Thread: Hersh: In figure skating, same old, same old

1. 0
Originally Posted by Mathman
I think there are two questions. First, does the current method for determining the winner make it easier than ever for someone to cheat and get away with it?

But there is another question that applies to judged sports in general. Assume for a moment that all judges are honest, unbiased and competent. Here are the scores (out of ten points maximum) given by nine judges (in an admittedly artificially extreme example). Who should win, skater A or skater B?

Skater A: 6 6 6 6 6 3 3 3 3
Skater B: 5 5 5 5 5 8 8 8 8
Originally Posted by SkateFiguring
Under the ordinal system such as the 6.0, Skater A wins because more judges placed him/her over Skater B.

Under the point system under which the highest and the lowest scores are discarded, Skater B wins with a higher total score (44 vs 33) despite having more points thrown out (13 vs 9 for Skater A)

The political voting system by district is similar to the 6.0 in that the smallest majority elects the representative in a district. A party or a president may be elected with a much smaller number of total votes than the defeated opponent party or candidate.

Maybe that is why the Americans are so attached to the 6.0.
Mathman, I am super-intrigued by your thought experiment. I think it's clear that Skater B should win, given these scores, given your assumptions. (I do wonder: Are the judges who assigned skater B 8s the same judges who assigned skater A 3s? I know it may be a stipulation of the experiment, but it calls into question the real-world usefulness of the experiment -- that is, if it does not approximate any actual judging scenarios.)

I quoted you, SkateFiguring, to disprove your irresponsible generalization.

One other thought: Having skimmed the other posts, I don't see any complaints about what I saw as a possible contradiction in Hersh's interesting, if otherwise problematic, article: Hersh says, "Relentlessly determined to make every effort to reduce figure skating’s TV attractiveness, the sport’s pooh-bahs rejected the idea to have the free skate run in exact reverse order of the short program finish. Why would you want to add excitement by having the leader go last?"

This is bizarre to me, given the main focus of Hersh's article on fairness in figure skating. Even though we are no longer under 6.0 (in which judges would "save room" for potentially better later skaters by giving earlier skaters undeservedly lower scores (given a pre-set maximum)), it is, to my mind, still obvious that figure skating judges have not shaken this no longer "useful" habit. PCS go through the roof in the final 6, often embarrassingly for those of us who try to convince our friends that figure skating is not an inherently subjective athletic activity. GOEs also (even more perniciously, in my opinion) rise as we reach the end of events.

An informed view concerned with fairness would maintain that the top ranked skater after the SP go FIRST in the LP, followed by #2 (and so on). If nothing else, this would shake up and confuse figure skating judges' trained habits and sensibilities. (Maybe it would make them objective. Imagine the possibilities! Would it make events less exciting? Yes.) Why Hersh thinks, in one paragraph, that fairness is most important, but that, in another, suspense in more important is confounding to me.

2. 0
Originally Posted by Pepe Nero
Mathman, I am super-intrigued by your thought experiment. I think it's clear that Skater B should win, given these scores, given your assumptions.
How interesting. To me it is clear that skater A is the rightful winner.

I do wonder: Are the judges who assigned skater B 8s the same judges who assigned skater A 3s? I know it may be a stipulation of the experiment, but it calls into question the real-world usefulness of the experiment -- that is, if it does not approximate any actual judging scenarios.
Yes, I was assuming that the judges scores lined up in the two rows. In other words, that the same judges who were the most enthusiastic about skater B were the same as those who didn't like skater A at all.

It is quite easy to raise the same issue with numbers that do match actual results.

Skater A: 8.00 8.00 8.00 8.00 8.00 8.25 8.25 8.50 8.00
Skater B: 7.75 7.75 7.75 7.75 7.75 7.75 7.75 8.00 7.50

Same question. Skater A was preferred by a majority of judges. Skater B got the most total points. In the best of all possible judging systems, who deserves to win?

3. 0
Originally Posted by Sandpiper
Did you even read what I wrote? I said "I don't have any issues with Hersh being critical." Where in my post did I mention "positive encouragement"?

If we want to take the poetry workshop analogy, Hersh is basically the guy who says, "Your poetry sucks." After ten guys before him already said the same thing. Okay. Does that help anyone improve their poetry? Wait, he's a paid, professional journalist. So, it's like you sent your manuscript to someone who charged a fee for editing, and the only feedback you got was "Your poetry sucks." (I'd be equally pissed if the feedback were, "Your poetry rocks," btw).
He is a journalist whose job is to report the news. His article reported on well-documented problems with the sport of figure skating. It is not Hersh's job to offer "constructive" advice, suggestions, or whatever. Would you criticize a reporter of the current situation in Iraq who failed to offer "constructive" advice, suggestions etc on the situation? That's not a reporter's job. Don't blame Hersh for reporting the same news--the news itself hasn't changed for years.

4. 0
Originally Posted by Sandpiper
It seems like the lack of a star hurts it popularity more than the quality (or lack thereof) in the programs.
I wish I could be confident that the popularity of figure skating in the United States will automatically recover when the next Michelle Kwan comes along.

The loud laments about skating losing its audience began in about 2000. The real Michelle Kwan was at her height. At the previous Olympics U.S. ladies went 1-2. Youngsters such as Sasha Cohen, Sarah Hughes, Jenny Kirk and Naomi Nari Nam seemed to guarantee a bright future. The Salt Lake City judging scandal was in the unimagined future. Still, everyone was tearing his hair about the decline in audience interest, the loss of television revenue, and all the rest. In those days the culprit was supposedly that people were turned off by all the cheesefests and silly pro competitions.

Personally, I think the villain is simply cultural drift. I have the sad feeling that Japan is about to drift in the same direction, which will bring on the next round wondering what went wrong.

JMO.

5. 0
Originally Posted by skatedreamer
To break the logjam, what do you think would need to happen?

Originally Posted by Alba
We talk about Cinquanta all the time but he is not alone. For me he is just the tip of the iceberg.
FS is made by the whole community: General Director, Director, Federations, Tech. Specialist, Judges, Coaches, Choreographers, Skaters, parents, media, fans etc., It is never about just one person.

It actually reminds me about the ex opposition (now government) here in Italy, when fighting against Berlusconi. They were so "blind" and "obsessed" with him that all they did was going after Berlusconi, as a single person, without being worried too much about the real issue, which was the Berlusconism that formed a lot of people and a whole new generation.
It's not just Cinquanta, it's Cinquantism. Or rather, Koch-Poulson-Cinquantism, to give Mr/ C.'s predecessors their due. (Labin gets a pass because he was president of the ISU for less than a year, and Favart (1967-1980) was OK. )

6. 0
Originally Posted by Mathman
I wish I could be confident that the popularity of figure skating in the United States will automatically recover when the next Michelle Kwan comes along.

The loud laments about skating losing its audience began in about 2000. The real Michelle Kwan was at her height. At the previous Olympics U.S. ladies went 1-2. Youngsters such as Sasha Cohen, Sarah Hughes, Jenny Kirk and Naomi Nari Nam seemed to guarantee a bright future. The Salt Lake City judging scandal was in the unimagined future. Still, everyone was tearing his hair about the decline in audience interest, the loss of television revenue, and all the rest. In those days the culprit was supposedly that people were turned off by all the cheesefests and silly pro competitions.

Personally, I think the villain is simply cultural drift. I have the sad feeling that Japan is about to drift in the same direction, which will bring on the next round wondering what went wrong.

JMO.
This. Times a zillion. I've always thought the boom in skating post Kerrigan/Harding until Salt Lake City was more of an aberration than A Sign Of Things To Come. But it doesn't help that the ISU seems to be determined to aid and abet the drift.

7. 0
Originally Posted by WeakAnkles
He is a journalist whose job is to report the news. His article reported on well-documented problems with the sport of figure skating. It is not Hersh's job to offer "constructive" advice, suggestions, or whatever. Would you criticize a reporter of the current situation in Iraq who failed to offer "constructive" advice, suggestions etc on the situation? That's not a reporter's job. Don't blame Hersh for reporting the same news--the news itself hasn't changed for years.

This. Why do we hold skating journalists to this weird standard of being "nice"?

8. 0
Originally Posted by UnsaneLily87
This. Why do we hold skating journalists to this weird standard of being "nice"?
I would can and do criticize our media and especially our overly politically motivated "journalists".. A lot worse than Mr. Hersh's articles. The thing is have you gone and read his last 5 or 6 articles on FS. It's as if nothing positive happened in Sochi. Where is the Mathew Parr write up? The fun of the team event and especially the cuteness of team Japan we all see the bad but that isn't the only thing going on as he, for his last 5-6 articles(this entire year it seems) implies.

The biggest issue I have is just how poorly written it is. It's almost like he typed it up and never re-read it.

9. 0
Originally Posted by Sam-Skwantch
I would can and do criticize our media and especially our overly politically motivated journalists. A lot worse than Mr. Hersh's articles. The thing is have you gone and read his last 5 or 6 articles on FS. It's as if nothing positive happened in Sochi. Where is the Mathew Parr write up? The fun of the team event and especially the cuteness of team Japan we all see the bad but that isn't the only thing going on as he, for his last 5-6 articles(this entire year it seems) implies.

The biggest issue I have is just how poorly written it is. It's almost like he typed it up and never re-read it.

10. 0
I'm not asking him to be nice. I'm asking him to write a professional article. We can disagree about whether his article is "professional," but please do not try to dismiss anyone's argument as "we want journalists to be nice." No one has argued that.

Do you think emphasizing "the hug" brings a lot of credibility to his article--just like it brought so much credibility to South Korea's case? Do you think he shouldn't at least point out that Russia, Canada, USA, and Japan (I think Japan deserves to be among the great figure skating nations at this point) all voted against anonymous judging? Do you think he made any compelling arguments--heck, any arguments at all, because it's so "self-evident" to him--that bad judging system/corrupt judges is the reason for figure skating's decline in North America? Could the reason not be the lack of stars, the lack of an extraordinary series of circumstances (Harding-Kerrigan, then the emergence of Kwan)? Or, as Mathman suggested, simply cultural drift?

Hersh is a paid journalist. He can do better than "I'm tired of writing about it." One goal of journalism is to offer fresh angles on "old" news (considering more than half the countries voted to abolish anonymous judging, it's not even as same old, same old as Hersh thinks). Hersh seems to feel too strongly to not offer his own viewpoints--too bad he doesn't bother backing up any of his points. And no, he shouldn't ask his readers to comb through every single article he wrote over the past ten years to find where the arguments went. The article should stand alone.

11. 0
I wonder if Gracie were in Sotnikova's shoes how this story would read?

12. 0
Originally Posted by Sam-Skwantch
I wonder if Gracie were in Sotnikova's shoes how this story would read?
When it was revealed that bribery and corruption were the order of the day in the preparations for the SLC Olympics, the media was all over the story. Or for a more recent story, take a look at American news media coverage of Lance Armstrong's admission of doping.

They may not be covering just how ootsie cutsie the Japanese team is, but the American news media LOVES a good scandal. Gosh, even about Americans.

13. 0
I still have yet to see someone who isn't Korean or an open hater of Russia to have any real problem with the Olympic result.

14. 0
^Okay, gross generalization (from the other side now ). I'm not Korean or anti-Russian (look at who my favourite skaters are!), but I think Yuna deserved gold. That being said, the sheer amount of vitriol being thrown at Adelina--considering none of this was her fault--is very overboard and off-putting.

15. 0
Originally Posted by YLFan
I still have yet to see someone who isn't Korean or an open hater of Russia to have any real problem with the Olympic result.

I am Brazilian and I have much problem with Olympic result
Ah ... I'm not an enemy of Russia, on the contrary, their culture fascinates me, ballet, literature, classical music. I love it all.

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