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white-mccurdy1We’ve written considerably about auctioneer (bid calling) contests.

Most states in the United States host such contests, and on the national stage, there is most notably:

Our focus today involves judging these contests — and in particular “who” should be judging.

First, let me say that it seems imperative that these contests are judged by other human beings. There does not appear today to be technology which would allow these contests to be graded or scored completely by computer.

Generally speaking, judges are chosen by the person in charge of the contest. This person in charge is often times a past champion, association board member or association director and otherwise not competing at the same time he or she is coordinating the contest.

Judges are chosen because they have some connection to the live auction business. Judges are almost always chosen from one of the following groups:

    • Past auctioneer champions
    • Auction school owners/instructors
    • Auction business representatives

The common characteristic of any judge is that he or she has some relationship with the auction business — which also describes each of the contestants. In other words, it would be nearly impossible to have a judge who didn’t have some prior or current relationship with one or more of the contestants.

Such relationship might be as extraneous as merely an acquaintance, or as material as a friendship or work relationship.

Of course, given these potential relationships and therefore a possible conflict-of-interest, some observers say that these judges should be people with no relationship with any of the contestants.

And, who would those judges be who had no possible relationship with any of the contestants? Those judges would almost assuredly be people unqualified to judge such a contest.

The fact of the matter is that for anyone to be qualified to judge an auctioneer contest, it is nearly a guarantee that such judge will know or be acquainted with one or more of the contestants, and more-so than other contestants.

Does this conflict-of-interest (Judge “Harry” scores contestant “Jeff” a bit higher because they are friends) mandate a review of how we select judges? Is there a better way to select judges? Is there a better way to judge contests?

On the contrary, this is the best way to choose judges and this is the best way to judge contests.

In summary, it seems in regard to choosing judges for these types of contests, we have a simple choice:

    1. Pick qualified judges who have potential relationships with one or more of the contestants.
    2. Pick unqualified judges who have no potential relationships with any of the contestants.

Easy choice as far as most are concerned.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.