April 02, 2020

Opinion: It’s past time to cancel the World’s

Much of the piping and drumming world has been on tenterhooks for weeks, even months, as the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association dithers over whether to cancel the World Pipe Band Championships.

It’s time. It’s past time.

It was time a weeks ago after when the reality of the severity and duration of the world pandemic came to light, when western governments started to act, and bands began to shut down in-person practices.

The organization has hung on, though, even in the wake of social media outcry demanding that they announce the inevitable, act in the interests of their members and guests, and look out for the very financial and physical well-being of their members.

They’ve not made a decision even after cancelling the other four major championships, as late as yesterday nixing the July 25th Scottish Championships at Dumbarton.

We detected a pattern with each cancellation. Each cancellation appeared to hinge on, not the decision of the association, but on the decision of the council or organization that had negotiated the rights to the event. The association made it pretty clear in their announcements that their figurative hand was forced by West Dumbartonshire Council, in the case of the Scottish; “advice taken from our key partners,” in the UK Championships’ instance; in the European Championships example, “LCC Live Events Services Ltd.”; and, for the British, “after discussions with Renfrewshire Council.”

We recognize that they have to work with their partners, but each of these cancellations appears to have been dictated not by RSPBA members or RSPBA management, and maybe more by the organization that paid for the event.

So, we assume that the fate of the World’s is now largely with Glasgow Life, the organization that purchases the event from the RSPBA.

The COVID-19 situation is dire. Even if lock-downs and imposed isolation are lifted, say, in July, and the event technically might be able to go on, we simply don’t know. Besides, bands are not practicing in-person. They’re hanging together maybe with virtual video practices, but these are far from what’s required for an event that should showcase contestants playing at their very best.

Further, will there be any desire for people to gather together in large groups? It is likely to take months after conditions are relaxed for communities to gain the confidence and with a health organizations’ okay for people to band together in larger gatherings.

Heck, will airlines, bus companies and hotels even be operational by then?

In the grand scheme of things, pipe band contests and even the World’s are trivialities when juxtaposed with the death of potentially hundreds of thousands and the illness of probable millions. Let’s give our collective head a shake.

There could well be a silver lining to a World’s cancellation, though. Maybe the pipe band world could use a reset. The event itself could be re-invented for 2021. A new format might be rolled out. Bands could have almost a year and a half to prepare new material and even re-organize their rosters for the 2021 season. Maybe there’s even also time for a new World Pipe Band Alliance of associations to analyze, redesign and improve rules and policies that will take our art to places it needs to go in order to remain vital, creative and, yes, viable.

We wish the World’s could happen safely and intelligently. We would argue that pipes|drums has done more to promote and raise the stature of this event for the last 35 years than any media outlet in the world.

When Glasgow Life and the RSPBA announce the inevitable, it will be a sad confirmation of what most pipers and drummers expect. But it will also be a huge relief for bands trying to decide what to do, and, with many of their members concerned about their livelihoods, budgeting for a pipe band competition is lower and lower on their list of priorities.

It’s time. Cancel the World’s, and let’s all start hoping and building for a better future.



Fourth RSPBSA major championship cancelled


UK Championships latest RSPBA major to be cancelled


European Championships cancelled
March 18, 2020


Renfrewshire Council grounds British Championships
March 16, 2020


RSPBA financial statement raises more questions than answers


  1. We lost a generation of pipers in the Great War……we don’t need to lose any of our great bandmates in 2020 in another avoidable tragedy………better to see everyone back and in top form in 2021…….stay safe and play on….

  2. I think it is time to cancel the event, in order to be fair to all the bands who has to travel far to get to The Worlds. So they can plan timely.



Forgotten Password?