What’s Up with Olympic Scoring?

Watching the Olympics is a biannual tradition in the Adams household. Of the two of us, my wife is hands down the biggest sports fan in the family.

I’m just trying to figure out how to keep score. 

Basketball I’ve got covered: shots from behind the free-throw line are 1 point each. Shots inside the arc are 2 points each, and shots scored outside the arc are 3 points each. At the end of regulation play, the team with the highest score wins.

There are lots of other sports in the Olympics with similar scoring rules – I’m pretty good with them. But then it starts to get complicated.

In gymnastics, scoring is a 2-tier system with technical difficulty which starts at 0 and points are added for the performance difficulty combined with execution and technique which starts at 10 and points are subtracted as mistakes are made. I would probably meet myself coming and going – it’s no wonder coaches and judges are always glaring at each other. Then there’s that visible money changing hands thing…

What about diving? A judge in a diving contest shall award from 0 to 10 points for a dive according to his or her overall impression using the following criteria:

–       10: Excellent

–       8½ – 9½: Very good

–       7 – 8: Good

–       5 – 6½: Satisfactory

–       2½ – 4½: Deficient

–       ½ – 2: Unsatisfactory

–       0: Completely Failed

If that wasn’t complicated enough, you move to synchronized diving and get two competitors diving simultaneously from the springboards or platform. The competition is judged on how the two divers individually perform their dives, and how the two divers as a team synchronize their performance. The factors to be considered when judging synchronized diving are:
- the starting position, the approach and the take-off, including the similarity of the height
- the coordinated timing of the movements during the flight
- the similarity of the angles of the entries
- the comparative distance from the springboard or platform of the entry
- the coordinated timing of the entries…(insert snoring sounds here).

How about trampolining? It’s a math formula where the score = difficulty + execution + time of flight. The difficulty is measured from 0 up and the execution is measured from 10 down. Heaven help the judge who meets in the middle! The time of flight (debuting at these Olympics) is measured by digital device. Here’s the kicker: the athlete must begin and end their routine on flat feet – with the landing being held for 3 seconds. Have you ever tried to stop on a trampoline?

With the Olympics singular nod to equality of the sexes, there is the equestrian events, where the rider who finishes the course with the fewest penalties in the fastest time gets the best score. Men and women compete together.

Finally, let’s head out to the water for Olympic Sailing. There are two races: Fleet Racing is run on a low points system; the boat at the end of the competition with the least number of points wins. Then there’s Match Racing – each match is sailed between two boats, with the first boat to cross the finish line the winner, receiving one point. The team with the highest core wins. One can only hope the captains don’t get their races mixed up.

As for me, I will continue to watch the 2012 Summer Olympics from the comfort of my recliner, occasionally participating in our family’s own competition that’s been running for over a year now: The Adams Family Pizza Quest.

There’s no scoring difficulty here: try out new pizza restaurants and rate them on a 5 slice (by half slice increments) scale:

1 – a complete failure in every way

2 – barely functional; won’t be back or recommend to friends

3 – serious flaws; the jury is still out

4 – downsides outweigh the upsides

5 – recommended with reservations

6 – a solid meal with some issues

7 – very good, but not quite great

8 – excellent, with a little room to grow

9 – nearly flawless; we’ll be back again with friends

10 – metaphysical and culinary perfection

I’m enjoying the Olympics best when I don’t worry about the score – how about you?


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