Aussie’s analysis of Sacto no-show rates is wakeup call to WMA

Sacramento entry, scratch analysis by Viddy Jermacans (PDF)

Viddy Jermacans is an M65 Aussie multi-eventer who’s competed in all WMA outdoor worlds since 2007 Riccione as well as several indoor worlds since 2006 Linz. He’s also handy at math. Recently he sent me a detailed event-by-event analysis of 2011 Sacramento worlds — how many entered, how many started, how many scratched. It’s eye-opening. Of 6,913 male entries, 2,146 scratched. That’s nearly a third. Among women, a fifth were no-shows at their events. “Whilst it is natural for WMA Championship bidders to promote and highlight high entry numbers (both anticipated and final), it would appear that the actual number of ‘arrivals in town’ is somewhat less,” Viddy wrote. He suggests that the high percentage of scratching is a result of simply not showing up at the meet — “which would further have diluted the final figure for accommodation commission revenue.” In other words, listen up, WMA and meet organizers. Below is an edited version of Viddy’s note. Here’s his raw spreadsheet. Here’s a PDF with bad formatting (on my part). All meet organizers factor in no-shows, but Viddy’s study is special for its exactitude. Anyone see flaws in his analysis?

Here’s Viddy:

Over time, various posts have either focused or touched on the number of entries and actual participants for various athletic championships, be they the USA masters or the world masters.

Most recently, Francois Bontemps put forward some proposals to “improve championship organization.” One of his proposals focused on “confirmation of participation.” ie. when there is no confirmation of entry prior to the first round of heats (or jumps or throws competitions) an unfair balance in events can occur.

Organizers seem to have dispensed with declaration or advanced confirmation by athletes in World Championships Stadia with only Porto Alegre, recently, enforcing the process whereby a declaration card had to be submitted the evening prior to the respective event. 
As indicated by Francois, this has resulted in many first-round heats having only two or three participants competing. Organizers try to have races run to schedule, and surely combining runners (following declarations) into full fields will assist. One could also assume that fewer events to be held would result in the need for fewer stadia. Four for Lyon seemed excessive.

Also, it does not lend to interested spectator viewing when two or three runners compete in an event.

After competing at worlds Sacramento in 2011, I (extensively) analyzed and documented the entry data across all disciplines and compared it with actual starters in first-round competition. The figures do not include DNFs or DQs in races/events as scratching. They focus on entrants who did not turn up (for whatever reason) to compete in the first round of an event.

I have attached a summary sheet detailing what I found and which is based on seven cumulative pages of data for every event and each age group.

A few points of note include:

  • Overall male scratching/non attendance was higher (31.04%) than for females (22.12%). 
  • Track events had the highest percentage of scratching (36.29% and 28.58%).
  • The 400m events and the hurdle events had an exceptionally high percentage of scratching.
  • A high percentage of athletes scratching were U.S.-based.

I am currently analyzing entries and first-round attendance for all WMA Stadia Championships commencing with Riccione in 2007 up to Perth last year as an exercise in comparison. Early figures indicate a similar trend to Sacramento.

The info may be of interest/use to bodies such as the Toronto LOC and any others contemplating bidding for future championships as a number of benefits could be interpreted from the information. I noted in the “Audit of the Sacramento Regions Sports Foundation” report (page 9) that an estimate of Dorm Housing and Hotel Commission income was considerably reduced in May 2011 from an original estimate in December 2010 by $215,830.

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March 4, 2017

11 Responses

  1. David E. Ortman (M63), Seattle, WA - March 4, 2017

    Very interesting analysis.

    In addition to masters athletes who pay a high WMA entry fee but never show up at all (most likely due to injuries between entry and the meet – I entered WAVA Gateshead in 1999, but had to eat both the entry fee and airfare due to injuries, and entered WMA-Puerto Rico in 2003, but was limited to a single event), there are some other causes of scratches.

    Because event schedules and venues are not provided to master athletes in a timely fashion, masters athletes have to guess as to event and venue conflicts when the entry deadline rolls around.

    Arriving at a WMA meet only to find out that entered events have rounds that are too close together or taking place at the same time in venues a half-hour apart may also be a cause of scratches (beside the inevitable injury drop outs during the meet). This is great for WMA as they an pocket the entry fees for events not run, but not so great for the athletes.

    One other WMA scratch oddity. Because relay team members are limited to those who have run at least one round of a 100,200,or 400, there are a number of later round scratches in these events.

    Perhaps someone can locate the 2011 WMA Sacramento meet schedule as this would shed some light on the schedule program. Unfortunately, WMA has taken down the meet schedule, but perhaps it is archived someplace else:

  2. Weia Reinboud - March 4, 2017

    I am analysing Riccione 2007 for another reason, also many athletes who do not come, the multi events having very high numbers.

  3. Paul Oakes - March 4, 2017

    #1, is it correct that relay team participants must have run at least one round of either 100, 200 or 400?

  4. Thad Wilson - March 4, 2017

    Paul (#3),
    The answer to you question is no. World Championship relay team selection criteria for Daegu is at the following link.—Calendar/2017/World-Masters-Athletics-Championships-Indoor/Athlete-Info/Team-Selection.aspx.

    The team selection for the outdoor championship meet is similar.

  5. tb - March 4, 2017

    A high percentage of athletes scratching were U.S.-based

    As were, I imagine, a high percentage of athletes not scratching. Still, host-country athletes don’t have as much to lose by scratching. Daegu will bear that one out.

  6. David E. Ortman (M63), Seattle, WA - March 4, 2017

    In response to Thad (4). The weblink provided says:

    “The following order will be how each relay team will be determined and selected:

    Start with the finalists in the event at the same distance, then semi-finalists in that event, etc., then the finals of the next event listed, semi-finals of that event, etc. working down to those who finished in the top half of the preliminary round. The events are the 200, 60, 400, 60 hurdles. Mutli-event athletes are considered as though their times were achieved during the final of the main event.”

  7. Anthony Treacher - March 4, 2017

    Paul (#3). No, to participate in a WMA relay you are not required to have run a previous race. It is sufficient that you are registered for the meeting.

  8. Alan Kolling - March 5, 2017

    I still have the “Souvenir Program” for the 2011 Sacto worlds, with a printed schedule from pages 81-95, if that would be of any interest.

  9. Jerry Bookin-Weiner - March 5, 2017

    #4 and #6, you are referring only to the Team USA selection criteria. They are not WMA criteria and are not to be confused. As #7 points out, all that WMA requires is that you are entered in the meet.

    The study refers to one WMA meet. If the analysis included more than one WMA Championships the conclusions would be more convincing. My impression in Perth, in the events in which I was competing, wsa that the no-show rate was extraordinarily low. On the order of less than 5%; in the US, as a rule of thumb. we figure on roughly a 10% no-show rate, for all kinds of reasons.

  10. francois bontemps - March 10, 2017

    Concerning Daegu, even if the techninal manual is not still available (9 days before to start!!!), Q/A mechanism inform me that heats will be made after a confirmation process: so we’ll avoid to have races with only 2 or 3 people … However, today, nobody can tell us when we’ll have to confirm (2 hours before?, the haf-day before…)

  11. Madeline Bost - March 10, 2017

    I scratched the 800 meters at Sacramento. It was close to 90 degrees in the middle of the day. The other woman in the race also scratched. We are not 18 year olds, and we do melt in the heat. Schedules need to accommodate for heat.

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