Tuesday, January 18, 2011
An Ode To The Judges
Skating judges are often known to be in the pocket of one country or another, but the same is true in any subjective sport. Over the years, we've all witnessed many questionable NCAA meets. In the late '90s and early 2000s, the judging became so inflated and controversial that the NCAA began ''randomly'' assigning judges to each meet. They require at least two out-of-state judges to be present at each meet, because clearly bias would never cross state lanes. Whenever the Gym Dogs won titles in the mid 2000s, fans of other schools would make jokes about Suzanne paying off the judges. The 2002 NCAA Championships remains one of the most wildly debated meets in history and its judging is universally accepted as having been complete shit. There are random meets in Pauley where McCullough and Ariana Berlin strangely up their career high to a 9.975 on bars despite scoring significantly lower each and every week performing their routine the same way.
At Aunt Joyce, we pride itself on it being our business to know everything about everyone. Thanks to the internet, we are able to look up who the judges were on fateful nights and will be keeping track of who the judges are when teams get a questionable boost in score. Many judges are fair and biased, but it is downright impossible for judges not to become biased or friends with certain coaches over the years. That leads to a subconscious or conscious bias and ''influencing.'' Judges are brought in weekly to judge the intrasquads of each team. Many schools host at least one a week, while some schools have two. Current dictums are that judges can now judge the intrasquads, but they are not allowed to communicate or discuss their scores with the coaching staff. If you believe that judges and coaches won't confer, there are plenty of letters to Santa that I'd like you to mail for me.
Judges are volunteers, but when they become regular judges of certain teams, it is inevitable that a feeling of attachment develops. Judges become familiar with mistakes made by girls that they might not catch on a first glimpse. They know the good and the bad to look for in each routine.
Yesterday, UGA posted an extremely high score. Their 49.45 on bars was high for the routines performed, even though they hit. Troester tells us that Carole Ide and Brock White were judges. Both have long been known to be in favor of UGA over the years. Carole Ide is a Brevet judge and respected, but it is very curious that bars and floor were the highest scoring events for the Gym Dogs yesterday and she was the judge on both events. Brock White has been known to be in the back pocket of UGA and UCLA over the years. Brock also allegedly dated an assistant coach at the school with the most NCAA Titles.
At the 2008 NCAA Championships, Evelyn Chandler gave noticeably conservative scores for the Gym Dogs on floor exercise compared to her scores for the rest of the teams. It is important to note that she has long been perceived to be a Florida judge. It is very easy for judges to develop a bias for or against teams, or be slightly stricter for some than others. It only takes a half tenth here and there to influence an outcome, while still being within range.
Pat Ethredge, a judge from Texas, has been known to help LSU climb the rankings over the years.
Linda Fenton is known for being a prime enemy of Greg Marsden. Linda's daughter wanted to be a Ute, but was not selected by Marsden. She would up going to another top school, but an acrimonious relationship has remained ever since. Fellow judges feel that Fenton is a fair judge, which may be a problem for the high scores award to the Utes at home. Marsden infamously removed his entire team from a meet against an in-state rival due to Fenton being a judge.
Other judges have preferences in terms of difficulty or performance. Joan Moore Gnat, mother of Jeana Rice, is known to favor the performers and dancers when it comes to judging.
These year, let's focus on who the judges are for each event when the scores are noticeably tight or generous. One can find the judges by searching for meet schedule and results on Troster and then clicking 'View' to the right of the link for the meet's scores.
Posted by OlympicEffect at 10:54 AM
Labels: Brock White, Carole Ide, Evenlyn Chandler, Joan Moore Gnat, Judging, Linda Fenton, NCAA
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interesting AJ- I know from my own experience that college judges may not communicate with athletes in any way according to the rules. Anyone who does may not judge NCAA during that season, and then they may not judge that school for 5 years after. I know this because I coach at school while maintaining my judges' rating. Interesting how it's noticed by the fans!ReplyDelete
PS- go look at Suzanne's facebook page- her and Carol appear to be best friends. And that's not affiliation? It's sad when some judges work so hard to earn their ratings and judge fairly...
Carole pretended not to be friends with her for years. All of the coaches are friends with certain judges (if they are smart.)ReplyDelete
Interesting, thanks; would love to read more in this vein.ReplyDelete
The pressure put on the judges at NCAA is exactly why I refuse to judge college meets. When you give a reasonable score, maybe closer to a JO score, be prepared to hear the crowd boo and coaches show their temper. I think the regional bias is not as apparent due to the way assigning has changed. It's a step, albeit small, in the right direction.ReplyDelete
I was told by a JO judge in my area that she has been shunned because she wants " to judge what she sees, not what leotard they are wearing." This is HUGE reason why I have been hesitant about becoming a judge.ReplyDelete
JO should not be like college, they are kids for crying out loud. Most of them are happy to not land on their head and to get a pretty ribbon. The vast majority are not doing it to go to the Olympics.ReplyDelete
I can honestly say I've never felt pressure from another judge to score a club a certain way. Now there are definitely coaches who are quick to complain about judges. I can't tell you how many coaches will come over and complain to other judges about the scoring on another event. Very professional of them.
The world of gymnastics is a small world. Is it even realistic to expect judges and coaches never to be acquainted?ReplyDelete
As for judging the judges, I hesitate to look at a judge's scores and call them bad without hearing the judge's reasoning. Only when you know what deductions actually were and were not taken can you fairly decide whether or not a score was warranted unless the score is at least a couple of tenths out of line. It could be a judge is consistently calling a specific error that is often overlooked in NCAA, and one team tends towards making that error. Please, don't ridicule judges on this site without overwhelming evidence. Most judges work hard to do their job well, and it's sad that a few can bring a black mark upon the job as a whole.
I was just pointing out perceptions of judges and then having us look at meets to see whether or not in backs up that perception. It is very curious that Georgia's high score on bars came from two judges who are ''friendly to the program.''ReplyDelete
Interesting post. It almost seems impossible for there not to be conflicts of interest with these judges. The UGA scores were definitely inflated but not crazy. However for bars, I probably would've gone 9.8 at the highest for Worley and Tanella, and 9.85 for McComb (unbelievable that one judge gave her a 9.95).ReplyDelete
I wonder if Jeana Rice's mother is allowed to judge Bama meets. Of course, if she prefers dancers, Bama isn't exactly known for choreography, so maybe there isn't any favoritism there.
Another thing to look at when judging the judges: If scores seems inflated on one event, check to see if perhaps they are inflated for all teams. If the judge seems to be giving higher scores relative to the team's regular scores for all teams (taking into account the actual performance, of course), then they are not biased and the meet outcome is fair.ReplyDelete
It is difficult to judge if it is fair when the opponent is West Virginia, a team UGA is supposed to crush. The score certainly helps their ranking.ReplyDelete
Very interesting post! Thanks for bringing this to light. It's hard to fathom the dedication athletes must have to put themselves into sports where there may not be an objective outcome.ReplyDelete
Remembering back to some of your judging-related posts during the winter olympics - is it possible to view who judges are and their individual scoring for figure skating too?
I think that Joan Gnat is one of the most fair judges out there. Nice to see that you agree!ReplyDelete
I don't have as much of a problem with skating judging as I do with NCAA gym, but I HATE HATE HATE that skating judges travel with their own country's delegation to competitions and are buddy buddy with their own nation's competitors. And I wouldn't mind it, but when you blatantly overscore your own country's skaters and everyone else's GOE marks are reasonable except yours, I don't trust you to leave your biases at home! US Judge, you know who you are.ReplyDelete
I have to say that I thought the Georgia scores were right on really. Every routine could be a half a tenth or so either way. I think that a lot of it depends on the angle of the camera.ReplyDelete
I love how US Skating judges are suddenly the only ones accused of bias since the Joe Inman article about marking Plushenko and Joubert's PCS fairly.ReplyDelete
Haha, no, I have no probably with Inman pointing out a legit criticism of someone's skating. I do have a problem with an American judge who throws out high marks to people just for being American. Stop already. When I know which judge is the American by looking at the protocols (just like I know which judge is Canadian while judging Chan), that judge isn't doing their job right and honestly.ReplyDelete
Judges from every country do that, but sometimes you'd be surprised. The best countries know how to politick without even using their own judge at times.ReplyDelete
I just got done watching the UCLA vs. Stanford meet. There was some... interesting... communication between Miss Val and one of the judges. The Chellsie Memmel lookalike beam judge flashed Miss Val a look when one of her gymnasts fell. Then, during a Stanford floor routine, Val moseyed on up to the beam and chatted with the the Memmel doppelganger. This happened before the meet officially ended.ReplyDelete
Side note: Sam was the only gymnast who was visibly upset when the third girl fell on beam. I have a feeling that the girls will pay on Monday.
I'd like to add to my previous comment:ReplyDelete
Stanford's low scores on vault were fair--bent arms coming onto the table and bad landings.
Both teams were overscored on floor. Any time Pechanec scores a 9.850 with that ugly triple full, you know that the scores are inflated.
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