Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Height helps in diving, or so it appears

Elizabeth Foran, Atascadero High's dynamic diver and the current Tribune Prep Athlete of the Week, talked this week about the toughest aspect of diving.

It wasn't the high dive or the cold wind, though those topics made it into the Prep Athlete of the Week story, but the subjective scoring system.

"The hardest thing about diving is how I do is really in somebody else’s hands," Foran said. "When I go out there, I have five judges giving me scores on what they think I did.

"It’s so hard because you have to please those judges."

I didn't tell her that in baseball you have people judging whether you got a hit or an error because, heck, she was on a roll. Journalism tip: Don't interrupt a teenager who's best quotes don't include "dude," "like" or "uhm."

And apparently, it isn't aways technique that pleases those dastardly judges, whomever they are. Common notion has judges liking taller divers, Foran said.

Foran, who's only 5-feet tall, said she has an advantage over longer opponents because she can "flip easier, flip faster and do more flips." She does have less body to flip.

But ...

"If you’re tall and long your dive looks cleaner," Foran said. "I can go out and do a dive and a tall girl can do the same dive, just not as good, but it’ll look better. When a girl is long, it just looks like she’s going in straighter and it just looks prettier, and it almost looks harder because she has just that much more to throw around."

She wasn't complaining about it. I just found the height topic intersting and continued asking about it.

It's not a foreign concept. I've heard similar things about equestrian judges when I covered the sport in college. They favor taller riders because they look more graceful or something to that effect. They probably like taller horses, too. It might up the degree of difficulty.

(Note to self: I wonder if the sports writer awards favor taller reporters. Remember to add "6 feet, 3 inches" under my byline.)

So yeah, judges, come off it. Stop the discrimination already. Foran, other diminutive divers and equestrians everywhere deserve equality.

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