Feeling Snookered by USDAA Snooker Rules?

This is just TOO FUNNY!   Here is the Merriam-Webster definition of the transitive verb:

snooker

: to trick or deceive (someone)

: to prevent (someone) from doing or achieving something

A quick note about this post.  I stopped competing in USDAA a couple of years ago and have not kept up on their ever-changing rules… so the Snooker rules I am referring to are the rules I competed under.  It appears that there are still issues of fairness when it comes to Snooker Super Qs due to small class sizes (other than the HUGE 22″ mostly BC class).

A current slew of posts on USDAA’s Sounding Board further confirms (for me at least) that USDAA is not particularly interested in fairness when it comes to the largest and smallest dogs.   This most recent example is regarding Snooker Super Qs.  To make a long story short, a team needs 3 Super Qs (I think it is 3) to earn an ADCh.  However, any class / jump height that does not have a minimum of 5 or 7 dogs, is combined with another class / jump height when it comes to earning Super Qs.  

For example if there are less than five 8 inch (jump height) Performance dogs (a common occurrence in USDAA), they are combined with 12 inch (jump height) Performance dogs.   Just to spell it out… that means a 9 inch tall dog would be competing against dogs up to 16 inches tall.  Sure, you can win a Super Q with a very small dog competing against much larger dogs… but since the combining of classes is due to USDAA’s inability to attract a reasonable number of 8 inch dogs in the first place, it does not seem fair to punish the few remaining 8 inch dogs by combining them with much larger dogs.  26 inch competitors run into the same situation when there are fewer than seven 26 inch dogs, in which case they are combined with the very large 22 inch class which consists mostly of BCs.

There have been some interesting suggestions on the Sounding Board about how to make the earning of Snooker Super Qs fair (or more fair) for the smallest and largest dogs.  However, the current rules are so convoluted that many people don’t know what it is going to take for their dogs to earn a SQ when their class is combined with another class.

Reading so many posts by competitors expressing frustration regarding the lack of fairness for bookend dogs and SQs must have been cooking on a back burner in my brain because while driving up to Woodstock from NYC this morning, a simple solution occurred to me…. USDAA could solve the Snooker SQ issue the same way they solved the A-Frame height discrepancy issue for mini Performance dogs last year.  All they need to do is to change the wording in the Rules and Regulations Book so it matches what is actually happening at trials.  The Take It or Leave It approach.

Here is specifically what happened regarding Mini Performance dogs and the A-Frame height discrepancy a year ago:  Instead of correcting the A-Frame height discrepancy for small dogs, USDAA opted to quietly change the description of the Performance Program.

Original wording: “The Performance program offers lower jumping heights for dogs, more generous time constraints on course, and a lower A-frame for all height classes.”

New wording:  “The angle of the ramps beneath the apex determines the power of ascent and skill required to scale the ramp, as well as the impact on the ramp as the dog engages it. The angle for large dogs is 98° and the angle for small dogs is 104°. All dogs in the “Performance Program” use 104° angle of ascent and descent.”

The discrepancy with the original wording was that all height classes only applied to Performance dogs jumping 16″ and 22″ and not for dogs jumping 8″ and 12″.  Small dogs had the same height A-Frame as they would have in the Championship Program.  Many competitors supported lowering the A-frame on USDAA’s Sounding Board and sent letters and emails to the President, but instead of fixing the discrepancy, he opted to quietly change the wording to match the Reality.

Here are my thoughts about the A-frame discrepancy that still exists (even though the rules now support the discrepancy):  How does one come to terms with USDAA allowing small Championship dogs to run over a lower A-frame than big Championship dogs.. yet not allowing small Performance dogs to run over a lower A-frame than big Performance dogs.  Perhaps the forces of gravity and momentum magically change at 5 feet 6 inches?  I think not.

IMO, USDAA’s changing of their Rules to match Reality made it clear to 8 inch competitors that we need to either Take It or Leave It.  I know of some fantastic 8 inch teams who opted to Leave It due the A-Frame height issue and perhaps also due to no jump height concessions for mini-dogs… but both of those topics are ancient history at this point.

Back to Super Qs… How might this same simple solution look if applied to Snooker Super Qs?

USDAA could simply (and quietly) change the Rules and Regulations wording so that two jump heights are always combined for SQs, regardless of the number of dogs in each jump height: 12 and 16 inch Championship dogs would always compete against each other, as would 22 and 26 inch Championship dogs. 

The same could be true for Performance dogs:  8 and 12 inch dogs would always compete against each other as would 16 and 22 inch dogs.

OH WAIT!!!!  In order to be totally consistent with the A-Frame height rules / wording for the Performance classes, perhaps the rules would be changed so ALL Performance dogs compete against ALL OTHER performance dogs when it comes to Super Qs.. just like A-Frame heights.. from 8 inches all the way up to the largest dogs.

Clearly, this would be a ridiculous solution for the current SQ inequality.   My purpose in writing this post is to remind people how ridiculous it was for USDAA to change their Rules to match Reality instead of fixing the discrepancy re: A-Frame heights for mini Performance dogs in 2013.  Changing the rules to match reality was not a solution… It was, however, a very strong statement to 8 inch dog competitors, many of whom responded by taking their trial dollars elsewhere.

All in all, I think USDAA is brilliant at playing the game of Snooker with its competitors, with special emphasis on Snookering their largest and smallest teams.

snooker: to trick or deceive (someone): to prevent (someone) from doing or achieving something