A Chance for the Return of the Perfect 10 to Gymnastics Scoring

With a complete review of gymnastics scoring being called for by Bruno Grandi, there is now a reasonable chance to bring about the sensible return of the perfect 10.0 scoring system, that was dumped without true appreciation for the marketing, fan understanding and brand advantages of the former scoring system.  The meeting at which the decision process will begin is at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Zurich (SUI) will host a symposium for Artistic Gymnastics on on June 17 – 19, 2011.  The F.I.G. Director of Education and Academy Programs is Hardy Fink from Canada and he and other experts inside and outside the FIG will be there to share their ideas and expertise.  The FIG Artistic Technical Committee will be there and each country’s federation will have the option of sending up to two representatives to the symposium.

With a thorough review of gymnastics rules potentially in the works, there is an opportunity to return  to the trademark, fan favorite and fan approved 10.0 scoring system for gymnastics.  Mathematics and computer scoring software are certainly capable of taking any judging and scoring system and converting into a 10.0 score.

Gymnastics needs to cater to its fans, both casual and dedicated, and the “Perfect 10” judging system had become the trademark for the sport.  Any fans of a gymnast scoring a perfect 10, had a chance to go wild with excitement when a 10.0 score was flashed – something you have never seen and will never see with the current open-ended system.  I have had the honor and fun of working with gymnasts from a Level 4 gymnast to collegiate gymnast who have scored Perfect 10s and it is an experience that should not have been taken from the sport at the international level.

No one wants to go back to the place where numerous first place ties, all with a 10.0 score were all too common, but intelligent judging can always avoid that situation.  No one believes that any particular routine is truly perfect, but in the high pressure of international competition, error free routines are still possible and deserve to be celebrated.  An occasional 10 to motivate gymnasts and make the crowd go wild is good for the sport.

The phrase “Perfect 10” has found its way into common usage in the English language in reference to many subjects, even though it was abandoned in International gymnastics.  Time to take it back fro our sport of gymnastics.

Gymnastics never has been and never will be a sport like any other.  Gymnastics is not a sport of giving multiple chances for an athlete to set some record.  Gymnastics is not a sport where errors can be made up for later in the competition.  It is a sport where you get one chance on each event to come as close to you can to perfection.  We are not just trying to get the highest possible score by doing the most difficulty, but doing extraordinarily difficult skills with grace, elegance, style, originality and virtuosity. The Perfect 10 scoring system was the perfect system for measuring the best, not the most.

I have compiled some of the original and subsequent reactions to dumping the 10.0 scoring system in 2006. Opinion seems strong that it was a huge mistake. Some of us like that difficulty resumed being a more important aspect of the sport, but it was not at all necessary to dump the 10.0 in order to do that.

StickIt Media.com has some pertinent insight into the topic of the rule changes.

Paul and Morgan Hamm’s coach, Stacy Malone, has an article about the scoring changes and his comments have turned out to be true.

Former Olympic champion Kerri Strug has said, “I think a lot of people identify gymnastics with a perfect 10. It’s much easier for the average person to follow and understand.”

Alicia Sacramone has competed under both codes, and she still has personal reservations about the switch to the new open-ended system. “I kind of miss the perfect 10.  Now it’s a little harder to judge if your routine was flawless or not.”

An article on the Journal of Young Investigators web site named Why Gymnastics Judges Will Never Get a Perfect “10” By Tran Cathy gives another interesting perspective.

An analysis of some of the effects of the new open-ended scoring system on events are revealed in an article on the Polish101 gymnastics blog.

Of the new scoring system Nadia Comaneci, who earned the first perfect 10 in Olympic history has said, “I don’t think I like it.” Comaneci said about fans who approach her “They don’t say, ‘I know when you won your first medal.’ The first thing that people say to me is, ‘We saw your 10. We were in Montreal when you got your first 10.'” She is certainly not the only one. At the time, letters of protest were circulated by two-time Olympic champion Rustam Sharipov and was been signed by other gold medalists, including Peter Vidmar, Shannon Miller and Vitaly Scherbo.

Paul Hamm’s comment -“I know a lot of gymnasts are very leery of this new code of points. I don’t see the advantage of it. If we’re in an open-ended scoring system, I see gymnastics pushed to the human limit where people are injuring themselves. We’re becoming robots instead of showing the artistic side of gymnastics, trying to do them as perfectly as we can and make them beautiful.”

Most of the protest centers around the loss of the perfect score. The “Perfect 10” is a symbol of perfection — in and outside the sport. Take it awayand gymnastics loses a big part of its identity. Even though no one scored a 10 in a major international competition since the 1992 Olympics, there was still the possibility that it could happen and energize the sport again.

Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner said about the open ended scoring system, “The solution wasn’t changing the rules. The solution was getting the judges to apply the rules. This seems like stirring up the soup, but it’s not making it taste any better.”

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