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I don't even pretend to understand how gymnastics is scored but the announcers were saying that no one is allowed to get a perfect 10 anymore.

Is there a reason for that or are they just screwing with the casual observer?
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My understanding, and I am sure I will be corrected by those more in the know...the 10 was becoming more common, so they had to change the scoring.

I don't get the scoring, but after a few viewings I am sure I will catch on.

Charlie
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The score is made up of two components - the execution score, which is scored by the judges on a scale of 1 - 10, and the difficulty score, which is scored prior to the competition.

For the execution score, the gymnasts can, in fact, receive a perfect 10. It doesn't happen much, and the scoring is obviously different, but the way I understand it it can happen.

The final score adds the execution score to the difficulty. Which means you have a theoretical "best score" for any given performance - but those "best scores" aren't consistent from skill to skill because of the varying degrees of difficulty.

Did that make sense? More importantly from those smarter than me - did I get that right?

Matthew
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Did that make sense? More importantly from those smarter than me - did I get that right?

Yes and yes, but I'm definitely not smarter.
Kathleen
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If you still care - I put a preliminary post here - http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26343484. I followed that with something about vault and meant to do the other women's events, but never got around to it.

As to why they changed things? Well. I'm slightly opinionated here --

New International Scoring System for Gymnastics, part 1 (personal editorializing and ranting)

After the 2004 Olympics, there was a hue and cry saying that we needed a new way to score gymnastics. Said hue and cry was raised based on a couple of occurrences, neither of which are addressed by the new code of points that was put into place in 2006.

The controversy that got the most attention was notable not because of the actual events but because of the way certain of the people involved handled the events. The central fact is that a South Korean gymnast was not given enough points for the difficulty of his parallel bars routine. Incorrectly credited difficulty ratings are a common problem in gymnastics competition. In fact, it is so common that there is a long established method of dealing with such situations. The coach who wants to challenge his or her gymnast's score submits a verbal and written inquiry immediately. That is it. Simple and straightforward. You see a discrepancy, you submit an inquiry. The judges review things and, very often, a new score is awarded. Gymnasts move fast and judges have to blink, or look down at what they are writing. A judge mis-counts the number of elements that were performed at each level of difficulty. Or a judge simply adds incorrectly. There can be human error which is why there are checks and balances built into the system.

What happened in this case is that the coach failed to submit in inquiry right away. In fact, it was the next day before anyone complained. Then they pushed the case in front of any sporting authority and media outlet that would listen. This "controversy" was entirely caused by coaches not doing their job correctly. Period. At the time I read comments by South Korean officials saying that it wasn't necessarily so much about this particular incident, but that they wanted to make a point because they felt their athletes had historically been given short shrift in judged athletic endeavors. One article I read mentioned an incident that they feel was unfair that took place in a different competition AND in an entirely different sport!

Controversy #2 was the score given to Alexei Nemov on his high bar routine. The first score awarded was a 9.725. Afterwards the crowds booed long and loudly enough that 2 judges (from Malaysia and Canada) raised the scores they had given resulting in the final score being raised to 9.762. What this says to me is that the judges are wusses. The crowds should not have any influence over the scores and changing the score after prolonged booing simply makes it seem like the judging is random. It isn't. Nemov's routine was great. It *looked* great to the crowd. But some of his skills, while flashy, were not actually judged to be as difficult as those that other gymnasts performed. It was not a surprise to anyone in the sport because the difficulty levels of all the moves are published well in advance.

Actually, there was a third controversy. Or at least a third irregularity in the men's gymnastics competition. The day before the competition started, International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) officials informed Blaine Wilson, Brett McClure and Jason Gatson (all from USA) that the start values on their high bar routines, which they'd been using for two years in international competition, were being lowered from 10.0 to 9.9. One of the skills that each included in his routine was suddenly not going to be given the same difficulty value as it had been given for the 2 preceding years. While the FIG *does* set the difficulty level of all moves, changes to the values do not normally occur right before major competitions. In fact, that type of determination generally happens once every 4 years right after the Olympics with, perhaps, smaller yearly touch-ups that are published, in writing, during the non-competition season.

No major changes really needed to be made to the judging system at all as the controversies were caused by the incorrect application of perfectly good rules and the complete inability of a coaching staff to follow well established methods of dealing with such errors.

One of the results of the new system is that many gymnasts are trying so hard to get a high difficulty score that things like form suffer. Also the "artistic" part of artistic gymnastics is, IMO, also suffering. Very few gymnasts have managed to keep that part up in their quest for ever-harder skills. Another result - mass confusion on the part of the fans. And, apparently, the judges if some of what happened these past weeks is any indication. I'm not a fan, but it is what it is.
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As to why they changed things? Well. I'm slightly opinionated here --

New International Scoring System for Gymnastics, part 1 (personal editorializing and ranting)


I thought it was also because of the Paul Hamm controversy. Thanks for the post.
Kathleen
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Yeah, the Paul Hamm controversy is the same as the South Korean gymnast controversy. The South Korean was mis-scored (wrong start value), his coach neglected to follow the proper procedures for dealing with it. Since Paul Hamm won by less than the one tenth start value difference, he was dragged into the whole brouhaha even though none of it was in any way his fault.
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Great post Steph!

Thanks for the input.

Charlie
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Yeah, the Paul Hamm controversy is the same as the South Korean gymnast controversy. The South Korean was mis-scored (wrong start value), his coach neglected to follow the proper procedures for dealing with it. Since Paul Hamm won by less than the one tenth start value difference, he was dragged into the whole brouhaha even though none of it was in any way his fault.

Okay, thanks.
Kathleen
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What a lot of people forget about the Paul Hamm vs. South Korea controversy is that in the same routine in which the Korean guy got screwed out of a tenth in his start value, he made a minor but visible error for which there was a mandatory tenth deduction that the judges did not take. So one error cancelled out the other and the guy actually got the score he should have, and therefore Hamm was the rightful winner anyway.
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What a lot of people forget about the Paul Hamm vs. South Korea controversy is that in the same routine in which the Korean guy got screwed out of a tenth in his start value, he made a minor but visible error for which there was a mandatory tenth deduction that the judges did not take. So one error cancelled out the other and the guy actually got the score he should have, and therefore Hamm was the rightful winner anyway.


It was more than just a wash - had everything been up to par, he would have been out of the medals! Booa and i ranted about it four years ago:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=21238257

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=21240550
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It was more than just a wash - had everything been up to par, he would have been out of the medals! Booa and i ranted about it four years ago:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=21238257

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=21240550


I'm not sure that's the one I've been thinking about. Wasn't there an event that Paul Hamm did that he fell completely off the equipment, he actually ended up off the stage completely?
Is that the same one? I know at the time, I thought they gave him a very minor deduction for such a complete disaster. That's the only thing that went though my mind. I had no clue anything about how it affected any of the other athletes.
Kathleen
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Wasn't there an event that Paul Hamm did that he fell completely off the equipment, he actually ended up off the stage completely?
Is that the same one? I know at the time, I thought they gave him a very minor deduction for such a complete disaster.


He did not fall completely off the stage. He fell off of the mats. He did not fall into the judges either although it looked sort of close. Which got him the same deduction any other fall would have gotten him - .5 (then, under the new system a fall is a .8 eduction). Under the rules a fall is a fall is a fall. The deduction is the same if you merely put your hands down or if you sit straight down or if you fall sideways and off the mat. He was also given a deduction for going out of bounds. His score was a 9.137 out of 9.9. That is in line with what other gymnasts got who had strong routines other than a fall. In fact, since women's college gymnastics is still scored on the old 10.0 system, you can see that when the really good, really clean gymnasts have falls, they still earn in the low 9s. The fall made it seem like he had no chance to medal, but there was no problem with the score he got.
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Sorry if I am too rabid about this.

I love gymnastics. I know that the scoring seems sort of subjective and confusing, but once you are familiar with it, the system really does make sense. And after watching and doing gymnastics for a large portion of my life, I probably see errors that most people don't. (This, incidentally, makes me a terrible person with whom to watch Cirque de Soleil. Last time I went I sat next to another gymnastics fan and we kept looking over at each other saying things like "their toes aren't pointed" nevermind that they were doing giants 50 feet up in the air.)

So while I admit that there are some scores that don't make sense to me (Cheng Fei's vault to name one), they don't make sense for specific reasons. It's not random. You can argue that the judges made a mistake (on the start value or in not taking deductions they should have or in taking deductions they shouldn't have) or that the rules should be changed (certain skills that look really cool but have lower difficulty ratings, or rules that encourage tricks but not grace/ overall routine composition). The system as a whole is very detailed and it is hard for the once-every-four-years fan to "get" all of it, which I fully understand. So it looks more confusing than it is.
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