To assess overall performances across time and space, the sport of boomerangs requires some kind of quantitative scoring system. In this article, a brief history of the Decathlon’s scoring systems is used to show the importance of tracking overall performance for National, World, and yearly records and use for qualification purposes. The article then compares 3 different scoring systems to determine which one would be best for the sport of boomerangs.
- Proportional scoring: the scoring system that translates event scores linearly into overall points (fig. 1, A)
- Progressive scoring: the scoring system that translates event scores exponentially into overall points (fig. 1, B)
- Regressive scoring: the scoring system that translates event scores logarithmically into overall points (fig. 1, C)
- Event Specialist: an athlete who has exceptional skill or score in one or a few events.
- Event Generalist: an athlete who has a fairly similar level of skill or scores in most or all of the events
- Part 1: Tracking records – the necessity of standardizing scoring in multi-event sports
- Part 2: Proportional, Progressive, and Regressive scoring – which is best for boomerangs
Part 1: Tracking records – the necessity of standardizing scoring in multi-event sports
The modern decathlon made its debut appearance in 1912 at the Stockholm Olympic Games thanks to the implementation of a standardized scoring system. Before that, in the early-1880s, similar multi-event sports in Europe and the United States used rank-based scoring to determine the overall winner. These rank-based systems were acceptable in those early years for determining the overall champion, but they did not provide a way to compare overall performances across time and place and no way to track overall national records. So, by the mid-1880s these rank-based systems were all but replaced by proportional scoring systems. This made it possible for each nation to track its own records, but it wasn’t until 1912 that a worldwide standard was established making it possible to also track world records. This standard was created when the newly formed International Amateur Athletic Federations (IAAF) required that a single scoring system be implemented for use in the Stockholm games. Since then, that scoring system has been refined several times. But throughout those iterations, one thing has always remained true. Since the crowning of Jim Thorpe in the 1912 Decathlon as “The World’s Greatest Athlete”, we have been able to compare overall decathlon performances across time and place, track records, and use these scores for qualifications purposes. We can be thankful for the foresight of the IAAF in 1912 for that and we can use their example to create a standardized scoring system for the sport of boomerangs. Some people may think that there is no need for us to create a standardized scoring system – that our rank-based system is good enough. But consider this question: what is the best overall performance in boomerang history? The answer is that we don’t know because we don’t have any standard by which to measure the overall performance. Think about these two hypothetical scenarios from two separate tourneys at two separate dates:
- Thrower A wins every event with mediocre scores.
- Thrower B wins every event setting all-new world records in each.
In these two scenarios, both throwers would receive 6 placing points in our current system. Thrower B set 6 new world records, yet his rank score is the same as Thrower A. You can see in this example that a rank-based score of 6 has no comparative meaning across time and place. Now consider this list of decathlon scores and dates:
- the current world record of 9126 points was set on September 15–16, 2018 by Kevin Mayer of France,
- the UK national record of 8847 was set on August 8-9, 1984 by Daley Thompson,
- and the best score in 1973 was 8167 set by Lennart Hedmark of Switzerland.
This is what it looks like to have a standardized scoring system that allows for quantitative comparison across time and place. So, I ask further - what is the best boomerang performance of all time? what is the best German boomerang performance ever? what is the best performance from 1992? Wouldn’t it be nice to know? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a historical record for our sport? The time is long overdue for us to adopt a standardized scoring system.
Luckily, we don’t have to recreate the wheel. The decathlon scoring system has gone through a few changes in the past 140 years that we can learn from. But we can also look at other options to find the best system for our unique sport. There are many ways to “translate” event scores into an overall scoring system, but these three are the most practical for our sport:
- Proportional: linear
- Progressive: exponential
- Regressive: logarithmic
These three scoring systems have something in common. For throwers to maximize their overall score they will need to do their best in each event. This is not true in rank-based systems. For example, imagine this scenario: Thrower C is going last in endurance, and the day’s best score was 48. He knows he only needs 49 to get a maximum rank-score of 1 point. For that reason, he might be very conservative in his performance. However, in the three other systems, the more catches he gets the higher his overall score will be so, of course, he will want to get the best score he can.