Saturday, August 11, 2012

CheaterFest, Pt. I

You may or may not have heard about the latest cheating scandal at Breyerfest, which in itself is also sort of the problem. But first, the scandal itself.

Apparently an entrant at the Children/Youth Show - with the complicity/assistance of her mother - entered a horse painted by another person in the  ‘Breyer Model Customized by entrant’ class. And won.

They managed to get away with it by convincing the Head Steward that the initials on the model were actually their ‘stable initials’, and not those of another artist. They were only undone when a video was found on Youtube of the horse in question - in the process of being painted by someone who was most definitely not the entrant.

(An instance where a Youtube video has actually proven useful for documentation. Points to you, Youtubers.)

The irony of the situation is that this was one of those classes where Reeves had withdrawn from awarding the Glossies, and awarded Regular Run models instead. (Little Texases, I think?) All in an effort to cut down on this sort of behavior.

Lordy. I don’t even know where to begin on this.

Cheating has been in the hobby since forever, even when the prizes were little more than flats, rosettes, and the esteem of our peers.

Wherever there’s been a rule to be broken or bent, people will do it, regardless of the quality of the prize. Especially if the rules are vaguely thought out, or are only weakly enforced.

The biggest problem in the pre-Breyerfest days was the use and abuse of the Novice division. You see, there was no set definition of what a Novice was - some shows or regions went by a "years in the hobby and/or showing" rule (two years, more or less, or until you turned 18), or by "awards won" (two or more Champs/Reserves). Or some combination thereof. (There was also an effort to accommodate "experienced" younger showers with a Youth division, but that generally didn’t get a lot of entrants.)

It wasn’t strictly enforced - there was no national governing body then, either - so there was no way of discreetly dealing with hobbyists who had clearly overstayed their welcome in the Novice division - or had never truly qualified for Novice status in the first place. Other than giving them dirty stares or talking about them behind their backs. (Same as it ever was!)

It got so bad that the joke in these parts was that the ‘Novice’ division had tougher - and more experienced - competition than the Senior divisions did! That was also part of the reason why I did only a year’s "term" in Novice before moving up.

Plus, it felt weird to me competing as a Novice, especially since I had been in the hobby for at least six years by the time I had entered my first live show. I had entered several photo shows by then, did my own customizing, written articles for newsletters and I had even corrected and rewritten the "Complete List of Breyer Releases" that Breyer had been sending out to hobbyists who asked for it. I might have technically qualified for "Novice" status, but I was no novice.

(Why yes, I was quite the cheeky little brat back then. Marney sent the list back to me with a thank you note a couple of years later, so I felt quite justified in my opinion of myself back then. But, I digress.)

Abuse of the Novice category eventually led to its elimination at BreyerFest, because the stakes were so much higher: it wasn’t just about winning rosettes anymore, it was all about the cash money - in the form of prize models.

Funny how all that got disappeared down the memory hole, especially since the persons involved were not random, unknown entities.

But I’ll get to that selective memory problem some other time, when I’m up to it. What's actually up next: even more questionable behavior at BreyerFest you probably didn’t hear about.


Little Black Car said...

Hmm. When I started live showing in 1989, the only novice classes they had in my part of the country (Colorado at the time) was a novice collector's class since, back then, most novice collectors hadn't had the chance to acquire serious collector's items. No Internet, and fewer high-end models to go around. That's sure changed, too!

Novice collector's was judged more on condition and presentation than rarity.

ANDREA said...

I was showing in the Midwest area ca. 1984-1989. We had lots of shows, and competition was pretty intense in our neck of the woods (SE Michigan).

As far as i can remember, the same criteria for judging applied to all divisions. Which was whatever the judges decided it was. Some placed more emphasis on condition or the paint job, others on the breed/type/gender assignments.

I ended up doing better in the Senior division, in the end.

Mary said...

My only experience showing in Novice was my very first show in the 90's. A young girl (11ish?) showing her mom's collection and tack wiped the floor with 15 year old me and the other young people showing. She was politely, but firmly, warned that she needed to move to Open. My Big Ben beat her horses in one division championship. She won absolutely everything else with a leopard Appaloosa stock horse (can't recall the mold).

I show Open when I show these days (rarely since I'm 1500 miles from 95% of my collection), but only in Halter since I don't have a lot of experience or money invested in tack for performance. It would be great if I could show in Novice performance, but shows with that division tend to me all or nothing due to cherry picking.