Controversy Dominating Olympic Headlines

Scandals seem to be taking over these Olympics.  But which ones are really an issue?

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

It's nothing new.  In the modern sports world where every moment can be placed under a microscope, at times there is a result that makes the viewing public uneasy.  Thankfully we're not seeing anything like Nancy Kerrigan, who was assaulted at the '94 figure skating championships, but there have been moments that have left me scratching my head.

First, South Korean fencer Shin A-Lam sat for more than an hour in protest of a decision that cost her a chance to compete for gold.  With the score tied 5-5, A-Lam would have won due to a "priority" rule.  But judges added one second to the time and in a best of three sudden death competition, A-Lam would lose to German Britta Heidemann.  She was later given a special medal by the IOC which in my mind is the equivalent of getting a participatory trophy.

Four Badminton teams continued the scandal talk when they blatantly attempted to throw their qualifying matches in order to gain more preferable match-ups in the knock out rounds.  All four teams were disqualified from competition after showing no effort to win and even intentionally hitting bad shots, which brought on a chorus of boos from spectators.  I get the temptation to throw matches in order to get favorable matches and I honestly don't really mind it, just try to not make it so obvious next time.

The USA men's basketball team brought on a few questions when they beat Nigeria by 83 points during qualifying play.  Some accused them of running up the score on an over-matched Nigeria team, but in reality the US team just could not miss.  Men's basketball has a 24 second shot clock, which means you have to take a shot before the shot clock runs out.  But when the team just happens to hit over 70 percent of their shots, and players like LeBron James only score six points, I don't think you can really say the team was running up the score.

The USA women's soccer team was in the middle of a controversy on Monday, beating Canada to advance to the gold medal game against Japan.  In the 78th minute of the game, the Canadian goaltender was called for a foul for taking more than six seconds to put the ball in play.  The ensuing free kick struck a Canadian defender on the arm and a hand-ball foul was called, and due to the location of the Canadian player, the US was given a penalty kick.  Abby Wambach would convert on that kick, tying the game at 3-3 and the US would win in overtime.  

Afterwards, Canadian players were very vocal that they felt that the referees were favoring the American team.  I've never been the type of fan to blame the refs, whether my team wins or loses, so I hate when someone tries to say they lost because of the officiating.  I feel that if you deserve to win, it won't matter what the referees call.  Adding to the mystique of the US win are reports that Wambach told the refs to watch for the Canadian goaltender holding the ball too long, even going as far as counting out the seconds that passed loud enough for the refs to hear it.  When Wambach is counting to 10 and the rule is supposed to be six seconds, a referee can't ignore that.  Good gamesmanship by Wambach.

But the worst calls in the Olympics have happened in gymnastics.  First Jordan Wieber was held out of competing in the individual all-around competition, despite having the fifth highest score, due to an asinine rule that each country can only send their top two to the finals.  Then Aly Raisman lost a bronze medal in the all-around competition due to a tie-breaker with Russia's Aliya Mustafina.  In that tie-breaker, both gymnasts had their lowest scores eliminated and then recalculated to determine the winner.  This meant that Raisman, who had consistently good scores, was punished because eliminating her 14.2 score on the beam didn't bring her score up as much as eliminating a 13.6 on the beam that helped Mustafina.  

This snafu will probably bring about new tie-break rules in the future, but that doesn't help Raisman now.  In fact, it might be more fair to eliminate the highest score for a competitor, which would take out the factor of someone relying on a high score to hold up a sub-par overall performance. 

Medal Count after August 7th

China              73
USA                 70
Great Britain   48
Russia             48
Germany         31

J. Lance Moose is a contributor and lead football writer for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JLanceMoose, and subscribe on Facebook

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