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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: David Gilbert <xdavid@cis-broadband.com>
Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2016 09:35:17 -0700
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>

I wasn't trying to suggest that ham radio needs to turn into something that doesn't look like ham radio. I am, however, suggesting that if we want to draw youngsters into radiosport that we need to figure out ways to adapt contests into something that has the same immediacy and direct competition that online video games do ... the kind of stuff that the gamers call PVP (player versus player). I don't think we can expect to draw new people into radiosport with formats that haven't changed in 80 years. Changing the tools (loggers, keyers, etc) doesn't change the basic format.

We ARE competing with video games for interest and attention as a competitive activity , like it or not.

People keep morphing this thread into the larger issue of ham radio, but my points have been directed primarily at radiosport as the thread originated.

Dave   AB7E

On 3/27/2016 6:10 AM, Stan Stockton wrote:
A few thoughts....

I don't think we need to give up on contesting or amateur radio because of 
setting our sights too high.  We don't need to compete with video gaming when 
at any given time there may be 25 million people playing those games.  We 
barely have the bandwidth to accommodate those few thousand who currently 
operate in a big contest.

We do have a problem when the average age of the US ham is 68 years...

The infrastructure required for amateur radio is daunting as compared to other 
activities.  My opinion is that focus should be on generating enough interest 
that high school club stations become more prevalent.  How much focus is given 
to golf or tennis or other, not for profit sports where there are a half dozen 

We have a lot of ham radio operators, 800,000 give or take a hundred thousand - 
about 8-10 times as many as when I was a kid.  However the percentage of those 
who have EVER made a contact on an HF band is probably 1/10th the percentage of 
those who regularly operated the HF bands years ago.  Most have never been 
exposed and were mentored by others whose only activity is talking through a 

It's water under the bridge, but my opinion is that while the elimination of 
morse code and the VE program DRAMATICALLY increased the population of those 
with a call sign, it hasn't helped increase the number of hams who regularly 
operate the HF bands as compared to 45 years ago.

In my opinion we need a few thousand new contesters worldwide with an average 
age of about 25 years old for contesting to be good for many decades to come.  
We don't need to significantly change the sport to something that only 
resembles ham radio in an attempt to compete with video games.

How difficult would it be for each of you as an individual to generate interest 
in one or more youngsters, teach them morse code (if you will), get them on HF, 
interest them in contesting and help them along the way?

Little incentive.....If you don't leave your radio stuff to your grandchildren 
your wife is going to sell it to the first person who will haul it off :-)

73... Stan, K5GO

On Mar 27, 2016, at 1:37 AM, David Gilbert <xdavid@cis-broadband.com> wrote:

You're entire reply essentially says that I'm talking apples and oranges.  And 
you're exactly right.  But those apples compete for attention with our oranges 
among youngsters, and the apples are going to win because of the reasons I laid 

And it is exactly that radiosport is going to have to change if it intends to 
survive.  Again I point to the demographics that clearly prove my point.  Deny 
it if you want, but that's just more evidence of what's wrong.

Dave   AB7E

On 3/25/2016 1:46 PM, Paul O'Kane wrote:
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 
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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