Friday, May 10, 2019

"Welcome to the World of Competitive, Intercollegiate Meat Judging"

Sports Illustrated:

intercollegiate meat judging is exactly what it sounds like: Colleges compete against one another to see which team can best evaluate cuts of beef, pork and lamb. In Fort Worth, students began to spill out of white passenger vans at 5:45 a.m. By 7 a.m. they were in the cooler, where a panel of seven event officials had spent the previous day setting up the ten stations, or classes. Most classes call for judges to identify and order a series of cuts according to quality. One class, yield grading, requires the judge to eyeball the amount of fat and muscle on a beef carcass down to fractions of an inch. Then there’s specifications, in which judges evaluate whether a table of 10 cuts fits a checklist of United States Department of Agriculture standards.

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Just like their counterparts in NCAA athletics, plenty of judges will go pro in something other than meat. Still, nearly 80% carve out careers in the food and livestock industries, where corporate giants like Tyson Foods, Cargill Foods and Hormel Foods all sponsor contests and eagerly recruit judges.

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Regulatory agencies such as the USDA get into the game, too. “We do hopefully glean some of the students off these judging teams because they can go right into my world and go to work,”

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Today the [Texas Tech] Red Raiders are the Alabama football of the meat judging world. Under the guidance of Coach Miller, Texas Tech has reset the standards of collegiate meat judging excellence. Tech has captured seven of the last 11 national championships
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He susses out targets using the same tactics as college football coaches. Miller scouts stat lines through JudgingCard.com, a website that tracks results for every high school and college meat judging competition in the country. Otherwise, it’s word of mouth through his network of high school coaches.