Shorter Contests - Please!?

Geoffry S. Howard GHOWARD at
Tue Apr 6 23:18:08 EDT 1993

I have been following the discussions about abbreviated contests with
GREAT interest.

The specific rules, limitations, and scoring algorithms will, after
much discussion, eventually emerge. I'm not too personally concerned
about the exact content of those rules and limits as long as they are
relatively SIMPLE.

I would, however, like to make a fervent plea to the leadership of
the contesting community to PLEASE come out with SOME sort of
reduced-hours category in all the majors.

I returned to activity in the hobby about 4 years ago after 20
years of moving, military, graduate school, etc etc. My big goal
at that time was to achieve success in contesting. Like so many
others, my interest was spawned in the ARRL CD parties in the mid

Now, 4 years later, I find myself having given up in frustration.
I have had some decent scores, but for now, can't continue.
It is not the cost, the competition, the climbing, or any of
the technology challenges that has killed my intetest. It is the
48 hour periods that have soured me on contesting.

I won't revisit all the problems -- they are pretty standard
by now: families, professional commitments, dual-careers, military
reserve duty on weekends, civic responsibilities, and on and on.
Suffice it to say that I have decided that I am not again going to miss
my daughter's appearance in another church program, or ever again
ignore my in-laws when they are right upstairs, visiting for dinner
on a Saturday night. 48 hour contests require too much single-
mindedness of focus to give up the rest of life.

The prescribed remedies do not work. Visiting a multi-op and
running for a few hours solves the time problem, but it is not
nearly as much FUN as running one's own stuff, trying the antennas
YOU risked your life to put up, and the station layout YOU designed
as best for contesting. Inviting others to your station for
a home-based multi-op does not work because, as we have all found
out the hard way, there is an extreme shortage of folks interested
in working contests. (I could comment on why that is, but that's
another entirely separate topic.) A third remedy, simply working
single-op for a few hours, also does not work because there is no
way to be competitive as a part-timer. Many of us have no interest
in contesting if we do not at least have a CHANCE of being in the
competitive running.

The solution is a 12, 18, or 24 hour sub-category imbedded in the
big contests. (My personal preference is for 18 hours.) This way,
guys like me would be in the running to win, and still able to
do so without completely forsaking our marriages, jobs, and kids
on those weekends. It would be FUN again.

And to the strong-men like K1AR, K3LR, K5ZD, WN4KKN/6, KW8N, KQ8M,
WO0G (just to cover a range of call areas) please understand that
I am NOT proposing an end to 48-hour contesting. You guys have
all my respect. I hope the marathon strong-man category never goes
away. Some day, when jobs are simpler (or gone) and the kids have
moved out, I will be in there pitching for 48 hours. But at present
I would LOVE to see 18 hour categories in the majors.

That would bring me back into the game. I would become excited and
motivated again, and set to work getting all my new monster antennas
off their 3 foot high assembly jigs and into the air. It could be
an opportunity to go for winning certificates again.

I suspect that there are a LOT of guys like me, who have been pretty
much silent on this issue. Shorter competition categories might
just bring a lot of people out of the woodwork, and make the contests
more fun for everybody. As it is, there are so few really serious
single-op contenders that each contest becomes a battle among a VERY
small field of people. How much more fun it would be when there were
200 callsigns that had a serious chance of winning rather than 10????

PLEASE -- let's give shortened categories a try for a couple of years.

      73 de Geoff, W0CG, Suffield, Ohio

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