Friday, October 21, 2011

Is it Fair?

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ISU Communication No. 1700 just came out and the US has just one judge at this year's ISU World Championships...in pairs no less. Yes you read that right...one judge... although that pair judge gets to judge the preliminary round of ladies as well. Great...in comparison, Turkey has 2 judges, as does Russia, Japan, Italy, Canada, Austria, Denmark, Czechoslovakia and Israel. Belarus, Germany, and Great Britain have 3 each. But the big winner is China with 4! FOUR! How does this happen? This is how that happens ...

ISU Rule 582.4 states:

Principles of entries and restrictions
a) Each ISU Member may enter one Judge by number (not by name) in each discipline in which Judges of this Member are qualified to judge and in which that Member has participated with at least one (1) Skater/Couple in the same Championships or its Preliminary Rounds (see subparagraphs 6.d), 7.c) and 8.d)) of the preceding year, who has/have finished at least one segment of the individual competition or reached in the Preliminary Round the minimal number of points established for that year.
b) An ISU Member can be represented with Judges in all four (4) disciplines within one Championships (This rule does not apply for the World Synchronized Championships).

Is this really the best way to judge our most important event? In my opinion this selection process is more like a lottery and you have about the same odds of winning. I'm sure this is done so the ISU can stand back and throw up their arms in defense and say it's a fair and impartial draw. I understand that...they go to great lengths to convince everyone that this is a fair process....even going so far as to pay for an independent certified Swiss auditor to witness the draw, but by doing that the ISU have introduced randomness to this very important process.

Also, is this the best way to get the best judges to evaluate an event? Maybe this needs tweaking a bit.

How about the way the NBA does its lottery? The basketball team with the worst win/loss record gets more ping pong balls in the hopper than the team that has the best record, increasing there chances of the number one pick in the draft. We could reverse that and countries with the best skaters could have better odds of having a judge drawn. It could be exactly the way they do it for the number of skaters each country gets to send! If we get 3 competitors at worlds, then we get to put up to three judges in the pool. It's not a guarantee but it would increase the odds.

How about tracking the deviations (the number of places between the actual placement of the entire judging panel compared to the placement by the particular judge) over a required number of competitions and then taking the top judges regardless of nationality? This would reward the most consistent judges. What is one of the most important attributes of excellence...experience!

Regardless of the process, the outcome of the draw DOES influence the makeup of the panels. Just because everyone gets an even shot at a spot does not mean that we get the best panel. It's left to chance and although it protects the integrity of the leadership from media scrutiny, I don't think this helps the outcome. We all expect our leadership to stand tall and lead...not to hide behind a process that gives the same odds as you get in Vegas.

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