Two weeks back at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Championship, event organizers used the CrossFit Games scoring system to allot points based on 40 competitor placement, but the competition only fielded 20 individual competitors. They’re not the first Sanctional to do this nor are they the last, but when Armen Hammer brought it up it got us thinking about the efficacy of the Games scoring system.
- Armen Hammer: “You have first place getting 100 points and the last place getting 40 points…It makes a difference in terms of where the athletes are going to fit, how many points they can earn over the course of a weekend of events and where the competitive pushes have to happen in order for athletes to gain points because when you’re gaining that many points for being in last place you’re not really getting separated as much as you possibly could be.”
A little more about the CrossFit Games scoring system.
- The Games’ scoring system was designed for 40 competitors; it was also designed specifically for the Games and Regionals. First place is awarded 100 points, 20th place is awarded 40 points and 40th place is awarded 0.
- The current Games scoring rewards consistency especially at the top. Here’s an example: Two athletes average fifth place across 10 events. Athlete A finishes half of the workouts in first, and half of the workouts in 9th. Athlete B finishes every single workout in 5th place. They’ve technically split workouts between them 50/50, but Athlete A would finish with 820 points and Athlete B with 800.
- This point system also punishes an athlete who completely bombs a workout: 0 points for last place: 35th gets 10 points, 40th gets 0.
- The non-linear points system also awards being in the Top 10 by allocating a greater points gap between places for the top spots.
How Sanctionals are scoring their events: Among the six Sanctionals this season, three of six events have used the Games’ 40-person point system exactly as written. Wodapalooza and Strength in Depth are fairly close in numbers to the Games; only Mid-Atlantic sticks out as being significantly different.
- Wodapalooza: 36 men, 26 women
- CrossFit Strength in Depth: 39 men, 39 women
- Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge: 20 men, 20 women
Sanctionals who used a variation of the Games scoring system:
- Dubai CrossFit Championship: 32 men, 32 women
- Australian CrossFit Championship: 32 men, 32 women
Fittest in Cape Town is the one outlier. They utilized the Games system until 10th place, then they increased the point spread for poorer performers, which is a more realistic scoring approach in our opinion.
- Fittest in Cape Town: 23 men,15 women
For what it’s worth: There is actually a ready-made 20-person point system developed by CrossFit for the Teens and Masters divisions, which could have been adopted by MACC.
- Last year, the gamesmakers recognized this disparity and developed a new scoring system for the 20-competitor age group divisions.
- They also increased the non-linear increments with greater gaps between places for the top event places.
OK Back to MACC. One important question: would utilizing CrossFit’s Teens and Masters 20-person scoring system have changed the outcome?
- The short answer is, not really.
- The podium stayed exactly the same. In fact, only four athletes total changed positions and not a single one of them was significant.
- But just because it didn’t change the outcome very much, doesn’t mean that the scoring system should stay the same. For starters, this is just one competition. Secondly, point spreads matter. CrossFitters like to say that every rep counts and do subtle shifts in points in a tight race.
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Sanctionals aren’t alone in this problem: At the 2019 CrossFit Games, organizers will likely have to re-write the scoring system again to accommodate a significantly larger field of competitors.
- The August Games could have somewhere between 120 and 150 athletes in each gender depending on how many national champions accept and travel to Madison.
- Age group divisions are also reducing from 20 athletes to 10.
- Don’t forget: An idea that has been repeatedly put forth is that of cutting the field significantly down to a small number of finalists. They will likely need a new point system for different stages of the competition.
The bottom line: Point systems are designed to reward consistency and better performance and punish inconsistency.
Tommy Marquez, Chad Schroeder and Scott Henderson contributed to this story.
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