It all starts with the number of four-man teams in the competition, which was 25 this year (24 teams of players and one team of staffers who go through before the official event starts to make sure all of the equipment is working properly).
Simply put, an inverse scoring system is used. So this year, top finisher in each exercise received 25 points, the second-place finisher received 24, third 23 and so on until the last-place finisher received just one point.
This happens for each of the 11 exercises.
But how are the winners in each exercise determined? That depends on the station. In some, such as leg curls, bench press and chinups, scoring is based on repetitions. In others, such as the field challenges and Versaclimber, scoring is determined by fastest time. In the final event, the giant tire flip, scoring is determined by distance covered in five minutes.
Once a four-man team has gone through all 11 events, the four individual scores are totaled and submitted to the scoring table.
But the fun does not stop there.
This scoring system provides excitement for spectators and for team members alike, because standings can change over the course of the day's events. The first team to complete the 11 events starts out in the top spot with 25 points for each event, but will certainly be bumped lower by later teams.
As soon as another team performs more repetitions or achieves a lower time in an event than the teams which already finished up, the new team takes over the top spot in that event, and the 25 points for that event, bumping the previous leader down in the standings.
This has a dramatic effect on the overall standings, and makes for a down-to-the-wire finish, as we saw in 2007 where the fate of the two leading teams came down to the performance of a team of freshmen in the final event of the day.
By its nature, the scoring system evens the playing field, because in order to compete for the top overall ranking in Lift for Life, a team must balance strength and speed. Virtually every year, a team comprised of strong linemen enters the competition expecting a high finish, only to be knocked down in the standings by more balanced teams that perform well on the speed and finesse events. This year, team SWAG, comprised of Ako Poti, Nerraw McCormack, Johnnie Troutman, and Abe Koroma, met that fate, winning the leg press and bench press outright, but suffering on events such as the Versaclimber and finishing Lift For Life in 21st place.
Another thing to keep in mind is that here is a handicap system in place to level the proverbial playing field. The group breakdown is as follows:
Group A: WR, DB, RB
Group B: LB, FB, QB, DE, TE
Group C: OL, DL
So while athlete falling into Groups B and C bench press 225 pounds, those in Group A asked to do 45 pounds less. But it balances out. For instance, Group a has higher standard to meet on pull-ups.
In scoring Lift for Life, player names are not associated with scores on the score sheets. Players are referred to by number 1 through 4 within the team. This prevents public release of individual performance numbers, and keeps the spirit of the event a team competition.
The top 10 for the 2008 Lift For Life is as follows:
10. Three and 1/4 Men
Staff and Trainers Challenge Team
If you have not seen the Lift For Life challenge in person, make it a part of your summer plans for next year. You can still learn more about Lift For Life and Uplifting Athletes or make a contribution at www.upliftingathletes.org.