The Olympics are beginning. When I think of the Olympic sports, I think of a lot of sports that scored subjectively. Not so much stronger, faster, and more goals, more of panels of judges picking winners amid controversy. I prefer number crunching and objective scoring. A New York Times article by John Branch [Link] overviews the changes to the winter Olympic sports in the last two decades. In summary, the new sports are mostly those with subjective scoring (halfpipe, snowboard cross).
A good run early in the contest might receive an 80. A slightly better run might earn an 83. A brilliant run, one that seems unbeatable, might score 95. All of the others are slotted around them. It can frustrate athletes, who ask why their second-place score was 10 points below that of the winner. They struggle to understand that the value means nothing; what matters is how it ranks.
I’ve noticed this, too, and it’s frustrating. Some sports like figure skating and gymnastics have well-established rubrics for scoring, but they are not perfect. On the positive side, the judges do a fairly good job of recognizing the best performances.
Does subjective scoring bother you?
Look for more Olympics posts from me in the next couple of weeks.
I’ve been blogging for almost 7 years, so I have a few old posts about the Olympics. Here are a few that I recommend reading:
- Olympic scoring systems
- how to resolve ties in Olympic sports
- Curling strategies and OR
- how to predict how many records will be broken in the Olympics (from 2012)