What is a good explanation for why the WCA does not have age categories?

Discussion in 'General Speedcubing Discussion' started by Lucas Garron, Jan 30, 2012.

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  1. Lucas Garron

    Lucas Garron Super-Duper Moderator Staff Member

    As a competition organizer, I often get emails from parents asking if there will be an age category 6/8/10/12-year that their child can compete in.

    The WCA certainly doesn't have them, and in general we don't give out official age-based awards. I can never think of a clear, concise explanation for way we do it this way. It has always been clear to us that age is not a barrier to potential, and cubers who go to competitions know that it's about getting to interact with (and learn from) cubers of other ages. Age and speed don't matter (I like mentioning that I averaged ≈1:30 at my first competition, and that my first competition was a lot of fun and what motivate me to really start speedcubing).

    Similar sports often do have age categories, or even different ways for various competitors to compete with others "similar to them" (in age, speed, class year/seniority, or something else). How would you explain 1) why cubing doesn't, and 2) why you think that's a good thing? And are there any downsides to it that we're not taking seriously?
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  2. Bob

    Bob Premium Member

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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  3. Cubenovice

    Cubenovice Forever Slow

    It will be interesting to see if / how these graphs will shift in the coming years.
    Will the fastest times move with age (the current fast kids staying fast) or will kids keep getting faster at younger age?

    Love the big BLD graph, you can see Mats in there :)
     
  4. 3 words, 1 number:
    Faz
    Bernet Orlando 2007
     
  5. jskyler91

    jskyler91 Member

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    I personally think the biggest reason for not having age groups besides the obvious fact that age has little to do with speed, is that there simply isnt enough people to fill the ranks. The cubing community Is so diverse andeach competitionhas such wide age ranges that it would be hard to find any ranges that really fit for EVERY competition. Take Berkeley Spring, for instance, we could have created an under 15 age groupfor that and there wouldhave been enough competitors for that to be interesting, but at other company there would only be a few people under that line. The amount of restructuring necessary to implement age ranges effectively would be crazy.

    Now time ranges , on the other hand, would be far more interesting and feasible. For instance, we could have multiple classes in which people could compete such as Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Beginners would be for the sup 1 minute range, intermediate for the 25 seconds to 60 seconds range and advanced for the sub 20 cubers. Thiswould make it so people who were slower still felt like they might win something. There are numerous issues with this idea of course, the biggest being funding for prizes and restructuring the wca to reflect these classes, but this would make the competitions more fair; the slow don't feel like they shouldn't come because they will never wins and so on. ( I realize that winning isn't what the comps are about, but for some never having a chance to win is discouraging)

    I could say a lot more on this, but I am writing on my phone so I will just end there and write more later.
     
  6. Escher

    Escher Babby

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    In principle, the reasons that sports have age categories isn't because young people can have the fun of winning; it's because older players are intrinsically better at the game.

    Currently the level of knowledge that one needs to attain and the tps required is low enough for pre-teens to become incredibly fast - look at Yu Da Hyun or Mulun Yin.

    Cubing would have to be a much deeper and more difficult sport before age limits become necessary, and I think we will have a good 3-5 years before people (older or younger) really start hitting ceilings and begin to learn very advanced strategies in order to progress.
     
  7. qqwref

    qqwref Member

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    I think age groupings imply that there is a "best" age range for cubing and the rest have no chance and might as well just compete at lower standards for a less valuable prize. I think a lot of parents assume that it's really impressive for their young child to be able to solve it at all, but the truth is that everyone had to start out somewhere, and everyone good has put in a lot of time to get to where they are. As we've seen a child can put in that kind of time and effort too, making an age limit kind of implies that they shouldn't bother because they can't be good until they get older.

    Another argument to be made is that there simply aren't enough young cubers who have put a decent amount of time in to make for good competition. I don't know if it's necessarily because of the age, but young cubers tend to be slower (with a much higher SD, so there are few very fast people and then a very wide distribution) - AND, there are fewer of them. The same thing happens for older people, where a lot of them just haven't put in enough work to get good because they come into the game thinking they never have a chance. So at a local competition it might end up that the winner in one of these categories is just the only one who bothered to put in serious practice. I don't like the idea of giving out an award for beating nobody at an arbitrarily created event.
     
  8. Mike Hughey

    Mike Hughey Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I think an interesting question might be: if we did decide to have age categories, what categories would make sense for cubing? Looking at the age vs. speed graphs, it seems like an "under 8" category might make some sense - at that point there really is a big dropoff in speed. So I guess I could see a couple categories in the really young age ranges (maybe under-8 and under-6?), but after that, it seems like things are just too close to justify age groupings. (I think it would be rather silly to create handicap age groups for us old folks. I don't anyone is really clamoring for that anyway.)

    Another factor is the size of our competitions - most of them simply aren't big enough to justify subcategories for age groups. If we did do it, it would probably only make sense for 3x3x3; it would really get silly if it were extended to other events, I think.
     
  9. Bob

    Bob Premium Member

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    If we did do an under-8 or under-6 category, though, how many people would be in it? Sometimes the youngest competitor at one of my competitions is 10 or 12 years old. When there are young competitors (under 10 years old, let's say), there are usually very few of them. Again, this is like awarding somebody who beat no one--it's just silly.
     
  10. TimMc

    TimMc Premium Member

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    1) Cubing doesn't have categories based on age, speed, class year/seniority etc because we're treating everyone as equals. Why? Probably because it's easier for an organiser to deal without categories, and it's not clear that 17 year-olds are faster than 15 year-olds.

    2) As an organiser I think it's a good thing to omit categories because it's easier to create a schedule and sort out prizes.

    3)
    • Comfort - young competitors may feel more comfortable when competing in a round with competitors around their age (on the other hand: slow competitors may feel more comfortable when competing with competitors around their speed)
    • Recognition - with age groups (e.g. <8, <13, <15, <18, >18) there are more podium positions and prizes
    • Judging - a tiered approach to judging could be applied like an 18-yo refereeing a <15 game (probably not applicable to cubing given that we expect the same level of judging at all age groups where other sports have less experienced judges/referees for younger participants)
    • Community - it's very difficult for <8 yo's to come along to meetups and hang out with children around their age when there's such a diverse mix... perhaps this is just another topic (considering extracurricular cubing activities at primary school level)
    • Competitiveness - there may be an increase in competitiveness between competitors of similar ages.
    • Appearance - parents may be more supportive of their children participating at competitions when there's age groups that imply that it's socially acceptable to still be solving cubes up to the n'th age group

    Then again, why conform to some archaic method of categorisation? Are there any advantages of having such a split in teaching (aside from the obvious "I don't want my 13-yo studying with your 18-yo" arguments)?


    I guess the ~2 competitor guideline could be used. If there's just one competitor in the <10 category then that group could be cancelled and the competitor could just participate with the <13 or <15 etc. This is a perfectly valid scenario in other sporting events but other sports have more relaxed rules on who you can exclude (e.g. a team might be limited to 11 with 3 subs by the coach and that's that).

    Introducing age groups where a 9-yo may participate in <10, <13, <15, <18 and Open could result in much more solves throughout the competition for younger competitors.

    Tim.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2012
  11. Cubenovice

    Cubenovice Forever Slow

    I'm sure people like Feliks or Seb Weyer would love that: double (triple?) the amount of solves for more chances to set WR's.

    I think that the number of possible age classes should be kept to a minimum. Something like < 7, <10 and open.
    <7 is not likely to have a lot of competitors but it gives the organiser the opportunity to award (and thus motivate) these little cubers.
     
  12. TimMc

    TimMc Premium Member

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    With such a limited range of age groups the organiser might as well just introduce some novelty prizes "Fastest competitor under 10 years of age" etc. I awarded some prizes for the top 10 most improved at AN2011 (compared with 3x3 averages from AN2010) for encouragement.

    Tim.
     
  13. shelley

    shelley chang

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    Age categories in other sports aren't just to let kids compete with their peers. It's to make things more fair so that you don't get adults beating up on little kids in situations where that's clearly unfair.

    If a 3-year-old can solve a cube and a 14-year-old is cubing circles around all the 18-year-olds, it's nothing special if your 8-year-old can solve one. It's like asking for recognition just because you're the only person representing Iran at a small US competition.
     
  14. qqwref

    qqwref Member

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    Yeah, agreed. In cubing I just don't see it being so unfair, unless the kid is extremely young (<6?) - we've already seen that if a younger person puts in the same dedication and work as everyone else they can be just as fast, so I don't think we will gain anything as a community for treating a 10-year-old who's spent two months cubing as the best young person in the region. I'd rather encourage young people to really get into the sport, than give them prizes just for being young and then have them quit later when they realize they don't want to put in the time to actually be on the level of the rest of the competitors.

    Haha, awesome analogy.
     
  15. Zarxrax

    Zarxrax Member

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    The reason most other types of competitions have age groups, is because it would just be dumb to put an 8 year old kid on a football field with 17 year olds (although it would be an amusing sight).
    Kids actually have an advantage in cubing, because of all the free time that they have available to practice with.
     

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