At Worlds, Simone Biles Showed That It’s Not About Perfection

Photo: Vadim Ghirda (Associated Press)

Simone Biles won her fourth world all-around title on Thursday, but not in the way that she or her coaches or her fans had hoped she would. Biles fell on her vault in the first rotation and then fell off the beam in the third. She still managed to pull out the all-around win—her fourth, a new record—due to excellent performances on bars and floor, and thanks to a degree of difficulty that far surpasses those of even her nearest competitors.

Still, it was a less-than-ideal outcome and Biles was frank about that. “I feel like the girls worked so hard and I feel like they deserved it a little more than me,” she said in her post-meet interview. “Because it depends on how good you do that day and today that wasn’t me.”

I get why Biles was disappointed in her performance, despite the outcome and also why she might feel that other gymnasts who performed more cleanly than she did—notice I didn’t say “better”—might have “deserved it a little more.” Those are her feelings and she’s entitled to them. By a certain way of thinking, they are justified. Biles was disappointed.

And so were some folks online, not in Biles herself but in the rules that allowed her to take the win with two major errors.

While Biles is not the first gymnast to have won the world or Olympic all-around title with a fall, it’s hardly what you’d call a frequent occurrence. It happened in 2006, the first world championships held under the new open-ended scoring system, when Vanessa Ferrari won the world all-around title with a fall from balance beam. Ferrari’s victory despite the fall was seen as proof of how bad an idea it was to eliminate the old perfect 10 system. Under the 10, victory with a fall was much harder to pull off; with all athletes capped at a maximum of 10 points, regardless of how difficult their routines were, no one could get so out so far ahead that they could absorb a half a point deduction for a fall. (Under the current rules, gymnasts lose a full point for falling.)

Gymnastics is is an aesthetic, performance-based sport. As such, its ideas of winning and perfection are deeply intertwined. The history of the sport suggest that victory and perfection often go hand in hand, and that you can’t have the former without the latter.

Ideas about “perfection” exist in other sports too. There is such a thing as a perfect game in baseball, and they are always the same—a pitcher faces 27 batters and gets them all out in order. Football’s quarterback ratings are notably, ridiculous obscure, but an upper boundary exists and a few dozen quarterbacks have hit it over the years. Perfection is as rare in those disciplines as it is anywhere else. It’s special, but by no means a guarantee of victory. A pitcher can be perfect through nine and watch his bullpen blow it in the tenth; a quarterback putting up a perfect 158.3 has given his team a chance to win, but only a chance.

Of course, no one was actually perfect or even close to perfect in yesterday’s competition. Many of the top gymnasts had mistakes in their routines—bent legs here, a stumble out of a turn there—but those kinds of errors are easy to ignore. They don’t disrupt a performance in the way that a fall does. Falling is clearly a bigger mistake, which is why a large deduction is applied, much larger than the ones applied for other kinds of mistakes.

Does that mean that falling should automatically send you tumbling down the rankings?

In most cases, whether it should mean that or not, it does. Most gymnasts don’t have the kind of cushion that Biles has. If they fall, it will usually keep them from winning any kind of medal. Sometimes they do end up on the podium, as Aliya Mustafina did in the 2012 all-around where she won the bronze despite a fall. But they will not normally be on the top step, and certainly not with two falls.

Biles, however, is unusual. She’s capable of doing incredibly hard skills with mastery. That doesn’t mean she can’t and won’t make mistakes. She is human, after all.

But you certainly can’t accuse Biles of “chucking” her skills and merely hoping to land on her feet in the way that some gymnasts do when they push their own personal envelope on difficulty. Biles is truly capable of the difficult skills she includes in her routines and the scoring advantage she holds over the other gymnasts truly is earned. The reason Biles has dominated the last half-decade of women’s gymnastics is not because she found loopholes in the Code of Points and exploited them. It’s because she has consistently performed the most difficult gymnastics the women’s sport has ever seen and consistently been brilliant in doing it.

In order to make this a real contest, either everyone else would need to level up or you’d need different rules just for Biles.

Source link

more recommended stories

  • Patriots Owner Bob Kraft Charged With Soliciting Prostitution

    Photo: Kevin C. Cox (Getty) New.

  • Last Chance U Coach Told German Player “I’m Your New Hitler” In Texts About Discipline

    A German student at Independence Community.

  • Georgia Bulldogs Lose To Mississippi In Final Second After Technical Foul Assessed For Object Thrown From Crowd

    Wednesday night the crummy Georgia Bulldogs.

  • Wisconsin School District Under Fire Over Coach Handing Out Gross, Objectifying Awards To High School Cheerleaders

    Professional cheerleaders being subjected to degrading.

  • After Years Of Ignoring Her, WWE Finally Honors Chyna With Hall Of Fame Induction

    Photo: WWE On Monday night, WWE.

  • Deadspin Up All Night: Hit Me Where It Hurts

    Thank you for your continued support.

  • Massive Daytona 500 Crash Collects Half of the Field

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing.

  • Gloomhaven Should Be On Your Board Game Bucket List, and It’s Under $100 For the First Time Ever

    Best Gaming DealsThe best deals on.

  • Sabres’ Kyle Okposo Knocked Out Of Game After Taking One Punch From Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo

    With just over 12 minutes remaining.

  • Matt Kuchar Publicly Apologizes To Caddie David Ortiz And Pays The “Requested” Cut

    Pro golfer Matt Kuchar announced today.

  • Alvin Gentry Turns Frosty As Hell When Asked About Anthony Davis Leaving Arena Mid-Game

    Screenshot: Twitter The depressing Anthony Davis.

  • Steve Kerr Ejected For Explosive Tantrum At Ken Mauer As Warriors Collapse Against Trail Blazers

    In the fourth quarter of Wednesday.

  • John Elway Will Trade A Pick He Would’ve Screwed Up Anyway For Joe Flacco

    Photo: Doug Pensinger (Getty) Last season’s.

  • SafeSport Has Closed Its Investigation Of Pairs Skater John Coughlin Due To His Death

    John Coughlin competing in the pairs.

  • Magic Johnson And Elton Brand Try To Get Stories Straight About Ben Simmons Tampering Issue

    Photo: Meg Oliphant (Getty) The Lakers.

  • Trent Richardson Given The First Bad Penalty In AAF History After Spiking Ball Into Stands

    It took over three quarters of.

  • Hockey Man Loses Multiple Teeth After High-Stick Smacks Him In The Face

    Now in his 12th season, James.

  • Jim Irsay Moves Goalposts On “G.O.A.T.” Debate In A Way That Conveniently Discounts The Patriots’ Accomplishments

    Photo: Andy Lyons (Getty Images) Despite.

  • Jim Gray Gets Weirdly Snippy When Asked About His Friendships With Tom Brady And Oprah

    Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images) Career.

  • Clutch Buckets From Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, And LeBron James Lift Lakers Over Celtics

    Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty) As fun.

  • Nothing Matters As Long As The Golden State Warriors Exist

    Photo: AP While the rest of.

  • Skillet Stop Buying Canned, Chopped Tomatoes | Jalopnik Dealerships’ Latest Online Car Shopping Tact

    Skillet Stop Buying Canned, Chopped Tomatoes |.

  • 49ers Shoot Down Mark Davis’s Plan To Move Raiders 2019 Home Games To San Francisco

    Photo: Thearon W. Henderson (Getty) The.

  • LaVar Ball’s Idea To Move Lonzo To The Phoenix Suns Is A Good One

    The Lakers are including Lonzo Ball.

  • José Mourinho Eats Shit At Russian Hockey Game

    Unemployed soccer manager José Mourinho is.

  • Inter Ultras: We Would Have Directed Racist Chants At Koulibaly Even If He Wasn’t Black

    Photo: Emilio Andreoli (Getty Images) Following.

  • NC State’s 24-Point Performance Against Virginia Tech Made Me Want To Vomit

    Photo: Ben McKeown (AP Photo) In.

  • “I Would Never Want My Son To Play For Boston”

    Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty) The Celtics.

  • Kyrie Irving Leaving The Celtics Suddenly Seems Like A Real Possibility

    Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty) With Kristaps.

  • Gizmodo Scientists Reveal Nature of Martian Mountain Using Ingenious Technique With Curiosity Rover

    Gizmodo Scientists Reveal Nature of Martian Mountain.

  • Enes Kanter Kisses Knicks Floor Logo After David Fizdale Finally Puts Him In A Game

    Enes Kanter has been a healthy.

  • SportsCenter Falls For Fake Instagram Screenshot Showing LeBron James Once Again Tampering With Anthony Davis

    Screenshot: ESPN Hey, remember when ESPN.