A Rant about Judge Certification
Published on March 5th, 2015
by Glenn McCarthy
Don’t misunderstand this, let me be very clear that certifying judges in the sport of sailboat racing is a very good thing. It’s the machinations in the background that makes certifying judges a ridiculous thing.
Long ago, originally sail racing judges were appointed for life. After ages, what occurred is there were judges who were literally going senile and kept thumping their chests insisting on judging because they had a badge that said they were certified. Many of these judges had not sailed in decades and had stopped keeping up with the new rules changes that come out each four years.
So, the judges program changed to a seminar based system with testing every four years with input on judicial temperament in order to be certified. The senile judges were washed out. That was a very good step. And would have remained good if it stopped right there.
Where things started to fall apart is when they didn’t stop. They decided that some judge’s poop doesn’t stink and needed to separate those judges from other judges, and created “Senior Judges” (recently renamed “National Judges”). In all practicality, however, there just isn’t natural or artificial demand for using certified judges.
In most races in the U.S., we grab three sailors who are our competitors that we have respect for and let them judge a protest hearing. You “don’t have to have no stinkin’ badges” to judge. The only events that I have found that require “National Judges” are those run by US Sailing. Who needs a conspiracy theory? Then, good luck finding any other events nationwide that require certified judges at all (other than national, continental, or world championships, but even then not required in many cases). Demand is quite small for certified judges.
Then the people who run the judges program decided to get even goofier. Now they require senior/national judges to travel outside their Regional Sailing Association to events three times a year in order to stay certified, just to see how others handle protests, to get a broader experience, blah, blah, blah. Excuse me? The process and procedures are written in the Racing Rules of Sailing and found in the US Sailing Judges Manual. The format is spelled out and established.
Traveling shouldn’t change a thing; it is the same thing wherever you go. It’s just more of this “some judge’s poop doesn’t stink” thing again limiting the fancy moniker “National Judge” to only those who have the money, time, and inclination to travel (remember not all events have protests; there’s no guarantee they get to hear protests by traveling … and many times return empty handed).
This thing just doesn’t end – it’s a solution looking for a problem. Now there’s Continuing Education Events (CEE) and Continuing Education Units (CEU) where certified judges are required to earn 80 CEUs. For what? There’s just no major demand for certified judges. The higher the bar is set, the more judges are quitting. There’s no loss, protests continue to get heard regardless of how serious they keep making the requirements.
A small glimmer of hope is gleaming; an online course is being created for “Club Judges” (for those whose poop must really stink, at the bottom level). Why it can’t it be simplified that either you are certified judge or not, and use one training platform for all judges, and one manual for all judges? This ain’t rocket science, it’s not even close.
One reality of hearing protests is, two boats walk into the room believing they are right. At the end, one or both will have found out they were wrong and they are always upset. It doesn’t make any difference if the judges are certified or not.
I’ve got news for these judge zealots who run the program; either a person “gets the rules and the procedures,” or they don’t. Period. All we need, or want, are judges who “get it.” Just give us one class of people who are “certified judges” who took an online seminar and passed an online test along with input on their “judicial temperament.” Don’t make it complicated, expensive, or make people travel away from home for a useless waste of their time.
This thing has become so utterly complicated and ridiculous. We’re already seeing many judges give up their certifications (more are giving up as their 4 year terms expire), and they’re not senile yet!
All of the fanaticism you judge program zealots have and exude should be saved for your religious efforts at your house of worship.
Source: Lake Michigan SuRF Newsletter, March 2015
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