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The 1998 Sweepstakes Results Controversy

"Mistakes Were Made"

DE KM5FA

When I read the write-up for Collegiate Championship as part of the 1998 ARRL November Sweepstakes results published in the July, 1999 issue of QST, I was shocked to see several problems. Unfortunately, these were not just simple typos or transcription errors, or even something like the "two-zeros" problem that plagued the CW results published just the month before. These were much worse. These were arbitrary changes in the rules and scoring of the School Radio Clubs category! We all participated under one set of rules, and then the ARRL Contest Branch decided to report our efforts under a completely different set of rules! To summarize the most serious grievances:

  1. Complete disregard for the breakdown of the School Radio Clubs category.
    The 1998 rules subdivided the School Radio Clubs Category into: a) Colleges and Universities, and b) Technical Schools categories. In reporting the contest results, Colleges, Universities, and Technical Schools were all lumped together into a single summary table. The Muskingum Area Technical College WD8DQA should have been recognized for winning their Sweepstakes entry class, but they were not.

  2. Reporting a "combined score."
    In the 1998 rules, there were no rules for any kind of combined or total score for any entry class. School Radio Clubs entries were reported in a summary table that listed a "total score" created by simply adding the school's CW and Phone scores together. There was not even an indication of which modes each school operated. This is no different than giving the title to the entrant who claims to have had the most fun, which was also not a clause in the contest rules.

  3. Reporting entrants that were clearly not eligible for the category.
    The 1998 rules made it clear that only schools of higher education were eligible to participate: colleges, universities, and technical schools. And yet, the 1998 results include the scores of two entrants claiming to represent high schools. This is like letting a Single Operator High Power station enter the Low Power category - if a station is obviously ineligible for a category, it should not be permitted to enter it.

If contesters cannot trust the contest sponsor to even obey its own rules, why should the contest sponsor expect the participants to obey them? Shouldn't we be able to count upon the League not to make arbitrary changes to contest rules after they have been published in QST? Does this not affect our ability to trust the sponsors of the November Sweepstakes to accurately report the results?

I encourage everyone to contact the ARRL contest manager Dan N1ND at n1nd@arrl.org and express your feelings on this topic.

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Send comments to:
Ken Harker WM5R wm5r@wm5r.org
Last updated: 6 November 2011