Throwing Event Advice – Judges

Fredo from No Roots suggested that I should blog on some of the experiences I’ve accrued from throwing Outshine events. In the past I’ve tried to stay away from giving advice because I do not feel like I am in a place to preach or lecture others, so I will just list things that I have learned from personal experiences, and that might be helpful for other promoters to hear.

One of the big topics that I’ve encountered over the years is choosing judges. In my opinion, this is one of the most crucial parts of throwing a jam. Judging has ruined not only jams, but entire scenes. Freestyle Session 10 is the prime example of this. The finals featured Zulu Kings and Gamblers. Judges were mainly old school b-boys, and people who were inclined to vote for Zulu. Most people who saw the battle undoubtedly thought that Gamblers won, but judges gave it to Zulu. Over the next couple years, FSS lost a lot of it’s following, and many would say it’s reputation was ruined over this fiasco. Many scenes around the US have also been tainted by promoters not putting safeguards in place for preventing biased judging. If the same judges are used again and again, and their crews win again and again, something is obviously wrong.

In my experience, the things that have worked for Outshine are as follows:
-Never let a judge judge their own crew, biases here are simply too strong, and there are too many conflicts of interest. Also ask your judges to abstain from judging if they feel like their biases are too heavy in other situations. Have a sub judge ready for these situations.
-Judges must be intelligent human beings. They must be people that can carry an intelligent conversation about issues in the b-boying culture. This is a judgement call on the part of the promoter.
-5 judges ensure more fairness. As long as you can find quality judges, more is usually better. This is difficult especially from the financial perspective, but if you can make it work, people will appreciate you for it.
-Have your judges tell the b-boys what they are judging on before the event, and make sure there is some method to their madness. The promoter is hiring the judges because they are respected, and because their views matter, but the judges should at the very least have a system of judging. Whether is be a round by round point system, or a category point system, anything but emotionally charged voting.
-Big names do not equate to better judging. The majority of judges we use are local judges. This is because we personally know who is intelligent, and who has massive biases. We will occasionally fly in b-boys from across the country to judge, but only if we personally know them and know that they carry the prerequisites that we have listed above. In our experiences, the big name judges are often just as, if not more jaded and biased than anyone else. (The only time I would say big names are required is if you are throwing a national event. Many b-boys will not travel to your event unless you have famous names on the judging panel.)

I guess that’s just about it. If you have any other knowledge that you’ve picked up over the years, feel free to list it below. We are always up for different opinions and advice from other people.