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DeusExGreenMachina

Enough Judging Conspiracy Theories

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Flguardman    262
23 minutes ago, DeusExGreenMachina said:

 

Thanks for considering reading this wall of text.

tl;dr No there are no conspiracies.  There is virtually no herd mentality on the national level.  Money nor reputation matters.  Become a judge if you aren't already.  Also--thank you if you're a fan of any of the pageantry activities.

Not meant to be a dissertation, but a reflection of my many years of experience as a judge on the field and indoor.  No I am not a DCI judge but I have been judging with DCI, WGI, and BOA national judges and have had many discussions with said men and women who are actively making these tough decisions.  There appear to be several of us on here willing to share information so any input is very much appreciated.  I am not speaking for every judge or even any group of judges but SPECIFICALLY to my experience.

I'll be available for follow-up questions and concerns for a few days until this account and thread dies--if that's the case.

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1) Herd Mentality

Does not exist barring very few situations*.  We judge the sheets.  Particular to our caption, a unit can hit the sheets according to our eyeballs and our ears or it cannot.  Sometimes there are difficult decisions that we have to make on the spot.  We all see different things even within the same caption.  Some judges are good enough to judge multiple captions.  Ranks and ratings change for the same judge because they're judging a new caption.  Also, when panels change, numbers will change as you have probably experienced in the past.  It's absolutely unavoidable.  Please also remember that there are separate numbers in what we see the designers intended to do and what the performers executed on that particular day/evening; i.e. vocabulary vs. excellence.  It's the LEFT side and the RIGHT side respectively.  It's not rocket science.  We all have to trial judge for this and prove we can focus on our own caption and defend our numbers at critique and thereafter.

*Note: Interestingly enough, every few shows a newer judge or trial judge will ask where I put a unit at any given point.  I give them the neighborhood, e.g. high box 3, mid box 4, etc. but I'm very averse to providing an actual number as is anyone I have spoken with.  Remember that we have fans only a few feet away from us in virtually every direction that can hear our conversations and are probably recording us on their smartphones.  Why would we be idiots and mimic each other's scores?  That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.  These days we can typically change our numbers for all units at the end of a round due to the mechanics of Competition Suite.  It's a magical thing and it makes numbers management so much easier and more equitable.

2) Money

We get a few hundred bucks or maybe a little more.  It's not much.  Expenses are paid if we are lucky. Rumors have it that nationals is just about the same or a little bit more but not much. This is a NON PROFIT activity.  Enough said.  We mostly do this because we think we can do it better than others and provide better input.  We're not in this for the money--heck, we may be better off bartending for an evening.  We do get the best view in the venue.  That's why I do it--along with providing input to groups who actually give a **** as to improving their units.  Most of us want the activity to grow and performers to get better; however, some judges are jerks who just want to criticize and call out things that are wrong because the units are not doing what they did 5, 10, or 50 years ago.  It oftentimes gets tiresome in the judge's room and occasionally pisses me off.  That's the main frustration I've had.  We tend to argue when I encounter a judge who made a number I sorely disagreed with in a caption I've judged; there's a 50/50 chance I'll win and they'll rethink their numbers next time around if they're given the opportunity.  We're otherwise complaining as to why we got a baked potato for a "meal."

3) Reputation

This gets a little complicated.  Many judges have obligations outside of judging.  For example, several have contracts with percussion, winter guards, winds, marching bands, drill design, you name it.  However, from my experience, it really doesn't matter.  Our reputation is founded on the basis that we put down a number, record our commentary, and defend every ounce of it.  We sometimes get stuck with a number we put down during an earlier part of the season and have to really back up any changes later in the season.  As long as we reflect our APPROPRIATE number based on the sheet of our particular caption during that specific performance, it doesn't matter if we give 3rd place to a 12th place unit or vice versa.  I've done it many times, "called" many shows, and still get asked to judge again.  Judge's commentary is becoming more and more public, so I make sure to talk about the stuff I want my dear mother to hear as well as the unit staff and most importantly the performing members.  When I hear from either the Chief Judge or a director that they played my commentary to their students, it means the world to me.  Knowing they sacrificed several minutes of their valuable rehearsal time to listen to my exhausted hoarse voice makes my day.

4) Critique

Sometimes a show will have a requirement for the judges to participate in critique sessions with the units.  We may also get emails, phone calls, or texts about why a unit was ranked and rated as they were.  This can get stressful.  This is why we take notes.  I keep my notes for at least 3 years.  Every show is different.  Some times I'll place a unit higher than another, and I take notes as to why (even though it's inappropriate to talk about other units during critique).  Focus on your own show on your own caption and unit I always say.  However, it's good for me to back up to the Chief Judge why I flip-flopped or made an uncanny or unpopular choice.  I do it all the time.  Most times people get it--they watch their competitors and see why they have fallen (or risen) in my particular caption.  Critique allows us to gather input from the units and provide feedback beyond our recorded commentary.  Heck I've unintentionally made a former colleague cry during critique.  I've also had a situation when we had to get the Chief Judge to kick out an overdramatic irate director during critique.  What really pisses us off is when someone only rants about their score without having listened to the commentary.  All I can reference is my notes at that point.  The commentary is not a part of my records but a part of yours.  Do your homework. Listen to the commentary.

5) State of the Activity

Plan on being angered!  Many current judges should consider retiring.  The activity has changed considerably in the past decade--let alone the past several decades--and corps art is not being recognized properly.  .  The newer judges, about a third of any panel; if we're lucky, have still been removed from the activity for a decade or more.  Yes, this is a traditional activity and that I quite understand.  

Furthermore, most design and tech staff who have been a part of the top competing units are of a separate generation with separate visions working alongside older generations with progressive acuities.  There's a lot of subjectivity with the sheets and what is put on the field or floor.  A few older judges see this.  Most, however, don't.  This is, in my honest opinion, the main disconnect between the overall numbers and what the fans want to see rewarded.  So where is the activity heading?  Which leads me to this:

6) Next Steps

Trial judge.  Regardless of your age.  We need more judges.  Many of you are analytical critical jerks and we really could use your help.  Whether it's percussion, guard, winds, visual, brass, whatever.  We need new blood in every activity.  Please consider contacting a local circuit and start trialing.  Before you know it, you may be judging state and regional championships and knocking on DCI, BOA, or WGI's doors.  Just show up.  That's half the battle.  You're not running for office--you're helping develop youth and art.  We just need new people with deductive mindsets willing to put in their experience and research to current events on the field and the floor.  We're no better than you.  The activity is changing too fast for most of us.

Regardless, please stay a supporting member or fan of the marching & pageantry arts no matter what.  The common sports have enough fans.  Show up to all sorts of our musical and "artsy" competitions just because, well, reasons.

Thank you.

I agree!! This is why I've become a judge for my state marching band association this yr. and possible starting my winterguard circuit training soon! Having almost 20yrs of experience it's time for more people to step up and take on the task of becoming judges! 

Most people don't realize new blood is always welcome and encouraged, just reach out to your circuits! You as an educator will never know your potential in the reigns of judging until you try.

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Stu    1,137
25 minutes ago, DeusExGreenMachina said:

 5) State of the Activity

Plan on being angered!  Many current judges should consider retiring.  The activity has changed considerably in the past decade--let alone the past several decades--and corps art is not being recognized properly.  .  The newer judges, about a third of any panel; if we're lucky, have still been removed from the activity for a decade or more.  Yes, this is a traditional activity and that I quite understand. 

Furthermore, most design and tech staff who have been a part of the top competing units are of a separate generation with separate visions working alongside older generations with progressive acuities.  There's a lot of subjectivity with the sheets and what is put on the field or floor.  A few older judges see this.  Most, however, don't.  This is, in my honest opinion, the main disconnect between the overall numbers and what the fans want to see rewarded.  So where is the activity heading? 

BD has the most experienced, loyal, and aged design staff. They pushed the envelope on recording, dubbing, and amplification, and went undefeated this year (regardless of the age and experience of the adjudicators). How does your #5 here square with those facts?

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@Flguardman Awesome buddy.  It's easy for folks to get caught up in the competition and assert their view of some sort of conspiracy but when you get into the thick of things, it really becomes a matter of opinion as according to the sheets.  I've been a lurker on this forum for decades and a performer / judge for many years.  It all still surprises me.

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2 minutes ago, Stu said:

BD has the most experienced, loyal, and aged design staff. They pushed the envelope on recording, dubbing, and amplification, and went undefeated this year (regardless of the age and experience of the adjudicators). How does your #5 here square with those facts?

Quite true.  BD has certainly pushed the envelope for many years and I expect for many years to come.  However, DCI is not all about one group in particular.  You have a very nice drum corps.

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Stu    1,137
6 minutes ago, DeusExGreenMachina said:

Quite true.  BD has certainly pushed the envelope for many years and I expect for many years to come.  However, DCI is not all about one group in particular.  You have a very nice drum corps.

Like you I am not a DCI judge but I am a marching arts judge; and I am not part of BD. While I appreciate your response, it did not directly address my question. If many 'older' DCI judges should retire because they are supposedly 'out of touch' with change, why is it that they all, no matter age, no matter experience, placed a progressive BD design first and undefeated all season? I mean for your primise to be true, the older judges should have given vastly different lower scores to BD than the younger more 'with it' judges. So please reconcile those facts with your #5 primise.

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MikeRapp    2,391

Thank you for your service, and for taking the time to post here. I have some thoughts about some of the things you are saying, but I do so with all due respect, as I can tell you have a passion for drum corps and judging.

You say that the majority of judges should retire, essentially because they don't have enough history with how these shows are now designed and performed.

And yet you seem to claim that we should completely trust the judgment of these judges. 

These two ideas don't really make sense to me.

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ContraFart    386
12 minutes ago, DeusExGreenMachina said:

@Flguardman Awesome buddy.  It's easy for folks to get caught up in the competition and assert their view of some sort of conspiracy but when you get into the thick of things, it really becomes a matter of opinion as according to the sheets.  I've been a lurker on this forum for decades and a performer / judge for many years.  It all still surprises me.

I guess my question when it comes to herd mentality is this: I have seen in certain captions a change in placement on finals night only, when the other corps was consistently winning all season including the previous 2 nights. I believe at the top levels of the activity the level of performance is so high, there is not much of a difference in consistency. For example SCV was winning the guard caption consistently. I did not go that far back, but at least the last 5 head to head match ups had them ahead by as little as .15 and as much as .3. How come all of a sudden BD wins guard on finals night by .3.....an entire half point change from one night to the next. I find it hard to believe that sort of change in performance could have happened. Same thing happened with a .4 change in vis proficiency. Could there be some mentality that will place a corps that was going to win anyway over another corps just because they are going to win even though the other corps was consistently better?

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MikeRapp    2,391

Here mentality is a reality, not because of anything but human nature and the nature of DCIs scoring methodology. Judges do, amd In fact must, look at what the previous shows judges did and go from there. Shows and corps do not in fact stand on their own accord because of how this activity scores its season.

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21 minutes ago, Stu said:

Like you I am not a DCI judge but I am a marching arts judge; and I am not part of BD. While I appreciate your response, it did not directly address my question. If many 'older' DCI judges should retire because they are supposedly 'out of touch' with change, why is it that they all, no matter age, no matter experience, placed a progressive BD design first and undefeated all season? I mean for your primise to be true, the older judges should have given vastly different lower scores to BD than the younger more 'with it' judges. So please reconcile those facts with your #5 primise.

@StuTo answer your most recent question-- I don't know?  I don't know what caption they judged and how they judged it during their specific performance.  I didn't bring up BD in my original post so I don't quite see how your question is relevant.  Like I said-- you have a very nice drum corps.

21 minutes ago, MikeRapp said:

Thank you for your service, and for taking the time to post here. I have some thoughts about some of the things you are saying, but I do so with all due respect, as I can tell you have a passion for drum corps and judging.

You say that the majority of judges should retire, essentially because they don't have enough history with how these shows are now designed and performed.

And yet you seem to claim that we should completely trust the judgment of these judges. 

These two ideas don't really make sense to me.

@MikeRappTruly appreciate the response buddy.  However, I didn't say half the things you said I said.  In fact, I'm a little confused.  I didn't say you should "trust the judgement of these judges."  What?

17 minutes ago, ContraFart said:

I guess my question when it comes to herd mentality is this: I have seen in certain captions a change in placement on finals night only, when the other corps was consistently winning all season including the previous 2 nights. I believe at the top levels of the activity the level of performance is so high, there is not much of a difference in consistency. For example SCV was winning the guard caption consistently. I did not go that far back, but at least the last 5 head to head match ups had them ahead by as little as .15 and as much as .3. How come all of a sudden BD wins guard on finals night by .3.....an entire half point change from one night to the next. I find it hard to believe that sort of change in performance could have happened. Same thing happened with a .4 change in vis proficiency. Could there be some mentality that will place a corps that was going to win anyway over another corps just because they are going to win even though the other corps was consistently better?

@ContraFart Captions are always are all over the place.  Have you checked them out?  Check my #3.

Edited by DeusExGreenMachina

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