The Golden 17

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A perfect 10 isn’t so perfect anymore. Olympic gymnastics has a new scoring system that upsets people. Now, each gymnast gets two scores: an A score and a B score. I could try and explain, but it isn’t worth it. You won’t get it. I don’t get it. Nobody gets it. The new system is very confusing. Connections, deductions, and mistakes—it’s like foreign language.

“It’s crazy, terrible, the stupidest thing that ever happened to the sport of gymnastics,” said Bela Karolyi in Jordan Ellenberg’s article, “Down with the Perfect 10!” But why? Because it is harder to get a perfect score? Because it pushes physical limits of gymnasts? Because it doesn’t sound right? According to Ellenberg, “Before the new system, just about all elite competitors performed routines difficult enough to bring the start value up to a 10.0.” Elite competitors should be challenged in their sport. With the new system gymnasts have to make their routines tougher each and every meet. That is the way competition should be.

In the old scoring system there were several jumps that earned the same value as difficult tumbling. Gymnasts that had clean, simple routines were scoring just as well as those with difficult routines. Now, according to Ellenberg, “Dance elements count for much less, spectacular flips and dismounts for much more.” That is how it should be; any other way is unfair.

“‘A perfect 16.9’ lacks the ring of ‘a perfect 10’,” said Ellenburg, “How can gymnastics survive without the perfect 10?” Easy. The will survive with the “golden 17.” Change is a difficult transition. But the new generation needs it. It pushes the limits of perfection. It is fair. Clear. Accurate. Better.





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