Pipe Band Contest Season 2021: Findings of PP Poll Announced

A significant proportion of the pipe band commnunity want what is left of the 2021 season to be rescued. In answer to our poll question ‘Should the RSPBA run a truncated 2021 pipe band season?’ almost half of those who responded agreed with the comment ‘Yes, we need to get back out playing again’, writes the Editor.

However a significant proportion, 32%, thought it best to scrap everything and wait until 2022 before pipe band competition resumes, meaning a three year gap in bands’ competitive activities. (Bands last played in competition in the UK in season 2019.)

12% were not sure and thought getting out too early ‘might be dangerous for some folk’. In the final group, 5% of respondents admitted they had given up on pipe bands in the past year. This is surely of concern to everyone.

If we extrapolate further and add the third group to the second we find that there is only 5% of difference between those who definitely want championships this season and those who definitely don’t, or who are equivocal. This will be very worrying for the authorities.

Should they stretch themselves and expend significant amounts of effort and cash when a large chunk of the community are not interested? Will people attend given such apathy?

Those in favour of saving the season will be concerned that, faced with this reality, the RSPBA will simply pull the plug. We have only two championships left anyway, the Scottish on July 31 and the Worlds on August 13 and 14.

In all of this, please keep in mind that this is only a poll; it is not absolute. Here it is. Almost 500 people took part. The question again: ‘Should the RSPBA run a truncated 2021 pipe band season?’

I read this lockdown comment the other day and wondered if our bandspeople were similarly affected: ‘People are much readier to accept change after it has happened. Psychologists call it ‘status quo bias’. It is one thing to suggest mothballing shops because of a disease…… It is another to suggest reopening them once they are already closed.

‘Naturally, the longer the shutdown lasts, the more people anchor their expectations to it. In March 2020, when a three-week closure was announced, people would have been outraged at the idea that it might take four months to unwind it. But, after nearly a year of restrictions, one more delay doesn’t seem so bad.’

I have no way of knowing if people’s attitude to pipe band competition is being similarly affected.

Turning to the solo world, we can see the season crashing about our ears. Around 20 Highland Games have already been scrubbed, notably at Inveraray (third week of July) and Skye (first week of August). With the success of the UK vaccine programme and the possible acceleration out of lockdown announced this week, I hope these decisions have not been taken prematurely.

I will leave you on an upbeat note. The world’s two most important solo piping competitions, the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting, met this week to decide on those players who will be accepted for this year’s Gold and Silver Medals. The respective piping convenors have confirmed that, barring unforeseen difficulties, these competitions will be going ahead in some form this year, the AG on August 25 and 26 and the NM on September 2 & 3.

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