Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She went for a walk in the forest. Pretty soon, she came upon a house. She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.
At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge. Goldilocks was hungry. She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.
“This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed.
So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.
“This porridge is too cold,” she said
So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.
“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.
After she’d eaten the three bears’ breakfasts she decided she was feeling a little tired. So, she walked into the living room where she saw three chairs. Goldilocks sat in the first chair to rest her feet.
“This chair is too big!” she exclaimed.
So she sat in the second chair.
“This chair is too big, too!” she whined.
So she tried the last and smallest chair.
“Ahhh, this chair is just right,” she sighed. But just as she settled down into the chair to rest, it broke into pieces!
Goldilocks was very tired by this time, so she went upstairs to the bedroom. She lay down in the first bed, but it was too hard. Then she lay in the second bed, but it was too soft. Then she lay down in the third bed and it was just right. Goldilocks fell asleep.
As she was sleeping, the three bears came home.
“Someone’s been eating my porridge,” growled the Papa bear.
“Someone’s been eating my porridge,” said the Mama bear.
“Someone’s been eating my porridge and they ate it all up!” cried the Baby bear.
“Someone’s been sitting in my chair,” growled the Papa bear.
“Someone’s been sitting in my chair,” said the Mama bear.
“Someone’s been sitting in my chair and they’ve broken it all to pieces,” cried the Baby bear.
They decided to look around some more and when they got upstairs to the bedroom, Papa bear growled, “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed,”
“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed, too” said the Mama bear
“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed and she’s still there!” exclaimed Baby bear.
Just then, Goldilocks woke up and saw the three bears. She screamed, “Help!” And she jumped up and ran out of the room. Goldilocks ran down the stairs, opened the door, and ran away into the forest. And she never returned to the home of the three bears.
Those of you who have competed in NPC and IFBB bodybuilding events would probably use adjectives such as exhilarating, empowering, fun, nerve-racking, and perhaps terrifying to describe the experience of being onstage. No one in their right mind would sign up for such an experience if there wasn’t some sort of intrinsic reward or benefit to standing onstage and being compared to others down to the last fine details that are only discernible to the trained eye. However, there are instances in which a competitor may feel torn due to hearing one critique from one judge which is then contradicted by another critique from a different judge. Though there are standards within each bodybuilding division which are meant to establish guidelines for the perfect physique, judges are only human and they also have personal preferences or ideals which may color their evaluation of an athlete onstage.
The Goldilocks story is a study in extremes: temperature, size and degree of softness. In stark contrast, NPC and IFBB judges usually don’t have to deal with extremes unless they are judging novice divisions which can have a lot of variability in size, balance and degree of conditioning. Judges deal with porridge which is just about the right temperature, chairs which are just about the right size, and mattresses which have the right degree of firmness, so they have their work cut out for them. Not only must judges scrutinize every detail on competitors, they must do it rather quickly, which is where the human element comes in. I am quite sure that if two competitors with the exact same physiques were to stand in front of a judge, both with the same degree of facial attractiveness, posing skill, sparkle in the eyes, and personality, something as minor as hair color or suit color might be the one variable which tips the scales in one competitor’s favor. By no means am I suggesting that judging is heavily subjective, but unless robots are conducting the evaluations, there may be some degree of subjectivity, especially when a situation such as a tie-breaker must be decided.
I have observed heated discussions at the judges’ table on a couple of occasions which I am sure were due to differences of opinion over which competitor brought the absolute best package onstage. Sometimes it can be a “six of one, half a dozen of the other” predicament in which one competitor might be slightly lacking in the glutes, whereas another competitor might be weak in the hamstring area. If all other variables are equal, do the judges flip a coin to decide who gets the higher rank? What if several judges on the panel prefer a softer physique, while several others prefer a more compact, conditioned silhouette? I certainly don’t envy the judges for what they must deal with when assessing the competitors lined up in front of them!