February 22, 2006

Rising, declining numbers

There are new rumblings from Scotland of another Grade 1 band biting the dust due to lack of numbers or leadership or both. The bigger bands get bigger and the also-rans are running out of steam. Grade 1 bands stuck in the lower-tier of the class are struggling to remain viable.

There are two serious and intertwined issues: numbers and leadership. Bands without numbers don’t keep leaders; bands without strong leaders don’t have strong numbers.

Some contend that this is a good thing: let them die and only the strong survive. Others say it’s a bad thing: make the playing-field equitable and competitive by restricting numbers.

I don’t side firmly with either notion, but I do lean towards the latter. As long as bands continue to grow, and the world’s top bands continue to win with larger numbers, other bands will try to put as many players as possible on the roster.

Pipe bands are reaching a quandary: continue to grow in size and eliminate the competition, or put a cap on it for the sake of a more lively and interesting scene.





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