Sunday, May 31, 2015

Football, FIFA, Figureskating

I don't know, I feel that for the past six years, in many ways, figure skating, on and off the ice, is the real deflate gate.*
Sports are more than metaphor. Most boys adore sports because of the athletic aesthetic, trust in the final score and that both were attained by fair play. It’s what distinguishes the NFL from the WWE.
We assume one has old-school behemoths who play within the lines, and the rules, and the other has juiced-up behemoths who win by breaking the rules like a chair over a bulging back. Once the laws are more malleable, then the line between fact and fiction becomes obscured. We no longer know the difference between pro football and pro wrestling.
Jason Keidel, CBS Los Angeles
Keidel should get with the present century and substitute "people" for "boys" (WTF?), but it's nice Keidel has his ideals, and believes it’s still possible to preserve/defend select sports from the culture of fraud, instead of joining the chorus telling us none of it makes any difference. All the sports journalists are using the WWW as the point of no return. Baseball, football, soccer, dear God, get your house in order or you’ll end up like the WWW. A circus act. Not a sport.

OTOH, maybe if sports journalists thought "boys" watched figure skating, they'd give a shit that it's corrupt, and the line between fact and fiction has disappeared. I believe a significant component of figure skating's problem is its demographic. It has a demographic everybody thinks they can shit on. If it were perceived to have "boys" in its demo, figure skating might tread more carefully.

Figure skating is much more fraudulent than wrestling. If, in the WWW, cheating happens so Behemoth A defeats Behemoth B, at least Behemoth A actually did defeat Behomith B. The referee doesn't use a wet towel to slap awake the guy laid out unconscious on the mat after a knockout, haul him to his feet and declare him the victor.

In American football’s deflategate, depressurizing footballs allowed Tom Brady better purchase on the ball, so it would sail when thrown, not drop like a brick. If football were like figure skating, Tom Brady could literally throw a brick, or nothing but interceptions, and be awarded touchdowns anyway.

Figure skaters such as Ashley Wagner have tried to sell the blurred lines between sport and melodrama as part of figure skating’s appeal. And certainly Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are here to remind us figure skating is a joke.**

After Vancouver 2010, which was marketed as the Integrity Figure Skating Olympics, figure skating 180’d towards the “It’s all about melodrama, personalities, entertainment and marketing!” route Wagner has embraced. That’s fine, except then you're no longer a legitimate Olympic sport. You're a Kardashian. Scott is, Tessa is, Davis and White are, and, come to how it handles itself off-ice, more people, like Kaitlyn Lawes and @jonescurl join in. Role modeling their hearts out on social media while lying through their teeth and hoaxing their supporters.

I wish figure skating could be exposed the way international soccer is exposed, the way the deal making and hard core corruption in FIFA is exposed. All it would take is a mainstream journalist actually reading the Code of Points, and spending a little bit of time on youtube familiarizing themselves with some basic edgework and steps. Throw up some screen caps and video shorts while asking a couple of questions about how the two were connected on the protocols. That’s it. Nobody, not even those who have written about figure skating for decades, have bothered to do that. Fans have done it, but unless that's acknowledged, it's like a tree falling in a forest. Back to the demographic - I believe if football fans, or fans of perceived "masculine" sports were pointing out this this type of evidence on line, sports journalists would pay attention.

The FIFA international criminal investigation and arrests are being driven by international financial crime laws, not sports regulation violations that are investigated internally, and penalized internally with fines, suspensions, and banning.

I look at what happened with figure skating in 2014 at the Grand Prix final and Sochi, and in its fundamentals, it looks a whole lot closer to FIFA than deflategate. But we’re talking pocket change, probably, compared to the sums at stake with FIFA wheeling and dealing. The principle, though, is similar. Dore, Retstatt and Lavoit didn’t cooperate to bring about Davis and White’s Olympic victory without getting something tangible out of the deal for themselves.

Even those who write about figure skating with enthusiasm are simultaneously a bit embarrassed to do so, and wouldn’t be caught dead taking it seriously. If they did take it seriously, they’d actually bother to know what they’re talking about, and be willing to engage with others who know what they’re talking about. Instead, fans and everyone else who takes it seriously as a sport are shut down.

Figure skating remains an Olympic sport, and shouldn’t be as it conducts itself now. I feel like there are figure skating fans waving their arms, trying to signal some attention from various regulatory or investigative entities, and the helicopters just refuse to see them, disappearing into the horizon.

If you don’t know what’s happening on the field of play, there is no way to recognize the empirical evidence that demonstrates corruption has taken place. It’s right in front of everybody’s face, but if everybody pretends not to know what’s there, it’s hopeless. Worse, when corruption in figure skating does get attention, most of it has been ginned up bullshit used as misdirection from real corruption.

How cute - Scott reassures Tessa that her pre-competition
rituals weren't that crazy. He's evolved so much since
"Tessa and Scott", where her every personality quirk
grated on his nerves to the point where he appeared to
be manfully clenching his jaw so as not to sock
her in the face. One more leap forward and maybe these
crazy kids will finally get together.
On another front, I think I’ve temporarily mislaid many of my “Drunk Scott” jpgs. I started looking for them after half-watching Mad Men’s season finale (for me, an exercise in “you have that to work with and you did that with it?"), and at several junctures I was reminded of social media Scott:

The left is Season 4, where the sick on Draper's shirt is
precisely where we usually find Scott's beer drool, and
the right from the series finale is from Mad Men
Screencaps with Things Drawn on Them
Donald Draper is a middle-aged man in the grip of a long-running, destructive and painful existential crisis featuring a pitifully tenuous grip on his sense of self, while when we've see Scott in this condition, we assume he's just being masculine. I hope Kaitlyn has been a sobering influence.

Scott role modeling proper usage of the possessive and
plural on mother's day. 

*For its fans. Psychologically.

**Which is sad, because both are much more articulate and far more informed than Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic, but that's not why NBC hired them. NBC has decided figure skating is a camp event. Fine, but, which, again, not an Olympic-eligible sport.