Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The World's : a Pre-Qualified Stage

It's August once again and us faithful pilgrims make our way to Glasgow Green, the World's and a week of Piping Live. Some of us have been making this trek for more years than we care to remember - how long is a lifetime? 1966 was my initiation - way back when jetplanes were not the medium of travel... we travelled in a turbo-prop - yes a propeller plane - 14 hours each way! Regardless of the time or money spent, this was the beginning of a lifelong love affair - a passion that burns as strong today as ever. But the scene has changed... Piping Live makes it a weekly event with superb entertainment condensed into a short few days. The actual World's Championship is almost anticlimatic... big ticket prices for grandstand seating... over-priced merchandise... inclement weather often... Glasgow Green service amenities like the food concessions and beer tent that need some dire upgrading... and a Grade One Championship that is predictable and even biased in favor of the pre-qualified bands. Here are the facts: The qualifying system which is made up of predominantly non UK based bands will DQ 10 of 15 bands from having two plays in the final. Yet the league table pre-qualifiers are all UK based - 6 of 12 to be exact... the very bands that spend the most and travel the farthest have the least chance of making it through to the final. To make matters worse, the qualifying event starts at 9 am - a time when it is almost impossible to avoid moisture concerns. Any fortunate band to make it to the final is faced with the unenviable task of three plays on the day - a hurculean effort is needed. The odds-on favorite must be one of the 6 pre-qualified UK bands. Fact - The World's Pipe Band Champion has never come from the qualifying event. Fact - The World's Pipe Band Champion has never come from outside the top 3 in the league table or the international pre-qualifiers! Fact - the Championship needs all the bands to make it a complete day's event. It is the 15 bands that attempt to qualify that are the heart and soul of the WPBC. Let's give them more of a stage! I will certainly be watching from the stands and by August 15, drop my bets at Ladbrokes or Thomas Hill; risking becoming the Pete Rose of the pipe band world! Who knows? Longshots anyone?....

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