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SOBER REFLECTIONS ON
SOUTH AFRICAN JUDGES

Editorial by Keith Smith
February 12, 2004

Most of the ruckus raised by myself and others in the industry about the South African judges has been misplaced. My previous editorial was a knee-jerk reaction to the large volume of email that I received after the ABGA publication of their South African Approved Judges list. Upon sober reflection and re-reading the emails I've become a convert, albeit not a bona fide fire-and-brimstone preaching convert but a convert none the less.

How about a little spirited debate?

Resolved: South African judges should be approved ABGA judges.

Con: South African judges are not qualified to judge our goats.
Pro: One of the current qualifications for an ABGA judge is that they pass instruction given by those same South African judges. That, in itself, makes the SA judges qualified.

Con: South African judges aren't used to the ABGA Breed Standard so they are not qualified to judge a US show.
Pro: The ABGA Breed Standard and those of the other US Boer registries are based on the BGBASA standard. Minor differences do exist but are fully explained to the judges prior to each show and they are cautioned to consider the differences.

Con: Exhibitors enter shows to learn how their animals stack up against those of other breeders. This shows them what direction their breeding programs should take. South African judges cannot communicate their reasons to the exhibitors in an understandable manner because of their accents.
Pro: Exhibitors enter shows with the anticipation of earning respect and notoriety for themselves and their Boer goats. They also enjoy the camaraderie and furor of a show. Listening to the judge give reasons for placing is rather low on their priority list.

Con: Exhibitors complain that the South African judges are arrogant and rude to them and their animals.
Pro: "Rudeness" is in the eye of the beholder. The judge in a ring is the final word. If that is considered rude or arrogant by some then that may be a problem on the part of the "offended" party, not the judge.

Con: The South African senior judges have a history of "lording it over" the ABGA judge. The US judge rarely gets to make a decision or offer input as to the selection and placing of a class.
Pro: OK... I've heard this one too. And directly from one of the ABGA judges affected. But I noticed one thing... that judge was back in the ring with the South African judges at the first offering.

Con: The South African judges are too rough on our animals.
Pro: There are good and bad herd masters on both sides of the ocean. Mistreatment of animals by a South African judge, an "American" judge, a breeder, or a spectator can not be tolerated. It should be the responsibility of the show superintendent to control such actions. A judge that can not control his emotions in the ring will be very low on the list when the judges are selected for the next show.

Con: The South African judges are too political. They honor animals from the same breeders year after year.
Pro: The "American" judges are just as political. But the real reason that the same breeders win year after year, show after show, has more to do with the quality of animal exhibited than it has to do with politics or favoritism. A breeder with several hundred or a thousand goats from which to select his show string has a better chance of having a winner than someone with twelve goats. The breeders I *really* respect are those with just a few goats who place well in the National Show!

Con: The cost of bringing SA judges to the US to to high.
Pro: OK. The cost is high. So? It's the show host that bears the cost, not you.

Con: But when the ABGA is the show host it's my money that's being spent.
Pro: Again... So? It's the exhibitors at the previous National Show that select the judges each year. If they select Hans Whatshisname they do so with the full understanding that it'll cost more than if they select JoeBob who lives in the same county (or parrish) as the show is held in.

I don't know about y'all but I kinda' figure "Pro" won that debate.

My previous editorial on this subject was ill conceived. It was a disservice to the South African judges, the "American" judges, the exhibitors and the Boer goat industry.


 

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