There is nothing more aggravating to an athlete, or a fan, than having judges who score inconsistently.
You watch a competition deciding in your head what the outcome should be then, when you see the scores, all you can do is wonder what were the judges thinking?
Very rarely do you see judges giving an athlete the same score. There are usually one or two judges that score either higher or lower than average. For some athletes, there is no consistency to keep things fair between competitors.
In boxing, the crowd screams in protest because of believing the official announced the wrong athlete as the winner. While in gymnastics the coaches have been known to argue with the officials if they believe their athlete deserved higher scores.
Can you imagine having the future of your sporting career held in the hands of multiple human beings with their own opinions on what is right and wrong, comparing you to every other athlete in the meet?
Poor judging can cause athletes to lose their chance to medal at an event and sometimes can cost them to qualify for another meet.
Sports such as gymnastics, boxing, figure skating and diving are just a few sports where athletes struggle with this problem of subjectivity in judging.
The way these kinds of sports should be judged is by the panel of judges only deciding the score outcome by the individual’s tricks.
However, that would be in an ideal world. Judges usually score athletes by comparing the athletes to one another or they have preconceived ideas on how the athlete should perform and score them based on prior practices and competitions.
The Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), a committee that overlooks five Olympic water sports in national events, has tried to fix this by requiring officials to get the needed qualifications before judging a competition.
These qualification requirements include multiple courses and tests to reassure that the scoring is professional and un-biased.
As for American gymnastics, the National Gymnastics Judges Association is a similar committee that also requires judges to become “legitimate” before judging big-time events.
For a judge to be qualified for major sporting events they have mass amounts of knowledge of the sport, and usually started off as athletes themselves, then went on to coaching and now to judging.
For a majority of Olympic sports that use judging as the form of scoring, officials are required to take courses and pass specific tests to show they are on point when it comes to judging athletes in competition.
In national and international competitions, judges are not allowed to see the athletes practice or warm up prior to the event. The committees believe if they don’t see the athletes beforehand, it will eliminate some of the predetermined ideas of how the athletes should perform.
These requirements have reduced some of the questions raised about the judging system in these sports, however not everyone is convinced it has done much good.
Athletes will always be compared to one another due to human nature and they will always be known for a specific event, meaning that judges will have those preconceived notions they try to avoid.
The national and international committees claim to be doing their best to eliminate the subjectivity brought about by judges. However, is their best enough to maximize the athletes’ potential and give them the outcome they deserve?
I believe they have a few more bugs to work out of the system before athletes will reap the benefits of qualified, un-biased judging.