For large events with multiple judges, it’s common for the head judge to hold a staff meeting at the beginning of the day, before the event actually begins. These meetings serve many functions, including psyching the judges up, reminding everyone of how to handle things like backups and game losses, and generally setting the tone for the event.
However, in my opinion, one of the most important and enjoyable elements of these meetings is the opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves and get to know each other. It’s very common for people to introduce themselves with the basic, “Hi, I’m Paul Baranay, and I’m a Level 3 from Brooklyn, New York.” But I believe this is a poor introduction. (It’s nothing you couldn’t find out by looking me up on JudgeApps!)
To make introductions both more fun and more informative, I usually ask everyone to add one or two additional “fun facts” or answer a couple other questions about themselves. These questions vary from event to event, but I always make sure that at least one of these facts is related to something besides Magic, like “what’s your favorite board game?” or “what do you do outside of judging?” I think it’s important to remember that judging is just one element of a balanced lifestyle, and I always enjoy finding out more about what my fellow judges do when they’re not in uniform.
In addition to emphasizing our Muggle (read: non-Magical) activities, I tend to de-emphasize judge levels in introductions. At an event, your level generally isn’t as relevant as your role — that is, whether you’re a team lead, floor judge, or head judge. I almost never mention my level when introducing myself at events.
For much the same reason, I’ve also started omitting judge levels on the spreadsheet of team assignments for an event. While a typical L1 might need more help on the floor of a Competitive event than a typical L2, they don’t need to have their level listed on the schedule to get that guidance. Rather, I try to ensure that L1’s get the help they need by putting them on a team with a team lead who excels at mentorship, or pairing them with a strong partner. And in fact, this is true for all judges, not just L1’s.
While it may seem strange to write a blog post about something as seemingly simple as introductions, I sincerely believe they’re one of the most important aspects of the event. When I’m a head judge or team lead, I have a vested interested in creating a fun environment for my fellow judges; re-examining even things we take for granted or think are “boring,” like introductions, is a major part of that. Plus, if you’re looking to take one of those roles in the future, having a plan for keeping your judges invested and entertained throughout the day will go a long way. Even if you’re just starting out as a judge and not planning on head judging anything anytime soon, networking is very important. Being able to give an interesting introduction is a great way of ensuring that other people remember you, both during and after the event.
What are your thoughts on introductions? How do you feel about the idea of not listing judge levels on the team assignment list? Are there any other aspects of judging that you feel are often taken for granted, but shouldn’t? Let me know in the comments!