Thursday, March 31, 2011

Title IX Wake-Up Call

Check out this article comment. Original article w/all comments is here.

Please note that today is not the first day of April!

Equality in sports—and life

Re “Leveling the playing field” (Newslines, by Melody Gutierrez, March 24):

Thank you to Ms. [Cindy] Wolff and all of her AAUW friends in Chico! You are appreciated and admired for all of the great work you are doing.

We are working on the same issues here in Ventura County, and our AAUW chapters are great too! Title IX is all about opportunities for both genders; it is not for females exclusively. Boys need to be encouraged to be yell leaders (even George Bush was a Yale yell leader) or on a competitive dance team, for example.

How many young girls who are playing baseball at the elementary age are still playing that sport at the high-school level? How many superior female soccer kickers are also point kickers on football teams? Maybe these young people might like to have the opportunity to try these sports!

Sally Hibbitts
AAUW, Thousand Oaks

Right on, Sally! That's all the fellas needed was a little encouragement!!

Now, watch those boys quit those boring sports like lacrosse and swimming. Sponsors had better stock up on outfits for all those guys who'll be going out for the baton team.

Quote of the Day

It is thus with farming: if you do one thing
late, you will be late in all your work.

Marcus Porcius Cato, a.k.a. Cato The Elder

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

Words make you think a thought.
Music makes you feel a feeling.
A song makes you feel a thought.

Edgar Yipsel "E.Y." Harburg

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

With so many big meets...

...being decided on the last relay, here's a comment on the post Video Moved that's worth sharing here:

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

Great meet!

To those that are tired of hearing about the "automatic relay take off judging" issue, I'd like to point out one more thing. When watching the ESPN3 coverage last night, I found it eerily similar to the coverage of the Texas high school girls 5A finals. Cal didn't need to win the race to win the championship - they just needed to NOT DQ. The announcers were pointing out each exchange indicating it was safe. The crowd was cheering because they saw a safe start. They knew the WIN was in the bag. National Champs!!!

BUT WHAT IF... a pad had malfunctioned and the seemingly SAFE START became a DQ??? What if that DQ could not or would not be overruled? What if that meant that Texas won and Cal was second?? Certainly we would be happy for Mr. Reese and team but also certainly we would be sick to our stomachs that something that ridiculous had caused a change to the winner. I'd guess that Mr. Reese would do the right thing and protest along side the Cal coach but even if he didn't - wouldn't we all still be talking about this a year from now? Whether or not we wanted Cal to win - whether or not we wanted Southlake Carroll to win, we certainly didn't want either team to lose because of an equipment error!

As written, the NCAA rule says that if the automatic relay judging equipment is used that video MAY be used as a backup. It is NOT REQUIRED. So this scenario could easily have played out - no question about it. As written the NFHS rules and therefore the UIL rules indicated that there does not need to be any dual confirmation (for the inclusive range of -0.09 to 0.0). Shouldn't the rules be written such that swimmers are protected against malfunctioning or insensitive equipment?

So congrats to Cal, congrats to Texas and to all the others who have done well. I'm glad that Minnesota saw fit to shut off the automatic relay judging after the first night (if that is indeed what they did - and not just HIDE the results) - because if they didn't, we could have seen a repeat of the girls 5A Texas results. And then ALL OF US would be calling for a reversal and a change to the rule.

Think about it!

Quote of the Day

There are no rules for good photographs,
there are only good photographs.

Ansel Easton Adams

Monday, March 28, 2011

Which side is Nancy on?

It seems as though Nancy Hogshead-Makar has been doing more to hurt the Women's Sports Foundation lately than help it. Their defense of Title IX quotas is looking more ridiculous by the day.

The three-time Olympic gold medal winner's appearance in John Stossel's piece on gender quotas must have made Billie Jean King cringe. Catch up here.

More recently, she lost a Tweet-fight with the College Sports Council. Read more here and here. She's Hogshead3au. Get it? No? Think periodic table...I gotta do all the thinkin' 'round here?

Last Friday evening, the College Sports Council got into an extended conversation with Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Senior Director for Advocacy for the Women's Sports Foundation on our Twitter feed. While the issues we discussed were serious, I had a good time jousting with her on behalf of the CSC, even if she worked hard to dodge some of the more pointed questions we posed to her, while also working to blindly distort many of the CSC's public positions on the reform of Title IX enforcement.

Showed up to an iPhone fight with a danged Jitterbug...

Quote of the Day

The correction of silence is what kills; when
you know you have transgressed, and your
friend says nothing, and avoids your eye.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

No one can beautify his own lot by sowing
seeds of weeds in the lot of another.

Charles E. "Skip" Bird

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Logo Design

Once you've decided to start something new (swim school, club, site, etc.), you'll need a logo to go with it, right? Get started in the right direction here. That's part one of a three-part series.

“A logo is really the first core message, the identity, that any brand provides to the world. And it has to be a logo that will work not just on a website homepage and on business cards but also as its Twitter or Facebook icon. So, you want it be distinctive and yet simple at the same time.”

Quote of the Day

Everything has its wonders, even darkness
and silence, and I learn, whatever state
I may be in, therein to be content.

Helen Adams Keller

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

You find out who your real friends are
when you're involved in a scandal.

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quote of the Day

Never pray for justice,
because you might get some.

Margaret Eleanor Atwood

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

It is human nature to stand
in the middle of a thing.

Marianne Moore

Monday, March 21, 2011


The site of short course USA Swimming Junior Nationals has been changed from Minneapolis to Austin. Read more here. Thanks for the heads up, WD!

If you'd like to examine women's NCAA's with relay reaction times, look here.

A large news outlet is digging into the high school state meet relay controversy. When that story runs, I'll provide a link.

This might be a good time to remind readers that the opinions expressed on this site are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, my athletes, my buddies, my family members, or anyone else in the known universe. That should cover it, right?

Now, back to the automatic relay take-off judging systems. A thread at College Swimming indicates that we're not the only group concerned about their use. Read it here.

One reading at D-II nationals showed a -0.69, and yet there were no reports of a swimmer landing on top of a teammate.

Re: Faulty touchpads or what?
by gearhart on Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:40 am

0.69 reading meant the pad was not functioning properly, hence the other readings thrown out. Looking at the relay - nowhere near a false start. Since its Drury though, no changing the conspiracy theorists minds.

This same thing happened at Division III nationals in Houston and Miami. There's one company that makes pads that work and another that I would not place confidence in (but do look really cool).

Re: Faulty touchpads or what?
by Swimcoach4life on Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:17 pm

I'm not there so I am not saying this is what has happened, etc.; however, this could be a possible reason for such a high reading. At our conference meet a few weeks ago there was a -.44 reading that was not called (BTW - not our team's relay). Our team video tape of the race confirmed that the start was legal (not used, but just referenced as I was curious with the reported data). When I saw the officials the next week they said the swimmer was excited and banging on the block previous to her exchange. Two officials felt that this could cause a large number that obviously would result in a collision.

Questions are being asked about other states and the use of the automatic judging systems for high school championship meets. It look like the relatively small number of states that use the systems tend to shy away from the "suggested protocol" we've used in Texas these past couple of years. Indiana is one example of a state that goes "by the book" and doesn't count on the machine to make the call without human verification. Read more here.

If you're a swimmer, parent, or coach with an opinion on the relay take-off judging systems and rules, please let your TISCA region rep know how you feel on the subject. Their contact info is here. Their spring board meeting is scheduled for April 15.

I'd like to thank all the concerned swim folks who've sent me info these past few weeks. You're making a difference! Your voices are being heard. I do believe that this problem will be addressed and our athletes, coaches, and officials will all benefit.

Also, if you've been treated as if you just fell off the turnip truck, you've got plenty of company. There are plenty of us idiots out there, right? Just hang in there and see things through.

A head coach is needed at San Antonio Wave. Job is posted on South Texas site here.

It's getting late and I need to wrap this up. More to say, but it's just gotta wait.

Sent to me today:

Up and Down

With the countdown at "zero", the site promised by "A Splash of Truth" is here.

Site is only semi-active. Only "button" that's working right now is for contact.

As mine is a site on which I rarely sometimes often nearly always include my personal opinions, here goes:

While I don't doubt for a minute that a few coaches have been involved in wrongdoing, this has underwater ambulance chaser written all over it! If you were an attorney, wouldn't this be the best way to go "fishing"?

First, send a very negative email out to thousands of swim folks.

Next, wait for stories of misdeads to fill up your inbox.

Then, send out another email with new "revelations".

Again, wait for more accounts on problem coaches.

Finally, post a site with sensational - but dead - links like "Hall of Shame" and "Police Reports". Don't forget to include a single working contact link so victims can more easily reach the lawfirm.

Again, I'm not saying there haven't been problem coaches. I'm not saying victims shouldn't be compensated. I'm just saying that this looks like a slick way for a lawyer to build a client list with a fraction of the effort it might normally take.

Your thoughts?

Quote of the Day

Lying is done with words and also with silence.

Adrienne Cecile Rich

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

I am always doing that which I can not do,
in order that I may learn how to do it.

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan
Nepomuceno María de los Remedios
Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad
Ruiz y Picasso, a.k.a. Pablo Picasso

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

So much of what we call management consists
in making it difficult for people to work.

Peter Ferdinand Drucker

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

We are so vain that we even care for the
opinion of those we don't care for.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quote of the Day

If only one could tell true love from false love
as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools.

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp Murry

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Open Letter

Texas High School Swimming Community,

I wish we'd have made a stronger push for rule changes a year ago. Coach Murphy made a great case for revision after last year's state meet and we didn't take up the cause, did we?

The original post on 2010 UIL state meet results is here. Kevin's comment was professional, sincere, and - unfortunately - prophetic:

At 5:24 PM, murphyk said…

#1 Congratulations to the Kingwood Girls and Coach Duin for their Texas 5A State Championship in Girl's Swimming & Diving.
Congratualtions to the Woodlands Boys, especially Knox Hitt, (100 back from lane 8 in consols put the nail in the coffin for southlake Carroll) and Coach Kirchner for their Texas 5A State Championship in Boy's Swimming & Diving.

A job well done!

The TRUTH of Southlake Carroll's DQ in the Girl's 400 free relay in prelims:

Prelims, HT 2, Ln 6, Girls 5A 400 free relay:
Kingwood and Southlake Carroll are stroke for stroke to the finish of the 300, almost identical touches.
*one foot distance seperated the touches, .2 of a second, maximum.

HUKI's 300 time(touchpad) 2:38.02
SOCA's 300 time(touchpad) 2:38.79
(.77 of a second, or one full body length, according to the "infallible" touch pad!)

Southlake Carroll was disqualified, by the "machine" -.03, with no human (dual)confirmation.

Note: Of 17 other Prelim relay exchanges, by Southlake Carroll, having been instructed by the Coach, to use "safe starts", every single one of those 17 exchanges was between .3 and .5
The last swimmer on this 400 free relay, to whom the false start was assigned, was swimming in her 4th Texas State Meet, had never false started before, and was following her Coach's directions to a "T". A four-time HS All-American, swimming in Prelims on a relay dominating the heat, side by side with Kingwood.
No danger of not making the Top 8 in Finals. In fact, the relay time, if it was allowed, would have put the Southlake Team as the #2 seed in Finals, just behind Kingwood.

Team video, soon to be on U-Tube, will show the entire relay, along with the relay exchange in question. Take a look and see if you, as a coach, or a parent, or a swimmer, would like to see your relay, next year, DQ'd in a similar manner.

NCAA protocol was used, that says the "machine" rules from -.09 to +.09, but the NCAA recognizes the possibility of pad malfunction at the end of each of the the first three legs, and, therefore allows for pre-set video, in Championship Meets, at the finish end, for all relay exchanges, in case of a dispute, within the -.09 to +.09 band.

With no video back-up at the Texas State Meet, every HS swim program at the Texas State Meet risks a relay exchange result similar to that of Southlake Carroll. Maybe other teams, this year, were disqualified in the same manner, relying 100% on the "machine", within the designated range of -.09 to +.09

Let's see if we, as a swimming community, can effect a change at future Texas HS State Meets to protect the efforts of our swimmers as they strive to perform to the very best of their ability on a level playing field.

Injustice thrives when men say nothing. The outcome of the meet cannot be changed, but the future credibility of the Texas State HS Meet depends on a correction of our protocol, to accept the possibility of equipment malfunction.

Kevin Murphy
Head Swim Coach
Southlake Carroll HS

In hindsight, I wish I'd have presented it as an extra post so more would have seen it.

For the young ladies of Southlake Carroll HS, it shouldn't have been, as Yogi Berra would put it, "deja vu all over again".



Quote of the Day

The joy that isn't shared dies young.

Anne Gray Harvey, a.k.a. Anne Sexton

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quote of the Day

Accept the challenges so that you
may feel the exhilaration of victory.

General George Smith Patton, Jr.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak.
Strong convictions precede great actions.

Louisa May Alcott

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quote of the Day

The little rift between the sexes is
astonishingly widened by simply
teaching one set of catchwords to
the girls and another to the boys.

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

As soon as we abandon our own reason,
and are content to rely upon authority,
there is no end to our troubles.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

We are inclined to believe those whom we do
not know because they have never deceived us.

Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Quote of the Day

I cannot trust a man to control others
who cannot control himself.

Robert Edward Lee

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Medley Relays Skew Data?

Got a tip on the jump in relay DQ's since the automatic system took over for humans. Dug through results on TISCA site.

Here are relay DQ's by year and gender.

1998 Girls - 3.6% (3/84)
1998 Boys - 3.6% (3/84)
1998 Total - 3.6% (6/168)

2000 Girls - 1.8% (3/168)
2000 Boys - 0.6% (1/168)
2000 Total - 1.2% (4/336)

2002 Girls - 4.2% (8/190)
2002 Boys - 2.6% (5/189)
2002 Total - 3.4% (13/379)

2003 Girls - 1.6% (3/191)

2003 Boys - 2.1% (4/190)
2003 Total - 1.8% (7/381)

2004 Girls - 1.6% (3/190)
2004 Boys - 2.1% (4/192)
2004 Total - 1.8% (7/382)

2005 Girls - 1.1% (2/190)
2005 Boys - 3.7% (7/191)
2005 Total - 2.4% (9/381)

2006 Girls - 3.1% (6/191)
2006 Boys - 2.6% (5/191)
2006 Total - 2.9% (11/382)

2007 Girls - 2.6% (5/189)
2007 Boys - 4.2% (8/189)
2007 Total - 3.4% (13/378)

2008 Girls - 2.1% (4/190)
2008 Boys - 4.3% (8/188)
2008 Total - 3.2% (12/378)

2009 Girls - 2.1% (4/191)
2009 Boys - 3.7% (7/189)
2009 Total - 2.9% (11/380)

2010 Girls - 4.9% (9/185)
2010 Boys - 5.4% (10/186)
2010 Total - 5.1% (19/371)

2011 Girls - 7.0% (13/187)
2011 Boys - 2.6% (5/190)
2011 Total - 4.8% (18/377)

This showed a definite "spike" in relay DQ's since machines became more important than humans.

Still, after I'd crunched all the numbers for the "project", the second-guessing began.

Older results didn't tell why a relay was DQ'ed. Could it have been due to stroke, turn, or finish violations? Was the call a false start on a lead-off swimmer and not a relay take-off violation?

Did I just miss my exit?

Rather than go crazy with all the variables, I decided to use only free relays for this "study" and not worry about lead-off DQ's. How convenient, right?!?!

Using just free relays, here are DQ percentages by year and gender.

1998 Girls - 3.6% (2/56)
1998 Boys - 3.6% (2/56)
1998 Total - 3.6% (4/112)

2000 Girls - 0.0% (0/112)
2000 Boys - 0.0% (0/112)
2000 Total - 0.0% (0/224)

2002 Girls - 3.9% (5/127)
2002 Boys - 2.4% (3/126)
2002 Total - 3.2% (8/253)

2003 Girls - 0.8% (1/128)
2003 Boys - 1.6% (2/126)
2003 Total - 1.2% (3/254)

2004 Girls - 1.6% (2/127)
2004 Boys - 1.6% (2/128)
2004 Total - 1.6% (4/255)

2005 Girls - 0.0% (0/128)
2005 Boys - 3.1% (4/128)
2005 Total - 1.6% (4/256)

2006 Girls - 1.6% (2/127)
2006 Boys - 3.1% (4/127)
2006 Total - 2.4% (6/254)

2007 Girls - 1.6% (2/127)
2007 Boys - 4.0% (5/126)
2007 Total - 2.8% (7/253)

2008 Girls - 2.4% (3/127)
2008 Boys - 2.4% (3/127)
2008 Total - 2.4% (6/254)

2009 Girls - 1.6% (2/128)
2009 Boys - 3.2% (4/126)
2009 Total - 2.4% (6/254)

2010 Girls - 2.4% (3/126)
2010 Boys - 4.0% (5/125)
2010 Total - 3.2% (8/251)

2011 Girls - 5.6% (7/126)
2011 Boys - 3.1% (4/127)
2011 Total - 4.3% (11/253)

That made things "level out" a bit, but we still saw a jump in "jumps" in 2010 and 2011. From 1998 through 2009, free relay DQ's happened at a rate of 2.0%. In 2010 & 2011, that rate shot up to 3.8% - nearly double!

Finally, just for fun, here's the breakdown for medley relay DQ's.

1998 Girls - 3.6% (1/28)
1998 Boys - 3.6% (1/28)
1998 Total - 3.6% (2/56)

2000 Girls - 5.4% (3/56)
2000 Boys - 1.8% (1/56)
2000 Total - 3.6% (4/112)

2002 Girls - 4.8% (3/63)
2002 Boys - 3.2% (2/63)
2002 Total - 4.0% (5/126)

2003 Girls - 3.2% (2/63)
2003 Boys - 3.1% (2/64)
2003 Total - 3.1% (4/127)

2004 Girls - 1.6% (1/63)
2004 Boys - 3.1% (2/64)
2004 Total - 2.4% (3/127)

2005 Girls - 3.2% (2/62)
2005 Boys - 4.8% (3/63)
2005 Total - 4.0% (5/125)

2006 Girls - 6.3% (4/64)
2006 Boys - 1.6% (1/64)
2006 Total - 3.9% (5/125)

2007 Girls - 4.8% (3/62)
2007 Boys - 4.8% (3/63)
2007 Total - 4.8% (6/125)

2008 Girls - 1.6% (1/63)
2008 Boys - 8.2% (5/61)
2008 Total - 4.8% (6/124)

2009 Girls - 3.2% (2/63)
2009 Boys - 4.8% (3/63)
2009 Total - 4.0% (5/126)

2010 Girls - 10.2% (6/59)
2010 Boys - 8.2% (5/61)
2010 Total - 9.2% (11/120)

2011 Girls - 9.8% (6/61)
2011 Boys - 1.6% (1/63)
2011 Total - 5.6% (7/124)

Okay, folks. Why did the percentage of medley relay DQ's increase so markedly in 2010 and 2011? Hint: The DQ rate from 1998 through 2009 was 3.8%. In 2010 & 2011, that rate jumped to 7.4% - nearly double! Seeing a pattern?

I say that no, medley relays didn't skew the data. Seems DQ's of both types of relays follow a similar pattern. DQ rates almost doubled for both medleys and free relays when machines were allowed to overrule humans.

Finally, what did I learn from all this?

I learned that we need a whole lot more data (this is really just a tiny portion of what we'd need to "prove" anything, right?) and someone else to fool around with it...

Quote of the Day

Anyone who has never made a mistake
has never tried anything new.

Albert Einstein

Monday, March 07, 2011

Quote of the Day

It's the first time I got dumped in my life. I think
the one thing I would point to as a primary
reason, basically, is that I was a gigantic ass.

Carlos Irwin Estevez, a.k.a. Charlie Sheen

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Adding It All Up

Thanks to everyone who's helped me gather info.

To those who don't like the idea of shining a little light on this subject - shame on you! If we're in this for the athletes, we should want them all to have a fair shake.

If you're not in this for the athletes, then why are you still involved? Think about it...


I contacted three (3) companies that make automatic timing equipment.

I held for quite some time before I finally spoke with Aaron, a tech at Daktronics. He began by stating that, if their equipment (relay take-off platforms) is installed properly, the system's reliability is "good". He said he was unaware of any controversy surrounding our high school state meet relay DQ's.

I got hold of Bob at Colorado. He said his company had tried using technology similar to that in the Daktronics system, but found it to be less reliable than they'd like. Colorado's relay take-off judging systems now work to sense pressure/force and he's happy to report that they've found it to be very accurate, even with smaller age group swimmers.

Jane at IST says they do not make a relay take-off platform. They do not have enough confidence in the technology to put a product out there. In fact, when asked to modify their timing systems to interface with another manufacturer's relay take-off platforms, they declined. IST is a sponsor (Platinum Partner) of NISCA.

To be reliable, the automatic systems must record both a finish and a take-off to the hundredth of a second. If a touch pad fails to register a finish correctly (happens once in a while, right?) and/or a lid fails to record a take-off properly, how can we continue on with "business as usual"?
High school swimming must modify current rules or stop using this equipment.


Organizations like TISCA, NISCA, UIL, and NFHS should all be working together to make rules that keep our competitions fair for all athletes.

Very reliable sources* have provided emails that indicate this has not been happening.

Stonewalling? Plausible denial? Patronizing B.S.? Stalling? Heads in the sand? Yeah, there's been plenty of it.

A couple of years ago the out-of-control arms race (tech suits) was hurting high school swimming. Cooperation between the above groups led to a quick revision of the rules that helped level the playing field for our athletes.

It's been over a year since Kevin Murphy began sounding the alarm on this issue. Now we've had a second round of relay DQ's that officials could not undo. Are we going to let it happen again in '12?

Here are some of the people that can weigh in on the side of our athletes - please give them the opportunity to do so. Edited 7:45 p.m. - The question has been asked about whether these folks have been contacted about this issue. While I can't speak for them all, I know some of them have. Still, you can't assume they've all heard about it, so let them know what you think needs to be done.

UIL Athletic Director - Dr. Mark Cousins

UIL Assistant Athletic Director (Swimming) - Traci Neely

UIL Swim & Dive Rules Interpreter - Frank Swigon

TISCA President - Penny DiPomazio

NISCA President - Dana Abbott

NISCA President-Elect - Arvel McElroy

NISCA Rules Chair - Paul Torno

National Federation of State High School Associations

Video Evidence

Without going into details, I'm convinced that the Southlake Carroll Girls' 400 Freestyle Relay in the 2011 UIL State Swimming & Diving Championships "A" Final was a perfectly legal swim.

For now, you're just going to have to trust me on that.

Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center

These folks provide our sport with the best possible venue for our state championship meets.

When scheduling conflicts come up, a few call for moving our state meet to a different site. Are they kidding? Be objective and tell me why another facility is better suited to hold big-time swim meets. You can't, can you?!?!

They do everything they can possibly do for us.

Our problems are in our rules. Unfortunately, they can't make/change our rules...

* Let's call them Deep Dipper, Deep Flipper, and Deep Dripper

Quote of the Day

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out
of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Quote of the Day

I was told over and over again that I would
never be successful, that I was not going
to be competitive and the technique was
simply not going to work. All I could do
was shrug and say "We'll just have to see."

Richard Douglas "Dick" Fosbury

Friday, March 04, 2011

Quote of the Day

Coaches have to watch for what they don't want to
see and listen to what they don't want to hear.

John Earl Madden

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Guest Post

Writer said I could use their name, but I'm opting to withhold:

There has been much discussion via this blog, via email, at various swim meets and even in the paper about the number of “computer called” DQs that occurred during the 4A and 5A State meets at UT. I appreciate Button allowing me to add to this dialogue and hopefully clarify some things without confusing everyone!

I spoke today with a senior representative from the UIL office. They said they were unaware that there were any issues during the meet regarding relay disqualifications. In fact, as I understand the UIL official, the electronic judging exchange rule at a national level (NFHS), has been in place for a long time and has only ever had the one complaint – the 2010 SOCA DQ protest by Coach Murphy. In addition, this person indicated that they have not heard from anyone – coaches, parents, officials on the 2011 meet and have NO EVIDENCE that anything was amiss.

I do want to point out that this person was highly professional and reiterated multiple times that she would be willing to review this issue, discuss this issue etc – if only someone brought evidence to her.

So I discussed with her what I thought the issues are – and I list them below:

The relay exchange rule:

The rule as written for high school relay exchanges (with the electronic relay judging equipment) does not take into account any chance that a pad may fail to register a touch. It actually makes no difference when the swimmer touches the pad – it only matters when the pad REGISTERS a touch. Anyone who has operated a timing console, as I have, knows that not all touches register. A swimmer would have to KNOW that the pad registered – not that a person touched the wall in order to be certain to avoid a DQ.

Because the rule for electronic relay exchange judging has no back-up to protect athletes from a failed touchpad, swimmers on relays could be encouraged to skip the block altogether. The only sure way to avoid a computer DQ is to start from the side. This would be an embarrassment and a huge disadvantage for Texas swimmers compared to other states.

The NCAA decided 2 years ago that this rule needed to be changed. They added video evidence requirements where there was no human acknowledgement of any DQ between (-0.09) and 0.0. I noticed Button posted a forum discussing this below.

Pads do fail and there are rules to protect athletes:

The rule as written for high school individual events does take into account that a pad may fail. There are backup plungers and timers. And, in fact, in the same 5A state meet there were also pad failures on individual swims where rules allowed for adjustments. As an example, during the 5A girls state backstroke consolation heat, one swimmer appeared to win the race – the board indicated that she had won. But the final results indicated that a different swimmer had won – apparently her pad had malfunctioned and the timing judge/chief administrative official followed procedure, by adjusting the time, and, subsequently awarded the win to that person.

The official results of the meet indicate that something was amiss:

3% of relay exchanges with computer issues (NRTs) is more than the manufacturers warranty. Why so many? Girls were DQd much more than boys. Why? And in the specific case of SOCA, there are missing splits (pad failure) and a missing reaction time (lid failure) so with an obvious equipment malfunction why was the DQ not vacated??? With this obvious data, a video or photo is not even required to see that this particular disqualification should have been (and should still be) overturned.

I mentioned how quickly the meet referee/director had to turn his attention to the 4A meet after the 5A meet. He did not have a lot of time to review this data and specifically the equipment issues. The UIL official that I spoke with commented that these are professionals that do this weekly but only have 30 minutes to certify the results by rule.

Texas is at a disadvantage with this electronic equipment rule:

The reason that the NFHS has heard little of this issue is that most states do not use electronic take off judging. Someone checked data for Indiana, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Florida and Colorado. No reaction times listed. Additionally, swimmers that have moved to Texas from some of these states confirm that this technology is not used at High School State championships in many if not all of these states.

More DQs mean less All American times – that hurts states that use this equipment with no back up to ensure the computer called DQs are correct.

Questionable results hurt our sport:

The Southlake Carroll men’s team WON state. This is the first time a North Texas team has done that. And the headlines did not even mention this great feat! The papers/blogs/discussions have all focused on the disqualification and the questions it raises. Wouldn’t it have been better for our sport to say “Local Team WINS State Championship”, than “Local team loses State Championship due to questionable disqualification”.

CALL TO ACTION – the rule must be changed:

I believe that the rule should be changed to include a dual confirmation – either video or an official. And if we cannot do that, then at the very least Texas needs to STOP using this equipment during the state meet. There is no rule that says we have to use it. I also personally believe that the SOCA DQ with evidence of equipment malfunction should be reversed.

In order to make a rule change, we all need to tell the UIL what we believe should happen. If the UIL has no evidence of an issue and no evidence that people want a change, then we, the swimming community, should make sure they get it. I plan to send a letter and I know many other parents will send letters and videos. It needs to be more than SOCA and HP parents and coaches. Who else? Woodlands, Plano, McKinney – many others had DQs and quite frankly – even if you didn’t this year – next year, it could be you! The UIL official specifically mentioned that she needs to hear this from coaches. We must protect our dedicated and hard working athletes – let the UIL know you think there is a problem. Send a letter, propose a change, band together – and together we can improve our sport!

Quote of the Day

You hit home runs not by chance,
but by preparation.

Roger Eugene Maris

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Quote of the Day

Fix your eyes on perfection and you make
almost everything speed towards it.

Dr. William Ellery Channing

Tuesday, March 01, 2011