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Re: [CQ-Contest] K5GO speaks out for youth in contesting

To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] K5GO speaks out for youth in contesting
From: Paul O'Kane <pokane@ei5di.com>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2016 20:46:40 +0000
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
On 23/03/2016 21:01, David Gilbert wrote:

I enjoy contesting, but it's a legacy that isn't going to successfully compete for attention among anything beyond a very small percentage of today's youth. Most of the young ops at Field Day or contest stations are only there because of some family connection, and most of those don't last. Even the great majority of new hams the ARRL likes to tout as evidence of a growing base don't stick with the hobby ... if they did, we wouldn't be having these discussions. I do think that contesting is drawing a growing percentage of hams, but the base is getting old fast, and from my perspective here are some of the reasons:

David is right, but also wrong - especially when he compares
ham radio to the internet - that's an apples and oranges

1. Ham radio is expensive, especially of you actually want to be competitive instead of just participating. Rigs and antennas cost far more than a decent computer or smart phone, both of which offer far more effective communication and opportunities for competition.

"Expensive" applies to all competitive activities when you
want to be competitive - to include time and money spent
on diets, training, equipment, travelling and expenses.

2. Ham radio requires antennas. Theey are physically obtrusive and often create conflict with neighbors. Hardly anybody has to fight to get connected to the internet.

Apples and oranges.

3. Ham radio is real time and unreliable, subject to the vagaries of propagation and activity on the other end.

That's precisely what attracts us, and what distinguishes
amateur radio from most other forms of communication.

Why do some people still compete in sailboat racing,
subject to the vagaries of wind, waves, tides and
currents?  Because it's hard and they enjoy it - it's
what gives the activity its name, sailboat racing.

Applications like Twitter, Facebook, and online forums (like this one) are precise, dependable, and "sticky" (you can read and answer at your convenience). Online game competition against real opponents from around the world is available around the clock every day with virtually no waiting.

All hosted on the internet, a public worldwide communications
utility and, for all intents and purposes, free.

4. Ham radio requires a license, one which many of us perceive as relatively easy to get but which isn't needed at all for any other pursuit. It's a roadblock with no particular advantage to the user ... it's not like it keeps LIDs off the air.

Licences are required for many competitive pursuits,
including some motor sports (on land, sea and air), and
competition licences are required for some athletics

5. Almost any video game out there is more immediate with more intense real time competition than ham radio contesting has.

Apples and oranges - powerboat racing can be a lot more
immediate and intense than sailboat racing.

I honestly hope that radiosport hangs around for a while ...

> I do too - it's fun for me and I have a lot of money invested in it. But it needs to change if it's actually going to draw new people to the game.

Does sailboat racing have to change?  If not, why not?

> I've tried to come up with the idea of a contest format that would capture some of the real time features of a video game, particularly the ability to directly and immediately counter (either by action or by score) the actions of another contester,

Don't golfers (other than in matchplay) compete in
isolation?  The all have access to real-time scoreboards,
and we could have them too, although some contesters
prefer others not to let others know how they're doing.

Ham radio simply doesn't have the fascination for anybody today that it did for us ... and if we were young again in today's world it wouldn't for us either.

Why then, some two hundred years after the introduction
of mechanical propulsion, do some people insist on
racing without it?  The answer is they do it for its
own sake.

If we want to change the demographics of our hobby, our hobby is going to have to change. It's as simple as that.

Sure - change is good so long as our hobby, amateur radio,
doesn't change into another hobby.

Paul EI5DI

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