Alternative Grading System?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by WhatSharp?, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    All the issues surrounding the Ibstock appeal (which I'll decline to comment on) raises the issue of whether the current system is failing and whether it is long due for an overhaul.

    Putting the Nationals aside for a minute (I'll come back to it in a bit) there are a number of issues with the present system :


    why appeal? If your band has proved that it is good enough or it has been proved (through contesting) then it goes up or comes down. Unless there has been a genuine mistake in calculation somewhere along the line then there should be no cause to appeal. I can understand why the system was introduced in order to compensate for any error which may have been cause, however the system is open to abuse and sadly this can and does happen with bands appealing to go up despite their results speaking to the contrary (note: I have no axe to grind against ANY band or regional committee on this, I simply putting across my own personal observation).

    Average Points

    The whole business of a promoted or relagated bands recieving average points means that they effectivley jump over bands which may have been knocking on the door of promotion. For example in a section with say 16 bands, the bands near the top are likely to be in the region of having around 12- 20 points. A band promoted or relegated automatically comes in with 16 points (based on a two year average) automatically putting them in a good position for promotion and effectively "bumping down" the current bands, the question has to be asked as to whether this accuratley reflects a bands playing ability, for example a third section band moving up would have the same points as a 1st section band moving down, granted there is still a contest to go before the "pecking" order is finalised, however a "subjective result" in this one contest throws a spanner in the works, the 1st section band could in theory find itself demoted straight down to third section, this does bring me on to my last point :

    One Contest and thats you're lot mate...

    Why do we still use the Nationals as a yard stick by which to beat ourselves to death with?, I do not for a minute believe that the Nationals is an accurate assesment of a bands ability, it's far too subjective and yet here we have a contest which can decide the fate of a band, it is a sad fact that players come and go depending upon the bands ranking, local contests are also based (somewhat loosely) on these rankings, in some cases the ranking of the band can be the difference between a healthy thriving enviroment or total disaster, yet we are still locked into the one contest mentality. It also castrates the local contests, how many "big name" bands go to local association contests, not many, it doesn't affect ranking therefore why bother?.

    A solution perhaps?

    One way to improve things might be to get the local associations involved and to have a bands position within a section based upon a number of local association contests as well as the nationals. Each association can nomite maybe 2 or more contests which count towards a bands grading, this in addition to the nationals would determine the bands section and position within that section. At the end of the year the points are tallied up and the bands at the top go up and the bands at the bottom go down. For the Championship section (where effectively there is no up) it would determine their placing at the end of the year (with possibly a regional champions prize?) and the next year everyone starts from zero again. An additional benefit would be that more bands would attend the local association contests since it would count for something and bands would be encouraged to hold on to players since all contest would be important. The Nationals would effectivley become the FA cup of the banding world, where the main aim is to get through to the finals rather than go up or stay up. Additionaly one contest would no longer decide a bands ranking it would be spread over a number of contests (something many people have been crying out for).

    Of course there are holes in this system, for instance the regionals have bands from different associations competing together so the local associations would need to keep track of which of their member bands came where. Also local association bands may well compete in different regionals though this may have the benefit of getting bands to keep track of more than just one regional heat. Also there is the problem of bands who (for their own varying reasons) only do the Nationals, How would we determine their grading? If they only did one contest then chances are they would end up bottom of the pile after a year and withdraw from contesting completely.

    It's a real puzzle, every system has its share of problems and given the diversity of bands and players (contesting, non contesting, halfway housers) its a difficult one to solve, if we are content with the current system then perhaps we should take a breath before complaining about it, if not then perhaps we should start letting our local and regional powers-that-be know about it and apply some pressure for change, or is this just change for changes sake.

    Thoughts anyone?
  2. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Blimey, I thought there'd be LOADS of opinions on this one given the comments dotted around in other threads!

    I'm going to stick my neck out then.... there's never going to be a perfect system because not all the bands in a given area do the same contests across the year - eg. over half the bands in L&SC only ever meet each other at the regionals because they either don't do any other contests or go out of area. Add that to the number of local associations who grade bands differently to even the numbers out, and it would be nigh on impossible to get a handle on respective standards across the year. Probably the most accurate yardstick at the moment is the 4br rankings - but even they're flawed because of the stupidly uneven weighting they give to different regions, grrrrr..... (there's another thread completely!)

    Whatever system is used, and I'd avocate the devil we know, then I think we should all accept the rules as they stand and get on with it - after all, EVERYONE is in the same boat. That said, the whole consistency-across-the-regions thing needs sorting out pdq.

    Promotion/relegation: agreed, the whole average points thing isn't fantastic, but it effectively gives the bands new to a section a 'bye' for a year to consolidate, and ensures the bands that really are that good move up to the correct grading as quickly as possible (eg. Zone One in our area) so it isn't all bad.

    Appeals: I totally agree with you Steve - after all, the same rules apply to everyone, and we all know them when we enter. If there's been a huge change in the band or miscalculations on the grading tables, fair enough, but if a band simply goes up or down because of the numbers then it should be tough and appeals shouldn't be entertained (imho, fwiw!!)

    (puts on asbestos suit, runs for cover.....)
  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Whilst I agree in principle with the points you've made, it seems to me (as an outsider with no direct involvement with contesting and its various machinations) that many of the disputes and attempted appeals have stemmed from various interpretations of grey areas in the rules. Hopefully, at the very least, the regrettable involvement of lawyers etc will lead to some sort of clarification so that this confuson will no longer exist. As those of us who've ever been involved in trying to formulate a set of rules know all too well, it is difficult, nay impossible, to foresee every possible scenario, but it should be easy enough in this instance to specify the action to be taken in the event of points being tied, a band folding etc, once and for all.
  4. backrowbloke

    backrowbloke Member

    I personally wouldn't advocate basing the grading on attending more contests. It is expensive for bands to go to a contest to force us to attend more is IMHO wrong. (see the previous threads re. Wales and BAYV). Added to that, unles you get all the same bands competing at all these contests, how will it be fair?

    I'd agree with Peter - it is better to clarify any grey areas of the current rules. I'd also agree entirely that appeal should ONLY be used in exceptional circumstances (e.g. miscalculation)
  5. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    As it is the job of the regional association to 'look after' the regional contests as a whole I think that they do need to be allowed a fair amount of flexibility regarding promotions/relegations.

    If bands are strictly promoted/relegated on the highest/lowest 2 aggregate scores basis you can very easily end up with an imbalance of bands in the various sectiosn (especially when the 12 Championship Section bands rule is added to the system). The regional association must be allowed to promote/relegate additional bands as they seem fair to maintain the balance of the sections.
  6. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I'd like to see an end to separate national and local rankings, and just have one.
    This would probably mean giving much higher weighting to the Nationals overall, so if you didn't go and finish in at least the top half your chances of promotion would be very small, say. Also you wouldn't go up unless you'd played the Nationals and at least two other local contests. (Not sure of the maths of this, but I'll have a think!)
    Anything has got to be better than a system which means a band can be 2nd and 4th section at the same time, that's just ludicrous.
  7. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    How many areas (regions, what is the difference?) have local gradings?

    As far as I know we are a 1st Section Band and always compete as one wherever we go.
  8. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    In Scotland the promotion rules are pretty clear. Finish 1st or 2nd in the Scottish Championship contest (also acts as the Scottish regional qualifier) and you are promoted, regardless of how many years you may have been in a previous section. The relegation rules follow a similar pattern to other regions in that placings over the last few years count toward your points total. The two bands with the highest points total are relegated. Bands that are promoted or relegated are given an average placing in their new section for the purpose of grading results. This generally works well although it is not perfect. There have been instances where bands like my own and Arbroath for example have jumped several sections in successive years. On the other hand there can be oddities such as the recent relegation of Championship section band Newtongrange, although they did bounce straight back up the following year. Also in Scotland, because we are a national association, a bands grading is fixed, we do not have a system of local and national grading. This seems eminently sensible and causes no confusion when Scottish bands go to compete in contests such as Pontins or the Mineworkers.
  9. JR

    JR Member

    No need for the absestos, I think you are right - I would go further and abolish the current first section - i think it has out-lived it's usefulness...
    I would then be in favour of a maximum of 10 in the top section at any time...
    I do not favour a break-away super league of any description
    I also think that the Midland area should be split as it once was...
    Quite why bands from York, Harrogate (sorry Dave, Rob etc!) Humberside/North Lincs should compete alongside the Geordies/Teessiders is still beyond me - please relocate them to their original areas - the bands are good enough to play at St Georges Hall! (and they would enjoy the experience)

    john r
  10. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    In East Anglia the local Association runs its own grading system. Championship,Class A,B & C

    The difficulty this causes is that in the Championship Section we have bands ranging from 4th to 1st section nationally. What then happens is bands who are graded 4th section are sometimes put off from going. Therefore I agree the grading system should apply nationally and all local associations adhere to that.

    Also if 'local association' contests were to count towards your national grading, who would decide how many 'local contests' count towards it? In many areas the local associations only run one contest a year.

    As for having your national ranking being affected by more than one contest. Not sure that would work. Some bands are happy to do several contests a year. Others due to finance, other important engagements etc may not be able to do more than the one. Therefore a 2nd Section band could soon find themselves competing against 4th section band, just because of justifiable reasons they cannot attend the appropriate grading contests.
  11. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    LBB and I had a long chat about this the other day.

    The need for appeals could on the question of points and positions be dispensed with completely if the possibility of a tie on points could be ruled out.

    • If a band is to be eliminated under Rule (K) then that band will count as one of the relegated bands ahead of any other consideration, and be "awarded" bottom place in the respective section.
    • If bands finish level on points in the league table with points accumulated over the previous three years, then the band finishing highest in the most recent contest will be placed highest in the league tables, and so on. That means that the best performing (of the tied bands) on the day might be rewarded with promotion or by avoiding relegation, but I see no harm in that.
    • If a band caught in a tied situation has not competed, they will be deemed lowest of all the tied places.
  12. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    That makes alot of sense and sounds like a good way to handle tie-breakers both at the top and bottom!!
  13. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I agree too! It gives weight to that old saying "you are only as good as your last performance".
  14. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Are you serious ?

    If you scrap 1st section AND limit championship section to 10 bands do you realize just how many bands will be in the other sections?

    This idea may be great for bands/players in chamionship section who will get to compete in a nice small contest but what about the rest of us?

    The Area contests should be organized with ALL bands in mind, not just the elite !
  15. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Well said Steve i am 100% with you on this mate.
    If the first section got scrapped think of the number of bands in the first section for the Midlands, we have about 17- 18 bands in the first section IF THEY ALL TURNED UP TO PLAY,.
    Ok then so, what would be the solution spread the bands around the Championship, &2nd Section, but then it would go back to BIG MASSIVE SECTIONS AGAIN 20/26 bands in the 2nd section midlands and about 18/20 bands in Championship section, i dont think us first section bands would be in favour of that either the 2nd Section Bands or Championship section bands as well.
    A suggestion i have on this topic is to hold 4 contests during the year,
    1:Set Test Piece
    2:Own Choice Contest.
    3: Entertainment Contest
    4 March & Hymn Tune Contest.
    At the end all the points are added up together and the top 2 bands get promoted and the bottom 2 go down.
    Thats only a idea but it would be a fair system of contests, looking at all aspects of playing, The March and Hymn tune would be a SET March & Hymn Tune like the Set Test Piece.

    Thats only a idea will it ever come to that i cant see it myself but there are a lot of people who come on here and im sure they would consider the idea if it was done.

    We want the First Section to keep on going like you have said, once again 100% backing to you Mate:clap:
  16. postie

    postie Member

    I think at the end of the day you just need a system in place that works. It is also imperative that people understand the way it works, and most importantly that people have confidence in it.
  17. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    A nice idea but, as I think has been said in an earlier post, I don't think you would get many of the 'Name' bands to turn out 4 times a year for Regional contests with little prize money.

    Personally I think it would be a great idea, maybe give a considerable 'weghting' to the Set Test Piece contests and let bands decide how many others they want to do. If you ar confident of a really good set piece result the rest wont matter.

    It would stop some bands 'buying' in a set of players once a year to maintain ther status which could be interesting.
  18. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    :clap: I know what you mean
  19. lewis

    lewis Member

    Going back to what was said right at the beginning of this thread, I have to agree with the points issue. I also think it is ridiculous that bands that have promoted or relegated basically start mid table. I understand it is to prevent bands from bouncing up and down but it does mean that a band can win the first section areas after getting relegated and not get get promotion while the band that came 5th does!

    I really do feel tthis point system needs to be addressed.
  20. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Maybe a system whereby the winners are automatically promoted (and last place relegated, not sure what to do about bands that dont play though) and the 2nd promotion place is points based.

    One good thing about the 3 years points system is that is does reward consistency. Is a band that is promoted one year, relegated the next, and finishes well the next year neccessarilly better than a band that has come in the top 5/6 for 3 years in a row?