OFFICIATING! FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: PART 2
THE SEASON One of the major differences between our sport of purebred dogs and most other sports is the length of a season. All major sports have a season defined by a specific number of games, and a defined post- season, before crowning a champion. Baseball, with a 162-game regu- lar season, is the longest and usually starts in February with spring training and ends with the World Series in October. On the other hand, in our sport, there are 51 weekends a year where dog shows are taking place. Depending upon your level of interest, the ability (both physically and financially) could require participants to compete, on average, 4-5 days per week at various shows and circuits throughout the country. This means that a particular dog could pos- sibly be shown between 200-250 times in a year. In our sport, we have a variety of rankings to mark the achieve - ments of various exhibits. However, unlike other sports, there are no defined markers as to the number of shows attended, etc., to give an accurate marker as to a true level of achievement on a level field. ‘POLITICS’ AND ‘CONFLICTS OF INTEREST’ In our sport of dogs, we often hear about the “politics” and “con- flicts of interest” between judges and exhibitors. I would like to point out that at every level of sports (but especially at the major league lev - el), the officials are very well-acquainted with most of the players and coaches. Most know each other both socially and professionally. If you watch sports on television, you often see interactions between the offi- cials, players, and coaches. These interactions do not seem to affect the officials’ ability to do their jobs. On those rare occasions when there are problems, it is usually not about the individual interactions. Rather, it is about missed calls or misinterpretation of the rules. Also, in all sports, the official does not have a great deal of time to make a call. They make human, split-second decisions. In many cases, these split-second calls can have a great impact on the outcome of the contest. Most major league sports have video replays that scrutinize every call. This puts the officials under a constant microscope while trying to do their jobs at the highest level in an already fast-paced environment. SCOUTING AND ADVANCING OFFICIALS One of the constant similarities between the major leagues and some of the lower leagues is that all have scouting groups that are in place to observe the officials and make recommendations for their advancement. Simply graduating from the various training academies and performing at lower levels is no guarantee of further advancement. All scouting groups are made up of a large number of people who share and compare notes and evaluations of those who are up for advance - ment. Those who have the opportunity to advance have been evaluated by numerous experts on not only their knowledge, but also on their actual application of the rules and performance in the field of play. MAJOR LEAGUE-CALIBER DOG SHOW JUDGES What would you consider to be the qualities of a major league- caliber dog show judge? If we were to follow the process of most major sports, how would we stack up in the advancement of our judges? My point here is that when a person decides to move up to the position of judge, they usually start with their initial breed. I would equate this with starting in the little leagues. This would be “step one,” if the new judge performs satisfactorily in not only breed knowledge but also in ring procedure and time management. Those who can sort through and consistently find the best exam- ples of the breed should be considered for advancement. This does not mean, however, that they go from 0-60 miles per hour on their next application by granting them multiple breeds.
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE QUALITIES OF A MAJOR LEAGUE-CALIBER DOG SHOW JUDGE?
Likewise, no matter how well-qualified a person is on paper or their background in dogs, it does not always translate into someone who has the “eye” and the capacity to sort through and make the right decisions. Every person who decides to judge needs to “prove themselves” before advancement. I would consider a judge who reaches the Group and Best in Show level as a comparison to the major league officials. If you have been keeping track of the advancement procedures of the major sports, the average time to hit the top is around 7-10 years. For me, achieving one Group would be like a high school official. Two groups would be college or top-tier level leagues, and three or more Groups would be at the major league level. When many of us who have been judging for over 30 years got started, we knew that the process would take, in many cases, five years or more to achieve our first Group. I think that, although slow, the process gave the exhibitors judges who were more knowledgeable and better prepared. COMPENSATION Just like in the sports world, compensation is part of the dog show judge’s equation. People with one Breed up to one Group should be compensated accordingly. Those with full Groups may be compensated at a slightly higher level, and some of these individuals will earn more than others. This is only fair. Judges spend a lot of time, effort, and money to earn the right to judge the various Breeds for which they are approved. However, accumulating Breeds and Groups simply to enhance yourself in being marketable to larger clusters is a disservice to the sport and to the exhibitors.
84 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2022
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