Just thinking out loud here, I've had this thought in my head for a while and maybe it’s time I said it. My comments are not directed at anyone in particular but maybe to all of us at once.
The past few years, we, the roller fliers in USA have been fairly critical of foreign judgments and even of some of our own NCF judges. I have been judged by or scribed for kits flown for all of them in last 5 yrs (but not met Eric yet). I have not seen fault in the judgements from most of them. They were tough, sure. But when kits broke well and the birds in them rolled above an adequate standard, they scored them. This is after all the World Cup, and kits should be expected to be the best in the world to compete here. This is not some pat you on the back, fellowship fly.
Where our angst begins, it seems, is when we, as a whole, don't place as well as we had supposed we would have. Our collective ego is bruised, we realize that maybe, just maybe, we are not as good as we thought we were. I believe the US has some great roller pigeons and some top fliers. But I also recognize there are others around the world that may be as good or better. (I haven't traveled the world yet to see, but the reports from those who have told me we have room to improve).
It seems when we don't fare well nationally, we begin to grumble about the time of year we fly in, differing standards of judgement; unequal flying environments such as BOP infested skies. The list goes on and on. Some of the source of our discontent may in fact be real and valid. But it is what it is. I suspect that more of it is a result of our coming to realize our fantasy of being superior isn't real. We have created in our own minds the illusion that we are the best, when in reality we may not be, and it hurts to admit it.
I believe we can be as good as anyone anywhere. But it wont happen by complaining about this or that, or reforming the standards to fit our circumstance. It will only happen by swallowing our false pride, admitting there is substantial room for improvement, setting higher standards as goals and not idling content in our few minor achievements. I have heard the criticism about birds in the US being 'shit'. It bothers me, yeah, but not to lash out or argue about it. Instead it makes me want to breed better birds, fly better kits, get on top of my game every time, so that when someone makes that claim, I can say, "prove me wrong". We spend tremendous amounts of thought energy arguing about trivial matters that even if resolved, get us no farther ahead as a whole. It would serve us better to apply that effort towards breeding/building/flying better kits of rollers.
I have competed nearly my whole life in various contests, as an athlete and coach. I have at times been the victim of poor calls by judges or referees. At the time of the bad call, I'm upset. But after I have had a chance to calm down, I realize it ultimately was my fault. I didn't get robbed of anything. If I had been doing my part better, it wouldn't have been close enough for a bad call to make the difference. When things don't go our way, instead of jumping to conclusions about conspiracy against the US, or blaming an uneven playing field or criticizing a judges call, we should take our medicine, go back to the drawing board and be honest with ourselves about what really happened.
That's how I really feel about it. I don't think writing more standards, "educating" judges, or debating Pensom over the internet will get us there. Roller flying is a 'go and do event'.
Jon (Farr) (edited)