This article was originally developed as a result of spirited discussions on
the bus ride back from the World Radiosport Team Championship convention in
Portland in 1990. In light of recent discussions regarding the rating of
stations and contestants, an
d the future of contesting in general, I thought it appropriate to give it a
"ride on the reflector".
Much discussion has been given to a variety of possible rating systems for
contest stations/operators, as a way to get the proverbial Li'l pistola into
the sport. It is generally agreed that the best incentive to become involved
and stay involved in a sp
ort is through positive reinforcement. In any competition this comes down
to....WINNING!! So, the problem becomes one of giving the newcomer, or guy
running barefoot with a TA-33 at 40' a way to do well without compromising the
validity of the achieveme
nt, both technical and operating skill-wise, of the old timer with "legal
limit" to stacked monobanders at 150'.
Numerous station handicapping systems have been suggested. The problem with
most of the handicap systems is that they tend to penalize the guy with the
resources, ambition, and dedication to max out his station. Why bother, if it
just gives you a lousy
rating. This doesn't seem like a fair trade off for encouraging the newcomer.
I feel like a system similar to that used in bicycle racing meets the most
objectives while creating the fewest problems. The system has been
successfully administered for ye
ars by the US Cycling Federation on a national basis, for races run on a local
forum. The analogy seems similar to radio contests run by sponsoring
magazines, clubs, etc. Briefly, the system goes like this:
1. Establish four categories of radiosport contestant. At first everyone is a
2. After taking first, second or third within his category, (Cat 4 when just
starting the system for everyone), in his ARRL section, in three major
contests, one moves up to Cat 3.
3. He does the same, that is first, second or third (x3 contests) to advance
again to Cat 2, and again to Cat 1. Cat 1 will eventually become the domain of
the big guns, or any others who have proven the ability to keep moving up the
A master database will be kept of all those who are "licensed" to compete, that
is, licensed hams who have joined the organization through nominal dues
payment. It will keep record of which members have placed where in their
category. It is unreasonable
to expect individual contest sponsors to award recognition certificates or
plaques to Category winners. These awards will come from the organization
maintaining the database, and will be available only to members. It can be
assumed that virtually all
of those who want to take part in the contest game will join the program.
Although at first all will be Cat 4's, after 3 or 4 contests we will no doubt
see the first graduates advancing to Cat 3. This will continue to sort out
over the first year or two
until people are competing against those with similar experience or station
I feel that this system is a good one for several reasons. First, it gives an
incentive for everyone to participate in contests. You can't move up without
participating. This will be good for the sport in general, as it encourages
new contesters into t
he fold, making the contests more fun for all. Second, it provides additional
awards within categories of competitors, while still allowing entry level
competitors to see how they stack up against the Cat 1's and 2's. Third, it
places no handicap on tho
se who strive for station excellence and technical advancement. This effort is
rewarded as they advance up in category.
On the negative side, it does still place a limit on how far the guy with
limited resources can advance. Let's face it, the guy with the G5RV @ 30' will
have trouble moving much farther than Cat 3. But hopefully the chance to
compete within a category w
ill keep the sport interesting and feed the competive spirit in all of us.
This idea has been kicked around up here in 7-land, and seems to be picking up
support. Many details haven't been figured out, ie guest op winners,
multi-ops, DX-peditions, etc.
I'd be interested in any feedback on this idea, both positive and negative,
including suggestions to flesh it out.
(AKERNER on MCI mail)