The 2010 CrossFit Games
The ultimate proving grounds of the world’s fittest athletes.
July 16-18, 2010 • Carson, CA
The Home Depot Center Sports Complex
Select a 2010 CrossFit Games event
United States Qualifiers
Men's Individual Champion, Graham Holmberg, crosses the finish line in the Pyramid Double Helen event
Scoring the Games
Why the point per position scoring system is best.
The purpose of the CrossFit Games scoring system is to determine the Fittest on Earth. Before the Games, there was an extensive qualification process by which about 100 men and women earned the right to compete in the arena at the Home Depot Center. Just getting there established them among the world's elite of fitness. The Games just needed to differentiate among these elite.
After last year's Games, there was a lot of talk about proportional scoring. The great benefit of this system is that it rewards margins. If I beat you in Elizabeth by one second but you beat me in Diane by three minutes, we can say you're fitter because of the margins of victory even though we each won an event. This impact of marginal differences, however, becomes less significant as the number of events increases.
But the fatal flaw of proportional scoring is that the margins and proportions between different events are not equally valid indicators of fitness. Some workouts simply have greater margins, even as a percentage. In fact, the workouts with greater margins usually have specialized skills in them. In other words, when you dig in to the reality of proportional scoring, it favors the specialist by overly weighting workouts with special skills.
This year, the most common complaint about point per position scoring has been the impact of cuts. It is mathematically true that if you finish at the bottom of the heap before the cut, the cost is greater. If you finish 40th in an early event but still make it past the first cut, the worst your competition can do is 24th. (In other words, a bottom finish in the first four events leaves you with 40+ points, whereas after the cut, the most points you can get is 24 or 16. This makes deficits harder to eliminate as the competition goes on.) The complaint is that this means the early events are weighted more heavily.
This is not quite true, because there is a better way to describe this mathematical impact. It's not so much that it weights the early events more heavily, but rather it punishes glaring weaknesses. This system intentionally rewards athletes who finish closer to the top in every event.
This is all supported by the actual results. Neither Graham Holmberg, Rich Froning Jr or Mikko Salo finished any event below 16th. You could reorder the events however you want and their points wouldn't change. Chris Spealler had a 26th and a 22nd. If you capped the score on any workout at 16 (the fewest number of competitors in any event), he would have finished with 16 fewer points. But he was 18 points behind Rich, so the placings would have been identical. Even Austin Malleolo, who got 37 points in the Max Overhead event but still finished 6th overall, wouldn't have made the podium with a cap of 16 points since Speal would have benefitted from that also.
Going deeper, only three men in the top 16 after four events (right before the cut) had over 30 points on any event. On the women's side, no woman in the top 8 overall had over 20 points in any event, and no one in the top 16 after four events had over 30 points on any event.
What does this mean? It means that the scoring system works perfectly. At the end of the day, no one was taken out of contention because of some mathematical anomaly. The system rewards those athletes with the greatest work capacity across broad time and modal domains. It, like nature, favors the generalist and punishes the specialist with any glaring weakness. The athletes who finished on the podium at the Games are indeed the Fittest on Earth.