Opinion: Clean Break – a call for change – Part 1
No prospective paying members of the public are denied entry into what is a massive public park on the basis of these tickets, yet the RSPBA maintains that the exercise costs them £4,000 to undertake. Given the worryingly anticipated small entry in Grade 1 this year, bands were asked by the RSPBA to provide their views, with a majority returning that they wished to see the return of a one-day event playing back-to-back for a tangible result. The RSPBA apparently chose to ignore the feedback they sought and received, seeming to lean towards the views of adjudicators and other unknown parties instead.
I don’t know if they are taking their lead from British Members of Parliament and their handling of Brexit, but they seem to hold similar disingenuity, disregard and contempt for opinion, democratic process and public perception for players as politicians do with the public.
The life has been strangled out of the competition season by the major championship set-up, which lasts approximately 12 weeks. Many bands only compete nowadays at these championships, choosing to avoid minor competitions through a perceived fear of picking up an adverse result prior to a major championship. Although the five championship circuit is retained exclusively within the borders of the United Kingdom, many bands and players simply cannot afford the financial burden of making the back-to-back journeys to championships held in the remotest parts of the country a matter of four weeks apart, which results in particularly low entries in some grades and in some cases, potential championship contenders being absent and missing out on valuable Champion of Champions points.
The World Pipe Band Championships is now seen by many to be the finishing line, and many bands are calling it a year in mid-August while the outdoor competition season still runs until the third weekend in September. There is simply no incentive left for bands to continue competing post-World’s.
“Many bands are calling it a year in mid-August while the outdoor competition season
still runs until the third weekend in September. There is simply no incentive left
for bands to continue competing post-World’s.”
Let’s look at adjudication. In my view, I don’t think there has ever been a more ethically challenged adjudication panel than its present iteration. Many adjudicators are widely known to be easily contactable for their “opinion,” which is simply wrong. Judges often fraternize in social circles with competitors. Many judges have business-related conflicts of interest. Others with vocational conflicts of interests are fielded to adjudicate bands from the educational establishments where they are employed to teach. Judges organize private and commercially operated competitive events, one of which has subsequently become an RSPBA sanctioned event.
It’s difficult to think of a single sport in the world that would field referees who are so obviously conflicted, yet it seems to be a permitted custom and practice in the pipe band world. I am not suggesting for one second that any individual is guilty of impropriety, but in the event that a result is perceived to be unfair or unjust, these conflicts of interest become the first thing that springs to mind and have the effect of tarnishing the win for the first-placed band, tarnishing the reputation of the adjudicator, and tarnishing the integrity of the competition in the minds of other competitors and spectators. Conflicts are practically impossible to avoid, given the inherently tight-knit make-up of the pipe band community, however, these conflicts appear to be easily avoidable if properly managed, so why are they permitted to happen?