Photo Courtesy of: CrossFit 204
Judging in professional sports is bad at times, however 90% of the time it's great! The other 10% is terrible and usually has major effects on the outcome of games. For instance, NFL referees and line judges make bad calls all the time. A few weeks ago during a New York Jets game the referees arguably cost the Jets 14 points. This was the difference between a win an a loss! Those are huge errors that not only affect the outcome of the game, but can alter the course of a season.
Now MMA judging is a total mess! We see terrible scoring all the time. Recently a judge was removed from duty during a UFC card mid-event due to poor judging / scoring. These are paid professional judges who study their chosen sport all year round. At the top level they are proven competent, yet they are human and make mistakes all of the time. Often these mistakes or errors change the course of a fighter's career or a team's season. These decisions could cost a fighter or team millions!
Unlike almost every other sport, CrossFit / Fitness style competitions rely heavily on volunteers who most of the time are inexperienced themselves in the movements and events they are judging. Generally there is no vetting process other than a one time crash course the evening before or the morning of the event. This is simply unacceptable. These volunteers are generally overworked, tired and unprepared. One way to combat the inexperienced and overwhelmed judge is with clear, concise and easy programming. For instance, if the event is "Ground to Overhead" there are many ways to accomplish this goal. There are a few options which most competitors and judges don't even know. One of these examples is the Continental Clean. It is a form of Ground to Overhead used frequently in Strongman competitions. This video shows a good lift by an accomplished Strongman competitor at an NAS sanctioned event.
The same lift at most weekend and some major events, would be deemed a "No Rep" or highly contested by both Judges and Athletes who are unfamiliar with the lift. It is however a perfectly acceptable Ground to Overhead movement unless previously disqualified by event rules. One way to eliminate this problem is to call for a "Clean and Jerk," which is the movement that most people associate with this particular event. By clearly defining the event, it now allows for the event to be judged based on Olympic weightlifting standards as well. In turn when performing the "Power Lifts" use the standards of USAPL or governing body of choice.
By implementing and using existing standards as opposed to what may be acceptable from one Box or Coach to the next, it will help to cut down on inconsistent and uneducated judging in these lifting events. While most athletes that regularly compete in weekend competitions are not professionals, they still prepare for the event with the intensity, passion, and sacrifice of a true professional. They should not have their efforts stripped away by incompetent judging, not to mention their entry fees which are at an exorbitant cost at most of these competitions now-a-days. Event host(s) should put more effort into preparing competent judges rather than fleecing sponsors and competitors to line there own pockets!
About the author: David Zitnick is lifelong fitness enthusiast and current Program Director at CrossFit Ripped. David holds numerous certifications from several different accredited governing bodies including several CrossFit certifications, Olympic Lifting certifications, Powerlifting (Louie Simmons Westide Barbell) and AAFA certified. David is also a former professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter who has competed in both Strikeforce and M-1 and is now the architect of several Strength and Conditioning programs for up and coming MMA fighters with American Top Team.