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Unfair judging
Posted by Unhappy
2/17/2004  1:20:00 PM
Does anyone out there know why a group of judges from the same dance studio would vote as a block, placing all their students first, second and third at a New England University ballroom compeitition, hosted on Sunday, with no regard to how well other dancers were doing?

They were unfair to all the dancers, including their own. Fortunately there were other judges who judged the competition and their unfair judging did not accomplish their aim.

As a dancer myself, I would love judges to judge me on how I dance. Period. Don't give me anything I haven't earned. I know all collegiate dancers feel the same.

I just want judges to have some morality and I believe the majority of them do. But this was blatant disregard for how hard every dancer works to learn the skills necessary to compete in ballroom.


Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Jonathan Atkinson
2/17/2004  4:34:00 PM
The short answer is: Some people suck. If you're a victim of people who suck, there's not much else I can offer you. You can raise hell, complain to the competiton organizer, or file a complaint with the appropriate organization (NDCA, USABDA, etc). But you can dig yourself into a bigger hole than when you started, so I don't personally recommend it. As a general rule, the people who suck are far outnumbered by those who don't, which means that the overall results can only be affected so much by politics.

The longer you hang around the competitive world, the more you'll realize the extent of the politics, but you'll also learn how to play them to your advantage. That doesn't mean that you have to be a total sell-out, but there are certain simple things you can do to minimize the negative effects on you. For example, be nice to everyone, make a lot of friends, and don't speak poorly of anyone EVER (even your greatest rival, even though you KNOW he's nowhere near as good a dancer as you).

If you want to step it up a notch, it doesn't hurt to take lessons with other coaches. That's not selling out... that's being smart. And often, you'll find that the lessons are really good, too. Selling out is taking lessons purely for political purposes (especially when you know you're not going to get anything out of it). But if a lesson has educational value, take it. You will improve your dancing, and any political gains are purely coincidental.

You have to understand that judges don't always mark their own students better simply because they're corrupt. It's human nature to protect one's own. And there is a certain psychological element at work here, too: Your own teacher is more likely to envision you at your full potential, rather than seeing you as you are at any given moment. If a judge has never seen you before, he marks exactly what he sees. But if he's been working with you every week for the last year, he knows what you're capable of, and sometimes that knowledge can have influence over his decision, even if only subconsciously.

Moreover, every judge has his own priorities. Judge "A" may be fanatical about proper footwork, while judge "B" is adamant about great posture. If judge "A" is your regular teacher, then chances are good that you will have great footwork. Now let's say that your posture isn't perfect. Your competition has great posture, but his feet are sloppy. Judge "A", your teacher, is more likely to mark you, while judge "B" is more likely to mark your competition. Is this because you take lessons with "A"? Yes. But it's not a political outcome... it's a result of the variety of priorities each judge has in terms of what he or she thinks makes good dancing.

In conclusion, politics do exist. But not all marks are as politically motivated as you might imagine. Politically-based markings can have a certain amount of influence, but that amount is limited. It can't make a loser win, and it can't make a winner lose. All it does is mix things up a little bit in the middle. So be smart, be nice, network, don't make huge waves, and most of all... be the best dancer you can be. Dance so that they have no choice but to mark you.

Jonathan Atkinson
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Laura
2/17/2004  5:34:00 PM
I find the people who complain the loudest about unfair judging are the newer competitors who don't realize:

(a) How their dancing really measures up -- don't go by what your friends say! OF COURSE your friends and teammates are going to say you should have placed higher! So will people who want to be your friend, or want to attract you as a partner!

(b) On anything below championship level, the judges are looking for the least offensive dancer (i.e., the couple who sucks the least). A judge I've taken lesson from tells me that on the Novice level (so that's post-Gold for you East Coast College types) he's looking for three things: the couple stands up straight, is on time, and looks like they're enjoying what they are doing.

(c) How to evaluate the trade-offs between the lessers of the evils when looking at a bunch of beginner/advanced beginner/intermediate dancers (99% of collegiate dancers fall into these levels).

(d) How the skating system works and how little a single judge's marks tend to matter, or even a few judges' marks if there's lots of judges for the heat.

I'm not saying that politics and other weirdnesses don't exist. I am saying that after 6 years in this sport I find they exist a heck of a lot less than people think they do -- especially on the lower levels (meaning anything below Pre-Championship for the amateurs).

Your best bet is to take a tape of your dancing to your coach and go over it with him or her. Ask your coach to help you to understand why you weren't placed higher, and what the deal is with those the judges who you are accusing of block judging.
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Change Things
2/18/2004  9:21:00 AM
This was copied from dancescape:

To web-impaired:
All the BU competitors are able to view their marks right after the competition. I am a competitor and I did see a block of votes by the 665 judges in the Championship and I wasn't in the Championship, just curious to see how judges placed. Some day I do want to get good enough to dance in the Championship and I want to be assured that the judges will judge the dancing, not place their students just because they are their students.
Yes, I'm sure this happens in most competitions, whether collegiate, professional or pro-am but that doesn't mean as competitors we have to blindly accept this and allow it to continue. By voicing our disgust in these types of forums, we can change things. I want to be judged fairly for the time and effort I put into dancing. If I dance poorly I don't want my coach to place me high, then I think I'm better than I truly am! If I dance great, I want to be placed high and not worry that someone who didn't dance as well placed over me due to politics.
What has happened to integrity? Look at Enron, Lycos, etc., in the business community. Do we want to foster this type of behavior in the dance community? I for one want to start blowing the whistle, just like people did in Enron. If we need to embarrass judges to make them truly look at the dancing and place fairly, then let's do it.
If you are coached at 665 you should be just as upset as I am. If you are one of the people they placed, too bad for you. Winning isn't winning if it's given to you! And, yes, I'm sure they are finding all kinds of excuses to justify their behavior but I was there and saw a big difference in the level of dancers.
To fix the problem maybe there is a way for our college comps to be judged by outsiders who don't know the players. Or, at least don't have more than one judge from each major dance studio in Boston. Since the judges won't police themselves, let's do it for them.

Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Change Things Fan
2/19/2004  8:40:00 AM
I like what Change Things had to say. Your proposal at the end sounds like a good one.


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