At some point of lethargic routine of updating myself to the current news of pen spinning, there is a momentary phase of motivation to give my own two cents into the community: now is the time.
Here, I will write my overall sentiments of this year's world tournament and and the challenges of managing it (my emphasis will lie mostly here). If some people want this removed, feel free to comment or contact me personally by any means.
I'd expect that this post is going to be fairly long so I am going to separate this post in two simple parts:
- How it felt judging this year
- Concerns on management
How it felt judging this year
Every year, I always have felt that my judgement for world competitions are not qualified to the level of spinning the tournament holds. Surely, this year was no exception. In fact, the maximum level of this year's tournament was honestly beyond of what I could handle. I believe the top 8 spinners of this tournament are all winners of their own, and it was difficult and heartbreakening for me to determine that there is an absolute winner. But, somehow I did do it, and I am releived that I didn't receive much heavy criticism as I did in the past tournaments I have judged.
Most certainly the most difficult judgement in Tournament A was the semi-finals, although I would have thought it the semi-finals should follow the seeding tournament format rather than random selection, so it would have created more hype. Other than that, I have relatively judged freely than I have before.
In that aspect, I have realized that I had the longest judging experience in world tournament for this year's judging committee, despite having the lowest skill per say in the team. It was strange to picture that some no-name talking about judging to spinners who are already qualified to even join world tournament. I'd imagine there would be people thinking that my judgement is merely from 'some random tutorial dude whose got views on youtube'.And I wouldn't deny it really.
It really comes back to the question, "What is a criteria for a good judge?" and "What is the desirable results from these world competition." How can we define what the best spinner in the world might look like, and who are the judges to say that he/she is the single best spinner in the world? In a grand scale, these are questions that the most committed spinners think about, and fail to reach any conclusion. It is just too diverse to select the best oreven scale penspinning to a quantitative scale. This is why I am not very supportive of competitive spinning, because it forces to narrow down what is best based on the criteria made by the yearly committee (which changes every now and then). This, I believe discourages younger spinners to continue committing to this hobby. This is why it is important to have good management for world competitions in the future, and ideally they should lead the penspinning international scene while maintaing the balance between competitive spinning and non-competitive aspects of penspinning. This is key to prosper growth and development to the current community, which connects to the next part of this post.
Concerns on management
I am not sure how much I can disclosure about the management of world tournaments, but I can say it is always challenging everytime, and it seems like the stakes are unevenly distributed everytime as well.
For this year, we had a group of members organizing many aspects of the tournament such as rulebook making, web designing, judge selection, and establishing tournament formats. All in an unorganized fashion; no timeline or scheduling in prepartion for the competition. Eventually, there will be one individual who is willing to take the final decisions in taking the actions, and often that individual burns out and avoids interaction with the community later. This pattern in itself, is a result of short-term thinking, and I deem it not sustainable at all. This chain of reaction always has and will cost one or two individuals who has devoted a large portion of their lives to penspinning.
There is a weird paradigm in our community, that we often relied on the eldest spinner (even prestigious, if I may stress) that has to organize world competitions. There are several good reasons for this;
- The elderly are experienced and their knowledge is often centralized into one team or individual. There hasn't been any practice of transfering the expertise knowledge to another group of individuals. It has always been a selective process from the organizer alone, which has also ended with Zkhan who received his position from Zombo. There has been no transferred succession from one organizer to another through an official process (such as recruiting new committee from previous management, training, or manual). For this reason, whether it is good or not, there was no absolute procedure established by an official group that is required to follow when organizing the competition. The next organizer (or self-claimed) has complete freedom in managing and policy/criteria making.
- The elderly often has connections with other responsible figures belonging to a community, and faciliates the organizing process. This is common in all practices probably, that some leaders were active around the same generation, and they have suddenly become leaders of the community after a certain period of activity. Again, once that elder chain has collapsed due to reasons like losing interest in penspinning or busy with life etc, it forces the next generation to rebuild its social structure in a very poor manner, because noone maintains the system. This is especially apparent, because we no longer do not have a centeralized community platform.
- The community has low amount of self-active leaders who are willing to take responsibility. Time gaps caused by geographic diversity among spinners is the excusable reason for this. Everyone has their own lives to maintain. Studies, work, other hobbies, all alike. It is certainly discouraging and frustrating that you cannot reach out to other people responsible when you are available. The lack of personal connections and communication within a centralized platform really does stagnate our motivation to act and cooperate. There are so many platforms available, and most of the spinners are probably overwhelmed by this sole factor. The environment certainly does not foster any self-acting, or any form of leadership, and does not reward those much who might have the potential to.
These challenges are only a tip of the iceberg, and there are still more other problems that could emerge. I honestly have not put much into my mind that could become the solution to this problems. .
I have mentioned about this to several people and posted about this when UPSB forum was still alive, but it was rather an unattractive topic, since penspinning is only perceived as a mere hobby for some people. including myself. I still believe that there are people who genuinely love penspinning for its simple attractiveness and are willing to spend their time to do so, and perhaps they can find a solution that I could have not thought of. Until that happens, I will still probably be around the scene for awhile.
Then again, these are just my two cents, not something that should be taken so seriously, just some casual talk of a stranger.