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The quiet American (31 January)

The Quiet American

 Every now and then I hear complaints from disappointed foreign fanciers, especially from America. It is in the nature of Americans to be optimistic, to fight and not to give up when they want to achieve something. Sports men from all over the world know how hard it is to compete them. ‘Them guys’ want to win, whatever it takes and American fanciers are competitive as well. Some work hard to spare some money that they want to spend on pigeons. These birds should make them winners in this sport but only few years later many of them find the birds they bought were rubbish

Are they so stupid then? Of course they are not. The problem of many is that they are too nice, too naive and they have too much confidence in the media. The power of the media is well known (got it Mr Trump?); few foreign fanciers understand Dutch so they fully depend on the information they can read in magazines in their native language or on what they are told by fellow sports men. And what you can read in foreign papers or on foreign websites is often hair rising for many Dutch and Belgians. Unfortunately none of us understands Chinese but I have reason to believe people over there are fooled even more than say in America for arguments’ sake.

‘Why do editors of those magazines allow these lies to be published?’ you may ask yourself. Are they ignorant or do they just not want to know the truth? If they would comment on the lies of an advertiser they might lose a client and money which they need to let the magazine survive. So for them it is better not to check and not to know the truth.

Problems the average foreign fancier faces are the following:  

- He does not understand Dutch.

 - He is ignorant about the sport in Holland and Belgium.

 - He thinks that what is written is true and thinks too highly of big names.

 - Some think too rational. For 500,000 USD you have a better house than for 150,000 USD. For 1,000 USD you have a better camera than for 150 USD.

But in pigeon sport it is different. Expensive birds need not be better than cheap birds. Some sellers however know that if they offer birds cheaply many potential buyers lose interest, since they think there is a relation between price and quality. I will give you some examples that may show my point.

On sites or in magazines dealers brag with National winners that they bought in Holland. In the past they did not mention the name of the breeder and in many cases not even the band number of the bird they bought. They just gave it a fancy name like ‘The Rocket’, ‘Superstar’ and so on. Thanks God fanciers became a bit more critical but not enough. Especially Americans often abuse the word National which implies that fanciers of a whole nation could participate in a race. The truth is that apart from some 2 day races there is only ONE real ‘National’ race in Holland. So if winners from racing stations such as Strombeek, Pommeroeil and so on are described as National winners people are fooled. It must be said though that ‘we Dutch’ also use terms that are misleading.

We have races which we call ‘National NPO races’ but we ourselves know these races have nothing to do with ‘national’ and often are not even provincial.

Furthermore one can read in many publications in America that a bird that was purchased by a businessman was the best of 55,000 fanciers in Holland. The truth is that in Holland once WERE 55,000 fanciers indeed but that was 40 years ago. The sport went down so much that today there are hardly 18,000 fanciers who weekly compete in different races. There was this guy that claimed that he had bought a winner of 70,000 birds from a station at which only 15,000 birds can be released at a time. Since many Europeans understand English some knew about this and asked the man how he could publish such a thing. The American flushed and kept silent for the rest of the day. The Dutch laughed at the quiet American but in fact there is not much to laugh about such things. Naturally some buyers themselves are to blame; they should be more sceptic like that Chinese. He had bought a bird that had performed so fantastic that he became suspicious. He mailed the pedigree and the results to a European friend who immediately saw that such results were impossible and the pedigree was fake as well.

Furthermore only a fool buys babies of a pigeon that is described as a bird that only produces winners and super birds. Such birds simply do not exist. Other examples of misleading publicity I better not mention since some are so shocking that they might be reason to quit.

Therefore I will give only some pieces of advice for foreigners:

- Slogans such as ‘the best breeder ever’ or ‘the best Janssen hen in history’ or ‘a pigeon that only gives winners’ are typical American but mean nothing.

- Never buy youngsters off birds of which neither the band number nor the breeder’s name is mentioned.

- Be careful when you read about results that are too good to be true.

- And most importantly, in case you buy a bird be sure you get it directly from the fancier. What some Europeans, especially those that are in charge of a website do now is buy pigeons of popular fanciers INDIRECTLY and offer them for sale. The late Klak had a so called ‘black list’ on which the names were mentioned from fanciers that could not buy his pigeons any more.  What they did wrong? Buy say 10 birds from Klak and when after some years 2 turned out to be good the remaining rubbish was offered for sale. They were original Klak birds with correct pedigrees indeed but had proven to be no good. Therefore people here do not understand why some pay so much for birds that are 3 or 4 years old. Only a fool will offer such birds for sale if they were any good. What they may have is a breath taking pedigree but don’t we want good birds instead of nice papers?