We are parents of a young Irish dancer. One of us is English (with a mispent youth hanging around the Harp Club in Birmingham), while the other is Irish (spending summers in the surf of West Cork, Kerry and Clare).
Our youngest caught the Irish dancing bug ten years ago and the whole family quickly became involved -- ferrying dancers to classes, travelling to feiseanna in England, Scotland, Ireland and North America, and helping to organise and run annual class and open feiseanna.
Our 'computing qualifications' stem from thirty years experience of computer systems, culminating in a five-year stint as UK systems manager for a major international publisher -- specifying, purchasing and supporting PC and Unix midrange systems for five regional offices.
There is a good business case to be made for FeisMark, but there is a more important motive for wanting to see an improvement in championship scoring -- however it is achieved.
It's grand to be a top dancer. Great to get the recall every time. Good to measure yourself against the best and to know exactly where you stand. 16th, 7th, 3rd -- you're improving, and next time you're determined to do better.
But not all dancers are champions. Not all dancers get the recall. And those who don't have no way of telling how they're doing. There is little motivation in dancing week after week without feedback -- are you doing any better than three months ago? Are you improving? Or is everybody overtaking you?
Irish dancing isn't only about winning: it's about having a go; taking part; learning from experience; coming back next time determined to do better, and we shouldn't treat non-recalling dancers as if what they do has no value. That's like stopping an Olympic race when the first three runners have crossed the line and saying to the others "You needn't bother now. We're not really interested where you come."
Dancers need to know how they're doing, but without marks packs they have no idea whether they came bottom or missed the recall by a half mark.
We think they deserve better.