It has been a while. I wish I was prolific but alas things get in the way. This week I spent the week organizing a secondary meeting out “west” to accommodate some club members that cannot possibly get to our normal weekday and evening meet up in the North of Dallas. As a result we are having a Saturday meet up in Arlington for club members out towards that center of activity. Writing letters, making pdf attachments and creating mailing lists made me feel somewhat useful again. A rhetorical question for some of you old timers out there…..Have you ever felt discounted by your age? It almost seems as though younger folk discount our older folk’s “shelf stock” of ability due to our advancing age. If they only knew……
I had an interesting discussion with a friend about contesting and competition in general. The long and short of it is my friend was disappointed in his results when compared to a second buddy near him that had a comparable station. After much analysis (and I mean sliced every way from Sunday analysis) it came down to his friends use of “spotting” nets vs his use of “no spotting nets”. For my friend, search and pounce on his own was “his” fun. Digging them out on his own was a special aspect of his contesting fun that in all essence “Kept him coming back year after year”. Well, talk about apples and oranges….Firstly, the scores were not that much different, secondly, the hours in seat were similar. The difference came from being assisted. After a lot of thought we mutually came to the conclusion that changing his game to compete with his buddy most likely would spoil some aspects of what he enjoyed and may ruin his “fun”. IMHO that isn’t worth a better score.
Almost every station/operator is unique. If you are competing, then make yourself the target rich environment. Year over year comparisons with your station and your equipment are what matter most. Are we improving, losing or just marking time? There is far too much variation in geography, equipment, and a persons “personal equation” to make external comparisons anything more than academic.
The nature of the human animal is to be competitive. We humans almost always turn whatever we are doing into a sport. We have to be disciplined enough to recognize that sport and competition cannot ruin our enjoyment of things. To that end I am reexamining my core principles with respect to my hobbies. What keeps me coming back? With Radio Sport for me it is mostly social. Sure breaking a pileup late on a Sunday against impossible odds for a new mult is certainly fun. But being part of the shared effort by joining into something is more fun. Perhaps this is why I enjoy Multi-Single so much more than any other category of contesting. It leaves time to sleep, cook, eat and spin those tales that ultimately become the most cherished contesting (lo radio) memories. Ive left a lot unsaid here. Anyone that has participated in any sort of radio contesting will undoubtedly know what I am talking about. It is, after all, as much about people as it is about winning, losing and applied technology.
This brings me to my last point. Peer pressure to perform. For better or worse, Radio Sporting tosses the best in with the least. That is part of its’ charm and also a curse. This occurs locally, nationally, and world wide. If you are a club member, the natural tendency is to gravitate toward having performance anxiety. Not in the usual sense but with radios! There’s that peer pressure again. One may tend to “not show up” because of perceived lack of score or not enough time to do well or make a worthy contribution. Nonsense! Lets not get the little mixed up with the big as my father used to tell me. You’re playing on a worldwide stage but your only competing with yourself. What you do year over year is what matters if competition is your draw.It is possible that competition is not your draw in which case _any_ score submitted is a good score. It is, after all, your fun! This has to remain fun or we all go away. To that end I suggest we all revisit our core reasons for playing at Radio Sport. Find those elements that keep you coming back and build on them. At the same time recognize that your core elements change over time and be sensitive to those changes. That, my friends, will keep us grounded and help us to find rewards with our pastimes over many years.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG