that way. But it isn't here in the US. Sarah Hughes and Michelle Kwan are well-known now, but I don't think Alexei Yagudin is a name that would be recognized by anyone but a skating fan.)

owillis, you gotta expect that directly insulting a sport that many people enjoy is going to bring some reaction. My point is that there might be some interesting things to talk about here, but resorting to tired "skating isn't a sport" cliches is not giving us much to think about.

I was struck by ParisParamus' sheer glee in the thought that figure skating might be damaged by this. It seems a little over the top. I don't particularly like NASCAR or golf, for example, but I wouldn't make a FPP expressing glee if the sport was beset by scandal.

I wonder if this will affect ratings much. The Tonya Harding thing caused ratings to explode (which had both positive and negative effects on the sport). But there was no evidence of internal corruption in that situation. (But note that Tonya and her goons thought that the sport was corrupt -- that it was fixed so that Tonya could not beat Nancy Kerrigan.)

If fans think that the sport is internally corrupt, they might stop watching -- but then again, there is a large chunk of fans I call "ice show" fans. I don't think those kind of fans really give a damn if there is a competition or not. They just want to see people skating in pretty costumes.

(I would like to see the costume show aspect of skating removed, and compulsory element events added, but my ideas for skating reform are probably way OT here.)
posted by litlnemo at 4:47 PM on August 3, 2002


In tennis you have the Williams sisters, Kournikova, Capriati, Hingis - whereas on the men's side there's Sampras (the most boring athelete ever) and sometimes Agassi. There are other up and comers but I don't think they're recognizable to Joe Blow Sportsfan.

That said, you would have to gouge my eyes out to watch figure skating, though I enjoy gymnastics - I suppose its because the gymnasts don't hide athleticism behind "pretty dresses" and other such things, plus I just think its harder to do.
posted by owillis at 4:53 PM on August 3, 2002


Women's tennis is regularly drawing 2x the tv ratings of men's, which is why they rescheduled the women's finals of the US Open for prime time, Saturday night.

But questioning the athleticism of figure skaters, pretty dresses aside, is rather silly. Just imagine for a moment how much physical power and how much training and precision it takes to leap into the air, rotate and land on one very, very skinny blade. It's not just athleticism, it's artistry, and that's quite a combo. Not many sports call for both.
posted by Dreama at 5:32 PM on August 3, 2002


The glee I feel--and it is glee--is the flip side of the anger over other sports, both in the Olympics and at other times, receiving short shrift. I'm sick of skating on network television. REALLY. How about some live cycling, cross-country ski, downhill ski coverage?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:32 PM on August 3, 2002


Glee Part II: an opportunity to expose corruption in Europe, and France to boot!
posted by ParisParamus at 8:40 PM on August 3, 2002


Sick of skating? Perhaps your illness is misplaced. Except in Olympic years, skating gets a relatively minor amount of tv time.

Skating isn't keeping the networks from broadcasting other sports. You could blame football, basketball, baseball, golf -- but they aren't to blame either. For that matter, you could blame infomercials, home shopping shows, ER, 60 Minutes, Antiques Roadshow, etc. They are all being shown instead of the sports you want to see, but suddenly removing them probably wouldn't catapult downhill skiing to the top of the ratings.

I compete in a sport that most of you have probably never seen on TV (roller figure skating -- I used to do ice as well), and, yes, it is annoying that we never see it on TV, but cancelling all ice skating events is not going to make the network people say "wow, we should have been running cross-country skiing events (or roller figure skating, or roller speed skating, or soccer) instead! What were we thinking?" No. They care about ratings. Give them some ratings for cross-country skiing and you might see more of it on TV.

(Yeah, I know, if they never show it, how do they know it won't get ratings? *sigh*)

Continuing to try to bring some content to this thread: Could the corruption include the top levels of the ISU? It kind of looks like a possibility. If any skating fans are surprised at this story, given the events of the last few years, that's something I'd be shocked at.

On preview, I just noticed owillis' comment. Maybe gymnastics looks more difficult because they aren't blinding you with sequins and makeup. I don't think it IS more difficult than elite-level skating, though. The thing about skating is that you don't really see the effort required. Spins look simple, but they require a powerful upper body to control the spin (and think about the sit spin -- fighting forces that are trying to throw you right out of the spin while lifting your body weight up from a sitting position on one leg, without putting the other foot down, and spinning at the same time. That's, um, a little tough. Normal people get dizzy after 2 or 3 rotations. I can rotate 10 times that on ice, and an elite skater can probably do 100 rotations in a spin). A good elite skater really needs a superhuman sense of balance. And the forces in a triple or quad jump -- yikes. It is quite similar to gymnastics, I think. You need power to do the jump, then intense strength to check the rotation and land the jump. Even things that LOOK simple, like school figures, are immensely harder than they appear. Your body is trying so hard to twist one way and throw you off the circle, and it takes strength and power to control the position and motion. And all of it is being done on a thin blade on slick ice.

I wish skating broadcasts would do a better job in educating viewers about what is involved in the sport and what is really being judged.
posted by litlnemo at 9:12 PM on August 3, 2002


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