Being a coach is not enough for Justin Spring.
Illinois' gymnastics coach is trying to revolutionize the sport he loves dearly with a new scoring format, while tying it in with his masters in sports management.
"As far as a sporting event, it really lacks in flow in competition like a traditional, Americanized sport," Spring said when describing men's gymnastics current state.
Spring, who is using this new concept for men's gymnasticcs as part of his thesis wants fans to have something they can follow along with, and show numbers that are easier to understand.
"A high score in gymnastics is 15.8. And the audience is like 'are we suppose to clap? I don't know. Whereas now (in Spring's trial format), there is a win every two guys."
In Spring's format, there will be 30 points to play for and the first team to 16 points wins. Each event will have five match-ups, with both teams competing on the same event. A gymnast will go for his team, then his opponent follows. The best score between the two wins a point for his team. There will not be a set lineup, allowing coaches to strategize in-game.
"You can sell that, and watch the story unfold at the meet," Spring explains, who consulted former Olympians and broadcasters to gauge interest in the format.
So instead of seeing point totals in the 400's, they will be double digit point totals. Only one event will take place at a time, so the focus will be on one gymnast's routine.
If there is a tie, the teams will face off in a tie break. Spring equated it to a shootout, where five gymnasts for each team will attempt to stick a back tuck (a routine flip for gymnasts). If a gymnast sticks the landing, he wins a point for his team in the overtime. A singular judge will decide if the athlete sticks the landing during the extra period.
Spring and his assistant Daniel Ribeiro spent time coming up with all the intricacies of the rules, going as far as creating a bracketed championship. They got the model approved for a trial run, which will take place on Friday, with Illinois taking on Minnesota.
"Nothing fundamentally has changed about the way we judge our gymnastics. It is only the way we run the meet," Spring said, clarifying that individual scores will still counted for personal records.
Viewers will be able to see Spring in-game thought process, as he chooses his next man to compete in a event. Spring will be mic'd up for the match against Minnesota on Friday, which will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network.
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