Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

No, ergs don't yet float, but some of us do, and here's where you get to discuss that other form of rowing.
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gregsmith01748
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Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

Post by gregsmith01748 » March 8th, 2018, 5:47 am

Hi,

US Rowing has a handicapping system to allow rowers of different ages to row against each other. The fairness of this system has been evaluated multiple times.

first by Carlos Zezza using actual HOCR results: http://www.row2k.com/features/295/The-T ... Handicaps/

Then by Tolly Allen using 2014 concept2 rankings: http://www.row2k.com/features/2426/Mast ... ad-Racing/

I just finished my own project looking at it compared to the full set of concept2 ranking data. If you are interested, you can read my write up here:

http://analytics.rowsandall.com/2018/03 ... ng-system/

If you want the TLDR version of the article: The current handicap values don't really line up with erg based data on performance decline. The current handicaps essentially over correct for age. The effect is most pronounced for lightweight rowers, and women.
Greg
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Re: Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

Post by Edward4492 » March 25th, 2018, 9:03 pm

Greg, there was a write up on row2k this week (or last?) pretty much in agreement that handicaps over-correct for age. It's particularly noticeable in head races where a typically 4k event is handicapped at the 1000m spot x 4. Of course at racing age 62 I sometimes benefit. But last season I was giving away seconds to seasoned rowers in their mid 60's who were already faster than me due to their considerable experience. So they're better, faster, and they get extra seconds.

But then there's the 40 yr old rowing coach I line up against at one of our local erg comps each year. He's about 10-15s faster than me raw; but has to give away 51.4 seconds on the handicap. I guess things have a way of evening out.

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Re: Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

Post by gregsmith01748 » March 26th, 2018, 6:24 am

I saw the write up, and I link to it in the article I posted. I think that rowing without handicaps in reasonably small age groupings is a much better approach in general. But if Handicaps are going to be used, I think that they should be as fair as possible. The ones that are used now are not fair, and for large age spans are less fair than just not using them.
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Re: Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

Post by hjs » March 26th, 2018, 6:37 am

gregsmith01748 wrote:I saw the write up, and I link to it in the article I posted. I think that rowing without handicaps in reasonably small age groupings is a much better approach in general. But if Handicaps are going to be used, I think that they should be as fair as possible. The ones that are used now are not fair, and for large age spans are less fair than just not using them.
Handicaps are very old fasioned, based on times people only did sports in their youth. Not nothing you are already a vet. Age 27.... In rowing. In those amateur days you could not effort to keep doing sports, you had to fully go for making a living.
In general I dislike adjustments, sports is all about differences. To be the best you need to be a freak, train well and have to be in your prime. If we adjust that we all end up alike :roll:
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Re: Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

Post by Cyclist2 » March 26th, 2018, 1:35 pm

hjs wrote:In general I dislike adjustments, sports is all about differences.
I agree with this. If the age groupings are too small, then it feels more like a "finishers" medal since almost everyone gets one, or some kindergarten event where all the kids' self esteem needs boosting. Handicaps even things out, but are hard to get right, just because everyone ages at different rates and there are always outliers. This thread proves that! I understand that getting more participation is a goal of age groupings and handicaps - you don't want to exclude the smaller or older guys who can't come in first against those 6'5", 220 pound rowers in that 8+!

I kind of like the C2CTC challenge - just do your best and see where you fall in the overall scheme of ages, weights, and gender. That still gives you an idea of how you rank overall (I try to be at or slightly above the median number) and you soon learn who your real competition is.

For real competitions, again, handicaps and age/weight groupings are driven by the desire to "win". Maybe it would be better to let all scores be raw, and learn to live with the fact that you won't be beating most 27 year olds when you are 67. Enjoy the fact that you are even competing with them at all! You can self sort the results later to see how you did against the similar age and weight group guys, if you want. Foster the joy of rowing over the desire to win.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

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Re: Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

Post by gregsmith01748 » March 26th, 2018, 1:52 pm

I guess I'm not that much of a purist about this. I agree that the "real" race is the one without handicaps, but I think that age groupings and handicaps provide an way for broader people to be competitive. A few examples that I can think of.

1. The Nonathlon. This has it's limitations, but it's kind of cool to see a 70 yo lightweight women going head to head with a 30 yo man.
2. Age groupings at the CRASH-Bs and WIRC. These groups have sufficient numbers that there is a real competition for age group dominance. This approach is used by most other sports (triathons, etc) I don't like the idea of groups so small that they become meaningless (everybody gets a medal!)
3. Handicaps. Golf is the best example where it allows players with different abilities to have a game where each needs to play at the best of their capability.
4. Most informally. In scrimmages on the water, we will typically use staggered starts so that people will finish in alignment. That pushes everyone to give their best.

So, I think the world is big enough for both viewpoints.
Greg
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Re: Are the US Rowing Age Handicaps fair?

Post by hjs » March 26th, 2018, 2:02 pm

gregsmith01748 wrote:I guess I'm not that much of a purist about this. I agree that the "real" race is the one without handicaps, but I think that age groupings and handicaps provide an way for broader people to be competitive. A few examples that I can think of.

1. The Nonathlon. This has it's limitations, but it's kind of cool to see a 70 yo lightweight women going head to head with a 30 yo man.
2. Age groupings at the CRASH-Bs and WIRC. These groups have sufficient numbers that there is a real competition for age group dominance. This approach is used by most other sports (triathons, etc) I don't like the idea of groups so small that they become meaningless (everybody gets a medal!)
3. Handicaps. Golf is the best example where it allows players with different abilities to have a game where each needs to play at the best of their capability.
4. Most informally. In scrimmages on the water, we will typically use staggered starts so that people will finish in alignment. That pushes everyone to give their best.

So, I think the world is big enough for both viewpoints.
1 no serious younger rower could do well, very flawed...
2 certainly fine, but the real race should the open, which is often strong. For a real Wc, there should be sub 5.40 results.
3 that not a sport, its a game.
4 There is no other way, you can,t have 50 boats to start together, so is has to be done differently.

I really dislike the fact that everybody is doing "great", almost nobody is great, western people are so weak on average. :roll: bleh.

:D
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