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maligned

Why the UWW freestyle weight classes are wrong

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I'm a big fan of all the UWW has done to try to bring wrestling into the 21st century and to position it as an Olympic staple far into the future.  However, I was very disappointed with the logic behind the weight class decisions that were made.  I have two main concerns:

 

1. Deciding Olympic weight classes shouldn't have to be tied to past weight classes.  They should be slotted in the way that will bring the most worldwide participation, period (i.e. evenly slotted based on the number of athletes at all the various sizes that are typically brought to world competitions).

 

2. Deciding world championship weight classes, if there is a different number of classes than in Olympic years, should not be shackled by the Olympic weight classes.  Again, they should be configured according to the 8 divisions that best includes an equal proportion of potential athletes across the world.

 

With these two principles in mind, I've looked at participation numbers across all weight classes in world events since 2009 (i.e. guys per weight class).  I've then used those numbers to project the weight class divisions that would result in the most even distribution of participants at world and Olympic events.  The results are as follows:

 

"Best fit" 8 weight classes (what we should be using in non-Olympic years):

55kg/121lbs (13% of expected worldwide participants)

60kg/132lbs (13%)

66kg/145lbs (13%)

72kg/158.5lbs (13%)

80kg/176lbs (12%)

88kg/194lbs (12%)

99kg/218lbs (12%)

125kg/275lbs (12%)

 

"Best fit" 6 weight classes (what we should be using in Olympic years):

57kg/125.5lbs (17% of expected worldwide participants)

63kg/139lbs (17%)

72kg/158.5lbs (17%)

82kg/180.5lbs (16%)

94kg/207lbs (17%)

125kg/275lbs (16%)

 

Advantages of using this system instead of the "shackled" system we have, with its attachments to the past and its insistence on maintaining a certain 6 classes across all years:

1. We would be set up to have 8 genuinely competitive weight classes during world years.

2. At least some wrestlers from all 8 world weight classes would have to consider their weight class plan during Olympic years--instead of forcing only a couple of weight classes' individuals to make choices between classes far from their best choice.

3. There would be the best possible distribution of talent between the 6 weights during Olympic years--allowing us to have the most competitive weights possible.

 

Potential arguments against having this setup:

1. How can weights "qualify" from worlds in pre-Olympic years?  Response: Four weights (55, 72, 80, 125) would automatically qualify for 57, 72, 82, 125.  Nations placing top 5 at 60, 66, 88, and 99 would simply be required to declare a qualifying claim for one of the two Olympic weights on either side of their qualifier's world weight.  In total, 8 weight classes times 6 slots (48 slots) would be earned at worlds instead of only 6 x 6 = 36.

2. How can "history" or "familiarity" be developed with weights if they're switched back and forth?  Response: Olympic and world weights have changed so many times over the years, it shouldn't matter--especially if our main concern is making the competition as strong as possible.  Also, wrestlers bump up and down during non-Championship events all the time.  Moving up or down a few kilos between seasons would be very normal for wrestling culture.  

Edited by maligned

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Nice work maligned. (BTW, a few years ago, Adam did a similar breakdown of weight classes and weight distribution of athletes around the world. I forget how many weight classes he used - maybe I'll try and find that thread and bump it up here for fun.)

 

Hopefully wrestling gets reinstated in the Olympic Games permanently, and hopefully there will be an eventual increase in the number of weight classes again.  

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I don't think Adam ever ran numbers on this, but I know I have a number of times.  maligned, based on the numbers I was using (participation at US, Iranian, and Russian nationals, along with worlds), there was no justification for having two weight classes above 200 pounds. [There is a political justification - federations want a heavyweight and a light heavyweight class.]  In fact, I can't imagine any way that the numbers could be jury-rigged so that there would be equal numbers of participants at heavyweight compared to any other weight class. Heavyweight participation is low in every single tournament I've ever seen with the exception of the Olympics, where the participation has a very low cap.  There is a simple reason for this - weight is distributed throughout the population on a bell curve.  Somewhere around less than 5% of the population should be true heavyweights -- the heavyweight class is at the far end of the bell curve.

 

I was deeply disappointed by the weights proposed by the UWW scientific commission.  As an example, 84kg was raised to 86.  So the jump between 74 and 86 is more in absolute weight than the jump from 86 to 97.  As a result, the 86 weight class has seen much larger participation numbers, out of kilter with the other weight classes - which was easily predictable as soon as the new weight classes were made.

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Quanon: You can definitely get to an even number of participants at all weights if you're willing to take the weight below heavyweight low enough.

 

You and I had a fundamentally different approach to determining the context of "equal participation" across weight classes.  You were doing it in terms of the population (or at least in terms of the Iran-US-Russia wrestling population).  On the other hand, I used world championships participation numbers by nation.  The numbers I present would result, in theory, in an equal number of nations for each weight class bringing a representative (this is the context the UWW might more genuinely care about).  That's not the same, obviously, as having an equal number of participants at an "open" nationals event.  Then, yes, light heavyweight would have to be brought down below 90kg to expect an even number of entrants at weights.

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I don't think Adam ever ran numbers on this, but I know I have a number of times.  maligned, based on the numbers I was using (participation at US, Iranian, and Russian nationals, along with worlds), there was no justification for having two weight classes above 200 pounds. [There is a political justification - federations want a heavyweight and a light heavyweight class.]  In fact, I can't imagine any way that the numbers could be jury-rigged so that there would be equal numbers of participants at heavyweight compared to any other weight class. Heavyweight participation is low in every single tournament I've ever seen with the exception of the Olympics, where the participation has a very low cap.  There is a simple reason for this - weight is distributed throughout the population on a bell curve.  Somewhere around less than 5% of the population should be true heavyweights -- the heavyweight class is at the far end of the bell curve.

 

I was deeply disappointed by the weights proposed by the UWW scientific commission.  As an example, 84kg was raised to 86.  So the jump between 74 and 86 is more in absolute weight than the jump from 86 to 97.  As a result, the 86 weight class has seen much larger participation numbers, out of kilter with the other weight classes - which was easily predictable as soon as the new weight classes were made.

I was obviously wrong about Adam doing this as well.  I forgot.

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No problem quanon, I appreciate everyone's input and analysis on the weight class topic.

 

One thing most of us probably agree on is, there is definitely room for improvement in revising the weight classes, especially the Olympic weight classes. 

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I don't think that the way you are fitting the data is actually the best way to represent the participation numbers. Some countries (U.S. AZE, Russia, etc) will fill all of the weight classes, no matter what the weights are.  By choosing to base your data off of participation in worlds, you are deciding that the weight classes should be fit to convenience the countries that only send partial teams.  I don't think this is the way to do it, and there should be a better way of calculating the overall participation numbers.  I really think you wasted your time by doing this because you are not not doing the proper controls in your data analysis.  

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I don't think that the way you are fitting the data is actually the best way to represent the participation numbers. Some countries (U.S. AZE, Russia, etc) will fill all of the weight classes, no matter what the weights are.  By choosing to base your data off of participation in worlds, you are deciding that the weight classes should be fit to convenience the countries that only send partial teams.  I don't think this is the way to do it, and there should be a better way of calculating the overall participation numbers.  I really think you wasted your time by doing this because you are not not doing the proper controls in your data analysis.  

 

To frame what I did another way: I'm making the assumption that participation at worlds across weight classes represents the global ability to fill those given weights with any given nation's version of its highest quality wrestlers.  So even if there are 15 nations that will fill all weights, no matter what, the overall weight class participation numbers represent even the best nations' ability to send the best quality wrestlers at given weights.  In data analysis terms, I'm using world championships participation as a "proxy" for global ability to bring the best quality of individual at a given size of person.  

(Example: USA will fill all weight classes, but we have twice as many guys at 65kg compared to 125kg at any given time that are making a genuine attempt to be our Olympic or world representative.  This aligns with world championships data that show that cash or talent-limited nations will bring guys at 65kg much more often than at 125kg.  So we can glean something from the data that is a reflection of our own talent depth.)

 

The alternative method to what I've done is to do the Tirapelle method of just using body sizes across the world.  In my opinion, this doesn't truly reflect world ability to fill weight classes with world-quality guys since those base wrestling nations you mention will fill all weights anyway.  Instead, we can use worldwide ability/choice to fill given weights as our determining variable since it incorporates both truths: 1) talent depth is better at certain sizes across the world, but 2) talent depth is enough in the best nations to fill any weight with a "world-level" individual.  In doing so, we include all sizes of individuals in environments for which they can genuinely be competitive (i.e. not eliminating all individuals over 240 pounds, as Tirapelle suggests; and not starting our weight classes at 62kg, as world individual size data would dictate, and eliminating many talented smaller individuals). \

 

The final results I include in my original post represent a "smooth" composite of the influence of these two factors.

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Yes, first things first, hopefully wrestling gets reinstated to the Olympics permanently, and then hopefully the IOC will eventually increase the number of weight classes.

 

President Lalovic has to know the chaos and pain that six weight classes is causing, and not just here in the USA, but to the world wide international wrestling community as well.

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It's going to be hard to convince the IOC to increase the medal count. For that to even be a consideration I think they would need to get together with the other combat style events that have also had a reduction in weights/medals to push for some additions all the way around. But that probably also means the IOC would have to weigh (pun intended) the option of reductions to some other events. That Push pull would likely be against other lesser sports like cycling (18 events 54 medals), fencing (10 and 30), sailing (10 and 30), rowing (14 and 42) canoe/kayak (16 and 48), shooting (15 and 45) or equestrian (6 and 18). These are based in 2012 numbers of combined men's and women's events. They do not account for multiple members of a team event getting medals since the IOC recognizes one event placement as only one medal of each kind reguardless of the number of team members awarded. Looks like cycling, canoe/kayak, and/or shooting would be the biggest target for reduction. But, a few other sports also have some events that have very little appeal to the fan and and in general rarely have competitions that exist outside of the Olympics.

Edited by MadMardigain

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My point of view on Olympic styles :

 

1 classic wrestling style with throws and pins. A mixture of freestyle and greco so i think freestyle.

 

1 submission wrestling style : grappling or combat wrestling.

 

You can't ignore the growth of submission wrestling community around the world.

 

The ideal choice : freestyle,greco and "submission wrestling".

Edited by WreslingSuperior

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