[CQ-Contest] Let's find a better metaphor

Jack Haverty k3fiv at arrl.net
Mon Jun 20 19:34:16 EDT 2022

As humans, we all need some "help" to communicate.  By ourselves, we are 
pretty poorly equipped to handle electromagnetic waves.  Our built-in 
receivers are only able to receive in the 400-700 Terahertz band.  Most 
people call that "light".  Worse yet, we seem to be unable to transmit 
anything at all.   But perhaps someday someone will discover that 
telepathy is real.

Meanwhile, we're all poorly equipped to utilize electromagnetic 
radiation for communicating with each other.   We need help.  Lots of 
help.  Everything in the typical amateur station, from newbie to 
superstation, from J-38 to array of towers, is some form of such "help".

But we're used to all that.  We don't need any "help".  As long as the 
transceiver and amp are working, and the antennas stay up, and the 
Internet is available, we don't need "help".  Oh yes, don't forget the 
keyer and the logging program.

It's those guys with the newfangled computer programs that somehow 
receive signals that no one can even hear!   They're using those 
computers as crutches instead of doing real radio.  And those spotting 

So, ...   "Help" is simply what *I* use in my station setup.  "Crutches" 
are what those other guys use that I don't have or want.  It's cheating 
to use such stuff!


I think the best metaphors will come out of sports.  Sports have lots of 
rules that define a game.  The dimensions of the playing field are 
specified.  The number of players on a team.  The size and weight of the 
ball, puck, and instruments you use to catch, hit, and move things 
around the field.  How long the contest is.   What you can do while 
you're on the field.   Etc.

Different games set different rules.  People play the ones they like. 
People watch the ones they find interesting.

Amateur radio is no different.  Someone sets the rules.  Anything 
allowed by the rules is neither "help" nor "crutch".  It's simply part 
of the game.   Anything prohibited by the rules is a violation and may 
result in penalties and even disqualification, all defined by the rules 
of course.

Instead of arguing about "help" or "crutches", I'd suggest discussing 
what rules make the game more fun, more successful, and more played.

If you don't like the rules, and they don't fit your idea of what's fun, 
the simple thing to do is decline to play.   If enough people do that, 
perhaps the rules will change....

Personally, my radio interest has always been (50+ years now) in seeing 
what I can do with just 100 watts and a wire.  I haven't found a contest 
yet where it's plausible to "win" as such a player.  That's OK, I just 
accept it.  To win, you typically need a very well-equipped 
super-station (lots of "help"), and be willing to endure hours of 
sitting playing whack-a-mole as fast as you can -- something I 
personally find tedious and boring.   So I'm rarely seen in contests 
lately.  The rules simply don't match what I find interesting.

FT8 sounds interesting, especially with 100-watts-and-a-wire.  Maybe 
that will get me back on the field.....

Just some food for thought,
73 de K3FIV

On 6/20/22 07:46, S57AD wrote:
> Well said, Art!
> 73, Mirko, S57AD
> V V pon., 20. jun. 2022 ob 16:31 je oseba Art Boyars <artboyars at gmail.com>
> napisala:
>> (Or is it a simile?)
>> We've been talking about various operating aids being "crutches" (spotting,
>> super check partial, call history files, HQ station ID lists, computer
>> logging, electronic keyers, SSB, radio telephone, narrow band filters,
>> superhet receivers, CW (vs. spark)...)
>> There is an ancient saying in one of my communities, "while I stand on one
>> foot".  It means the student (or questioner) expects a simple answer to a
>> complicated and complex question.  E.g., "Tell me how to get my Extra Class
>> license while I stand on one foot."
>> I stopped using that saying a few years ago when we became close friends
>> with a family where the father had lost a leg in a war.  He was getting
>> advanced medical treatment to try to stretch the remnant of his femur so
>> that he could be fitted with a prosthetic leg... so he could walk without
>> crutches and so he could pick up his kids.
>> Except for a few frauds, I don't think anybody who uses crutches uses them
>> to gain an advantage.  Rather, they use crutches just to try to keep up
>> with those of us who have normal abilities (whatever that is).
>> I'm NOT arguing about whether any of these forms of assistance should be
>> allowed.  I'm only suggesting that we stop calling them "crutches".  Let's
>> find a better metaphor, or let's use plain language and call them "help".
>> 73, Art K3KU
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