Gymnastics News Network
By: Eileen Patchey
In my opinion there is no such thing as a “perfect 10”. I didn’t agree with it in 1984 when Mary Lou Retton scored it at the Los Angeles Olympics. I didn’t agree with it when Nadia Comaneci scored it in 1976 Montreal or the six she was awarded in 1980 Moscow. And I definitely do not agree with the amount of tens being awarded in the NCAA on a weekly basis. Let me explain…
FIG rules and modifications to the elite scoring system have basically taken away any chance of an athlete achieving a perfect score, which is why many people don’t like it. We are creatures of habit and people love the ten. I myself was not a fan of getting rid of the 10.0 when it was first announced, however it has grown on me. The elite scoring system takes some getting used to, but once you understand it, it actually makes more sense. One score for difficulty, one for execution equals total score. It probably doesn’t help that most of our commentators for these few televised events have resorted to “traffic light” comparisons of routines. Instead of explaining the deductions, they award a routine a green (very good), yellow (ok) or red (bad) rating next to the actual score. This does not satisfy anyone, and certainly doesn’t add to our knowledge of what a great score really is these days.
In college gymnastics there are actually two scoring systems being used. The men utilize the elite scoring, while the women are still use the 10.0 system. So why are the collegiate women still using the original scoring? Easy. We love our 10.0’s. It has been discussed about changing over the women’s scoring, but some of the main concerns are availability of judges, further separation of large and small schools leading to loss of funding, and athletes attempting to compete skills that are dangerous to achieve a higher difficulty value. I agree with the idea that smaller schools will ultimately be fazed out-aka defunded, as we have seen this happen with men’s gymnastics, but I’m not sure how accurate the argument about judges is. The men have six events, while the women have four and they are fully staffed with judges at all the meets I have attended. The more difficult skills issue I am on the fence on. I see the end game of bigger schools attracting higher level athletes and thus the smaller schools dropping off, but many of the top colleges already have former elite and even Olympic gymnasts on their teams. It is valid that these athletes are not allowed to train more than 20 hours per week due to NCAA regulations, so they cannot maintain their elite skills and should not perform them for safety reasons. However, elite athletes bring a different level of execution to the table as well, and I feel that it should be rewarded.
Which brings me back to my point-how many routines are actually “perfect”? Everyone has seen a beautiful routine and thought “Wow!” and when the score is shown they can’t figure out where the deductions came from. I have the opposite problem. I am shown a supposed “perfect” routine and I more often than not I still see deductions. I understand that it’s harder for judges who do not have the benefit of slow-motion and various camera angles, but a step is a step, and bent leg is a bent leg. As I mentioned previously, the elite scoring system has taken care of most of the problem there, but college is another story as scoring seems to be much more subjective.
It has been stated by various commentators, many of whom are former collegiate gymnasts, that the judges try to award the best routine the highest score. It is common for coaches to “stack” their lineups, meaning putting the routines in order leading up to the highest scoring athlete performing last. If a gymnast early in the lineup sets the score starting point, and the judges award a score on the generous side, it would stand to reason that routines later in the lineup would merit higher scores. I believe that this is part of the “perfect 10” issue, as judges would eventually score themselves out of the 9’s and have nowhere else to go.
So it looks like fans of women’s gymnastics-at least collegiate-will be able to enjoy the perfect ten for a bit longer. While I disagree with the number, I can appreciate the hunt for perfection. I have included videos at the end of this article that have scored “perfect 10.0’s”. We hope you will watch them and let us know what you think!
Source: GNN, YouTube
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