I’ve been thinking about the term “World Champion.” The World Pipe Band Championships is an event always held in Glasgow with contests in various grades.
The title of World Champion, though, should be reserved only for the bands that cannot rise any higher. The winner of Grade 3A, for example, at the World Pipe Band Championships still has dozens of Grade 2 and Grade 1bands ahead of it, and should not lay claim to the title.
In the pipe band world there are not different degrees of World Champions. Except for the juvenile grades, bands are separated by quality, or grades, not age groups or some other limiting factor.
Therefore, there are two World Champions in the pipe band universe: the winner of Grade 1 and the winner of Juvenile. All the rest simply won their particular event at the World’s.
In 2004 the only World Champions are Field-Marshal Montgomery and St. Thomas Episcopal School.
Nothing should be taken away from the achievement of winners in other grades, but, if they try to claim the World Champion title, the extraordinary accomplishments of the winners of Grade 1 and Juvenile – the bands that cannot rise any higher – are diminished.