Once, there was a basketball player named Lew Alcindor. You might’ve heard of the guy: a literal head (sometimes two) above everyone else at seven feet tall. He played for UCLA in the ’60s, and led his team to three national championships. Being that tall, and that damn good, he could take the ball and jam it directly into the hoop. Often. So often that the NCAA, essentially, banned dunking. The man who became the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was penalized for simply being better than all the small dudes who couldn’t ram the ball through the net.
Well over 50 years since we saw what was unofficially dubbed the Lew Alcindor Rule, it looks like we’ve just seen another handicapping of an all-timer, this time in women’s gymnastics. We might just be able to call it the Simone Biles Rule. This past Saturday at the U.S. Classic, Biles—the most decorated gymnast in history—became the first woman to perform the ultra-dangerous Yurchenko double pike in competition. With Biles having to launch off the vaulting table with a roundoff back handspring, into two flips in a pike position, it’s a marvel of a move so treacherous that most gymnasts won’t even dare to practice it. You’d think that Biles pulling off the move would be cause for celebration. Nope. The judges gave her a 6.6., which, by any measure of everyone watching who wasn’t a judge that night, was far too low, considering the difficulty of the move.
“I feel like now we just have to get what we get because there’s no point in putting up a fight because they’re not going to reward it,” Biles told The New York Times. “So we just have to take it and be quiet.”
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