Tit-for-tat

Published: April 16, 2011

The USPF’s decision to make its solo piping championship solely for North American pipers could turn out to be an important moment in piping and drumming history. I don’t know if organizer Maclean MacLeod’s move was in direct response to the Glenfiddich no longer including the USPF as a qualifier for their event but, if it isn’t, it’s a remarkable coincidence.

For the record, I don’t care one way or another if an independent competition makes its own rules. Limiting a piping contest to regional competitors is a long-established tradition in Scotland, especially for junior events limited to “locals.” Go ahead; fill your ghillies.

I also don’t feel one way or another about the Glenfiddich’s qualifying process. It’s a privately run event, and if they feel a contest isn’t up to snuff, then that is their prerogative. I hope they explained to the USPF folks exactly why they made their decision and outlined the things they might do to return to the qualifier fold.

But ignoring the specifics of the Glenfiddich’s decision  (which I didn’t consider to be a big deal), what may be most interesting is that the USPF’s apparent counter-move may be the first time that a non-Scottish event retaliated in a significant way to a perceived slight. Associations, events and competitors from outside of Scotland are used to being pushed around. “Overseas” band gradings not honoured by the RSPBA. World’s qualifying contests held only the UK. Non-UK competitors being tacitly made to compete at little Scottish games that often feature iffy judging, non-standard events, no formally accredited judges and always with no accountability for results – to establish a “track record” to have the honour of being accepted to the Argyllshire Gathering or Northern Meeting. The list goes on.

Normally, non-UK folks just lump it. You dare not retaliate or even gently rock the boat, for fear of making your own situation even worse. To some, it’s the definition of bullying.

Last week, though, the tide may have finally started to change. The USPF’s change seemed to upset a number of prominent folks based in Scotland, who were in high dudgeon that they were suddenly being treated in a manner similar to what non-UK pipers and drummers put up with all the time. Perhaps they got a little sample of the disrespect that Americans, Australians, Bretons, Canadians, Kiwis and all other pipers not living in Scotland are told is just “part of the game.”

I’m not a fan of knee-jerk reaction to problems. I’d rather discuss, find common ground and move forward with clarity. Tit-for-tat behavior usually just makes things worse.

But bullies aren’t generally big on diplomacy, so sometimes the only way to deal with them is to fight back and let actions speak louder.

8 thoughts on “Tit-for-tat

  1. Storm in teacup. Don’t like the quintessentially Scottish pastime of piping? As I see it, there are 2 options beyond embracing what is already in place…

    1. Set up your own contest, not invite Scots. Elicit mild rebuke from CPA (ironically to be congratulated as said body is hell bent on turning Scottish piping into the nightmare vision that is the North American solo piping scene, removing any charm and individuality from the competition circuit.)

    2. Take up darts and give us peace.

  2. Ever heard a bagpipe singing? Listen to the great Canadians. They add comfort to the listener’s ear. And the poisonous darts should be confined to the jungle out there, to the world of superficiality.

  3. Wow. “If ye dinnae like it, gae hame!” What century do you live in Donald? We all love the “charm” of the Scottish games. Spending thousands of dollars and weeks of vacation time to have the pleasure of taking part in solo competitions judged by people who never did the same and with only a cow watching. At least in the “nightmare” North American scene you get some feed back and if you don’t like something you can take it to an association that administers the thing without fear of politics. We add millions of pounds every year to your economy Donald. True I would rather go on vacation to the Grand Canyon but I choose to go to your country even when we are treated to amazing attitudes like yours.

  4. I love this topic! Tit for Tat is right! The Scottish insist the rest of the world play by their rules….until the rules are turned against them. Then they cry like babies. Show up to a contest off your island every now and then to see what the rest of the world is up to!

  5. Love the article Andrew. What a touchy subject for some. Maclean MacLeod was and is a visionary person and has created a first class venue. Those of us that have competed at this beautiful venue have grown because of it both financially and educationally. Protectionism, not likely but why spend the money for those that only come for the money.

    Live long and prosper Mac.

    Calum

  6. I recall when the Glenfiddich agreed to award a place to the US winner. It was a step forward, but like Andrew I respect the organisers’ (of both)rights to change their rules.

    The Scottish solo contest system has evolved over the past years to open things up. But remember the issues of apllications for eligibilty apply equally to scottish based players, and ‘local’ restrictions apply to scottish youngsters too. But please put in context……….In 20 odd years of games in the highlands of scotland, I don’t recall playing in front of any cattle. I do recall one playing in a entry of about 8/9 at what some may wish to describe as a quaint competition in strathpeffer where 3 had won the Gold medal, 3/4 were competing in that years contest and the other 2 were up there looking to get their name on the list, a scenario that has been often repeated.
    I’m not sure what is meant by standard events and there will always be judges that you struggle to understand/respect whether or not there is an accredited system

    So is it bullying or paranoia, and does the fact that a few of the top guys allegedly are upset make it worth forgetting the positive steps that many others have made and continue to take.

    Les

  7. G.A Custer,

    To cover the the query raised at the commencement of your post, I inhabit the twentieth century.

    Furthermore, to cover your second point, I refer you to my second point, in that the game of darts would undoubtedly save you time, effort and money.

    I look forward to your photos from the Grand Canyon.

    Yours faithfully, etc, and trust this will indeed be your last stand..

  8. If only when being cheeky and noising up the more touchy brethren from ‘across the pond’, would I get my centuries right. Oops! Seriously, chilll out, and don’t be surprised if people get bored by sanctimony… It’s only music and craic after all…

Registration

Forgotten Password?