What Football Could Learn from Diving

Angela Cothran

For years, football has been regarded as a win or lose proposition, but choosing the top two or four teams based upon competition among unequal foes has proven to be a task beyond football’s collective comprehension.  Football should take a look at the way diving keeps score.  After all, diving has dealt with subjectivity for years and seldom has controversy over who is the best diver in a competition. 

Here’s how diving works: each dive has what is called a degree of difficulty (DD). For example, a forward dive pike position off a one-meter springboard (jack knife off the low board) has a DD of 1.3. A reverse 2 ½ somersault with 2 ½ twists off a ten meter platform (don’t try this at home, kids) has a DD of 3.8.  Next, judges award from zero to ten points for each dive, based upon how well it was performed.  Drop the high and low judges; add up the points awarded by the middle three judges and multiply it by the degree of difficulty, and you have the points scored. 

For football: split ten points between the two teams playing. The winner gets 5.1 to 10.0 points and the loser gets zero to 4.9.  Then assign a degree of difficulty to each team, ranging from, say, Alabama at 4.0 to University of Idaho at 1.0, with DD subject to change as the season progresses.  So barely losing to Alabama (4.0 DD X 4.9 judges’ award = 19.6) is a whole lot better than beating Pitt (DD of about 1.5) in triple overtime (1.5 DD X 5.1 judges’ award  = 7.65). 

Add up each team’s total points for the season and the best – who, by the way, are encouraged to schedule tough games — punch tickets to the big dance. These numbers are just conceptual, but really, shouldn’t giving Alabama a tough go be worth more than edging Pitt in three OTs?   


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