No August RSPBA international judges’ workshop

Published: June 30, 2009
(Page 1 of 1)

For the first time in several years, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association will not hold a professional development seminar for adjudicators during the week preceding the World Pipe Band Championships. The event has been held in the past on the Wednesday before the contest, allowing any non-UK RSPBA-accredited judges to more easily fulfill the expectation that judges attend at least one professional development seminar to maintain good standing on the panel.

In the last week, several of the association’s “international” judges were informed that the seminar would not be held, despite the fact that at least four of the six plan to be in Glasgow at that time, even though none have been assigned to the World Championships or any other RSPBA-sanctioned competitions in 2009.

In a letter to the judges, RSPBA Executive Officer Ian Embelton stated, “The decision has been taken for a number of reasons. There are still ongoing outstanding issues which require to be resolved relating to some International Adjudicators.  There has been no formal notification to the RSPBA from those individuals who are travelling to Scotland this year, and it seems likely that there will be insufficient numbers to justify a workshop in its normal format.”

There are apparently at least three workshops for RSPBA judges at other times and in other locations throughout the year, but traveling to attend one and thus fulfill the requirement would be difficult for the international judges.

In a much discussed decision, six international judges – Greg Dinsdale, Ken Eller and Bob Worrall of Canada; and Brian Niven, Nat Russell and Sam Young of Australia – were "put in suspension" in February after the RSPBA determined that they had not provided sample score sheets from competitions they judged with their home associations. The organization contended that the score sheet stipulation was communicated in 2005 when four of the six went through the RSPBA’s certification process; the judges and their associations claim that no such requirement was conveyed.

The three Australian judges stated that they were in compliance with the requirement.

According to sources within the RSPBA, Niven and Russell have allegedly had their suspensions lifted after providing sample score sheets from recent Australian competitions, but they have not yet been assigned to any RSPBA events for 2009.

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  1. LewAlcindor

    This is really sad. I for one would like to see a more global organisation that is dedicated to the future of our art.

  2. WillieMcCallum

    Surely a compromise could have been reached here. Contacting the judges concerned personally, pointing out they were in arrears with the paperwork and giving them a deadline by which all requested sheets were to be received would have been all that was required. That could have been done by email. Knowing the individuals and what they have contributed in time training and doing seminars etc, there seems no logical reason whey they would not have produced the requested sheets had they known. Having had a reminder they would surely have complied. This kind of thing makes me embarrassed to be Scottish. The RSPBA don’t come out of this well.

  3. JanetteMontague

    This made me SO embarrassed to be Scottish especially in a year when there’s all the hype about ‘Homecoming’, that I wrote to the Chief Exectutive of Glasgow City Council complaining. He forwarded my e mail to somebody else who forwarded it to Ian Embleton who replied saying not very much. All of which left me with the feeling that nobody in the Council nor the RSPBA cares that much about whether overseas judges and bands are welcomed to Scotland or not. In fact, all the evidence is pointing to them feeling rather relieved. The results will be interesting this year. I sincerely hope that every individual person who makes the trip at considerable expense, will realise that the RSPBA doesn’t speak for us all. They (RSPBA) can yet redeem themselves however, now that it’s known that so many of the international judges are in fact going to be around at the time of the potential workshop event. That would at least be a gesture.

  4. Bert

    Does anyone truly believe that outside forces can browbeat the R.S.P.B.A. The outcome or results of the world’s championship will have no reflection re who does or doesn’t judge but I’m sure the innuendo’s and speculation will fly regardless, that’s just the nature of the beast.

  5. AlMcMullin

    OK, here is the letter I sent several months ago and just re-emailed it. Good Afternoon, My name is Albert McMullin. I am past president of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association (2000-2004) and past chair of the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations (2003). I am using these references only to establish credibility as I am writing to present my personal views only. If, by chance, I sent this email to the wrong “department”, I would very much appreciate it if you would PLEASE forward it to the proper one. I have attended the World Pipe Band Championships on several occasions both as a competitor (1974) and representative of the two associations cited above (2002, 2003, 2004). During those last three visits, I was involved with serious discussions about “diversifying” the process whereby judges are selected to adjudicate these so called “world” championship contests. This can be verified by the RSPBA’s Chief Executive Ian Embelton. Although one could argue some progress had been made (eventually three judges from Canada and three from Australia were put on the selection list) recent decisions by the organization the City of Glasgow hires to run the pipe band contests, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA), have made me very disturbed. All “foreign” judges have been removed from the selection list. Furthermore, once this action was taken, all the judge assignments were made by the RSPBA. This means there will be no “non-British” representation at the 2009 contests. To me this is a very huge step backwards. The RSPBA’s argument is they wish to ensure “good, competent” judging. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a slap in the face to every single pipe band association outside the British Isles. To suggest there are no “good, competent” judges elsewhere is unfounded, foolish and arrogant. The whole system is unilaterally and arbitrarily handled at the whim of the RSPBA. I have seen this with my own eyes. I have listened to the different points of view and have concluded the RSPBA is not in a position to fairly run the contests the City of Glasgow pays them to run. On the City of Glasgow website, under tourism, I “clicked” on the world pipe band championship link. There is a video and guess who is being interviewed? One of the piping judges, who at the time had judged eleven times at the world championship. His name is Bob Worrall, he is from Ontario and his has been arbitrarily removed from the RSPBA selection list for 2009! What the RSPBA is essentially saying is if you don’t follow their rules and guidelines, you are out of luck. They have insulted every non-RSPBA judge in the world by this action. Please understand most of the pipe band associations have stringent rules for making it to the level of judge. Issues of fairness and competency are closely monitored EVERYWHERE, not just the British Isles. What sort of outrage would there be if the Olympics decided that only Americans were qualified to judge figure skating or Canadians to referee ice hockey or Chinese to officiate at Table Tennis? This is pretty much exactly what the RSPBA is doing with the so called world pipe band championships. I hope I am making my point with you and trust you can understand the potential impact this could have with the number of “foreign” tourists who fill up your hotel rooms, restaurants and pubs during the week leading up to the contest at Glasgow Green. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would be happy to expound on any part of this issue at your pleasure. Sincerely, Albert G. McMullin

  6. Bagpipermann

    Curiouser and curiouser…..One really has to wonder what the motivation behind the seemingly radical departure from past behaviour and mainstream open thinking is all about. And to what end?

  7. CB

    Yet another door the RSPBA has closed on the rest of the piping world.

  8. cammy1

    well..its an old story but…they didnt meet the requirements..maybe they thought they were above all that..but there has to be rules..anyway..more scope for multi commentary on the bbc worlds programme perhaps????

  9. Lawrie

    Whilst I do not condone the RSPBA’s actions or apparent logic, they will only listen and take note of these objections if ALL overseas bands (and supporters etc) boycott the worlds and all associated events (so those events also bring pressure to bear on the RSPBA). This would have a significant impact on the economic benefits to Glasgow. Letters, blogs, forums, envoys etc., will make no difference. But what is the likelihood of this happening? By its very nature, what we (overseas bands) do makes absolutely no sense. We raise and spend up to $80-100k (Australian) to get there each year. And for what return? In most cases it is to say ‘I was there’. And in other cases it is to pursue the prestige of winning and to feed the ego. We complain about royalties but move on, continuing to publicly play our music for no return (other than exposure). Bands will continue to board planes and go for the annual pilgrimage to Glasgow, sipping on McEwen’s and woofing down curries whilst strolling around and soaking it all in during “worlds week”. Life goes on. Merely complaining, as we are, is akin to pissing in the wind. A coordinated boycott by ALL ‘foreign’ bands – which, at best, would be impossible – is the only thing that would make the RSPBA even blink. Even then, some might say the RSPBA would be happy to retain all the prizes within the isles. Maybe the frustration needs to be levelled at the City of Glasgow, not the RSPBA? After all, they foot the bill and are the ones who want to see as many people (tourists) there as possible!

  10. Graham2

    Hi Willie M. I know for a fact that requests were made to the RSPBA asking exactly what they were requiring. To date, a responce has not been received!!! That is now over 8 months ago.

  11. Doc

    More of the same from the RSPBA. Very sad. These honorable men deserve much bettter then this. There is not much more to be said that hasn’t posted previously. Even the normally loquacious Al McMullin cut and pasted his earlier letter to the City of Glasgow. Cheers, Kent Argubright Doc” “

  12. cammy1

    hey willie m…u should be ashamed of your statement..why be ashamed of being scottish???

  13. LewAlcindor

    This is really sad. I for one would like to see a more global organisation that is dedicated to the future of our art.

  14. WillieMcCallum

    Surely a compromise could have been reached here. Contacting the judges concerned personally, pointing out they were in arrears with the paperwork and giving them a deadline by which all requested sheets were to be received would have been all that was required. That could have been done by email. Knowing the individuals and what they have contributed in time training and doing seminars etc, there seems no logical reason whey they would not have produced the requested sheets had they known. Having had a reminder they would surely have complied. This kind of thing makes me embarrassed to be Scottish. The RSPBA don’t come out of this well.

  15. JanetteMontague

    This made me SO embarrassed to be Scottish especially in a year when there’s all the hype about ‘Homecoming’, that I wrote to the Chief Exectutive of Glasgow City Council complaining. He forwarded my e mail to somebody else who forwarded it to Ian Embleton who replied saying not very much. All of which left me with the feeling that nobody in the Council nor the RSPBA cares that much about whether overseas judges and bands are welcomed to Scotland or not. In fact, all the evidence is pointing to them feeling rather relieved. The results will be interesting this year. I sincerely hope that every individual person who makes the trip at considerable expense, will realise that the RSPBA doesn’t speak for us all. They (RSPBA) can yet redeem themselves however, now that it’s known that so many of the international judges are in fact going to be around at the time of the potential workshop event. That would at least be a gesture.

  16. Bert

    Does anyone truly believe that outside forces can browbeat the R.S.P.B.A. The outcome or results of the world’s championship will have no reflection re who does or doesn’t judge but I’m sure the innuendo’s and speculation will fly regardless, that’s just the nature of the beast.

  17. AlMcMullin

    OK, here is the letter I sent several months ago and just re-emailed it. Good Afternoon, My name is Albert McMullin. I am past president of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association (2000-2004) and past chair of the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations (2003). I am using these references only to establish credibility as I am writing to present my personal views only. If, by chance, I sent this email to the wrong “department”, I would very much appreciate it if you would PLEASE forward it to the proper one. I have attended the World Pipe Band Championships on several occasions both as a competitor (1974) and representative of the two associations cited above (2002, 2003, 2004). During those last three visits, I was involved with serious discussions about “diversifying” the process whereby judges are selected to adjudicate these so called “world” championship contests. This can be verified by the RSPBA’s Chief Executive Ian Embelton. Although one could argue some progress had been made (eventually three judges from Canada and three from Australia were put on the selection list) recent decisions by the organization the City of Glasgow hires to run the pipe band contests, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA), have made me very disturbed. All “foreign” judges have been removed from the selection list. Furthermore, once this action was taken, all the judge assignments were made by the RSPBA. This means there will be no “non-British” representation at the 2009 contests. To me this is a very huge step backwards. The RSPBA’s argument is they wish to ensure “good, competent” judging. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a slap in the face to every single pipe band association outside the British Isles. To suggest there are no “good, competent” judges elsewhere is unfounded, foolish and arrogant. The whole system is unilaterally and arbitrarily handled at the whim of the RSPBA. I have seen this with my own eyes. I have listened to the different points of view and have concluded the RSPBA is not in a position to fairly run the contests the City of Glasgow pays them to run. On the City of Glasgow website, under tourism, I “clicked” on the world pipe band championship link. There is a video and guess who is being interviewed? One of the piping judges, who at the time had judged eleven times at the world championship. His name is Bob Worrall, he is from Ontario and his has been arbitrarily removed from the RSPBA selection list for 2009! What the RSPBA is essentially saying is if you don’t follow their rules and guidelines, you are out of luck. They have insulted every non-RSPBA judge in the world by this action. Please understand most of the pipe band associations have stringent rules for making it to the level of judge. Issues of fairness and competency are closely monitored EVERYWHERE, not just the British Isles. What sort of outrage would there be if the Olympics decided that only Americans were qualified to judge figure skating or Canadians to referee ice hockey or Chinese to officiate at Table Tennis? This is pretty much exactly what the RSPBA is doing with the so called world pipe band championships. I hope I am making my point with you and trust you can understand the potential impact this could have with the number of “foreign” tourists who fill up your hotel rooms, restaurants and pubs during the week leading up to the contest at Glasgow Green. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would be happy to expound on any part of this issue at your pleasure. Sincerely, Albert G. McMullin

  18. Bagpipermann

    Curiouser and curiouser…..One really has to wonder what the motivation behind the seemingly radical departure from past behaviour and mainstream open thinking is all about. And to what end?

  19. CB

    Yet another door the RSPBA has closed on the rest of the piping world.

  20. cammy1

    well..its an old story but…they didnt meet the requirements..maybe they thought they were above all that..but there has to be rules..anyway..more scope for multi commentary on the bbc worlds programme perhaps????

  21. Lawrie

    Whilst I do not condone the RSPBA’s actions or apparent logic, they will only listen and take note of these objections if ALL overseas bands (and supporters etc) boycott the worlds and all associated events (so those events also bring pressure to bear on the RSPBA). This would have a significant impact on the economic benefits to Glasgow. Letters, blogs, forums, envoys etc., will make no difference. But what is the likelihood of this happening? By its very nature, what we (overseas bands) do makes absolutely no sense. We raise and spend up to $80-100k (Australian) to get there each year. And for what return? In most cases it is to say ‘I was there’. And in other cases it is to pursue the prestige of winning and to feed the ego. We complain about royalties but move on, continuing to publicly play our music for no return (other than exposure). Bands will continue to board planes and go for the annual pilgrimage to Glasgow, sipping on McEwen’s and woofing down curries whilst strolling around and soaking it all in during “worlds week”. Life goes on. Merely complaining, as we are, is akin to pissing in the wind. A coordinated boycott by ALL ‘foreign’ bands – which, at best, would be impossible – is the only thing that would make the RSPBA even blink. Even then, some might say the RSPBA would be happy to retain all the prizes within the isles. Maybe the frustration needs to be levelled at the City of Glasgow, not the RSPBA? After all, they foot the bill and are the ones who want to see as many people (tourists) there as possible!

  22. Graham2

    Hi Willie M. I know for a fact that requests were made to the RSPBA asking exactly what they were requiring. To date, a responce has not been received!!! That is now over 8 months ago.

  23. Doc

    More of the same from the RSPBA. Very sad. These honorable men deserve much bettter then this. There is not much more to be said that hasn’t posted previously. Even the normally loquacious Al McMullin cut and pasted his earlier letter to the City of Glasgow. Cheers, Kent Argubright Doc” “

  24. cammy1

    hey willie m…u should be ashamed of your statement..why be ashamed of being scottish???

  25. cammy1

    the points been discussed til its worn oot…the facts are they aint judgin so theyl have to live with it..and judges are like employees..if they dont like it boot them and shout ..next…someone somewhere aint tellin the truth…and as ive said before im sure the rspba will have all angles covered..seems to be a big conspiracy theory here about them bannin overseas judges for no reason…i know who i believe and it aint the judges…..so the point i was makin was why be embarrassed to be scottish???

  26. cammy1

    the points been discussed til its worn oot…the facts are they aint judgin so theyl have to live with it..and judges are like employees..if they dont like it boot them and shout ..next…someone somewhere aint tellin the truth…and as ive said before im sure the rspba will have all angles covered..seems to be a big conspiracy theory here about them bannin overseas judges for no reason…i know who i believe and it aint the judges…..so the point i was makin was why be embarrassed to be scottish???

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