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
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
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.
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