[CQ-Contest] CR3L, category hopping and sportsmanship

John W xnewyorka at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 9 03:55:00 EST 2015

I have been silently reading the huge outpouring of arguments on this topic, and decided to add one more email onto the pile, despite the fact that I'm sure just about everyone is sick of this topic by now.  
If you're as sick of the topic as I am, you have my permission to skip or delete this post without reading it!   :-)
The root cause of the existence of this thread is that a talented team of contesters entered a "restricted" category (limited to 2 simultaneous transmitters), and yet their score beat the highest entry in the "unrestricted" category (multi-multi), so they decided to categorize their entry as multi-multi in order to win a first place award instead of a second place award.
Here are the important points as I see it:
1. No rules were broken
2. Nobody got hurt
3. They gave out a bunch of QSO's which helped everybody's score
4. The top scoring true multi-multi station, who now has been pushed to second place, was beaten fair and square by another team who happened to choose to participate with a handicap.  (An expression that comes to mind is "with one hand tied behind their back".)   I don't even know who that station was, but I am sure they did a great job in the contest.  But if I were on that team, I would certainly not be mad at CR3L for "stealing" my first place plaque.  Instead, I would a) congratulate them, and b) realize that I am going to have to figure out a way to do better next time, because if CR3L or someone else like them enters multi-multi again in the future, and operates in full "unrestricted" multi-multi mode, I know that I am going to get beaten BADLY if I don't improve.
5. You can argue all you want about ethics and what is morally correct here. But that argument is clearly never going to be settled. As a few of you have said, we will need to agree to disagree, and just move on. 
Those of you who entered the contest presumably participated in order to have fun.  Was your fun diminished in any way by this act of 'category hopping'?  If not, why is this even something to complain about?
(And if you didn't participate in order to have fun, why the heck did you participate?)
Let me relate an analogy from another sport I used to participate in very seriously:  bicycle road racing.
For those of you who are not aware, bike races have age categories like:  
Junior (ages 13 to 17)
Senior (ages 18 to 34)
Masters (age 35 and over)
Obviously the Senior category is the one with the strongest competition, and the Seniors' best times are consistently better than both the Juniors and the Masters, for obvious reasons.
In the mid 1980's, there was a young teenage kid who started racing as a Junior, and by age 14 or 15, he was not only winning all the Junior races, he was DESTROYING the other Juniors.   In criterium races, he would often lap the entire rest of the field. In road races, he would often finish a mile or two ahead of the second place rider.  He was clearly a gifted athlete, and it was probably almost demoralizing to all of the other kids who had to race against him.  (One kid I coached actually cried after one race, and said "That kid is a mutant. It's not fair.")   
Well, this talented teenage kid wanted more of a challenge when he raced. He wanted to actually COMPETE.  So one day he talked the race organizers into letting him race in the Senior men's race, immediately AFTER winning the Juniors race earlier that morning.  He place extremely high in the Seniors race - top 5 if I remember correctly.  I don't remember all of the statistical details, but I do recall that for the next couple of seasons, he ended up usually doing both the Junior and Senior events at most races, or sometimes only doing the Senior race if it was a really big or hard one, even though he was still a few years away from being 18.  He started WINNING Senior races as a Junior, which was previously unheard of.  And in cycling, that means taking home CASH (sometimes a LOT of cash) and other valuable prizes.  Did the Seniors complain that he was category hopping and stealing their prizes?   NO, we marveled at his talents and said "How should we train in order to be as fast as that kid?"    I don't recall anyone crying out for him to be disqualified.  (The only complaints came from a few Juniors who complained that it was "no contest" because there was no possible way they could keep up with him.)  
After becoming a Senior, the kid got on a pro team, and ended up racing in the Tour de France for 16 years. It was a pleasure and an honor to compete against him.   He beat me at least once or twice in Senior races when I was a very competitive Senior and he was a Junior. Again, I was happy to have the competition from such a talented person, especially one who was able to beat me DESPITE his handicap of being several years younger and less physically developed.
Again, the bottom line here is that the only reason this thread exists is DUE TO A LACK OF SERIOUS MULTI-MULTI COMPETITION.  
And THAT is the problem that we all need to solve, because that doesn't bode well for the future of our sport.
With the passing of every new SK, I find myself wondering "Are we adding new contesters as fast as we are losing them?" 
Clearly, if we are not doing that, the following frightening principle I learned in math class applies:
The limit of an ever-decreasing non-negative number is ZERO.
I suggest that some folks need to get a multi-multi team together and come up with a plan to beat CR3L next year, and don't assume that CR3L is going to give you the handicap of only using two simultaneous transmitters next time, because they might decide to use all six.  If you have a serious plan with a talented team and a good station, invite me to join, and I'll help you win.
By the way, I wonder aloud if anyone has ever participated in a contest fully Unassisted but submitted their entry as Assisted with the expectation that they would win the category.   (I'm guess the answer is yes.)  The same argument applies there as well:  If the top unassisted operator is beating the top assisted operator, that just means that the competition is not as stiff in the assisted category.  It's an opportunity for some talented operators to switch to the assisted category to increase the level of competition there.  (And I've noticed in recent years that this seems to have started happening.)
If someone beats you, without breaking any of the rules, then I would argue that your response should be "How can I do better next time?", not "How can I discredit his entry?"    The way to make yourself look good is by doing well, not by trying to make the other guy look bad.  
End of thread?  (See #5 above.)

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