Now that we're on the eve of the 2016 team trials I'd like to bring up a couple of pressing issues with the ESC-defined selection criteria that are of relevance to the trials scoring. The particular issues have to do with the "automatic" selections and with the makeup of the Review Panel which will consider any petitions.
For those of you who don't know, the establishment of this year's selection criteria started at a US Team meeting telecon on Nov 8, 2015 with ESC elections and a selection criteria proposal by the ESC, and ended Jan 27, 2016 when the (largely unchanged) selection criteria were sent to the team mailing list, one month past the rule-mandated deadline for publication. They were finally made public on the federation's team web pages in early April - three months later. A long discussion took place throughout Nov and Dec, in the relatively limited confines of the team mailing list. I personally spent a rather large amount of time and effort developing a set of recommended changes to those selection criteria which were sent to the ESC and team on Dec 22 of last year. You can read that document here (recommended_changes.pdf
). There are links to the associated analyses at the top of the doc, which are still online.
A few team members commented, but the only response I received from the ESC was a note from the Chair stating simply that the "ESC office" is closed until after the holidays. The ESC subsequently made an unannounced request for a rules waiver at the Jan OUSA Board meeting, removing all restrictions on WOC team petitions, which the Board approved. The 6 specific points in my recommendation were basically ignored.
Point number two has important ramifications for the number of "automatic" (i.e. non-petition) selections based on the scores at the team trials. Specifically, the selection criteria wording leaves open the possibility of only two (or even fewer) "automatic" selections if the sprint winner is also one of the top two in the scoring list, or if any candidates decline spots on the team, which is uncommon but does happen. Back in Dec I didn't have the stats to show just how probable these scenarios might be, but I've now completed a re-analysis of all the available trials results from 2005-2015
, applying the 2016 scoring methodology (all races count, no drops, no ranking scores) to all the years. There's an 80% chance that either the women's or men's sprint winner (or both) will also be one of the top two overall scoreres.
My concern is that the number of automatic, earned selections based directly on the team trials results might slip below 3 (less than half the team for a team of 5), and this would both undermine the significance and credibility of the trials results, and violate OUSA rule G1.7.1 that states the makeup of the team be based PRIMARILY on the results of a team selection competition (the Team Trials).
So last week I decided to make one final attempt to have the wording clarified ahead of the trials. I also wanted to request that the size of the Review Panel be increased from the current four to five members (odd number for tie-break decisions), and that no ESC members serve on the Review Panel. Given that the ESC has itself defined the selection criteria and is standing up the Review Panel, it is not appropriate for the ESC to name its own members to this Review Panel. It is particularly important given than there are several WOC team candidates that are themselves ESC members (Samantha, Giacomo, Cristina). The 2016 selection criteria
even specifically says that the "majority" of the RP members not be ESC members, although it doesn't exclude them completely. Further, the conflict of interest issues with the WUOC team selection committee
earlier this year make this even more important. The ESC member currently named to the WOC Review Panel (Peggy) was also on that WUOC committee, and has served on the previous four WOC Review Panels (2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012, although she ultimately left the 2014 panel before selections were made). This is entirely too long for one individual to serve on a committee that can subjectively name individuals to the WOC team. With the current subjective-heavy selection environment, I believe the Review Panels should be selected from a wider set of individuals, and at the very least be chosen in a less ad hoc manner.
I sent this letter
to the OUSA Board on May 22. The Board responded, and they (and the ESC) have decided to take no action.
Needless to say, I've found this whole process rather distasteful. It began with false claims by the ESC chair of opinions about issues never discussed in the team meeting in the minutes back in Nov, deferred conflict of interest claims sent to the VP comp and ESC chair regarding WOC team candidates serving on the ESC, the Board approving an unannounced rules waiver in Jan without the membership having a chance to contact their reps on the issue, the selection criteria published too late (and provided to the standing team much earlier than the general community), a blatant rules violation by the ESC in the naming of the WUOC team in April, and culminating in a new team email list being formed in January without telling anyone on the old list that this had even taken place. I'm worried that the entire process next year will be limited to only the ESC and the 23 members of the standing team (a team named by the ESC's appointed committee), who themselves elected those very ESC members. All external oversight of this process is being squeezed out. The Board and General Assembly need to take a close look at this whole process.
Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only - or at least the biggest - proponent of team selection via objective selection races. Put the results in the hands of the athletes who are actually doing the hard work to get there, not in the hands of a committee. I can only hope that this year's RP does the right thing - the fair thing - with the scoring list.
By the way, there are some other interesting tidbits that came out of both sets of team trials results analyses, which are here:
Original trials scoring analysis (2005-2015):
(better quality figures)
Trials scoring analysis applying 2016 scoring methodology to the 2005-2015 results:
With the 2016 methodology, although the possibility of the sprint winner also being in the top two in the scoring list is effectively a coin toss (two parallel coin tosses), the individuals actually winning the sprint from year to year are not random. Ali Crocker has won the last 4 TT sprints, and was also the top trials scorer in 5 of the past 6 years (and probably would have won all 6 but for having skipped the middle last year). Of the 11 sprints, Ali won 4 and Sam Saeger won 4. Saegers have won 5/11. On the men's side, Ross Smith has 4 TT sprint wins. No one else has more than one. A men's or women's sprint winner has been in the top three overall scorers all 11 years. Eric Bone had 3 consecutive overall wins 2008-2010. Apparently it helps to be named "Alison" - the last 6 trials winners were all named Alison. It is very
difficult to objectively qualify for the team at the trials with an MSP or skipped race under the 2016 "sudden death" scenario. Ali came the closest in 2015, placing 6th on the scoring list after skipping the middle but winning decisively both the sprint and long.
Of course its possible to look further back in time, but the 2005-2015 results were the easiest to access online, with relatively consistent formatting. Perhaps Wyatt has results going back further.
The original trials results plots are also interesting. The difference in average slope between the women and men in the scoring lists in particular.
The most worrying result is this one: tt_attendance.gif