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[CQ-Contest] The Elephant In The Bedroom

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Subject: [CQ-Contest] The Elephant In The Bedroom
From: "Ron Notarius W3WN" <wn3vaw@verizon.net>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2011 20:13:38 -0400
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There certainly been quite a few interesting discussions the last few days
regarding the possibility of adjusting the scoring for future ARRL DX

What I find interesting is that one key factor seems to not have been
mentioned; the proverbial elephant in the bedroom that everyone conveniently
ignores and doesn't talk about.  Perhaps it's time we do.

But before I get into that, let me be clear that I am not necessarily
opposed to the ideas in question.  I wouldn't want to make a final decision
without more information, but the basic idea of updating the scoring to make
it a little more geographically balanced appeals to me... if it can be done.
There are quite a few details to work out, I'd like to see the supporting
data, and then there's the issue of how (if) the contest exchange changes &
how this gets relayed to non-contesters who only wish to help by providing a
simple contact.  But those are details, they'll be worked out in due course.

So:  The question that keeps running through my mind, that proverbial
elephant, is simply this:  Why now?

After all, this scoring imbalance isn't exactly news.  It's been discussed
in one form or another for years... decades.  So why the push NOW to change

Could it simply be a side-effect of the competition for slots in the WRTC?
I think it is.  Since, these days, the major contests are all being
considered as preliminaries or qualifiers for WRTC competitors, clearly
individual placements or standings in the contests -- and how scoring
affects them -- has become very important to those who wish to be considered
or selected.

Now, if this is correct, if THIS is the proverbial elephant, then there may
be a relatively simpler solution than causing a major upheaval in one of the
top contests of the year.

Consider the analogy of a marathon that is also a qualifying race for the
Olympics.  There is usually an "elite" group of runners who are seriously
contending for their country's Olympic teams, a small group, and then there
are the local and regional runners, or those just out to prove that they can
finish the marathon regardless of their timing or scores.  The "elite"
runners usually have additional rules or requirements, related to the
Olympic trials, that everyone else can forgo as unnecessary.  While not a
perfect analogy, I think we may be looking at the same situation here.

Thus, the simple solution.  For those who wish to be considered for the WRTC
(or, in the future, similar) teams, after submitting their logs to the ARRL
or other contest sponsors, submit the same log to a special WRTC scoring
system or logging robot... the "contest within a contest" concept.  The WRTC
system, like the ARRL (etc) system, will score the logs, but using the
appropriate adjustments for distance -- or whatever the ultimate criteria
will be.  

For that matter, if they're only interested in WRTC standings, they don't
have to submit their log elsewhere (or only as a check log), just to that
system.  Whatever works.

No adjustments to the ARRL scoring are required, at least not in terms of
how it affects WRTC standings.  That's not to say that adjustments may not
come, or are overdue... just that we don't have to do it NOW for WRTC

How do we figure out the distance adjustments?  Good question, and that's a
detail that will come in due course. 

But think about it.  No major software overhauls or rewrites, no trying to
remember new exchanges, no trying to tell someone "I know you're in New
Jersey, but what's your grid square?" or "I know you're running 400 Watts in
Jersey, but what's your grid square?"  Keep it simple.

And those who wish to slug it out for a WRTC spot don't muck things up for
the rest.

Yes, there's a good chance that you can have someone win their Division and
be a relative runner-up in the WRTC standings, or vice versa.  But that's
what we're talking about anyway.


73, ron w3wn

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