Fun With Numbers

Every so often, and more often as Summer Nationals approaches, I think about the 1999 Summer Nationals in Charlotte, which was the first national tournament I attended, along with my older daughter, who—at 14, the age when fencers can easily do so—had qualified for half-a-dozen events. She’d qualified for the Cadet WS at that season’s JOs, too, but when informed that the JUnior Olympics were to be in Chattanooga, we laughed at the idea of traveling across the continent to compete in a single event. Little did we know.

Today, on a whim as I maintained my marginally obsessive watch over this year’s SN entry numbers, I decided to compare the numbers for the two years. I dug up the old 1999 numbers, and pulled the entry numbers for July as of about mid-day today, and made myself a little spreadsheet.

A few differences to keep in mind when comparing these two sets of entry numbers:

1. Youth-10 and Youth-12 were open events; kids didn’t even have to compete in an RYC.

2. The 1999 Junior and Cadet events were championships, rather than NACs, as now. Qualification beyond placement on the NRPS for Cadet (and Youth-14) was through division qualifiers, as now. For Juniors not on the NRPS, qualification was through the section junior championships, at least some of which required divisional qualification.

3. Veteran fencing was much smaller. Vet-70 did not yet exist, and many Veteran categories did not meet the 4-person minimum for holding individual events. Nor was there a Veteran team event. On the other hand, we no longer hold a Vet-Combined championship at SN.

4. Division I-A qualification is now through the ROCs; in 1999 it was through the section championships.

5. Back in 1999, team events had to be held the day after the individual event in that category, because those results were used for seeding the team events. This meant that BC staff were often up late into the night calculating team seedings (and this when competition days ran past 7:00 pm only two or three times during SN).

6. In 1999, the event equivalent to today’s Senior Team was called Open Team. Open Team was linked to the Division I-A results, where Senior Team was linked to the Division I championship results when those were held at SN rather than in April. Eventually, we all got confused by the names, so now they’re referred to as Senior Team and Division I Team.

7. Totals: The 1999 SN in Charlotte had 3306 individual and 150 team entries, fenced on around 48 strips over 10 days. The 2013 entries, as of around 11:30 this morning, were at 7442 individual and 419 team entries, to be fenced on at least 61 strips. (Depending on where the numbers end up at the end of the late registration period, we may need more strips.) We usually lose around 300-350 entries due to late withdrawals and no-shows, so it looks like we’ll end up with over 7,000 individual entries in Columbus.

I couldn’t resist adding a column showing this year’s entries as a percentage of the 1999 number for each event, just because three-digit percentages look so impressive.

Enjoy the numbers:

1999-2013 SN



Filed under Fencing

3 responses to “Fun With Numbers

  1. Kate Thomas

    I have lots of other responses, but at the moment what jumps out at me is this – I am so impressed by how the women’s sabre and women’s vet events have grown. The rest of the numbers terrify me, but those numbers are quite beautiful.

  2. Terry

    Thanks Mary; that IS fun. Hurrah for Women’s Sabre!!! The stats seem to indicate fencing is still (slowly) gaining numbers. And I am so saying “I told you so” to Mr. Roche, et. al. who removed the flick from foil around ’02. While most events are at least double the size of 1999, Div 3 foil boasts 1 person less than 13 years ago.

  3. Bill Oliver

    And there’s at least some of our problem….

    Saber shows a 300% increase in athlete numbers, but a 60% reduction in active saber refs, during the same time period. (29 active saber refs with a 3 or higher.)

    Epee shows a similar increase athlete numbers, with nearly a 200% increase in active epee refs. (81 active epee refs with a 3 or higher)

    Foil has similar athlete numbers, but a 20% reduction in refs. (51 active foil refs with a 3 or higher)

    Not good.  No wonder our days are getting longer, our refs are getting more and more tired, and our athletes are complaining more and more.  

    And, the trend in foil and saber is continuing….  How many 3 or higher saber refs are working Nationals?   Thanks

    Bill Oliver


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