I had a question from a reader about whether a judge could, or should, deduct points from the score of a dive depending on how much time the diver took from the time they stepped up onto the board, until the completion of the dive. Now this particular scenario dealt with high school diving, so let’s begin there.
Let’s say a diver is doing a reverse 1 ½ in the pike position, and it is a relatively new dive or they might have been close to the board in practice. As a result the diver, dealing with what appears to be a case of nerves, takes a long time before starting their forward approach. Should that affect the scores?
The answer to the question is … sometimes, maybe, who knows. The problem is that high school diving rules, as published by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NHFS), are very vague on this point.
According to the rule book, the only deductions that should be taken for “too much time” or “unnecessary delays,” are to come from the referee, and they are not deductions at all – the diver may be disqualified!
Here is the rule:
Art. 3 A diver shall be disqualified if in the judgment of the referee:
c. The diver unnecessarily delays the performance of a dive.
It stands to reason that this is a judgment call and is to be made by the referee (the official usually with the most experience), not the individual judge. So in a sense, the answer to the question of whether a judge should deduct points is no. But rules are meant to be broken, aren’t they?
High school rules are a bit more explicit as too what a judge may deduct for, as opposed to FINA judging rules (those used by USA Diving the AAU) or collegiate rules.
One might assume that one of the reasons these guidelines are in place is that not all high school judges have coached, understand diving, or have vast experiences judging. The rules are there to help them make educated, and correct decisions while judging an athletic contest.