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Kneecapped: Two Consecutive Olympic Wars Against Achievement

13941045_1098722286875913_1924171006_nIn 2012, Jordyn Wieber was one of the top gymnasts in the world: she was the 2011 All-Around World Champion;  she placed 2nd at the 2012 USA Olympic Trials; and, she finished 4th after the 1st day of the 2012 Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team Competition. However, she failed to qualify to compete in the Individual All-Around meet – the gymnastics event in which (supposedly) the best gymnasts in the world compete for the most coveted title in the sport – the Olympic All-Around Champion.

Similarly, Gabby Douglas continues to reign as one of the top gymnasts in the world; as the 2012 Olympic All-Around Champion (the first African-American gymnast to achieve such) and following a 3rd place finish in the 2016 Team Qualifying Meet for the Individual All-Around and Event Finals, she failed to earn the chance to compete in the Individual All-Around.

With such stellar performances at the qualifying meets, how could Jordyn and Gabby not advance to the all-around competition? The answer lies in a rule established by the Olympic Gymnastics Committee that has, at its core, a Marxist foundation. The rule states that only 2 gymnasts per country can advance to the Individual All-Around meet. The reasoning, of course, is to afford less stellar gymnasts from smaller, “under-represented” countries a chance of competing for the all-around title. But what such a rule accomplishes is to merely eliminate some of the very best gymnasts from competing.

The very title of the athletic event itself – the Individual All-Around – would not lead one to think that gymnasts’ nationalities would have an impact on the dynamics of the competition. The fact that it does is merely a duplication of Olympic events, since, during the Team Competition, gymnastic teams from 12 separate countries compete against each other for the purposes of determining which country has produced the best gymnastics. The purpose of the Individual All-Around is to determine the best gymnast – the competitors sporting the top 24 scores in the qualifying event should be those vying for the title of Olympic All-Around Champion. The arbitrary eligibility rule of only 2 gymnasts per country being granted entry into the meet is counter-intuitive and illogical to the conclusion that the event advertises via its title. The Olympic Gymnastics Committee is guilty of false advertising, and the integrity of athletic achievement suffers as a consequence.

Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas championed (and were subsequently victimized by) Team USA’s strength. That’s the problem: Team USA has been dominant for the past 8 years, with commentators recently opining that the incredible depth in the current field of US gymnastics as cultivated by Marta Karolyi would allow for a team of 5 “lesser” USA gymnasts to easily capture the team gold medal. In 2012, Wieber was edged out by teammates Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman for advancement into the Individual All-Around meet; this year, Douglas came in 3rd behind Simone Biles and Raisman and will not be able to advance. Similar to 2012, the 2016 Olympic podium for the Individual All-Around could yield a straight flush of USA athletes. Why should this opportunity be thwarted? (Please take note that the purpose of this article is not to be a Valentine to American exceptionalism; it is a Valentine to over-arching individual achievements based on merit alone – regardless of nationality, race, socio-economic background, etc.)

I find it utterly fascinating (and extraordinarily depressing) that the Olympic Games (which are supposed to uphold, as its core value, superlative accomplishment) has opted to embrace the characteristics premised by “humility metaphysics.”  The basic premise of such a philosophical stance is that we are “all the same.” We are all fungible. Merit-based success is anathema to this philosophical view. To quote Ayn Rand, followers of this school of thought “regard themselves (and others for that matter) as inter-changeable mediocrities who have nothing to offer and who fight, in a ‘static’ universe for someone else’s  causeless favor” (Rand, “The Conflicts of Men’s Interests,” The Virtue of Selfishness). Sounds like the Olympic Gymnastics Committee.

The Individual All-Around Competition ought to be comprised of the best handful of gymnasts in the world competing for the All-Around gold medal. This constitutes a pure, unbiased rational approach towards individual achievement. It represents the idea that: “the gain of one man does not represent the loss of another, that a man’s achievement is not earned at the expense of those who have not achieved it” (Rand, “The ‘Conflict’ of Man’s Interests,” The Virtue of Selfishness).

The irrational approach towards determining eligibility for entry into the Individual All-Around represents a phenomenon of our culture that is deeply dark and blatantly pathological. It is essentially functioning as a proponent of altruism as opposed to egoism. In the words of Nathaniel Branden: “Egoism holds that, morally, the beneficiary of an action should be the person who acts; altruism holds that, morally, the beneficiary of an action be someone other than the person who acts” (Branden, “Isn’t Everybody Selfish,” The Virtue of Selfishness). In a nutshell, what we have in the case of Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas is Redistribution of Olympic Achievement. Awesome.

With Wieber and Douglas ousted from the Individual All-Arounds, one must consider the ramifications of such a policy.

Just what exactly is to be gained from the irrational conditions established for entry into the meet? I shall delineate the obvious: 1) That the 24 gymnasts who participated in the respective meets were not granted admission based upon the merits of their previous Olympic performances in the Team Competition; 2) That the 3 gymnasts on the podium in 2012 may not have been medalists had the selection of the 24 competitors been based solely on raw, factual, numerical scores; 3) That Wieber, Douglas, and the other gymnasts who were sidelined were denied the opportunity to compete for prestige, that, in a world of rational competitive ethics, was rightfully theirs to achieve; 4) That future gymnastic superstars may learn vicariously from the atrocities committed against Wieber, Douglas, et al. – perhaps they won’t continue to pursue their dreams of glory if they know that there is a chance the application of a pathological ideology could render them impotent; 5) That the dynamics of reality may take shape in the background of consciousness of the 24 who did compete: “Maybe I wouldn’t have had the chance to medal/maybe I wouldn’t have been on the Olympic podium if Wieber/Douglas were in the competition.” “Maybe I wouldn’t have been crowned Olympic Champion if I had to compete against her.” I assure you that those competitors who value the dynamics of objective reality will not be psychologically at ease. They will always be haunted by “but what if. ..”

Upon further examination of the ramifications of the 2-gymnast per country rule pursuant to the 2016 Olympic Games is the idea that this pedantic adherence to ideology stymied a potential historic achievement for African-American gymnasts – that the podium could have sported not 1, but 2 of such a minority group. Such a feat could have championed diversity and meritocracy simultaneously – and this is what should be considered triumphant about contemporary American values of inclusion. When assessing the African-American community in the aggregate, and when contemplating the extent of inter- and intra-racial tensions, I believe that the unfettered accomplishments of athletes such as Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas could have helped to redirect the dialogue of race relations in this country. The quota system upheld by the Olympic Gymnastics Committee serves as yet one more example of how liberal ideology can potentially strangle the very people it purportedly seeks to empower.

I would like to conclude with the idea that Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas were kneecapped in an ideological sense of the word. Consider this: what difference does it make, morally speaking, whether you hire a thug to attack a competitor, thus rendering her physically incapable of competing; or, whether you – in essence – negate a contender’s objective eligibility for competing in order to uphold the tenets of a destructive, corrosive ideology? The result – taking out the competition—is the same. The distinction rests merely in form over content – through the style of the latter, you have merely spared your victim the physical anguish of an assault and its attendant post- traumatic stress. The emotional and psychological effects remain the same.  You have annihilated the individual and her respective accomplishments. Her objective successes have been catapulted into the background, based on the repulsive notion that her talent, proven track record and potential future achievements all be surrendered for the sake of “equal opportunity” – so that some 3rd rate gymnast from some 3rd rate country can enjoy the chance of capturing an Olympic medal.

It’s a Brave New World.

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