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Gary Hall Jr.: How about a judging system for the opening ceremony?


If you decide to go to the Olympics, bring your passport. Ask me why I drove from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada, twice today and I'll tell you a funny story about memory loss and the road. I made it through. I'm in Vancouver listening to AC/DC, tired from 11 hours of driving.

I missed the opening ceremony, again. I've attended the last five Olympics and I haven't seen one opening ceremony.

Did you know that from 1912 to 1948 art was a competition at the Olympics? Medals were awarded to artists that portrayed sport in architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. The only reason the art competitions were discontinued in 1954 was because artists were considered "professionals" when the Olympic movement consisted of amateur athletes.

When Michael Jordan became an Olympian, the whole idea of amateur athletics was hurled from Mount Olympus like a bolt of lightning.

Shaun White and Michael Phelps make a lot of money, and they are not prohibited from competing in the shadow of those five rings, the branded trademark of the Olympic movement. So why not bring back art as a medal event? The Olympics never completely abandoned its thoughtful nod toward art. The opening ceremonies are proof of that. The opening ceremonies are a performance more moving than any Broadway show I've ever seen.

And I've seen "Cats"!

The opening ceremonies are part of the Olympic movement as much as any sport.

How about some kind of rating system for those ceremonies? Or a judging panel that doesn't include Paula Ab-drool or David Hasselhoff.

Let's say the Vancouver opening ceremony got a 9.2 out of 10. The Berlin 1936 opening ceremony got a -0.072 out of 10 because in art competitions you get HUGE point deductions for racism, and being Hitler.

The judging would be difficult. Who was a better artist, Matisse or Monet? Or Robert Crumb? It shouldn't be a competition to determine the best artist. It would be more like a lifetime achievement award to artists interested in sport.

Additionally, I would like to see some definitive grading system to put to rest the debate I seem to have with every Australian I've ever met over whether the Sydney opening ceremony was the greatest thing since kangaroo meat. Please!

A medal should be given to the people that organize the opening ceremonies, because they deserve one. They're beautiful. They promote sport and health. They're a moving thing to watch -- and to be part of from what I'm told.

-- Gary Hall Jr.

Photo: The opening ceremony is awash with color. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (3)

While i enjoy the though of bringing art back as a competition and that the athletes who compete in the Olympics are now days semi-amateur, I find the idea of rating and ranking opening ceremonies appalling. It is an event in which the entire world participates in; promoting our similarities and mutual respect.Judging these ceremonies off of spectacle takes away from a deeper meaning which it holds.

All opening ceremonies share that wonderful international unity. Was the "spectacle" of Beijing's opening ceremonies better than the "spectacle" of Vancouver? I think you can rate it.

I agree. Not only should we judge future opening ceremonies, we should judge all past ceremonies too. A ranking reaching back through history. Countries should be penalized for poor showings. Maybe we could deduct points from future olympic bids of countries with low scoring ceremonies.


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