Thursday, February 14, 2002

But as I point out below, the comparison doesn't really hold. In most instances, umpires and referees do not control the outcome of the game. And even when they do, the participants could have done things before that would have taken the contest out of their hands. If your team hits home runs and your pitcher makes all the hitters swing and miss or pop out weakly, there's not much even the most corrupt or incompetent umpire can do to change the outcome of the game. That's why the Black Sox conspirators paid off the players to fix the game, not the umpires. It seems it would be a lot cheaper to bribe a few umpires than eight players, but that wouldn't work.

In figure skating, the outcome is neccesarily in the hands of the officials. There is nothing the participants can do to overturn that. If one wanted to fix a figure skating competition, you wouldn't pay off the skaters to screw up, you'd pay off the judges.

I think I may have just stumbled upon a pretty good rule to determine whether something's a sport -- who would you pay off to fix it? In soccer, basketball, baseball, football, tennis, car racing, horse racing, speed skating, skiing, hockey, or golf, you'd go after the key players, thus they're sports. In figure skating, snowboarding, gymnastics, and dog shows, you'd bribe the judges, thus they're athletic exhibitions or events.

I'd be interested if anyone could provide a counter-example to this rule.
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