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Coach_J

It's Hit the Fan!

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Burroughs had a review go in his favor that should not have in the finals of the 2015 worlds.  It amounted to a 6 point swing -- it's at 4:45 or so here:

 

 

It made me wonder if there was an unstated assumption that the American champion should get favorable calls when the championships are held in the US. Same thing with the terrible call that gave the Olympic championship to the Serb in Greco.

 

 

If you watch the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the USA won two Golds on ties that went to the "Referee's Decision." The officiating crew picked Kurt Angle and Kenny Monday to win the Gold Medal with no transparent criteria. 

 

 

Hmmmm...... 

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no one should get "home ref" advantage. it's wrong when any country is favored for any reason, including USA wrestlers.

 

Sure, that's obvious.  But if there is a "home ref" advantage, and refs are intentionally screwing up the calls -- the more important question is why.  I doubt that USAW is scratching anyone's back -- so what could possibly be going on there?

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If you watch the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the USA won two Golds on ties that went to the "Referee's Decision." The officiating crew picked Kurt Angle and Kenny Monday to win the Gold Medal with no transparent criteria. 

 

 

Hmmmm...... 

Kenny Monday didn't medal in 1996.  He lost to Satiev and then again in the semi cons.  

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Sure, that's obvious.  But if there is a "home ref" advantage, and refs are intentionally screwing up the calls -- the more important question is why.  I doubt that USAW is scratching anyone's back -- so what could possibly be going on there?

 

Subconscious Biases could definitely be a factor. 

 

We tend to implicitly associate strongly with people who look like us and share our qualities, values, styles, languages, etc. or anyone we consider to be our in-group.  This could explain some, but probably not all, home-ref advantage. 

 

We also have a strong unconscious confirmation bias where we interpret events to fit into things which we expect to happen, i.e. the champion beating up or scoring points on the underdog. 

 

There might even be some stereotype bias where someone doesn't get called for stalling because they are considered someone who is a staller going into the match. 

 

I wonder if the refs get any training in identifying their unconscious biases.  Really, anyone who is responsible for judging people in any way could stand a little of that type of training, imo.

Edited by GoNotQuietly

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I'm just using two recent, high profile examples from the finals the past two years:

-Burroughs getting a call overturned that seems inexplicable

-the Serb winning when his opponent was the only one to score points

 

Neither case strikes me as one where unconscious bias should play much of a role.

 

When a Russian (Uzbek, Azeri) gets a call in a match that is inexplicable, we have a narrative now -- there was a conspiracy.  

 

But there are other bizarre calls that seem to be handed out, as though America and Serbia were in on a conspiracy -- which doesn't make any sense.  I don't believe Lalovic or Rich Bender (or Novogratz...) pays anyone to fix matches.

 

In other words, if there is an expectation that "the champ should get a call in his home country" -- the culture of refereeing is broken beyond people actively taking bribes.

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I'm just using two recent, high profile examples from the finals the past two years:

-Burroughs getting a call overturned that seems inexplicable

-the Serb winning when his opponent was the only one to score points

 

Neither case strikes me as one where unconscious bias should play much of a role.

 

When a Russian (Uzbek, Azeri) gets a call in a match that is inexplicable, we have a narrative now -- there was a conspiracy.  

 

But there are other bizarre calls that seem to be handed out, as though America and Serbia were in on a conspiracy -- which doesn't make any sense.  I don't believe Lalovic or Rich Bender (or Novogratz...) pays anyone to fix matches.

 

In other words, if there is an expectation that "the champ should get a call in his home country" -- the culture of refereeing is broken beyond people actively taking bribes.

The US does not partake in that kind of nonsense...

 

The Serb got the call due to Lalovic being Serbian.  The officials thought they were being good soldiers by caring for the Boss's countryman.......During the previous regime, one prayed not to be selected to officiate a Swiss match, because if there was any kind of glitch, Martinetti would castrate you.

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Much as I appreciate Flo, I'm very disappointed in them for jumping the gun on this half-baked story.  They may be onto something and they may not, but their story wholly lacks the analysis necessary to support their allegations.

 

Take their first cited statistic.  "Chung was the official for Russia, Azerbaijan and/or Uzbekistan an incredible 53 percent of the time," Flo alleges.  Incredible?  Why is that incredible?  Those are three of the best wrestling countries in the world.  Maybe their wrestlers account for a large percentage of the overall number of matches.

 

The numbers seem to bear that out.  Just looking at 63kg, the weight of Gomez's match, I counted 26 total matches, of which there was a Russian, Azeri or Uzbek in 11 of them.  That means that an official has, on average, a 42.3% chance of having a Russian, Azeri or Uzbek in his match, assuming random distribution.  And if there's 36 officials and 6 per match (note: I'm not sure about those numbers), that means you'll officiate about 4-5 times per weight, about 2 of which will involve a Russian, Azeri or Uzbek.  That's pretty consistent with Chung's 53%.  Even if Chung had 3 Russians/Azeris/Uzbeks in 63kg instead of 2 (closer to 60%), would that be "incredible" and proof that he is corrupt?  Or would that be within the realm of reasonable probability?

 

Of course, that's just one weight, of one example.  But my point is the supporting data isn't there. And the entire article is strewn with the sort of fallacious armchair commentary that a real statistician could debunk in his sleep, e.g. plucking a single specific event and saying its odds of occurring are 1 in X and therefore is proof of a trend, cherry-picking percentages without reference to sample size or baseline probability, and so on.

 

What is most maddening is that Flo may well be onto something, but their analysis is so haphazard and amateurish that it will be easily discredited as lacking analytic rigor. And if their analysis is wrong, Flo's allegations may tarnish the reputation of good people, and the article will become a ready scapegoat for those who are actually culpable.    

 

This is a classic example of a story that should have been held, subjected to meaningful editing and review by a Ph.d statistician, and presented only when it is ready for prime time -- and only if proper probability analysis truly supports their claims.  Or at minimum, if Flo lacks the time or resources to do the job right, the data should be presented in a much less accusatory article, merely noting its findings and apparent trends, and inviting others with the necessary background to pick up where they leave off.

 

There is still time for Flo to do the right thing.  Get your data analyzed by a professional statistician, and publish their report.  Then either retract your story (if the numbers don't support it) or, if the data is supportive, use the report to amplify your story and agitate for action.  I'm no fan of UWW and certainly no apologist for the officiating in Gomez's and certain other matches, and I commend Flo for digging into this, but what Flo has written is substandard.  Finish the job.

Edited by BAC

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BAC is pretty severe but I get it. I also agree that this needs to be brought up a notch from a statistics perspective. As it is, it is too easy to claim incorrect assumptions and poor analysis.

 

That said, the story has jump started needed discussion and clearly shows that there is smoke ... suggesting a bad fire. I'm super happy with Flo in there willingness to go down this path. A bit more polish and this will go much further.

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I think BAC hit the nail on the head here.  I'm also wondering if there is additional support beyond the numbers, perhaps a source, that they aren't revealing?  I think it's an important topic and hope that Flo can tighten this up significantly if the evidence backs it up. At the moment the statistics look amateurish and they are using them to make some pretty firm statements and serious accusations, a little scary if they aren't true, possibly even slander.

 

I think Flo should make their whole dataset public, it's part of the story, and would add some transparency and allow others to sift through the data.  

 

Also, are the referee's actually supposed to be randomly assigned? Is that part of the procedure?  If not, their statistics are pretty much meaningless......

 

**At the same time, glad Flo is putting the time and resources into this stuff.  I think they're doing a good thing, I think their service and news is really good for the sport.  This kind of investigative reporting is a big step and I just want to see it done right and not back fire on them. Hopefully they haven't already taken it too far. 

Edited by MrWonderful

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Kenny Monday didn't medal in 1996.  He lost to Satiev and then again in the semi cons.  

Monday was the beneficiary of a bogus "decision" against Rodriguez of Cuba.  Rodriguez scored the only takedown and then was called for stalling on a bogus step out.  Score tied 1-1, Monday "won" the decision after his opponent scored the only earned point.

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Kenny Monday didn't medal in 1996.  He lost to Satiev and then again in the semi cons.  

 

Monday was the beneficiary of a bogus "decision" against Rodriguez of Cuba.  Rodriguez scored the only takedown and then was called for stalling on a bogus step out.  Score tied 1-1, Monday "won" the decision after his opponent scored the only earned point.

 

Whoops! I miss-remembered some facts here, but Coach_J knew what I meant! No matter which way you slice it, the Monday and the Angle matches are pretty clear examples of the FILA "home court advantage." 

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 Nothing has changed through the years; when Ercegan was the FILA head, Yugoslavia got several gift calls to appease the 'Boss', which was usually only one guy/yr since they weren't a powerhouse. Today, Serbia gets the same help; Ercegan was basically an honest leader. His successor, fortunately, was Swiss and they were horrible, Martinetti only benefited from sheer back room deals of other countries, mostly Eastern Bloc. Today the UWW still has too many holdovers from the crooked past who push and connive for their desires. But the Olympics are notorious for bias toward host countries in all sports; you didn't see it in wrestling because of Brazil's obvious inadequacies in the sport.

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First, it's not fair to compare Russian corruption in wrestling to American corruption in wrestling...we definitely need to compare it to something with more financial incentives, national pride, and potential for regulatory capture..i.e. football, boxing, etc.

 

Secondly, we've often talked about the tight rope of PED incentives on these forums, so I won't rehash that debate here...but I've never been convinced that American spectators don't want to see the most phenomenal athletic performances possible, regardless of the means used to attain them, so I look at the issue this way:

 

In America, we want our athletes to be juiced to the gills but not shame the country, so we throw them under the bus if they pop and play it off as an isolated lapse in morality while denying there is a systemic incentive system which we fully tacitly support.

 

In Russia, they want their athletes to be juiced to the gills but not shame the country, so they incorporate it into the fabric of their national systems and buy off everyone and their mother to keep their athletes from popping...then they patch any leaks in the system (often with blood).

 

I would agree that Russia's system is worse, because, well, people die, but America is pursuing different means to the same end, IMHO. 

The problem with your argument is that the "america" you quote does not exist as an entity.  You are confident that general, unspoken sentiment is what you think it is (tacit support of PEDs).  But not only is that nothing more than theory, but there is no group behind it.  Just thousands of individuals making decisions that are then judged with partial facts by millions of fans.

 

Not to mention different means to the same end is kind of important.  If I use negotiation as a means of getting more money from you in a sale, but you use armed robbery to get more money from me in a robbery, then we both have the same end, but the different means are kind of important, IMHO.

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Whoops! I miss-remembered some facts here, but Coach_J knew what I meant! No matter which way you slice it, the Monday and the Angle matches are pretty clear examples of the FILA "home court advantage." 

FWIW, Kenny was 34 at the time of the 96 Olympics, pretty incredible to make that third team at 163 lbs at that age.

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The problem with your argument is that the "america" you quote does not exist as an entity.  You are confident that general, unspoken sentiment is what you think it is (tacit support of PEDs).  But not only is that nothing more than theory, but there is no group behind it.  Just thousands of individuals making decisions that are then judged with partial facts by millions of fans.

 

Not to mention different means to the same end is kind of important.  If I use negotiation as a means of getting more money from you in a sale, but you use armed robbery to get more money from me in a robbery, then we both have the same end, but the different means are kind of important, IMHO.

 

Absolutely; if I insinuated it was any more than my personal theory I apologize. I do think the system of perceived incentives is fairly self-evident, but the diffuse nature does make it hard to pinpoint any 'group'. 

 

I mean, it is a unconscionable waste of taxpayer resources to pull up freaking baseball players before Congress, but that certainly pales in comparison to people ending up face down in the river, and I flat out said it was worse in my original post.

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