Monday, February 27, 2012

In Defense of the Expert Pick

There's been something on my mind today.

Last week I made some comments about how the experts picking a contestant who did the best in the practice session doesn't serve much of purpose. The contestant isn't granted immunity from elimination. The contestant doesn't receive any advantage in the team challenge. They don't even get a Bass Pro Shops gift card. What they get is a pat on the back from an expert who doesn't really seem to see the point of choosing someone either.

For a long time Colby has been an outspoken opponent of this part of the show. He often takes time to comment on Twitter during his live tweeting of episodes to point out he too does not see the point. At face value it doesn't really seem to add anything to competition.

And for the past two seasons, I've agreed with him.

Then, during last week's episode, things continued as normal. The first practice session of the season showed the contestants shooting with the help of an expert. The expert picked his best shooters, and the contestants went back to the house. At the house...nothing happened. No one really talked the practice session.

So it got me thinking, what really was the point of the expert picks?

In season's past teams have often openly discussed how their practice sessions went and even who their expert pick was. Then, either in Season 2 or Season 3 (sorry, can't remember exactly when, if you know hit the comments) teams started to clam up.


Teams started to realize that revealing their best shooters might give the other team an unfair advantage in the team challenge, particularly if a team had the opportunity to sit a player from an opposing team. Teams didn;t want their strongest assest denied from shooting in a challenge. Last week, there was no discussion about the practice session (at least from what was shown, who knows what ended up on the editing room floor) and blue team ended up way off base by sitting red team member Chee Kwan.

Let's consider this though, while the expert picks don't give any obvious advantage to either team for a challenge, it does have a huge impact on how the team strategizes for the challenge. Almost every challenge involves shooters going head to head, competing to beat a member from the opposing team. Teams often try to front load their lineup with good shooters in the hopes that they will give their team a significant time advantage when the less skilled shooters come up to shoot and potentially take longer to hit their targets. The expert pick helps teams determine that order. Plus, the expert pick is only an opinion, and it's not unusual to see team's go for shooter experience over the opinion of the expert.

I mentioned earlier that there is no direct reward for being the expert's pick, but that's not a bad thing. The real reason I'm glad that there isn't a reward aspect to the practice sessions is that the show doesn't need to add another competitive aspect to it. The lack of reward helps keep the contestants focused on learning the weapon in the practice session, which is as it should be. Many times these are weapons the contestants have little or no experience with. it's important they stay focused not only on how to use the weapon and shoot it effectively, but how to use it safely.

While there may not seem to be a point to the expert pick, there is less of a point of having a team compete against itself. The way this is set up, it keeps the expert in a position of power, they have nothing to give but their opinion. It keeps the teams working cohesively instead of divisively.

More importantly, it gives the team members a point of reference. I know we made it through one season without this part of the show, but think about what would happen if they got rid of it. Egos might get out of control and teams could crumble. Too many people claiming to be the best can destroy a team's ability to work together.

It's just another thing that separates Top Shot from other reality shows. Other shows strive to create as much drama among the people involve as possible, but not Top Shot. Top Shot wants to maintain the integrity of its competition, and the expert pick helps it do that.

Agree? Disagree? Hit the comments and let me know

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