Innovation Vs Tradition

The Nature of the Rules that Govern Heavy Athletics

Just because certain actions are not specifically forbidden, those actions are also not specifically allowed.

Heavy Events rules were developed with tradition in mind. They are not written like track and field rules manual that specify everything.  Thus, the spirit of the law MUST be taken into consideration.  In other words, the “spirit” behind the law is as important if not more important than the letter of the law.  Just because certain actions are not specifically forbidden, those actions are also not specifically allowed.

The lack of specification in the open ended rules allows for variety and innovation, leaving room for judge’s interpretation.  At times, the interpretation is taken lightly. A prime example is spinning in weight-over-bar event. This is not allowed in Scotland and tradition dictates that this is a standing throw, thus spinning should not be allowed. Why it ever was allowed would be an interesting tail.  It is now somewhat established in some areas and is viewed as an innovation by some and blasphemy by others.

Other controversies are: the use of Olympic wire-hammer gloves when throwing the weights, the use of full length weights in spinning weight-over-bar, ….

The often sited argument that counters tradition is that Heavy Athletics has changed over time with such things like hammer blades, chalk, tacky,  and PVC hammer handles to name a few. These items were not traditionally used in the games but are at the very least accepted at most games and some are now the norm.

Innovation or Tradition

The point is that both Athletics Directors and Judges may have to interpret the rules.  Those interpretation should not be made halfheartedly and tradition should be a guide in making those interpretation.

Interpretations can make or break a World Record

Years back, a thrower sat out the first four events and entered the contest at the weight-over-bar event.  The rules are ambiguous on whether this should or should not be allowed.  Many seemed to feel that it should not.  However, the Judge/AD allowed it and because that judge allowed it, the record stood.