[CQ-Contest] Where are all the young radiosport folks?

Gerry Treas K8GT k8gt at mi.rr.com
Wed Apr 22 16:44:20 EDT 2015

Well, you have to remember that Ham Radio was "cutting edge" technology 
for the average public at the time of Sputnik (1957).  I was licensed in 
1959 with a large number of teenagers that were technologically inclined 
at the time.

Things have changed and there are so many other technological fields of 
interest.  The general public's image of Ham Radio is "old fashioned", 
although we have been doing a pretty good job of publicizing amateur 
radio activities over the last 15-20 years, but we do need to do more.  
Also demonstrating to kids that we do "real time" live contesting.

On the other hand, a long time friend who had a Novice license in 1959 
but never upgraded, and is involved with model railroading and has held 
offices in the National Model Railrod Association, says that they are 
having the same problems recruiting young people. Model railroading has 
also kept up with technology with digital control of multiple trains all 
on the same track as well as micro cameras installed in the trains.

The field of remote control airplanes, cars, boats, etc.  has also seen 
a large drop off of new members.  Most "old style" hobbies have seen the 
same drop offs.  It's a sign of the times.

But I have participated in setting up a station for a school to 
communicate with the ISS.  From that we had two of the teachers involved 
attend the ARRL Teacher's Institute last summer and both now have their 
Technician licenses, and we had 15 students sign up as interested in Ham 

I'm now working with another school in the metro Detroit area for a 
contact with the ISS sometime this year, in the late fall.

We do have young people entering ham radio and contesting, just not 
nearly as many as in the past.  I teach a Technician Class license class 
in the evening at Lawrence Institute of Technology, but haven't had many 
young people in those classes, but in my last class I had a female 
student at LTU get her Technician Class license and is now KE8AAA.

So we all need to work at it.  It is primarily letting them know that 
ham radio exists and all the neat "newfangled" and "old fashioned" 
things that we do.  Invite some young folks out to field day while we 
work other stations via satellite, use new digital modes, or use old 
fashioned voice and CW.  Show them the fun that we have without relying 
on "commercial infrastructure".

73, Gerry, K8GT

On 21-Apr-15 23:35, Colin Jenkins wrote:
> We're here, but most of the other younger guys I know don't read or post to
> CQ-Contest.
> eSports and competitive gaming popularity is growing at great speed. You'll
> find that there are very many games that boast professional groups
> sponsored by a myriad of gaming and eSport companies. Some of the more
> popular games include Counter Strike:GO, World of Warcraft, and League of
> Legends.Teams like Virtus Pro, Cloud9, and Na'vi are professional teams;
> practicing many hours a day and competing on international levels year
> round. For these gamers, this is their job.
> The difference between these two activities (both of which I enjoy
> immensely) is the level of sponsorship and ability to earn an income by
> playing these games. For example, Twitch allows anyone to stream video
> games live to the entire community. I've seen viewer numbers hit over 100k
> during certain competitive events. Don't get me wrong; I absolutely enjoy
> running pileups, meeting new people at multi-ops, and learning more about
> station engineering but it is merely for my own enjoyment and at my own
> cost. Having the ability to stream and make money from streaming video
> games is becoming increasingly easier (even via mobile devices now).
> I've struggled with how to get younger guys into the hobby for quite some
> time and don't really have a concrete answer (perhaps because there may not
> be a concrete answer), but I think there are more out there than realized.
> The World Wide Young Contesters chat room is quite active during the day
> with many under 30. Heck, even some of the top ops frequent the room.
> eSports are here to stay and only going to grow further with the advent of
> streaming platforms. I, for one, have always enjoyed watching streams from
> contest stations. Perhaps this is something to ponder.
> Colin KU5B
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