Paradoxical Tensions Related to AI-Powered Evaluation Systems in Competitive Sports

Elena Mazurova, Willem Standaert*, Esko Penttinen, Felix Ter Chian Tan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Judging in competitive sports is prone to errors arising from the inherent limitations to humans’ cognitive and sensorial capabilities and from various potential sources of bias that influence judges. Artistic gymnastics offers a case in point: given the complexity of scoring and the ever-increasing speed of athletes’ performance, systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI) seem to promise benefits for the judging process and its outcomes. To characterize today’s human judging process for artistic gymnastics and examine contrasts against an AI-powered system currently being introduced in this context, an in-depth case study analyzed interview data from various stakeholder groups (judges, gymnasts, coaches, federations, technology providers, and fans). This exploratory study unearthed several paradoxical tensions accompanying AI-based evaluations in this setting. The paper identifies and illustrates tensions of this nature related to AI-powered systems’ accuracy, objectivity, explainability, relationship with artistry, interaction with humans, and consistency.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalInformation Systems Frontiers
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Artistry
  • Bias
  • Explainability
  • Paradoxical tensions
  • Sports judging


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