ASK THE MXPERTS: OLYMPIC SYSTEM OR POINTS SYSTEM FOR THE AMA NATIONALS?
Since the AMA Supercross has switched to Olympic scoring for its three-moto events in the future, isn’t it about time that the AMA Nationals returned to the Olympic system. The last National I went to, I had no idea who won until I got home and saw the results on the internet.
To millions of motocross racers, the Olympic scoring system is the heart of the sport. It is the system used at every racetrack in America, except at the AMA 250/450 Nationals. The AMA National Championships use a system so complicated that it stymies the ability of the fans to understand who finished where. There is no doubt that event scoring is of critical importance, but shouldn’t the paying fans know how their favorites finished without having to wait for it to appear on the internet? The fans deserve a much simpler system.
Currently, the AMA uses the points paid for the season-long points standings to determine individual race-finishing positions. Under the AMA system, first place in a moto pays 25 points, second 22, third 20, fourth 18, fifth 16, sixth 15 (after sixth place, the points are paid in single-point increments to 20th). The AMA system is hard to use, especially for a fan standing in a field in Michigan. A 1-1 score earns the most points (25 + 25 = 50). The second moto is used to break ties (a 2-1 would beat a 1-2, even though both riders would have 47 points). Unfortunately, after the first couple places, the system gets harder to use. Under the AMA points system, a 5-4 finish equals 34 points (16 + 18 = 34); however, a 5-4 does not beat a 3-6 (35 points) or a 2-8 (35 points).
Why does the AMA score individual events by the season-long points system instead of the Olympic system? The answer goes back to 1976 when the AMA brain trust wanted each moto to be considered a stand-alone race. As a result, they dropped the Olympic system because they assumed that the two-moto system was dead and they wouldn’t need to worry about combining two moto scores. The problem? The racing public refused to go along with the AMA’s idea of two separate races on the same day (with two different winners). The fans demanded to know who the winner of the day was, thus the AMA gave up and decided to use total points on the day to name a winner.
YOU WOULD THINK THAT A SCORING SYSTEM BASED ON A FAILED IDEA FROM 42 YEARS AGO (THAT DIDN’T EVEN WORK FOR ONE RACE, LET ALONE 44 YEARS WORTH OF RACES) WOULD HAVE BEEN CHANGED
ABOUT 43 YEARS AGO.
You would think that a scoring system based on a failed idea from 44 years ago (that didn’t even work for one race in 1976, let alone 44 years worth of races) would have been changed about 43 years ago. Not so. Why not? According to the current powers-that-be at the AMA Nationals, if they went back to the Olympic system for scoring the races, it is possible that the winner at the first race of the year might not be the series points leader when the series points were added.
Of course, the 2020 AMA Nationals, when the actually happen, should be scored by the Olympic system. At 99.9 percent of all races held in America, the riders with the best moto scores are awarded their overall placings. All ties are broken by the best result in the second moto.
The Olympic system is easy to use. A 1-1 score is perfect. Using the second moto clause, a 2-1 would beat a 1-2. All a fan has to do is add a rider’s first moto score to his second moto score and the total determines where he finishes. Thus, a 5-4, which equals 9 points, beats a 3-6 (an equal 9 points, but with a weaker second moto). The Olympic system is understandable by everyone who has ever raced. A 1-1 beats a 2-2 and a 2-2 beats a 1-3. This is what the fans understand, because it is what they use for their own races. Returning to the Olympic system would have no effect on the collection of AMA points for the season-long series championship.
Under the current system, the fans in the stands have to know how many points are paid for each of the top 20 places and then add them together and compare them to the other riders’ points totals. For example, a rider who goes 1-3 under the Olympic system would be scored as a 25 + 20 = 45 under the current AMA system (and that 1-3 would beat a 2-2 even though nowhere else in America would a 1-3 beat a 2-2). The fans would need a calculator to figure out any places beyond the top three. For example, would you know that a 5-7 is actually a 16 + 14 = 30, or that a rider who goes 2-12 (which would be 22+9=31) would beat a rider who went 5-7 under the current system—but not at Loretta Lynn’s or the World Vet Championship.
The collection of points is a season-long thing and should not be used as the basis for the day’s results. The paying fans at the race deserve to know the results without using a calculator—and they can’t rely on the track announcers, because it has become obvious that they don’t know the points system, either.