Traditionally the winners in a contest are those who have made the most contacts
and worked the most multipliers. While this is certainly the most obvious scoring
method, it isn't without it's problems. The factors resulting in the biggest scores
(in order) are geographical location, size of station, and operator skill.
Let's be honest here. Depending on the contest, we all know where to we would like
to operate from. In the CQWW, you want to be in a "three point" country. In Sweepstakes,
stations in the Southwest have an enormous advantage. For the ARRL DX, you had better be
in 1 or 2 land to work all those Europeans. Geography plays the major role in determining
who "wins" a given contest, and unfortunately operator skills or station design can't
overcome the disadvantage.
This has a negative impact on contest participation. For example, the
Contest reflectors have had numerous discussions about the the lack of JA runs
and Asian participation in general. In domestic contests, it is profoundly discouraging
to hear a station in Southwest Texas running the East Coast on an otherwise dead band,
knowing full well that no antenna system will compensate for the lack of
propagation. While there are many operators who set modest goals in a contest, in the
long run you can't win no matter what you do. Unless you move, and we all know serious
contesters who have done exactly that. Most of us have family and job responsibilities
and have no choice but to operate from a disadvantaged area. Even a great effort will barely
get mentioned in the contest results.
Based on many years of contest results, we can make the assumption that this
geographical disparity is real, and for the most part insurmountable. Or is it ?
In every section, division, state, or country, and for every contest, there is
somebody that holds the current scoring record. The NCJ has made a creditable
attempt to document the various record holders in the contests they sponsor, but
for the most part "who holds the record" is the answer to a trivia question.
Why not use that big score on an annual basis ?
For a given geographical area, contest results could be calculated as a percentage
of the all time record score. For example, if the all time high score in CW
Sweepstakes in your area was 100,000 points, and you racked up a raw score of
90,000 points, then you accomplished a 90% score. If the record in another area was 200,000
points and an operator there had a raw score of 175,000 points, he did 87.5 %. This method
would level the playing field abruptly, and give operators in other locations a bonafide
opportunity to place nationally in a contest. Winning or losing would depend on operator skill
and the ability to build an effective contest station, not on location. There is also the
additional incentive to be the person who sets that record score. It would be your record
that everybody is chasing every year.