Unless you live in a cave, you know that 2008 is an Olympic year which means that the US is putting together an Olympic team in a whole hosts of sports. Being an Olympic junkie I sit through lots of TV even before the games begin watching hopefuls try out for the team in their respective sports. This past weekend I watched four hours of gymnastics trials only to learn that at the end of all the hoopla, only two of the six members of the team would be selected based on their scores. The other four athletes would be determined by the two words which strike fear in the heart of all competitors, "coaches selection."
What's up with that? What ever happened to 'you win the trials, you go to the Olympics?'. Heck, in cycling, they aren't even having an Olympic trials. All the selections for the road events are done by coaches selection. Don't get me wrong, there are some pretty good coaches out there and a few are even associated with the Olympics, but I have seen enough backroom politics to have zero faith in the ability for a bunch of people to be able to put their emotions, feelings and ambitions aside to make a fair decision.
A lot of Olympic hopefuls have sacrificed everything to follow their dream. They have little or no money, and have put their careers and education on hold to try and be an Olympian. To leave that decision up to a bunch of coaches with their own agendas is just plain unfair. All Olympic sports should follow the model of USA Track and Field. The formula is simple, finish top-three in the trials and you go. There isn't much wiggle room there. Win and go. Lose and go home.
One of the highlights of the 2006 winter games was when the winner of the men's first ever snow cross skiing event was asked why he switched from half pipe to snow cross, he simply stated, 'no judges'. I am not going to launch into a diatirbe about eliminating "judged" sports from the Olympics, but we can take a huge step in removing one aspect of "judging" by making the Olympic selection totallyobjective. Bring back the trials and make them count. It is the only fair way for all Olympic hopefuls.