Some insightful words from our brotha’ SPIN – Soul Maverics on his Facebook page…
Lately, I have been thinking more and more about what it is that gets a promoter choosing the judges they do for their events. Most of us have already established that a dope bboy or bgirl does not necessarily make them a good judge. Yet promoters (new and old) still seem to make what I would consider to be bad calls, in the judges that are chosen, but I guess I have rarely ever known or asked why they were chosen in the first place. There are many reasons why people are chosen to judge, and even why they are chosen for particular events. These are a few reasons (good and bad) as to why that may be:
1. They are a famous bboy/bgirl who will bring people to the event
2. They are friends with the promoter who is throwing the event/competition
3. The promoter is a fan (too much) of the bboy/bgirl and just wants to hang out
4. They are thought to suit the type of event the promoter is wanting to put on etc or share similar views perhaps
5. They are considered to have a vast knowledge of the artform
6. They are considered to be relevant and up to date with the scene today
7. They have been in the game for a long time (even if no longer involved in the current scene and events)
8. They are considered to be fair in their decisions without bias
9. They have been recommended by another promoter or trusted source
These I am sure are just a few of the reasons why many of our judges get picked. I wonder however, how many of our judges are picked based on the weight put on their character? If you think about it, when in a position as a judge, there are going to be times (quite often in fact) where the persons character, is going to cross with their knowledge.
How many times have we all seen a judge who we think should ‘know better’ make a call in the other direction? And what could have driven them to make such a decision (or not at all in the case of tie-breakers)? Is it pressure when a champ meets an underdog, when your friends are in the battle, when your bias takes over, when you consider the crowds expectation etc?. What are judges hired to do exactly? Really and truly they are hired to make decisions. On top of that role you hope they make the ‘right’ decisions (speaking about right and wrong decisions is another conversation altogether though, so I will leave that point where it is and carry on with what this Note is about). So going back to the question of what judges are hired to do, it’s to make decisions, regardless of these variables. If these pressures are often making the decisions inconsistent, the judging ability is no longer reliant on the knowledgebase of that individual. In fact it would have a lot more to do with that persons character. Can they make the call, an informed decision, even with any or several of these variables in place, and STILL do the job he/she has been HIRED to do? Knowing the ‘right’ decision and making another is nothing to do with knowledge.
All the knowledge counts for nothing if at the end of ‘3,2,1’ you can’t make an appropriate decision, or a decision at all for that matter (tie-breaker). What if we started to look a little deeper into how we pick the people in the judges seat, and started to ask ourselves if they are even decision makers. In the case of decisions where not many can, or have the balls to make (high level competition), knowledge is obviously not enough. Although it may be a big part of what is needed to make an informed decision, it does NOT give you the ability to make that decision. I believe this is where character comes in, and should perhaps be taken more into account when considering who to put in the role of judge. How many promoters actually speak to their judges, about judging? A simple conversation is a useful tool in finding out what page your judge or potential judge is on. Are these conversations common place before hiring someone to judge at your event? If not, then why not? Especially when those hired or considered are usually bboys or bgirls who you will encounter at many events anyway and have the time to chat. This should be taken advantage of in my opinion if it is not being done so already.
This tool is just as useful in scouting for new judges. It seems pretty obvious that we have way more events than able judges at the moment. How many of these chats are happening with new potentials? Once found, how are they being tested? I know there are many reasons that many potential judges are not considered, but taking into account some of the reason judges ARE being considered, maybe we should do more scouting for those with the potential to do more judging in the near future. Hopefully, considering the knowledge vs character I am saying here which seems to be missing in my honest opinion. There are so many events that have qualifiers for world finals. Why not have potential judges tested on smaller local jams, or local qualifiers and even make it a rule to every so often have a seat for these ‘potentials’ at local level jams? Just a thought.
This note is primarily to open up some conversation on the topic of why or how judges get given that responsibility, because ultimately, it is the promoters putting on the events who GIVE them this position. Bboys/bgirls are not the ones telling promoters that they are going to be judging their event. I invite all promoters (if you care or consider what has been said here) to do that little bit more. Find out the type of PERSON you are dealing with. Try to figure out if they are decision makers or not, as well as all the other things you have in your profile for what a judge needs to have. Character seems to be often overlooked.
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