A defence of contests.

I posted this several years ago on packet radio, in reply to a series of messages complaining about contests on the ham bands. I still stand by it -- the only change is that I've recently enjoyed phone contesting, as well. I'm sorry that I didn't save the complaints for you to read, but I'm sure you can deduce the context. -- Brad, VE3RHJ


Much as I hate broadcasting screeds, I *must* reply to this ongoing diatribe against contests.

First, there are some errors of logic in the previous posts.

Not everyone participates in every contest, so counting the logs submitted to even a large contest doesn't give a true count of contesters. I favor the smaller contests; some hams only enter RTTY or QRP contests. Also, not everyone who does particpate submits a log. (Look at the number of QSOs by the top scorers.) Some people (myself included) can enjoy a contest without totalling up their points.

In my experience -- CW and RTTY -- contesters make a determined effort to use only a subset of the band. When the contest is announced, specific band segments are recommended, and most participants honor these. If things "spill over" on the phone segments, I'm sorry; but aren't the phone segments *always* crowded? (One reason I prefer CW.)

Not everyone contests with a kilowatt, and few indeed have high-gain HF antenna arrays. If you'll read those published logs, you'll find that most contesters operate with less than 150 watts. Many, like myself, operate 5 watts or less. Am *I* taking the band away from *you*?

It seems that many people cry "censorship" whenever they don't get their way....as if that ends all argument. It's not censorship when other people are filling up the ham band, just as a traffic jam doesn't deprive you of your right to drive. Your license gives you a right to operate a transmitter -- it does not guarantee you a frequency free of interference.

Amateur custom and practice has long enshrined the principle that no one has any more right to the ham frequencies than anyone else. (I've gone so far as to QSY a regularly-scheduled net because a ragchew was on the frequency first.) This protects YOU, the ragchewer and casual ham. Because if rights are to measured and weighed, who has more right: you, who can tie up a frequency chatting for an hour, or the 120 contesters who could share that one frequency for the same hour?

And now, a few words in support of contests:

For twenty years as a ham I viewed contests as these loud unruly parties which take place on weekends. I was never seriously inconvenienced, and if I didn't see the attraction in it, well, I'm sure they didn't see the attractions of RTTY, or packet, or 6 meter DXing. But last year I stumbled into a contest by accident, and I found out that they're FUN!

The people who are contesting are having a good time, enjoying the use of amateur radio. What more justification is needed?

QRP and RTTY enthusiasts benefit from contests. I would never have worked Japan on RTTY, or New Zealand with 5 watts, if not for contests.

CW enthusiasts benefit from contests. Try as I might, I couldn't push my code speed past 15 wpm -- until the weekend I entered a CW contest.

Many facets of ham radio are encouraged and supported by contests. Are all of these invalid uses of our limited airspace? Would you please, then, post a list of Authorized Uses of the ham frequencies? (Beware: some people feel the same way about packet, as you do about contests.)

Friend, if you can't enjoy the spirit of sharing, good fellowship, and most of all *diversity* which is the hallmark of ham radio, perhaps you have chosen the wrong hobby.

73, Brad Rodriguez VE3RHJ @ VE3IJD.#CON.ON.CAN.NA