[CQ-Contest] [VHFcontesting] What cost and expected benefit to compete?

Kenneth E. Harker kenharker at kenharker.com
Sat Aug 13 10:52:46 EDT 2005

On Sat, Aug 13, 2005 at 07:16:33AM -0700, Radiosporting Fan wrote:
> Let's assume that Radiosports would be run like other
> competitive sports, for just a moment.
> What entry fee would you be willing to pay and what
> would you expect for that fee?

Speaking of radiosport... I was a competitor at the IARU Region II ARDF
Championships held a couple of weeks ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  
It involved two days of competition in the woods of the mountains east of
Albuquerque.  All of the competitors paid a registration fee.  It covered 
in all or in part:

* Housing for five days and nights in a dorm at UNM
* Parking pass for five days at UNM
* Food for five days at UNM campus dining
* Liability insurance for the meet
* Site use fees
* Medals given at awards banquet
* The cost of transmitter controllers, transmitters, and antennas
* Orienteering control markers
* Event materials like tables, banners, streamers, sun shades, etc.
* Thank you dinner for volunteers

There were other costs that were covered by individuals or donors:
* Labor cost of detailed topographic map production
* Borrowed hardware and software for electronic punch timing system
* Borrowed atomic clock to set timing system
* Bus transportation to/from competition sites
* Bus transportation to sightseeing locations on rest day
* Web site for meet
* Email reflector for meet

The ARRL was one of many sponsors of this event, and two ARRL officials 
were in attendance: K0OV, the ARRL ARDF Coordinator, and KM5FT, the 
ARRL New Mexico Section Manager.

Even if you threw out lodging, food, and transportation from the mix, the
remainder of the costs are still quite substantial on a per-competitor 
basis.  Map generation, for example, can be over $10,000 per map if done
by professionals, and recovering that cost requires the entry fees 
from many meets.  The Albuquerque group has been very fortunate to have
one of its own spending countless hours working on their maps.

Radio contesting, on the other hand, is relatively low cost.  Most of the 
log submission process is automated, a lot of the log checking and line 
score reporting is automated.  The unavoidable expenses are (a) writing 
up the results, (b) pacing everything through the publication pipeline, 
(c) physical awards expenses, and (d) the cost of publishing a magazine 
article.  Since it is in the ARRL's strong interest to publish articles 
about on-air radio activity anyway, and most of the results articles are 
written by volunteers, this really leaves the management job and the 
awards costs, which as we all know are currently covered by one 
not-quite-full-time employee and membership dues.  

If you moved to a fee-based system, the fee collection itself incurs a 
significant cost, and I would expect that a LOT of participants would be 
unwilling to pay the fee to submit a log.  This would result in less
competition, less activity to write about, and I think the end result 
would please contesters a lot less than what we have now.

Kenneth E. Harker WM5R
kenharker at kenharker.com

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