I am not sure whether this is the case at every competition with lots of media coverage but I did see it happen at Mobile. Sometimes in their effort to cover a particular aspect of a competition they can become an obstacle. I have worked on the media side of things in the past (Radio and TV) and I can understand their zeal to get the story. But when the “story” gets in the way of the competition, I have to ask where do we draw the line. Let me explain.
As most of you have heard by now, Chris Lilly
was late with his turn in box in the brisket category. There are varying stories on how this came about but I think when it comes down to what really happened, the TV crew was a major contributor. From what I have heard, the Food Network
crew wanted Chris to be the last one to turn in his box. This was most likely in an effort to set up commentary about how strictly the time rules are enforced and the pressure put on the teams to comply with this rule (IMHO). However, it backfired for Chris. He was late to the turn in table and was not allowed to enter his brisket.
As I said in an earlier post, Chris handled it better than anyone I know. But the fact still remains, the presence of the TV crew played a role in the outcome of the contest. Would the final results have been different if he had made turn in? No doubt about it.
The Food Network Crew even interfered with one of our boxes but not to the point of getting us DQ’d. When I was turning in our pork entry, I was so focused on not dropping the box or shaking the contents that I was not totally aware of my surroundings. As I was making my approach to the table, I saw Byron Chism (eventual Grand Champion) out of the corner of my eye. He was between me and the table so I slowed to allow him to cross in front of me. As I fell in line behind Byron, I almost ran over the FN cameraman and soundman who were following closely behind him. Had I not come to a complete stop I would have ran right into them destroying our turn in box.
Please understand me – I am not bellyaching about the media coverage. I welcome and encourage it. Could I have been a little more careful and noticed the camera crew? Yes. Was it Byron’s fault I almost screwed up my pork entry? Absolutely not! Was it FN’s fault? No! I am not trying to place fault on anyone. Just relaying thoughts.
I received a very unexpected email from Chris thanking me and complementing me on my entry about him @ Mobile. In my opinion, he is still one of the best. And, based on an entry
in the BBQ Forum
today, the DQ in Brisket is working to Chris’ advantage
. At least the story has a happy ending.