Tuesday, 7 August 2012

All the pretty horses

The Olympics requires the watching public to catch on to some tough words like keirin, peloton, pommel. Aquatic, synchronised and equestrian might give some folk trouble but they seem to manage. Yet we are deemed to be too thick to work out what asymmetric bars are, even when the visual clue is before us on the screen.

Brushing aside the temptation to launch into a Latin versus Greek argument, temporarily at least, there seems to be no good reason for calling them "uneven bars" other than some committee bod's opinion that the word asymmetric is too difficult for us. The apparatus has not changed, as far as I know. My knowledge depends on how well I can retain information for four years since the BBC, for all its patronising talk about a sporting legacy and hourly "maybe now people will be interested in this sport" statements-to-camera, does in fact only show us football.

My problem with "uneven bars" is bigger than being thought thick by some committee bod. I can almost hear my Dad, an engineer, complaining about it. "Uneven" suggests a number of potential problems with the bars:

1) They are not an even diameter along their length.
2) They are crooked ie each bar is not parallel to the floor.
3) They are not of equal length.

I'm sure Dad would have found more. The word asymmetric explains perfectly what they are, that is why some other committee bod a long time ago chose the name. Why introduce doubt? We have learned a lot of words during the Olympics. I'm rather proud of "keirin". That's the cycle race where they follow the little putt putt thing. Goodness knows why. No matter, since we seem to be able to cycle very fast in every race. Asymmetric is another word people could have learned if they didn't know it already.

Shame on you, committee bods.