[EM] A much too complicated sporting analogy

Forest Simmons fsimmons at pcc.edu
Thu Apr 5 11:25:24 PDT 2001

Craig, I like analogous ideas. They often yield insights about each other.

Here's my take:

We have triathlons, pentathlons, decathlons, etc. Let's imagine an
hectathlon with 100 events ranging from snowboarding, waterskiing,
archery, calf roping, sky diving, wind surfing, etc. to ice skating, broad
jumping, chess, and other more traditional events, representing a diverse
spectrum of sporting activities. 

Each event together with its referees, timers, judges, etc. represents one
voter. So the diversity of events is analogous to the diversity of
voter interests and values.

The world's best athlete is to be determined by an hectathlon of this
type, or by a sequence of hectathlons if we want something analogous to
runoff methods. 

Plurality: The athlete that wins the most events is declared best athlete.
A plurality runoff eliminates the athlete that won the fewest events (even
if she came in second place in every single event) before going another

All methods based on preference ballots including Condorcet, Borda, and
simulated plurality runoff (IRV):

In each event the judges for that event rank the candidates according to
their performance. Then the rules of the method determine the winner. 

CR: The judges for the individual events use point systems based on times,
distances, form, how far from the target, etc. as appropriate for their
event. The best performance in each event gets 100 points. The worst gets
zero. The others are awarded points in between.  The judges may inflate
and deflate points towards 100 and zero, respectively, in an effort to
help the athletes best adapted to their sport to win the entire
hectathlon, and thereby increase the prestige of their particular event.

Approval: Same as CR, except the judges are REQUIRED to make the
respective inflations and deflations. Those athletes whose performance
would bring honor to the particular event are awarded 100%, the rest are
awarded zeros. The athlete with the fewest number of zeros wins the


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