Sunday, June 22, 2008

Review of divers

Euro 2008 is in full swing. Which reminds me of a review I wrote during the World Cup in 2006. Thought I'd re-post it here just for fun, since nothing seems to have changed.

Review of Divers

I have never been a big fan of sports whose outcome is determined by subjective methods. There needs to be a scoreboard, a timer, a finish line, or some other objective method to determine the winner. Which is why diving, figure skating, freestyle skiing, and even freeride mountain biking (something I love to watch but not as a competition) have always struck me as more an exhibition than a sporting event. I appreciate and admire the athleticism that is involved in all of these "exhibitions," but I struggle with the notion of a panel of judges (subject to corruption, myopia, or perhaps just indigestion) determining a winner. Unless of course, I am the sole judge.

Given that divers are accustomed to having subjective judges review their performance, I thought I would offer them the refreshing opportunity to have an unbiased observer perform a head-to-head review of various divers.

Greg Louganis

Perhaps it was the unusual passion with which TV commentators described his physique, or possibly that horrifying incident when he smacked his head on the board, but for some reason Greg Louganis is the only Olympic diver that I know by name. Talented and accomplished, Greg was able to achieve a fairly significant amount of fame and glory from a fairly insignificant exhibition that only becomes semi-important to Americans every 4 years. For that, he deserves credit.

Greg gets 5 out of 6 (due to a mandatory one point deduction for always performing in a Speedo).

High Divers

Here we're talking the Acupulco variety from the Wide World of Sports of my youth. These folks take the antiseptic world of platform and springboard diving and do it in a far more scenic location and from a much taller platform. Fun to watch if I'm bored and flipping through the channels, but nothing I would ever use Tivo hard drive space for. I jumped off an 80 foot cliff at Lake Powell once. I went so far under water that sunlight no longer penetrated the depth. The only reason I was able to find my way to the surface was because one of those luminescent fish I thought only existed in "20.000 Leagues Under the Sea" swam by and I could see the bubbles rising towards the top. Of course it doesn't help that I float about as well as a chunk of limestone, but it was deep either way.

High diving requires more skill than BASE jumping, but it's much less risky. 8 out of 18, including mandatory one point deduction for performing in a Speedo.

Jacques Cousteau

The "other" diver people know by name. Certainly worthy of consideration given the impact he had on the world. From the environmental movement to science, Cousteau was a pioneer in many respects. He co-invented the "aqualung" and was the first to take color TV footage from undersea. Only one problem: he also performed in a Speedo.

85 out of 86.

Italian World Cup Team

I thought in this year's World Cup that FIFA was going to crack down on diving. Instead they have rewarded it. Witness Italy's advancement to the quarterfinals. The Italians take diving to a new level. Here I thought that in order to dive properly, one needed a body of water to dive into.

The Italians have proven me wrong.The drama, flair, and enthusiasm with which they dive are unparalleled. Their passion for hitting the turf belies the fact that they are tripping over mere blades of grass. I never knew that playing soccer at the most elite level required so little balance, and yet, to witness the Italian soccer team arbitrarily hit the deck makes one hope that the bar stools in Italy have seat belts. Perhaps there is a mighty wind that blows selectively and only hits Italian players. Perhaps the Italians' heads are made of iron and World Cup fields are located directly over magnetic forces like in the hatch from "Lost." I don't know. All I know is that even my toddler can keep his feet better than an Italian soccer player.

0 out of 11, and they don't even wear Speedos.