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SZ2019L

In previous posts, we analyzed the fairness of qualifying times for the 2019 long course age group championships sanctioned by the Central, Eastern, and Western Zones of USA Swimming.  We saw that those championship events are gender-fair if and only if their qualifying times accept boys and girls in proportion to their representation in USA-S age group swimming.  Of those three, Central Zone was the most fair, providing roughly equal opportunities for both boys and girls to participate in their long course age group championships. The Eastern and Western Zones were the least fair, providing a boy with 1.4 times the opportunity of a girl.


Our analysis based on qualifying times does not apply to the Southern Zone’s 2019 age group championship (SZ2019L) because that meet does not have qualifying times.  Instead, each of the 15 LSCs in the Southern Zone chose 48 athletes to participate, with 8 male and 8 female athletes from each of the three age groups 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18.  We can use current LSC athlete enrollments to quantify the gender-fairness of this meet even without qualifying times.

Current Athlete Participation.

For our data, we’ll use swimmingrank.com. Swimmingrank.com is arguably the top internet source of current USA-S age group swimming data.  It publishes team rosters for all fifty nine LSCs. We’ll use those rosters to calculate the total number of boys and girls in each LSC by age group.  Here’s a graphical depiction of that data for the Southern Zone, restricted to the 11/Over athletes eligible for SZ2019L. The 15 LSCs in the Southern Zone are listed on the horizontal axis.


As displayed, there is an enormous disparity in Southern Zone LSC membership.  The largest LSC in the Southern Zone (FL-Florida Swimming) has 33 times as many athletes as the smallest LSC in that zone (WV-West Virginia).  As a result of this disparity, athletes in the smaller LSCs (WV-West Virginia, WT-West Texas, BD-Border, MS-Missouri) have a much greater likelihood of being chosen to participate in SZ2019L than those in the larger LSCs (FL-Florida, NC-North Carolina, GU-Gulf, GA-Georgia).


This graph plots the total number of championship slots allocated to an LSC divided by the total number of 11/Over athletes in that LSC.  It shows that athletes in smaller LSCs have a much greater likelihood of participating than those in larger LSCs.

The other side of this disparity is that the athletes chosen from larger LSCs are more likely to score points at the meet.  The following plot confirms that LSCs with larger enrollments tend to score more points at SZ2019L even though every LSC sends the same number of athletes.


Aggregating enrollments across the zone shows that athletes in the three age groups have similar likelihoods of participating, and that it’s easier for a boy to participate than a girl in every age group.


As we’ve previously seen (link), accepting equal numbers of boys and girls to a championship meet is only fair if equal numbers of boys and girls participate in the sport.  Overall the Southern Zone has 1.2 times as many girls than boys, so accepting equal numbers of boys and girls gives boys 1.2 times the likelihood of being accepted as girls.  An 11-12 boy in the Southern Zone has nearly 1.3 times the likelihood of being accepted to SZ2019L than an 11-12 girl. For the 13-14 age group, a boy has 1.25 times the likelihood of being accepted to SZ2019L as a girl.  For the 15-18 age group, boys and girls have similar likelihoods of qualifying.


For the 11-12 age group, girls are most disadvantaged in WT, KY, SC, and WV and least in FG, LA, ST, and GU.   In the most extreme case (WT-West Texas), an 11-12 boy has nearly 1.8 times the likelihood of being accepted to SZ2019L as an 11-12 girl.



For the 13-14 age group, girls are most disadvantaged in WV, NC, FL, and SC and least in NT, MS, FG, and BD.  In the most extreme case (WV-West Virginia), a 13-14 boy has nearly 1.7 times the likelihood of being accepted to SZ2019L as a 13-14 girl.



The 15-18 age group is the fairest overall because it includes similar numbers of boys and girls.  Nonetheless, 15-18 girls are most disadvantaged in WV and the least in FG, GA, LA, NT, SE, and WT. In the most extreme case (WV-West Virginia), a 15-18 boy has 1.6 times the likelihood of being accepted to SZ2019L as a 15-18 girl.



Combining age groups shows that girls are the most disadvantaged in WV, NC, and WT and least in BD, FG, and LA.


Conclusion.

In this post, we analyzed the acceptance likelihoods for the Southern Zone’s 2019 long course age group championship meet (SZ2019L).  We found that athletes in large Southern LSCs were disadvantaged relative to those in small LSCs, and that girls were disadvantaged in every age group and nearly every LSC. On average, a boy has 1.2 times the likelihood of being accepted to SZ2019L as a girl.  Both inequities can be easily addressed by adjusting the allocation of championship slots to more closely reflect athlete participation by gender and LSC.



Our analysis does not consider the fact that Southern Zone athletes are provided with other post-season championships, including Sectionals and Futures, which are typically only available for older athletes.  As such it does not evaluate the overall fairness of Southern Zone post-season championships; it only considers the fairness of the Southern Zone LC Age Group Championships in isolation.