Is Contesting Killing The Hobby?


I recently read an article posted on QRZ (QRZ Forum Article) in the post the author wrote about how he thought that contesting was “a concern of amateur radio”. The article was originally posts here. While some of his points, I can see where he is coming from, I just don’t know if I would go that far to say it’s a cancer.


One of the points that he made is that in contesting you just give a little bit of information and get off to let someone else talk to them. He says that he would like to see more communication done for the contact. This is probably the main point that I agree with. At least when it comes to “making contacts”.

I would much rather talk to someone and have some kind of meaningful conversation while I’m talking to them rather than just where I am and what their signal report is. With that being said, I can see where contesting can be fun to some people. Some people just like making a contact or seeing how many contacts they can make in a short period of time. Also, I will admit, it is fun to me to a certain degree.

2016 Field Day Johnson County
2016 Field Day in Johnson County, TX at the Johnson County EOC

I enjoy working Field Day, which is pretty much the only “contest” I participate in. However, I’m not sure if it is because of the short exchanges and multiple contacts in a short time or if it is the comradely that goes along with Field Day.

One of the other points that the author brought up is when there is a contest going on, especially a big one, that it is hard to find a frequency to just have a conversation or someone to talk to that isn’t looking for just the quick in and out exchange of the contest.

One of the comments said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “if you don’t want to contest, go to a different frequency and talk your heart out”. Pretty much every comment that was made was something of a “you don’t know what you’re talking about…” or “don’t like it? To bad…” type of comment. There wasn’t a single comment that wasn’t constructive to the conversation. I imagine that is why the thread was locked after only one and a half pages of comments.


Another thing that the author mentioned was awards. The author states that awards needs to be made differently as well.

He says that your shouldn’t be able to use contest contacts as part of an award like Worked All States and others, and that a contact for awards should be a contact where you actually talk to the person you’re making a contact with.

My first question is who is going to set the definition of a conversation to earn the contact for an award? Do you have to talk for a minute or more? Do you have to exchange more information, things like weather, how long you and they have been a ham? Married?

My second question is who would enforce this requirement and how would you prove you talked long enough or asked the right questions? We as a community are asked to police ourselves for the most part. So would that mean that someone else would have to monitor your “contact”?

Is The Hobby Dying?!

This question has been asked so many times as of late and it seems like everyone has their own opinion on it. Just like everyone has an opinion about contesting, right?

I think that the answer could possibly be yes but it can also be no. Confusing huh?

I say yes because personally in my area, there are more new hams than ham that are “dying off”. However, how many of the new hams are active or stay active? I have helped well over 100 people get their license in the past, but a lot of them are either not active or only got it for use during emergencies.

In other areas this could be totally different or pretty much the same. Everybody gets into the hobby for their own reason. Whether that reason is emergency communications,general rag chewing, or contesting. It is THEIR reason and whether we think the same or not is besides the point.


I’m not going to say, like the author of the post on QRZ did, that contesting is a cancer. I am a firm believer that anyone that comes into the hobby should do what they love to do.  will say that to each his/her own. If contesting is what you like to do with your license, the contest away. If you don’t like to, then don’t.

It’s as simple as that!

Why is it that when someone has a different optimism of things, that can’t have a “grown up” conversation about it? Why is that we have to down play that person’s opinion, even if it is “a little out there?”

Further Reading

  • ETH020 – Contesing
  • ETH019 – Awards
  • ETH018 – Special Event Stations

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