End of the Perfect 10 – a review

by site editor Rick McCharles

This book was written for the general public. They like it.

But as a coach I still enjoyed it. To revisit the history of the Code was a good catch-up in advance of Rio.


Dvora provides balanced perspective on the pros and cons of eliminating the iconic perfect 10. She interviews many of the important players on the world scene including Hardy Fink, the primary architect of the current Code. Hardy’s not happy with how his original proposal was changed over the years. But feels eventually it will work as intended.

New to me was the revelation that Bela Karolyi did not discover Nadia on the playground. Another part of the great Karolyi myth.

By the end of Perfect 10 I redoubled my conviction that giving up the perfect 10 was a HUGE mistake. We’ve never been much good in marketing the sport. A great salesman like Steve Jobs would conclude that the perfect 10 was our greatest and most valuable asset.

The NCAA women’s program got it right. It’s more important to fund gymnasts through University and keep coaches employed than to exactly rank the very best of the best perfectly.

That said, FIG will never go back to the perfect 10.

But I’d love to see them add something like a “Ranking Score” on top of the current system.

Each quadrennial, on each apparatus, a 10 would be set in advance.

For example on WAG Floor it might be 17.0. If Simone scored 16.5 her Ranking Score would be 16.5 / 17.0 = 9.70.

YES it might be possible to exceed the perfect 10 under this scheme. Fans would love to see a 10.100. 🙂

I bought the audio version. The audio book reader – Elise Arsenault – is poor. Not professional enough to check the correct pronunciation of names in a nonfiction work. She calls Marta Karolyi “Martha“, for example. 😦

related reviews:

• Slate – A Perfect 16.223

• Meghan O’Rourke – Why Extreme Gymnastics Will Dominate the Rio Olympics

• FloGymnastics – Q&A with Dvora Meyers

Published by

Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

6 thoughts on “End of the Perfect 10 – a review”

  1. I have no background in gym, I just like the sport. I actually never liked the 10 maximum. I used to have trouble figuring out why 1 gymnast scored 9.7 vs another that scored 9.9. I find the current system easier to understand as do some people I know who only watch gym during the Olympics – they have no trouble understanding a score with 2 parts – 1 part that’s how hard the routine is and 1 part that’s how well it was performed. The issue seems to be lack of consistency in how the judges are actually applying the code.


    1. Yeah I second this. the new COP with D and E score are much better than just one score since it tells you exactly where someone routine is relative to someone else.

      Also can you imagine what NCAA would be like if they adopt elite like COP? 😉


  2. Are you referring in this blog post to Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, the book by sports writer Joan Ryan? If so, the title is incorrect, and calling that work *fiction* seems rather absurd, especially considering the very real psychological devastation suffered by so many of the athletes described in that book. You would dare to dismiss the life long effects of abuse at the hands of authority figures, in this case parents and coaches in two very competitive and sometimes superficial sports, by calling their experience *fiction*? That comes uncomfortably close to the tendency of so many ignorant people to call abuse victims liars when they dare to tell their truth. Perhaps you could elaborate on your position in a separate post? Because I am not understanding it. Thanks.


    1. Oops. Thanks Lisa. You are correct. My mistake.

      I meant to call Chalked Up: My Life in Elite Gymnastics by Jennifer Sey a work of fiction. Joan Ryan’s book was well researched.

      I’ve deleted the reference in the post after your correction.


  3. with all due respect Rick, Sey’s allegations regarding a certain former USAG Hall of Fame coach and Doe Yamashiro proved to be factual…….


    1. Good point. She was correct on that.

      But overall that book was a mess. Very little research.

      I had quite a few discussions with her during the launch. Before she deleted all my comments.


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