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Chart of the Day: Men's NCAA Gymnastics and the Perfect 10

Chart of the Day: Men's NCAA Gymnastics and the Perfect 10

by Brina Nov. 27, 2018

It's the end of the elite season start of the NCAA season, so I wanted to take moment to share a fascinating graph by Shelli Koszdin of Stick It Media (@ononokomachi on Twitter)

We've all heard the line that the open-ended scoring system ruined gymnastics. If you look at the thriving gymnastics fanbase today - year-round gymnerds and four-year fans alike - it's hard to argue that elite women's gymnastics has really suffered. And women's NCAA gymnastics still uses the perfect 10.

But for men's NCAA gymnastics, the question is a little more open. There's a much closer link between elite MAG and NCAA MAG - almost every internationally competitive male gymnast in the United States is or was part of an NCAA team - so in 2007, men's NCAA gymnastic switched to using a scoring system that is very similar to the FIG's Code of Points. Forty years ago, there were more MAG teams than there are today. And forty years ago, the NCAA used the perfect 10 system.

So are these two things actually related? Let's look at the numbers. Check out this chart:

As you can see, over 80% of the men's programs that got cut were gone long before the end of the perfect 10. To me, this is pretty cut and dried: the open-ended scoring system didn't destroy men's NCAA gymnastics.

It's also worth noting that the decline of MAG NCAA programs can't be completely blamed on Title IX, either. After a 1984 Supreme Court decision, Title IX wasn't applied to athletic programs for a brief period until 1987 - meaning there was no immediate pressure for universities to cut low-performing men's programs in order to expand opportunities for women. Now, you could argue that athletic departments knew that equity in athletics would soon be required - the decision was controversial at the time and didn't exactly seem set in stone. But the relationship between the decline of men's NCAA gymnastics and the rise of women's collegiate athletics isn't so obvious.

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Tags: Chart of the Day