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  1. #1

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    DiManno: Figure skating audiences alienated by esoteric judging system

    DiManno: Figure skating audiences alienated by esoteric judging system
    http://www.thestar.com/sports/articl...judging-system
    To hear skating autocrats tell it, the Code of Points system is the best thing since spandex.The reality is much different. The reality is a rink full of spectators booing Patrick Chan upon successful defence of his title Saturday afternoon. The reality is a fan base that can’t comprehend how Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir defeated defending dance couple Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The reality is collective befuddlement when marks are flashed on the scoreboard. I’ve covered figure skating for three decades and even I need remedial instruction on the eve of every major competition. It’s advanced math, it’s as arcane as the theory of relativity. Increasingly I’ve come to believe it’s a deliberately excluding — almost occult — contrivance.
    Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. #2
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    I see that the Rita Skeeter of figure skating coverage has weighed in again.

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    I am a fan, and I can absolutely comprehend how Virtue/Moir beat Davis/White.

    If you need remedial instruction on the eve of competition, a) you should start looking it up way before then, and b) you don't understand math period.

    It's not that hard. Seriously.

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    Increasingly I’ve come to believe it’s a deliberately excluding — almost occult — contrivance.
    followed by a few rabid fans' snotty remarks on how skating is better than ever, as they sit in empty rinks watching comps that won't even be televised.

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    There are plenty of reasons to find fault with both CoP and the 6.0 system. But I don't blame the complexities of the judging system for finding Chan or Virtue/Moir's free programs exceedingly dull this season, no matter how brilliantly talented those skaters are.
    I meant to take the high road.... but I missed the exit.

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    Canadians were the beneficiaries of this new-ish system in Nice, our skaters coming home with two gold medals — dance and men’s — and a top-five finish in pairs.

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    The thing that gets me is all the people complaining that the audience doesn't get COP - and insinuating that it was somehow clearer for the audience under 6.0.

    Maybe 5.7 out of 6.0 was easier for the average audience member to comprehend than the numbers are now - but the reasoning for placements was certainly not clearer to the average audience.

    Don't get me wrong - I would never suggest that COP is perfect. I just disagree that it is more confusing to the audience now why certain skaters place where they do.

    I may not always agree with the judging now - but at least if you want to take the time - you can see how the marking breaks down.

    Check out judging under 6.0 and skaters could get anything from a 4.3 to a 5.3 from different judges and be placed all over the map when it came to ordinals. Not to mention people getting perfect marks for flawed programs and people with amazing artistry getting lower 2nd marks than people with very little but with a reputation or good jumps.

    How is that any more clear?

    And that is why there was booing under 6.0 too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Accordion View Post
    The thing that gets me is all the people complaining that the audience doesn't get COP - and insinuating that it was somehow clearer for the audience under 6.0.

    Maybe 5.7 out of 6.0 was easier for the average audience member to comprehend than the numbers are now - but the reasoning for placements was certainly not clearer to the average audience.

    Don't get me wrong - I would never suggest that COP is perfect. I just disagree that it is more confusing to the audience now why certain skaters place where they do.

    I may not always agree with the judging now - but at least if you want to take the time - you can see how the marking breaks down.

    Check out judging under 6.0 and skaters could get anything from a 4.3 to a 5.3 from different judges and be placed all over the map when it came to ordinals. Not to mention people getting perfect marks for flawed programs and people with amazing artistry getting lower 2nd marks than people with very little but with a reputation or good jumps.

    How is that any more clear?

    And that is why there was booing under 6.0 too.
    ^^This! What's mind boggling to me is if Rosie really has been around skating as long as she has and not bothered to figure out how COP is calculated -- that's just laziness on her part.
    Crazy about sports!

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    You can't please everyone. I don't know how they even come up with generalizations like these - just because DiManno, after "three decades" of figure skating coverage, doesn't understand the system doesn't mean that general audiences don't either.

    If I were an elite skater, I'd want to know exactly and precisely where I lost my points, which the COP attempts to do. The 6.0 maybe used easier numbers, but for me, I don't think it's transformed the sport as much as the COP has so far. I'd love it if the system wasn't anonymous, but that's probably hoping for too much.

    The "math" isn't that hard. It's addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I assume you learn those skills in elementary school. People are less simple-minded that the media apparently assumes they are! If the audience comes to watch figure skating, I don't know if they'd stop going in droves just because they "don't get" the scores. Perhaps the progression of the COP system, the economic downturn, and the fluctuation in "star" competitors across all fields are factors to consider if looking at audience numbers.

    Agree with The According above in saying that simpler numbers don't mean that the audiences understand the results any better. I'm sure the same questions of "I don't get how XYZ won. ABC was clearly better and sparklier" rise in either scenario.

    I'm biased - I don't like ambiguity and want to know where I stand, which I think the jargon-laden COP provides. Welfare of skaters should come before that of the audience. If people want to boo, they've certainly got the right to. I just don't think we need to dumb down or ease the system just for their convenience, which might not even be true.

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    Unfortunately, under the new system the audience boos the skater, whereas under 6.0 (and 10.0 before that) the errant judge was given the hard time. In my time I have seen some pretty raucous demonstrations over poor or unfair judging. In that respect I much prefer the older systems as I hate to see a skater embarrassed through no fault of their own.

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    Ha ha! That's the first time I've heard sour grapes from the winning country. What a welcome home for the Canadian team.

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    It bugs me to no end when people say they don't understand the cop because it's all complicated math. Really?? It's simple addition, not differential equations, for crying out loud.

    What can be complicated is figuring out the levels and the GOEs and the base values for each element. That was not easier under 6.0, in fact one could argue that the process to attain a "grade" for each element is much more transparent under COP (what did 5.7 mean, really?)

    What makes COP harder than 6.0, IMO, is that it is an aggregate system where, to understand the whole, you need to have a grasp on the parts to see how they add up. The 'math' is not the culprit. You just need to know more about the scoring to understand the meaning of the number.

    PS I am not trying to defend COP. I am just sick of all this "it's all complicated math" outcry

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    figure skating is an extremely complex sport. it's not only jumping, or spinning, or doing a circular step sequence, and it's not only acting, making tv spectators cry, etc... obvious, no? hence you can't expect that judging it is simple, just give 5.6 or 6.0 and you're fine. this should be obvious too.
    the present system is discussed and analyzed 1000 times on boards and valid points are made, and yet this article simplify things in a stupid, childish way. i would say, the present system may be not perfect. but in itself, it's only a method, an abstract structure made of multiple rules. it is the people who use it that are eventually to blame. if you sense that there are biased/corrupted judges, question their decisions, or maybe even the rules themselves, but do it with some knowledge of the sport, at least.
    she doesn't understand the system? so why is she writing about it in a newspaper? it's like starting an article saying, "I don't understand politics, but i'm gonna writing about it. What i want to say is: no one understands politics". wow.
    also, she's generalizing much just to prove her non-understanding right. "The crowd booed". does this mean that every single person in that arena booed? of course, Chan's victory was questionable. but maybe there were people in the arena who were fine with it. "the fan base" didn't get Tessa and Scott's winning? what fan base? the entire community of skating fans around the world?
    so what's the point of this brilliant article? let's change a scoring system because Rosie Di Manno doesn't understand it or is not good at maths enough?

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    Quote Originally Posted by peibeck View Post
    There are plenty of reasons to find fault with both CoP and the 6.0 system. But I don't blame the complexities of the judging system for finding Chan or Virtue/Moir's free programs exceedingly dull this season, no matter how brilliantly talented those skaters are.
    The problem with your statement is that it is entirely subjective. There are LOTS of figure skating fans, me included, that disagree with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    Ha ha! That's the first time I've heard sour grapes from the winning country. What a welcome home for the Canadian team.
    Most Canadians knowledgeable with figure skating know she has a reputation for being an idiot and don't pay attention to what she says anyway. Maybe she's looking to relocate to another country where bashing skaters in print is common?

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    The judging system does not reward the "audience-friendly program" or the "skate of the night" and journalists who claim to know the sport should know better than to think so. COP was an attempt to introduce more objectivity into judging, and while it's far from perfect, it is nonetheless more fair than 6.0, IMO.

    I feel badly for skaters who work very hard to construct and execute their programs according to the rules in place, then get slammed because another skater executes their program particularly well and captures the audience's support, but does not fulfill the technical criteria to score as many marks.

    What kind of judging system are we to create? One that allows the audience to vote, based upon their emotional reaction? That is not viable. If there is to be any fairness for the skaters, marks must be based on specific criteria.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbkenn View Post
    Most Canadians knowledgeable with figure skating know she has a reputation for being an idiot and don't pay attention to what she says anyway. Maybe she's looking to relocate to another country where bashing skaters in print is common?
    No thanks, we already have Phil Hersh.

  18. #18

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    I really dislike COP. I can finally add the numbers - but I never do. And they are really meaningless to me. The scoring system as it stands is non-senseical at times to my brain. For eg. To my fan based brain I find it much more skillful to turn a planned triple-triple into a perfectly executed triple-double if the jump is "off",than to fly ahead with the plan and fall. And I really detest how all the programs look the same - I can always know when a spin will begin and stop-and pretty much where jumps will be and for me COP blows musicality out the window -can't do slow spins to the music and must complete fixed number of rotations. I swear you could match up almost any of the skaters music to another skater's program and it wouldn't look odd. But I have said this many times before, whether one likes 6.0 or COP better, is connected to which is more pleasing to the viewer-the parts adding up, or the whole exceeding the sum of it's parts. For the average audience who cannot tell a double axel from a triple lutz I think they judge on the basis of the whole, and the affective experience they have when a skater skates. So I think their is some justification for what the author is saying. Probably is different for die hard skaters and those who can tolerate math without becoming ill at the thought of doing math in the face of watching the beauty of skating.
    Last edited by kathy sullivan; 04-02-2012 at 03:34 AM.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by flowerpower View Post
    The judging system does not reward the "audience-friendly program" or the "skate of the night" and journalists who claim to know the sport should know better than to think so. COP was an attempt to introduce more objectivity into judging, and while it's far from perfect, it is nonetheless more fair than 6.0, IMO.

    I feel badly for skaters who work very hard to construct and execute their programs according to the rules in place, then get slammed because another skater executes their program particularly well and captures the audience's support, but does not fulfill the technical criteria to score as many marks.

    What kind of judging system are we to create? One that allows the audience to vote, based upon their emotional reaction? That is not viable. If there is to be any fairness for the skaters, marks must be based on specific criteria.

    But why should executing your program not matter. Why should the sport encourage people to jam pack their program to the point where they can't execute well. And to have stuff just to have stuff, whether or not it works with the music, works with the program?

    I'd argue that maybe transitions are over rewarded too. That transitions it seems are rewarded with GOE, choregraphy mark. and (as they should be skating skills). Maybe instead Pcs should be simplified with Skating Skills being 1/3 of Pcs. (where transitions are looked at), Choregraphy/transitions another 1/3. And Performance/Execution a 1/3. Performance/Execution should have mandatory mark downs for visible mistakes.

    How much easier would things be... Maybe choregraphy/transitions could even be worth less than Performance/Execution because technically choregraphy/transitions could be taken into account in Skating Skills. And while I like choregraphy, I don't know if its necessarily fair for skating skills to be decided just on choregraphy. Not every skater in the world can afford Lori Nichol. This being said good choregraphy especially hard choregraphy should be rewarded.

    The point is the sport needs to find a balance between rewarding good skating skills/content, and also holding skaters responsible for delivering in the competition.

    And to be frank the judges aren't even fair in the way they judge PCS. If they were fair than someone like Kozuka wouldn't be getting lower PCS than Contesti at worlds. It would be one thing If all the amazing skaters got rewarded with high PCS cushions even when they mess up. But it seems like its only the special favorites that get it. Thats what makes the system worse. The judges aren't even consistent.

  20. #20

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    The part of COP that I hate the most is PCS. I have absolutely no idea what those numbers mean. I actually like TES and understand where they come from. But PCS is a complete mystery to me. What on earth is the difference between 7.25 and 7.75? I know there are guidelines and bullet points, but are the judges actually using them? I may be able to see that one skater is better than the other in skating skills for example, but by how much? I feel like PCS is something that pretends to be objective but it really isn't and it's frustrating. And very often it's PCS that determine the result of competitions, not TES.

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