[CQ-Contest] Handicapping

Rick Tavan N6XI rtavan at gmail.com
Thu Apr 7 21:20:57 EDT 2005

Handicapping individual contests seems to me an exercise in futility.
It would require convincing the sponsors of the major contests to mess
with decades of precedent. Even if this were successful, any
handicapping algorithm would just increase the level of whining. 
Contesting has geographic inequities that will never go away. It also
has economic, intellectual and motivational inequities. I say, let's
live with them. We all understand the problem and most of us
understand, for example, the difference between 1M low power points
from the Pacific Division and 1M high power points from the Atlantic
Division in a contest like the ARRL DX.

That being said, many of us have gotten juiced over the possibility of
creating a contester ranking system that allows victories in widely
separated geographic regions to be compared, totalled and used to
compare contesters.  Over the years, many have espoused such a system
but so far no one has volunteered the energy to operate one. Chess has
the Elo player ranking system, bridge has the master point ranking
system, other sports and games have their own ways to measure and
recognize individual performance and ability (two very different
quantities!) across a range of individual events. But so far
radiosport has nothing.  Yes, any such system would create just as
many opportunities for whining as normalized scoring of individual
contests. But it would not perturb the contests themselves which have
established criteria for performance (not ability) measurement over
many years, nor would it require the cooperation and coordination of
contest sponsors.

There have been several well considered proposals for such a ranking
system that circulate every few years. I for one would love to see it
happen. But it appears that we would all rather operate contests
ourselves than devote our spare time to measuring how well others do
it. Maybe that is the key argument: If we really needed a way to
measure contesters on a level playing field, then maybe we would have

...Actually, at the highest level, we DO have it. It's the WRTC. Not
exactly open to all, but a step in one of the right directions.


/Rick Tavan N6XI 

On Apr 7, 2005 10:49 AM, Randy Johnson <randyj at loan-wolf.com> wrote:
> I think that there are ways of "handicapping" contests that haven't been explored.
> In professional golf, there is no handicapping, BUT there is the regular "PGA tour" AND the Seniors Tour AND another for pros who have gone to the school but haven't made the top 125.  In each group, people compete with others of, presumably, similar skills.

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