New Division for Men – AKA, the System is Broken

by | Sep 14, 2015 | Bodybuilding | 0 comments

Last week the NPC and IFBB shared a joint announcement introducing the division of a new “classic physique” division for men, described as being in-between the current men’s physique and bodybuilding divisions.  There were be mandatory poses and routines, and attire will be “spandex trunks/shorts” – so once again, legs will matter.

Watch the full announcement here:


Seriously, go watch the first 5 minutes of the video on that page (the entire thing is 20 minutes).  Let me say right off the bat:  this is a great idea.  It’s also an idea that’s too late.

Shows.  Are.  Too.  Long.  Already.

Seriously – now we’re adding another division, and on top of that it is a division with posing routines.  The concern was brought up by the interviewer in the video, and Jim Manion responded by saying that hey, we started the bikini division and now everyone’s doing it.  Which, of course, does not address the concern in any way.

Another concern is why these divisions are added – as Manion stated in the interview, he wants to give Men’s Physique room to go back to what it was originally intended to be:  smaller, less dense, less cut.  The reason is has crept up to where it is now is because of the lack of consistency and accountability in judging.  Guidelines are written, published, and routinely ignored in every single show.

The NPC feels they've lost the handle on MPD

The NPC feels they’ve lost the handle on MPD

Just to show I’m not here to point out problems and walk away, I’ll propose a path forward.  Changing a handful of things will fix or at least address ALL of these issues.  Here is what I propose:

  1. Currently, scoresheets simply require a judge to write in the placing they feel each competitor deserves.  Scoresheets are collected, and the competitor with the lowest number (meaning the most 1’s and 2’s) wins.  Seriously, that’s it.  Guidelines for the NPC and IFBB say that competitors are judged on size, symmetry, conditioning, etc – but none of that is ever seen by anyone.  The solution:  make the judges give every competitor a score in each category they are actually being judged in.  That way when the ripped-to-shreds bikini girl or huge-but-soft men’s physique guy don’t place well, they automatically can see their weaknesses.  Also, judges often say “you have to judge what’s in front of you” – true, but simply giving someone a “1” because they are the best in a really sub-par class sends the message that their physique is what they are looking for.  With the new scoring system, judges can send a message:  “you were the best in your class, but you’re bigger than what we want, tone it down” or whatever.
  2. Trim all posing routines down to 30 seconds.  Amateurs simply don’t need 90 seconds, as is given at a large number of shows.  Alternatively:  only class winners or the top-3 perform routines.
  3. Do away with the pre-judging/finals format.  This is the biggest shakeup and, I think, would also make the most positive impact in the way shows are run.  Think about it:  you go up there in the morning and get 2nd callout, thus assuring yourself of a 6-10 placing.  WHY WAIT ALL DAY FOR THE OFFICIAL RESULTS?  When prejudging is over, everyone knows the results 80% of the time anyway.  I understand the need to sell tickets for finals but honestly, you are killing attendance by making a show such a giant pain in the ass to attend.  Do you tell your friends/family to come for prejudging or finals?  Or both, paying for two tickets and waiting around for 6 hours in between?  Especially since so much of prejudging is repeated in the night show, it makes more sense to just start the show at 5pm and charge a higher ticket price.  Be efficient, trim down the posing routines, and keep the show to 4 hours.  That way you might also encourage more people to stay for longer knowing they won’t be there until 1am as I have been before, waiting for a show to end.

In order to make the first and last options work – you should call out a class, conduct mandatory poses as you would during prejudging, then file competitors off stage and bring them back on individually for the routines or individual walks.  This gives the head judge time to tally up the (now more complex) scores and be ready for the winners announcement once the individual portion has completed.

So, let’s say a show starts with figure at 5pm – they come out for their class comparisons, callouts are made, scoresheets are completed.  Each competitor does their individual walk during which time the winners are calculated.  Announcements are made, trophies handed out, and then the figure competitors are DONE FOR THE SHOW.  Next class/division comes up, rinse & repeat.

Theoretically, an organized promoter can cut facility rental costs considerably as well and they should be able to set everything up on show day.  Check-in/tanning can be done on show day as well rather than the day before.  It’s just more convenient and practical for everyone.

By taking these steps, the NPC and IFBB can both not only continue to grow but also begin to resolve some of the long-standing accountability issues with judging and bring some respect and credibility back to these shows.