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Figure skating is dying, and judges can't prop it up

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sugar, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. jdonavan

    jdonavan Active Member

  2. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I don't think they're too difficult, although I sometimes have to ask Mr. Overedge to explain some of the more uncommon notations.

    I also don't think they're necessary to appreciate the game. One of the things I like about watching the game is watching the strategy of the plays unfold, which the box scores don't really capture. But just like the protocol sheets in skating, the information in the box scores is a good way to understand how the final score came about.
  3. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge


    When I was a baseball fan, I was a box score fanatic. I loved all the stats and spent hours on it. I'll glance at skating protocols but don't spend a lot of time on it. If I wonder about something I ask AYS about it.

    I really don't think figure skating and baseball are all that different in that way.

    In other words, I think the claim that skating loses casual fans because the judging system is too hard to understand is bogus. There are other complaints that have merit regarding the judging system but that one I find not to have any.
  4. Spiralgraph

    Spiralgraph Well-Known Member

    My memories go back a little further. I remember shoing ladies live yes, but there was a time when ABC only showed the top three men who medalled, and that was on tape delay. Sometimes they only showed the top two pairs, maybe all three if we were lucky and dance was almost an afterthought, like in 1988 when if memory serves me right, ABC didn't show any ice dancing competition at Nationals
    Until the boom caused by the whack, I think figure skating was perceived by the networks as entertainment, not a sport, so it wasn't taken seriously and got even less respect than it gets now. JMO.
  5. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    I kind of have to read them because I can rarely watch actual games. I haven't really gotten into the more advanced metrics, though - and I suspect many of the fans who have don't really understand the limitations of using descriptive statistics as predictors. But that's unrelated to skating.

    Anyway, I like box scores and I like protocols. It's like knowing a fun language that gives you more information than you might have otherwise.
  6. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    To some extent, while I think it is sad I watched World's in Latvian and Russian, I also think it is an embarassment of riches. I got to watch EVERY program of the event (if I wanted to- I missed a couple).

    I don't think that happened even in the hey-day. Did any network show every single skater? Live?

    The problem is that Universal Sports doesn't seem to think this is worth doing. I don't want to subscribe to their website- and apparently they don't think they can sell commercials. Next year I'll subscribe to IceNetwork because they have the rights for all the events.

    And personally, I LOVE reading protocols. The sport makes so much more sense. I never understood 6.0 and was just happy when the American won. But I wasn't 'into' the sport as a sport, because I didn't understand where points came from. Now I enjoy it as a sport.
  7. equatorial

    equatorial Well-Known Member

    That Chinese judges tend to give higher marks to the same skaters as, say, Russian judges doesn't imply there is any conspiracy or bloc.
  8. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

    Did you understand Artistic Impression and/or Presentation?

    And this was the system that the casual fans preferred?

    Um, not according to your post above. It means the Slovakian judge was in on the bloc and so was the Chinese judge and it didn't matter what the skaters actually did on the ice.

    But that was better for the casual fans?

    And how many of the casual fans saw and understood all this? And what difference did any of it make in terms of the results?

    It may have been more fun to argue about 6.0--but that's because you could say ANYTHING with 6.0 and it might be valid (also true for the judges). Who knows why judge #3 placed skater X over skater Y? No one knew, so we could all argue our pet theories to death. But I fail to understand how that could possibly have been a better system for the casual fans. With COP, even the commentators can look right at the scores and say "Two jumps were downgraded" and show them in slo-mo and explain them. That may be boring, but less comprehensible?

    I think COP has resulted in some really boring and fugly programs. I can understand people thinking that that would drive the casual fans away. But the scoring? :confused:
  9. professordeb

    professordeb Well-Known Member

    I'm a fan of many sports, truth to tell. If there's a score of a game that I want to know, I look it up. Seldom do I want to look at the box score. However, I am inclined to read some articles about said game on a sports website -- especially box lacrosse.

    Of course, it helps to actually understand the game. Looking at boxscores/gamesheets of a sport only makes sense if you understand at least some of the basic rules and abbreviations used. And how does one get acquainted with such, one could ask? Well in my case, it usually involved listening to people during the broadcast of that sport. They explained rules in the context of the game, using examples to point out why one thing versus another. Not that my eye could always see, but at least I could understand it a bit better.

    Then, if I really wanted to know more about that sport, I'd probably start talking to people who are more knowledgeable about it. Getting their take on things, getting rules explained to me. I've even been known to crack open a rule book or two.

    So what's the point? If I'm just a casual observer of a sport, I'm not likely to understand it much if the people "covering" it can't be bothered to explain even some of the simple things to me. For instance, a number of years ago I was watching one of the Winter Olympic sports where they have to ski around and then shoot at targets. I noticed that some people seemed to be skiing in a circuit and had no idea what on earth that was about. Fortunately for me, the person doing the commentary explained that it was a place where shooters did a "penalty lap" when they missed a target. OK, that made sense to me so I continued to watch. They made this point most times a shooter missed. Because they took the time to explain something as simple as that, I felt like I better understood at least that sport and continued to watch it til the end. Would I have continued to watch it at that time? Maybe, but I would be puzzled as to why some skiers did that extra lap while others didn't.

    So why am I including this story? Because I feel that this is where the U.S. has done a big disservice to their figure skating fans. I've tried watching figure skating on U.S. channels and I find it mind boggling that they cannot or will not explain some of the simpler aspects of COP. It really isn't that difficult so the conclusion I've come to is one of two things
    1) the commentators are too lazy to learn
    2) they think their viewer are too stupid to understand
    I don't mean they have to know every single bullet for each and every level, but they could do something as simple as what PJ does. She gives a breakdown of what is a good/excellent/exceptional score. During the skating she and other Canadian commentators explain some of the things we've seen -- sometimes during the skate, other times when they show the replays. It's because of such that I've taken the time to at least become better acquainted with COP. Do I know as much as say Tracy or PJ? Nope! Probably not as much as some posters here but I do understand that the person with the highest score wins, I understand that levels are given for elements by the Tech committee and that the judges determine how well an element was done. I understand PCS to a lower degree but do know that there is information out there if I really want to get down to the nitty gritty of things. And you know what, it tends to be that way with any sport for which a person really wants to understand. Sometimes it takes a bit of patience, sometimes perseverance, and occasionally some time.

    With the 6.0 system I did try to understand the ordinals but I found it very confusing, especially when positions switched amongst skaters. I really didn't get flip flops -- confused the living daylights out of me.
  10. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    I get the sense that much of what's attributed to bloc judging can also be understood as cultural preferences and what judges of different backgrounds look for in skating programs. That's not to say there isn't politikking - I'm not that naive - but I don't believe that's the sole explanation.
  11. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    What does this even mean? Stuck in the past- games in sochi - Russian resaissance? But where is the success for Russia in the past years in IJS? Worlds 2013 had 2 medalists and Vancouver had 2 medalists. The system wont change to please Russia because IJS as it is now is good for Russia? No- it certainly is not!!
  12. iloveemoticons

    iloveemoticons Well-Known Member

    That's really a matter of opinion, because PCS is subjective. I think Kostner should learn to be consistent, Yuna should learn a triple loop, and Mao should learn a triple lutz if they want to keep the younger skaters at bay. Those are objective weaknesses, whereas vague PCS criteria like "effortlessness," "emotional involvement," "style," "clarity of movement," etc. are subjective.

    I agree that 6.0 wasn't perfect, but the scoring was a lot less egregious overall than now. I would guess that those who placed above her in that competition did not fall three times and likely skated clean or close to clean as well. Under CoP, it is possible for a skater to fall three times and still win over a totally clean program because of PCS, which is what I disagree with.

    It seems like a good chunk of falls don't get a UR call, but even if a fall gets a UR call, it isn't really a penalty for falling, because skaters that don't fall and seem to land their jumps cleanly still often get UR calls, so the UR calls apply equally to all skaters, fall or no fall.

    This is true. I like the UR feature of CoP, although I think sometimes the UR calls are applied unevenly for borderline jumps.
  13. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    This kind of reminds me of when they got rid of school figures. 1. so tedious to watch it was not TV friendly, 2. the general viewer didn't understand why the strongest free skater didn't win.
  14. query5

    query5 New Member

    The articles mainly talk about the effect in the U.S., how the new scorubg systthm is n't winning fans over. Thecontinual over scoring hurts it or having a champ win twice by falling at,least twice,in each of programs. Under 6.0 falling twice you rarely won world or olypicx ezpecially if your nearedt main,competitor stood. Besides that is one reason the short program came in the 1973 to give free skaters achane to ein if skated clean because with just figure could win figures & screw up free &still win. Problem started wth,overscoring patrick in short.. Short program use to mean required elements and Mandatory deductions for not doing them properly. Now just points left on table nothissg really taken off .
  15. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    I saw some US broadcasts where they gave breakdowns of good/excellent/what can contend for a medal scores, but not recently. Who did that and why have they stopped? Some of the comentators mention the points for the big jumps or the bonus for jumps after the midpoint, but not to a great level of detail.
  16. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    They never require me to multiply by a factor.

    Nor does the box score determine the outcome. The outcome is determined by what happens on the field. The box score merely reports it. This comparison is apples and orangutans.
  17. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Wasn't there a big deal last year or so where an umpire called something wrong and it ruined some pitcher's perfect game? To the extent that the other team tried to get it corrected?

    This is a pretty fair comparison to figure skating; baseball also has subjective judging, and favorites can be 'held up' just the same. And depending on who you talk to- often are.

    So the outcome may be determined by what happens on the field, but there is a human element to calling 'what happens', so just like I may not understand why someone got +GOE and someone got -GOE and blame politics the same thing comes into play when I question why an umpire would call someone safe and someone else out. Is it politics or just a bad call? In skating, the fans always say politics, but chances are they are human and it may have been a bad call.
  18. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    But that call was considered a mistake. There was not a sheet full of algebra equations to explain why it was all correct. And in all the handwringing over the incident no one ever said "it makes perfect sense if fans weren't too lazy to read the box score".

    However, your point is irrelevant because the post I was responding to compared box scores to protocol sheets. Totally different things. The protocols determine the outcome in skating. The box score in baseball merely reports it.
  19. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

    I've heard at least two commentators, Peter Carruthers and Susie Wynne, talk about it during 4CCs about nine years ago. IIRC, Dick and Peggy had something to say about Amber's cheated jumps as well. Her triple-triples were allegedly downgraded as well. Susie said something to the effect that this "always" hurts Amber.
  20. Asli

    Asli Well-Known Member

    There are a few subjective PCS criteria, but most of the criteria are objective. For instance, "effortlessness" as you say above - i.e. flow and effortless glide - is an objective criterion. Carolina Kostner gains speed with just one crossover and maintains the speed through the turns during intricate footwork, even generating speed during the turns. That is effortless flow. It is a technical achievement through the correct use of edges and not some abstract notion.
    Skaters who don't have the same level of skating skills need many crossovers to obtain he same speed and lose speed during footwork, needing toe pushes and extra srossovers or getting stuck in the ice. This is not a subjective criterion, just like most of the other criteria.

    IMO it is very important to reward good skating as well as good jumping, because this is, after all, a skating competition. Jumps have become an important aspect of figure skating, but should this mean that they are the one and only important aspect?
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  21. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    Well said. In other sports, if a mistake was made, it is accepted as a mistake and they move on, regardless of the results, which are not changed. In FS fans and even some skaters go to great length to 'explain' why the result was correct, and how those who disagree with them are less intelligent or less informed than themselves. The latter often include knowledgeable fans and past elite skaters.
  22. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    People talked about it but there was no way to know under the 6.0 system whether that was what the judges were giving marks on or not.
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  23. Mathman

    Mathman Active Member

    Gosh, there are so many reasons on this thread explaining why fans like the CoP better than 6.0.

    The only trouble is, they don't.

    I know, utterly bereft of logic or common sense. But there you are.
  24. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    I don't know what fans like, but I do see a lot of people claiming reasons for fans liking 6.0 that don't stand up to scrutiny.

    Personally I think it is 6.0 that ruined skating. And COP has done what little could be done to keep it going. The corrupt view of skating generated continuously under 6.0--by its very opaqueness, which allowed people to create scandals whether they existed or not pretty much destroyed skating for the long term.

    But I have no data on what fans like or don't like.
  25. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    The protocols report what the skater did out on the ice. The judges judge just like umps umpire and refs referee. Many calls in many sports outside of skating have had subjective calls the fans aren't happy with.
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  26. Mathman

    Mathman Active Member

    Oddly enough, I think it was. I might be wrong about that, but it seems so to me.

    Nobody likes crooked judges and back-room deals. But this is not a criticism of the scoring system. In the past, if you didn't like the outcome you could blame the judges. Now we tend to take it out on the scoring system.

    To be sure, casual fans did not have much knowledge about or interest in OBO versus majority of ordinals, or about Condorcet's paradox and the principle of independence of irrelevant alternatives, which plague all ordinal voting systems (but are a delight to political scientists and economists working in the field of social choice theory). These problems, however, did not detract from casual fans' enjoyment of skating contests.

    I am not privy to the inner sanctums of the ISU. My impression as an outside observer is that it is not nearly so cut-and-dried as that. I think there are various clusters of allies that tend to have common interests. I also believe that there is a certain amount of toadying with an eye toward getting a plum committee assignment or something of the sort. But also, the skaters have to do their part. A group of judges with similar agendas rarely went so far as to give the contest to someone who fell twice over someone else who went clean, whatever their Machiavellian predilections might have been.

    That said, I think that the great majority of judges, then and now, did the best they could to judge conscientiously.

    Was it in the 1930s that two Austrian skating officials (one of them the head of the figure skating technical committee) were banned for life for flashing signals to their judges at rinkside? No tweaking of the scoring system can address problems like that.
  27. Mathman

    Mathman Active Member

    You can't make people like what they don't like, no matter how many times you tell them that their reason for not liking it is illogical.
  28. wonderlen

    wonderlen New Member

    I think figure skating is dying because the US is generating stars since Sasha, Michelle retire. Lets face it peoples only going to support and interest in sport they know their country will won or at least medal. Stars attracts fans and fans attracts money hungry sponsors and event organizer. Look at Japan and Korea, the only reason they have such a boom is because Shizuka won gold in 2006, Miki get her acts together and they have emerging skater like Mao and Yuna popped up.

    If there is no Mao or Yuna emerged, or Shizuka didn't won gold, it wouldn't be popular. COP has it blames too, with TES and PCS not being weighted different. IMO, if FS wants to taken seriously as a sport, they need to put more focus in technical part. PCS should account for only 1/3 of the mark with TES being the other 66%.
  29. Asli

    Asli Well-Known Member

    Is that a fact? I know a few fans and all of them like the CoP system better than the 6.0 system. In this thread you can see some such fans. Apparently you know other fans who think the opposite way. So maybe we can't put "fans" in one uniform group and say that they all like one system or the other.
  30. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

    Fans being....? Are we a borg of some kind, where we all think and feel the same way? Have we taken a poll?

    If we do take a poll, are we going to divide the people polled into camps? Who gets to represent the casual fans?

    ITA. Those mythical casual fans were losing interest before SLC (and there is data in the form of declining ratings that shows this)--and SLC drove a stake into the heart of what was left.

    They didn't? Well, I have no hard data, either. All I have is a lot of experience with people telling me that they couldn't understand why I would watch skating when the judging was so subjective and it was all about politics and it didn't matter what happened on the ice. And people who said that they watched during the Olympics because it was pretty, but otherwise, they had no interest because it was too subjective and corrupt and who wants to be a fan of that?

    I do, too. But laying out scenarios like the one with Hoffman is the kind of thing that makes the casual fans think the judging is fecked. And that all started, I might add, with complaints from an elite skater and a federation about the judging--something else that happened all the time under 6.0. Scott Hamilton's book is a textbook example of the syndrome--when he won, it was because he was just so damn good. When he lost, it was politics.

    Much of PCS IS technical. It drives me crazy when some people argue that a skater should get lower PCS because of facial expression or lack thereof.
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.