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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Mike Merrell

Mike Merrell

Mike (Editor-in-Chief) is a 1970 graduate of the University of Oregon where he attended the Honors College and received all-conference honors as a swimmer. After college, Mike ran for the Oregon Track Club and narrowly missed qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in the marathon. He continues his involvement in sports with near-daily swimming or running workouts, occasional masters swim competition (where he has received two Top-10 World rankings), providing volunteer coaching to local triathletes and helping out with FishDuck.com. Mike lives on 28 acres in the forest near Sandpoint, Idaho, where he has served as a certified public accountant for most of his working career. His current night job is writing novels about Abby Westminster, the only known illegitimate daughter of Britain's finest secret agent who has to bring down arch-villains plotting dastardly deeds. And, yes, Abby is also a DUCK!

  • hoboduck

    Wow, lots of bugs in this system…….but I like it. Any system that gets bama off the mountain top and rewarded for playing so many cream puffs and never leaving their state. Is that a run-on sentence? :-()
    Go Ducks WTD

  • Dinner Guest

    I like a degree of difficulty ranking in theory. Not sure if a loss should ever count as more than any win, but I like the concept. There are many systems and algorithms already in place to determine “strength of schedule” but they are divisive at best.

    The Ducks are going to win the National title this season. Book it!