We’re all supposed to get along right? Sharing the same space, in this case amateur radio bands, in an atmosphere of respect and friendship… Until a contest is on. A Ham contest, for those who don’t know about them, is a weird hobby, a bit like train or plane spotting. People get on the air and make as many contacts as possible over a week-end. A contact lasts only a few seconds, just an exchange of call signs, and that’s it. There is no conversation taking place. There is no human interraction, so to speak. If that was all there was to it, it would be fine. People do what they want, it’s none of my business. Until their hobby is infringing on mine that is. Infringing in this case is too light a word. Until it obliterates mine for a whole week-end that is. They do this regularly.
Contesters think absolutely everyone loves contests and participates. So they park themelves on calling frequencies regularly used for low-power operations and call every few seconds for hours-on-end using hundreds of Watts, trampling on every other signal. It’s a contest, a free-for-all Roman arena, and damned be anyone who want to chat with their friends or make new ones using a respectful few Watts of power. They drool over their microphones or Morse key with bloodshot eyes. They need those points to win a new plaque or certificate for their trophy room. If the Ham radio contest was a touring rally, they’d run pedestrians over with their cars.
You would think contest organizers would police, or at least educate their members, but no. Because contest organizers are also contesters. The biggest culprit is the ARRL. Their station, W1AW monopolizes QRP (low-power) calling frequencies for hours with incessant calling using high power, and damned be anybody else. They to this all the time outside contests. How could we expect them to police contests? They even broadcast their Morse code practice daily on multiple bands. While I think that is actually useful, although I wish they used classic books instead of technical articles, it is against the law. But the ARRL is above that. Why should they worry about mere mortal radio operators using little home-built radios not manufactured by their corporate sponsors?
Contesters will also say that non-participants can go the the WARC bands, 30, 17 and 12m. Well, not everyone has those or an antenna to accomodate them. Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining. Why don’t we have one contesting band and you guys can all go to it where you won’t bother everybody else? How does that sound? They also say contesting is the Godsent gift to Ham radio. As if amateur radio would collapse without them. I don’t think so. I was also told “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Nope, not going to happen. Just like I wouldn’t sit outside an airport writing down airplane tail numbers all day or go to a cross-dressing furry swinger’s party… Not my cup of tea, although I’d choose the furry party over a Ham contest any day. To me, contests are pointless and weird, and that’s it, so no, I won’t participate, I’d rather watch paint dry.
Bottom line is, when a contest is on, way too often, I might as well go fishing or something, because turning my itty-bitty radio on is as productive as pissing in a violin. The lack of respect is appaling. There isn’t a wide enough stretch of frequency left free of pollution for long enough for me to contact, let alone chat with anyone.
You want to enjoy your contesting hobby? Fine with me. Just don’t keep me out of mine to enjoy yours.