After the judging controversy at this year’s winter Olympics, and the obvious comparisons to dancesport competitions, the dancesport community has the opportunity to lead rather than follow. We can show the world’s sport community that athletes in this sport will be spared the obvious disgrace afforded those sport organizations and their judges that are interested only in their self glorification at the expense of the athletes and their sport’s integrity. To do less, will only enable the disparagers of dancesport, as an Olympic sport, the right to say, “Look what happened in skating. Why take a chance?”

Suggestions such as having an all-pro judging panel have also been pushed by some of the skating commentators. We have that already to the most part, with some suggesting that judges can only judge and not coach. This seems to have more to do with keeping the judge’s clique small, not fair. Most people cannot afford to live on what most competitions pay. So avoiding the appearance of impropriety allows only those with a patronage of some company or sort to participate.

Increasing the number of judges at the Olympics would obviously have made it harder to influence a result. Some of the major dance competitions are to be commended for having larger panels, and varying the panels for various events. Increasing the number of judges more will only increase the insurance that the person who dances best on the given day wins. Americans realize that it is performance now that counts, not good intentions, or overall ability, and that is what they want and expect and deserve from the results.

Major competitions, where national and international placements are concerned or decided should select judges at random from the pool of qualified judges truly eligible to judge at and for the applicable levels and styles. No, this does not mean you will have judges with no experience judging national or international championships. Eligibility will have to be defined and refined. Putting the selection process in the hands of chance can do more to insure fairness and integrity in the sport, than the present system, which many feel is based on patronage, and favors rather than equity and quality, and therefore more susceptible to problems. Chance, by the way, has a hand in many events; whether it is which lane you get, or out of which gate you start, or where you start in the field. We are all used to that, and chance favors the best prepared, so the best have nothing to worry about.

The fact that judges, the audience, and the public get to see all the finalists on the floor at the same time is also an edge that dancesport has had, that it is quickly giving away. It makes it easier for the judges to compare and to score competitively. It also makes it easier for the general public to recognize the competitive and sport aspects of dancesport. Unfortunately, however, it must not be as easy for TV producers. You see more and more of the skating or solo style exhibitions, which just like in skating favor the latter performers over the earlier; the known over the unknown. Americans in particular love head to head competition. Give competitors the same number all year long so the public and audience can recognize them, and by the way let us know, does standing up count in dancesport?

Michael S. Reichenbach

Published in:

Dance Week Magazine

2709 Medical Office Place
Goldsboro, NC 27534

Vol. XXVII No. 09
March 1, 2002

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