How Random is the Random Draw?

NFHS Wrestling Rules Art. 2

So says Rule 1, Section 2 of the Wrestling Rulebook, 2014-2015, published by the National Federation of High School Associations. This rulebook governs conduct of most high school dual meets in the United States.

With fourteen weight classes defined in the NFHS rules, a random draw should present each weight class roughly 1/14th of the time when considering a large number of dual meets. One fourteenth is approximately 7.1% of the time.  

In practice, is the mandated random draw...random?  That is, does each weight class appear about 7.1% of the time as the starting weight class?   Nope and it isn't even close. Here's the data for 1,119 dual meets recorded by Takedown Scoring and Stats customers in the 2015-2016 season.

A few of the weight classes -- 160 and 126, for example -- are close to the expected probability of 7.1%.  But, take a look at 106 pounds -- this weight class is the starting weight class for 31% of the dual meets recorded by Takedown Scoring and Stats users.  And, while it is possible that this weight class was selected by a random process 31% of the time, this outcome is even more unlikely than winning the Super Lotto and becoming President and getting bit by a shark...on the same day.

What's going on here?  Here are some excuses, er, possibilities:

  1. Takedown users aren't representative of the high school wrestling universe and are biased in some way to start dual meets at 106
  2. Coaches don't know the rule, so they naturally start at the first weight class
  3. Coaches know the rule and don't care, so they naturally start at the first weight class
  4. Coaches care about the rule, but don't have a random weight class generator handy

There are probably more explanations.

Complicit in this rules-breaking affair are the "referee or other authorized person" who, according the the rules "shall supervise the random draw" which is to take place "immediately preceding weigh-ins."   I'm glad I'm not a referee or authorized person as many of those folks appear to be in big trouble.

Does it matter?  I don't know.  Somehow I think that the rule should be followed, eliminated or, in this case, revised to reflect real-world compliance.  The rules committee probably has bigger fish to fry.

But, if you're a 106 pounder, you're lucky!  There's roughly a 31% chance that you're up first which is music to the ears of any true (and hungry in every sense) competitor.

Takedown Scoring and Stats users take note: there's a random weight class generator built into the app so you can't credibly use excuse #4 above.

Takedown Scoring and Stats is a single-team focused, mobile app for scoring wrestling matches, recording video, creating stats, managing teams and rosters, and engaging fans via social media. Download from the App Store.

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