The current pipes|drums Poll indicates that almost 90 per cent of the world’s pipers and drummers feel that “associations should have a system for competitors to provide feedback on judges.” With such overwhelming desire for competitors to judge judges, you have to wonder why it doesn’t happen more often . . . or at all.
The only attempt I know of to tap competitors for their opinions on the merits and abilities of adjudicators was when the Competing Pipers Association did a survey of its members maybe 10 years ago now. It was done by traditional post, and respondents were asked to grade a list of maybe 75 pipers who had judged events. From that, the CPA was able to work with the new Joint Committee for Judging, and weed out not a few obvious people who clearly did not have the respect of those they judged. And, as we all know, if a judge isn’t respected, the result isn’t worth, as Seumas MacNeill once said, a proverbial pail of, um, spit.
So what’s stopping the world’s piping and drumming associations from asking their members for feedback? I can’t think of any good reasons but the familiar matter of time, since such a program would take concerted effort not just to execute, but then act upon.
I suppose also that not a few judges out there may feel a little threatened by such an initiative. Every piping and drumming judge – at least outside of the UK – was once a competitor, so he/she has experienced the frustration of receiving an ambiguous or even insulting score sheet, or an adjudicator with poor decorum, or the stinky air of blatant conflict-of-interest. Personally I would be very suspicious of any judge who loudly protested a well constructed feedback system.
And by “well constructed,” I mean a system that assures that competitors can respond in confidence, assured that their identity is never revealed but that their opinions are considered equally.
By hearing the compliments and complaints of competitors, I would think that each organization could then learn and work to improve conditions. Judges can learn to be better. The results become more respected and credible. Bring it on.