EXHIBITORS - CONFIDENCE

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by David Payne - 2010

Our show scene has for too long suffered an acute lack of confidence in many judging decisions. Aggrieved exhibitors have generally suffered in silence however, with the development of the internet during the last 20 years, criticism and anger is expressed much more freely and much more frequently. Despondency and frustration is now a greater and growing part of our show scene, resulting in a continual reduction in show entries and many exhibitors giving up the show scene altogether. The patently obvious lack of newcomers coming into our sport simply and powerfully illustrates the unwillingness of exhibitors to accept and tolerate highly questionable judging decisions.

The old chestnuts that it is simply down the judges opinion, and you can only judge the dogs performance on the day, and judges have different opinions, and it is only sore losers that complain, may all hold some truth, however these explanations or excuses should not deter us from also understanding that we must seriously tackle the genuine unabated damage that is taking place to our show scene, through sheer frustration and anger at, what to many, certainly appears to be corrupt judging decisions.

I frequently hear the term “arrangements” before and after certain GSD shows. This refers to some kind of arrangement between an exhibitor and a judge. It may also refer to several “arrangements” between several exhibitors and the judge. This becomes more vocal when a “connection” is known to exist between the parties referred to. Connections appear to be of paramount importance to success and obviously this favours the long term exhibitor and of course those exhibitors who are also judges. The saying “NO CONNECTION = NO CHANCE” may not be totally true, however “MORE CONNECTIONS = GREATER CHANCE” is most certainly true.

Do “arrangements” take place? Are all judges scrupulously honest? The answers to these two questions need to be taken very seriously indeed, for if we fail to grasp the problems we will fail to find the solutions. And that is something our show scene cannot afford to happen.

We can certainly improve the education and training of our Judges, with greater emphasis on the need for honesty in all judging decisions. We can also require more explanations of judge’s decisions through verbal and written critiques. However these would have minimal effect on judges and exhibitors who wish to abuse our show scene for their own ends. They have had many years to polish their systems and they know the impossibility of anyone proving any wrong doings. Those involved will no doubt justify their actions by taking the attitude that others do it so why not me? The problem is almost certainly more widespread than any of us care to accept and this creates a mutual support system from those involved in “arrangements”, whereby those not involved in a particular “arrangement” will defend any accused and call it sour grapes from the antagonists, while also wheeling out every excuse and possible explanation for the judge’s decisions. Many honest folk are drawn into supporting these explanations and excuses because they don’t want to accept the possibility of corruption or the possible dishonesty of someone they know and possibly respect.

It may be impossible to stop exhibitors entering under Judges who own the sire of their dog. It may be impossible to stop exhibitors entering under judges who are their friends. It may be impossible to stop exhibitors entering shows where they are on the committee. It may be impossible to stop exhibitors who themselves are judges making “arrangements” with other judges who also exhibit. It may be impossible to identify all the potential arrangements between exhibitor/judges, especially if they form a cartel and shuffle major awards around the cartel to make it much less obvious than a straight two way exchange of top awards.

What must be explored, and explored very urgently, is precisely what can be done to make such “arrangements” much more difficult?

I put forward a proposal which I consider will offer exhibitors much more confidence in the judges awarding top honours at our GSD shows. This will also give the winners of our top awards a much higher regard for their success.

My proposal is that the Judge awarding the Champion Certificates should be a different judge from the judge that has judged the individual classes. This will mean that any attempt to make “arrangements” for top awards will be made much harder by having to have THREE people involved, the exhibitor and two judges, and we all know TWO may be company but THREE is certainly a crowd. The risks involved to anyone contemplating an “arrangement” are significantly enhanced. Whilst this may not eradicate “arrangements” altogether, it will most certainly be a major deterrent and will, most importantly, also lift the confidence of our exhibitors in our show scene, something which is desperately needed if we are to attract more exhibitors and retain our existing exhibitors.

The manner in which each GSD Show implements this proposal could vary, depending how they organise the judging of the individual classes. For example, if they appoint one judge for their show, they can appoint a second judge to award the Championship Certificates. If they appoint two judges to judge their show, one for each sex, the judges could swap over when it came to the awarding of the Championship Certificates. If they have three or more judges for their show, they could have multiple possibilities open to them to ensure a different judge awarded the Championship Certificates than the judge of the individual classes. It is also open for show committees to appoint a reserve judge who could be used in case of difficulties, such as a conflict of interest arising in regard to a particular exhibit.

This proposal may be difficult to implement within the Kennel Club show scene, however I see no such obstacles within our newly developing show scene through the GSD League/WUSV Regional Events.

My sincere hope is for this problem of the lack of confidence in judging decisions is fully recognised and taken very seriously by our breed organisations, and that my suggestion is also taken very seriously and considered; Other solutions for this problem should also be sought and carefully examined. A solution is urgently required and that means we have to think 'outside of the box' if we are to hopefully resolve the problem. We must address the genuine and serious concerns and frustrations of our exhibitors if we are to maintain a viable and exciting GSD show scene here within Great Britain.

David Payne



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David & Rhoda Payne - VIDEX GSD

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