The Hocomock Swamp Rat just wrapped up the 7th bi-annual Grand Pricks series and Coach Guido has announced that this’ll be the last one (sadly, the HSR is going away too).
Some people I know are thinking about starting their own series, and we were tossing around ideas on how such a series should be scored. We’re talking about running, but the same thoughts can apply to biking or any other series of races.
First, you need to take a step back and think about what you want to reward. Totaling points up is the easy part – deciding on how to allocate points in an interesting way is the hard part.
In a race series, you want to reward runners in some fashion according to participation, speed, and if the races vary much, challange/difficulty. I’d start by focusing on the balance between speed and participation. If the races are all on a track or all in a pool, difficulty doesn’t change much. Otherwise, I’d use difficulty essentially as a tiebreaker. In a two race series, if two runners each win one race and finish last in the other, then the one who won the more difficult race should win out.
There are many ways to address the balance between participation and speed. I’ll start with two. Let’s call the first Plan A: You get “finishing points” according to where you finish in the race. If there are 40 runners in the series, the winner in a race gets 40 finishing points, while the 40th (and last) runner gets 1. Your “series score” is a percentage of the finishing points, based on the share of the races you finish. For example, with 40 runners in the series, runner A wins race 1 and gets 40 finishing points. He’s 1 of 1 in finishes, so he gets 100% of his points (40) for a score. Sadly, he misses race 2, so he still has 40 finishing points, but his series score drops to 20 (40 * 1/2). Now he wins race 3 (+40=80) and his score rises to 53.3 (80 * 2/3).
The other way (Plan B) is to add points for each race just for showing up. Suppose each racer starts with 10 attendance points. Then if 40 start, the winner gets 50 and the last runner gets 11.
The first is more complicated, but that might be fun. Essentially it means you lose points for not showing up, instead of staying where you were. More drama? Perhaps. Different, certainly.
I’d give finishing points based on the total of runners signed up for the series, not just the runners that show up for the race. In any race, the people that show up beat anyone who stays home sitting on the couch. I’d give credit for that. If 30 of forty show up for a race, first is still worth 40, not 30 (plus base attendance points, if any). 30th is worth 11, not one. Of course, you get 0 for not showing.
Personally, all else being equal, I’d like the person who shows up for all the races and finishes last every time to equal or just beat out the person who shows up only once and wins. Let’s assume 40 people and 5 races. Runner A wins one race and skips the rest. Runner B shows up for all races but finishes last every time.
With Plan A, Runner A ends up scoring 8 series points (40 * 1/5). Runner B has 5 series points (1+1+1+1+1 * 5/5).
With Plan B, Runner A has 40 finishing points + (1*attendence points). Runner B has 5 finishing points + (5*attendance points). If you give everyone 9 points per race for showing up, Runner A scores 49 and Runner B scores 50, which is fine by me.
You can mix Plan A and B together and use both percents and attendance points to make things more fun! Without any attendance points, Plan A weights attendance more than Plan B, so it takes fewer attendance points to even things out, if that’s what you want to do.
With Plan A, if you add in attendance points, you can add those attendance points in before or after you apply the attendance percentage. Each attendance point counts more (and the numbers are simpler) if you add them in afterwards.
You can mix in difficulty by changing the number of attendance points or by assigning a difficulty multiplier to attendance points for each race. “Difficulty” is necessarily subjective, but that’s what makes this all fun. This also lets you give bonuses for Rat traditions like nudity.
You can make all sorts of adjustments if you like. For example, you can give extra finishing points to the winner to make first place worth proportionally more, if you think that everyone else is a loser of one degree or another.
Do you have any other thoughts or ideas? Put them in the comments!