This past week I was blessed with one final opportunity to qualify to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for diving. My personal best score was barely 15pts away from the qualifying score, less than 3pts per dive and it was attainable. In timed sports such as track, cross-country or swimming, the results are hard to influence because if you finish at a certain time, you finish at a certain time. However in diving, results are left up to the judges. Yes they hire judges that are supposed to be un-biased, but it is almost impossible to eliminate that factor. A young diver could have the meet of their life, diving better than an Olympian, but the Olympian will still be given higher scores in most cases.
You could say that the judges are persuaded by the reputation of renowned divers, even if it may happen subconsciously. If your job is to judge divers for a living, it is inevitable you will see the same divers year after year, and how they place in comparison to other divers. It is likely for an Olympian to receive the higher score for a questionable dive because they are known for consistently preforming at a higher standard than others. I have been witness, and victim to this objective scoring system my whole diving career and it only motivates me to train harder.
The reaction of the crowd after a dive can be almost as persuasive as a divers reputation. If a crowd goes wild after a somewhat good dive, the judges are likely to score a dive higher. At this particular meet, there was one coach who literally lost his mind after everyone of his girl’s dive. At first people in the crowd noticed how passionate this coach was and they too started cheering for her. After about her fourth dive people were over it and started judging him. Whether or not it made a difference with the official judges, I am not sure, but the girl ended up only 4pts off of the qualifying score. I also could not tell if the coach or the girl was more upset.