Berry De Mey believes there are rules that can be tweaked to make judging “easier” and “less subjective.”

Pro bodybuilding in the IFBB has a strict set of rules and criteria that all competitors must abide by. These are the guidelines that help a bodybuilder understand what their goals should be to earn victory at a competition. But ultimately, behind all of the rules remains some level of subjectivity. An “aesthetic” body and a “conditioned physique” can fall within the eye of the beholder (within reason). This leads to fans, experts, and even sometimes athletes to disagree with judges decisions. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Berry De Mey opens up on how he believes judging rules can be changed to help make pro bodybuilding less subjective.

Every sport has some element of subjectivity to it. There’s always a referee call that fans won’t agree with. And even times in sports with playback where a call is outright wrong – but the ref didn’t see the event from the right perspective. Some sports, like pro football allow for a flip on a ref’s call after playback. Others, like pro soccer, often don’t flip a ref’s call even if the video playback reveals error. To some degree, no sport can avoid subjectivity.

Bodybuilding faces this fact beyond those simple examples. Bodybuilding is about judging the look of a physique and not about scoring goals. This adds even more unavoidable subjectivity. But is it possible for the sport as we know it today to improve and avoid some of this pitfalls? Berry De Mey seems to think so. He thinks that the sport can always improve to help make the sport more transparent and, in some ways, remove more of the subjectivity from the sport.

To be clear, Berry De Mey doesn’t not fall into the camp of individuals who think that there are “politics” or conflicts of interest in the judging system. De Mey has never seen it himself and bodybuilding has given him an entire life and career. He’s grateful for it and sees no wrong-doing in the current set up of rules and judging.

That being said, because he is passionate about the sport, he is always open to seeing it improve. And while he has not experienced conflict of interest first hand – he’s also open to being somewhat naive to things happening behind the scenes. Or at the very least, he’s aware there are always some athletes or fans who disagree with the judges decision at a major pro bodybuilding show.

Berry De Mey isn’t oblivious. He’s aware there will always be a bodybuilder unhappy with the results. It’s because they want to win and believe in themselves and their accomplishments. But De Mey is also aware that sometimes, bodybuilders are legitimately unsure why they lost. He’s been experiencing this first hand as he coaches Tavi Castro – a phenomenal Classic Physique bodybuilder who has struggled to earn his pro card.

Of course, there is always the possibility, no matter how good an athlete is, that there’s someone better. But in Berry De Mey’s eyes, Tavi Castro clearly has a physique that deserves a pro card and a place to compete amongst the world’s best. He thinks this, alongside other athletes and fans somewhat consistently disagreeing with judges results – means something can be improved to bring more clarity to everyone involved in the sport.

Berry De Mey doesn’t go into any specific detail on what could be changed. But he clearly states that he thinks there are clear measures that can be taken to “make judging easy.” He uses the word “transparency” to describe such changes. It would seem that De Mey believes that more clear and detailed scoring rules will leave less room for doubt among the fanbase, athlete base, and everyone involved in bodybuilding.

There’s no way to remove the subjectivity of this sport. Bodybuilding has been and always will be about judging the visual look of the human body. That can never be full objective. Berry De Mey is aware of this – but believes the pursuit of further improving the judging criteria might help lead to happier athletes and fans. Do you agree?

You can watch Berry De Mey’s full comments on training Tavi Castro and the transparency of judging in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.