Should the NCAA adopt the new code of points?

Utah's Kristina BaskettA little less than four years ago, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) eliminated 10 as the ideal score.

In its place, they  instituted a system where gymnasts received points partially for the difficulty of their skills and partially for the way routines were executed.

Should NCAA women’s gymnastics do the same thing?

Some like the new system, which is changing in 2009 to make things easier for the athletes for the first time in several quadrenniums. Others hate it. Even so, the FIG has made it clear that we aren’t going back to the ideal 10 anytime soon.

The NCAA has been the last holdout of the old system, the place where elites go to get an education and, if they’re good enough, the perfect score that’s eluded them their entire elite careers.

The thing that struck me about this year’s NCAA Championships, won this weekend by the Georgia Gym Dogs for the fourth year in a row, was how darn close all the scores were. How many 9.875s were recorded? How many 9.9s? How many gymnasts can you pack the third place rung on the victory podium with? (Answer: Four. Tiffany Tolnay (UGA), Katie Heenan (UGA), Kristina Baskett (Utah) and Melanie Sinclair (Florida) tied for third in the all-around.)

At the Pac-10 Championships March 29, no fewer than nine people tied for third on vault. Five recorded a third-place score of 9.9 on uneven bars.

Some call for more difficulty in the NCAA, especially on vault, where it seems that almost every gymnast is throwing a Yurchenko full. Happily, on balance beam and floor exercise there’s a lot more variety — not to mention personality — than there is in the elite ranks. I’d fear that bumping up the difficulty needed to get great scores could result in more injuries, costing universities more money and making administrators think about cutting gymnastics programs.

At the same time, it can look a bit ridiculous when everybody gets a 9.875. After the NCAA all-around competition, reader TCO buzzed in with a comment:

The scores are crazy close. We need a different system. I don’t mind if we keep the 10 or get rid of it. But if we keep it, we ought to significantly increase the difficulty requirment. The problem is that people look at a ten like “par” on the golf course. We need to compensate the gymnasts that throw harder tricks. This will also spread the scores.

Men’s collegiate gymnastics follows the same structure as the new code of points. But for many, men’s collegiate gymnastics is an elite training ground, not a place to graze in retirement from heavy competition.

What do you think?

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10 Responses to “Should the NCAA adopt the new code of points?”

  1. Marcus Says:

    Should the NCAA adopt the new code of points? HELL NO!

  2. Britt Says:

    I think the problem with increasing the difficulty requirements would be that so many gymnasts’ bodies are already so beat up by the time they get to college. If girls are more injured from trying to pack in extreme difficulty at age 16, imagine what would happen at 22.

  3. Rick McCharles Says:

    There is no chance the NCAA will ever move away from the “perfect 10”.

    It’s a great program. Kids move up through L10 with the 10 system. Then go to College with a 10 program.

    The FIG system is irrelevant.


    I’m interested to see how well the new “Possibly Related” widget works.

  4. shergymrag Says:

    The USAG Junior Olympic levels are still on the10.0 scoring system too.

    The NCAA is full of athletes who were elites and standout level 10s. The code is a little easy for them. The code does have to work for everyone though. The judging could be tighter.

  5. Amy Says:

    I’d be interested in seeing them at least TRY using the new code of points. I suspect it would help me understand the code better too! Though I imagine a LOT of people in the audience would be way more confused re:scores!

  6. Mike Says:

    I agree that the scores are way too similar from gymnast to gymnast, and it becomes hard to differentiate the good routines from the excellent routines. Vault certainly needs an overhaul…yawn…big surprise…another yurchenko full. Daria Bijak stuck cold a very difficult front handspring, front layout during team finals, and was scored 9.85, which was the same score as several athletes competing Yurchenko fulls with steps. I really don’t understand. I’d like to see variety and difficulty rewarded appropriately.

    Also, the routines on beam and bars are so similar that the scores come down to who steps on their landings and who doesn’t — which seems to forget about the composition of the routine and the execution of each element during the routine.

    I’m all for making the NCAA women’s program a similar training ground for olympic hopefuls — just as the men are doing. The challenge then for the coaches becomes using each dual meet as a training session to peak at the right time — the NCAA championships. This would help ensure that the athletes keep from getting injured and burning out.

  7. Anna Says:

    So, I was looking back at past NCAA event finals winners, and pretty sure there have been ties for first place is 1992. So, the scores being really close is not really a new issue. I think if they thought it was a problem, it would have been fixed awhile ago.

  8. shergymrag Says:

    “I’m all for making the NCAA women’s program a similar training ground for olympic hopefuls — just as the men are doing.” This situation for the men has nothing to do with the new code. It has more to do with the age at which men peak for gymnastics and also the history of male collegiate athletes doing elite. These days, top NCAA men mostly finish behind those competing for Team Chevron but NCAA men still give it a try. Women only seem to want to come back if they feel they can win.

  9. Mike Says:

    “This situation for the men has nothing to do with the new code.”

    I disagree. Look at Jonathon Horton, David Sender, Kevin Tan. Men who are striving to be the best in NCAA gymnastics can simultaneously strive to be the best on the elite level. Their routines are evaluated similar to what they would expect at an elite competition. NCAA coaches for track, swimming, diving, and other olympic sports are coaching their athletes to compete at the highest level possible. Why wouldn’t we want women’s gymnastics coaches to do the same thing?

    I don’t think we truly know the ideal age that elite women gymnast peak because most are retiring at 17 or 18.

  10. Kathryn Says:

    Should NCAA women’s gymnastics use the FIG code? Absolutely not!!! The fact that they don’t use the FIG code is why I still love NCAA and am starting to lose interest in elite. Yes, the scores are all very close, but it makes the competitions so exciting. I love knowing a major break can knock a team out of second. I love the anticipation that someone can get a 10.0 at any time. I love how clean the routines are while still containing big tricks.

    Maybe the deductions could be increased, and I agree that vault start values and deductions could use some revamping, but to get rid of the 10.0 would mean most of the marketing power of NCAA will be lost. I’m a hard-core gymnastics fan, and I have no idea what an elite level routine will score when I watch it. I know within a tenth or two what score an NCAA routine will get. When your hard-core fans start losing interest due to a code of points, you know something’s wrong.

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