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Author Topic: Competing discussion  (Read 3886 times)
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thief
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« on: May 05, 2010, 06:43 AM »

This was posted over on the NEkite listserv....since i know that there are people here who would care:

Quote from: Marc Conklin
Over the past few years as an event coordinator, I have tried to address
the most common complaints that I have heard about sport kite competition.
The most common criticism I heard was that comps were too disorganized, and
competitors wanted to have a schedule that was set in advance and stuck to.
I addressed that issue by requiring mandatory pre-event registration for any
event I was running, a practice that has since been adopted by most East
Coast competitions. Pre-registration allows time for the Chief Judge to
establish an exact flying schedule that allows events to run in "real time"
instead of "kite time".

It was always my hope that pre-registration would also address the other
most common complaint, that competitions aren't fun because competitors are
forced to spend too much time as field staff to enjoy the day. While
pre-registration does allow the Chief Judge time to spend balancing judging
assignments so that no one person has to work significantly more time on the
field than anyone else, it can't really relax the work load for a simple
reason: There aren't enough competitors to staff panels for all the
disciplines run. It's simple math, if you have 25 competitors flying in as
many as 22 disciplines, there's no way to avoid having everyone on the field
pressed into service onto at least 3-5 judging panels in addition to the 2-4
events that most folks compete in.

The competitors that suffer the most from being overworked in this manner
are the Novice competitors. We're trying to draw novices into competition,
and as soon as they've flown an event, we're forcing them onto multiple
judging panels. This has several ill effects:

1. Novices don't have time to practice or seek advice. While judging
is valuable experience for a novice competitor, we run the risk of burning
them out before they even get started, or scaring them off by placing too
much responsibility in their hands.
2. The quality of the judging panel suffers. A judge should be an
experienced flier, someone who's familiar with the type of flying that
they're judging. Also, a judge shouldn't also be exhausted because they've
been standing on the field all day.

So how do we fix this problem of understaffed kite competitions? The
resources simply aren't there to bring in non-competitor judges, at least
not in the numbers necessary to significantly reduce the amount of time that
competitors have to spend on a panel. The only side of the equation that
can be modified is the number of disciplines flown, which is why I am
suggesting that sport kite competitions drop precision events, with the
exception of Novice dual-line and multi-line precision, from their
schedules.

I think it's important to note that there are several good things about the
precision disciplines. Precision competition is great for motivating a
flier to better the fundamentals of sport kite flying. Precision is easier
to compete unprepared, because you're flying 3 predetermined figures and a
short tech routine. The precision technical routine also allows for more
variation than a ballet routine. These are just a few of the benefits of
precision disciplines, but there also a few downsides.

First, precision is anathema to spectators. I watched this first hand in
Ocean City this past weekend. During the music events, every bench on the
boardwalk was full of cheering onlookers. They were paying attention to the
announcer, calling competitors' names and congratulating them. Within 5
minutes of precision starting, the benches cleared, and the boardwalk went
back into motion. If part of the goal is to attract spectators in the
attempt to get kites in their hands, shouldn't we focus our effort on
keeping them there? But I digress. The main reason that I suggest dropping
precision events is time. The average time for a ballet competitor to get
on the field, get set up, fly their routine, and get off the field is 5
minutes. It takes more than twice as long per competitor, 11 minutes, to
complete a precision routine. So basically you've got 32% of the event
disciplines taking up 60% of the time. Finally, if you take a poll of
everyone who's ever judged ballet and precision, I'm pretty sure you'll find
that a vast majority of those polled will tell you they enjoy judging
precision much more than ballet.

By eliminating all precision events except NIP and NMP, you reduce the
number of necessary panels by half (assuming that some events run as
combined), and you reduce the amount of time spent on the field by those
panels by 60%. These numbers are more realistically balanced with the
number of available staff at a sport kite competition. This will also allow
for more flexibility in the schedule to adapt to wind and/or weather
conditions. Furthermore, a more relaxed schedule means more opportunity for
demos and other means to involve spectators.

Of course, there are problems with removing precision. The most obvious of
these is AKAGN qualification, and this would need to be addressed. Given
the small number of competitors currently, I believe the simplest answer is
for the AKA to stop limiting invitations to the AKAGN competition. At this
point, it's ridiculous to prevent anyone from competing. If the AKA is
insistent on maintaining some sort of qualification for AKAGN, then the
rules could be changed to allow those competitors who qualify for ballet at
AKAGN to automatically be qualified for precision as well.

Another option would be the MIX format, which includes 3 compulsory figures
followed by a ballet routine. I've never run the discipline, but I expect
it would take @ 13 minutes per competitor. With the reduced number of
disciplines, the time savings would probably be around 30%. Individual
panels would be on the field longer, but for less disciplines, and with
proper announcing during the compulsory figures, hopefully spectator
interest could be kept. Again, this would require a rules change on the
AKA's part, as MIX is not currently an AKA discipline. Of the two options,
removing precision and changing to MIX, it seems to me that the former would
be the easier to implement.

Sadly, all of this was suggested on the AKA forum 2 years ago, and I was one
of the voices shouting the idea down because, as I said before, I enjoy
flying precision, and I'm better at it than ballet. But if our goal is to
grow sport kite competition, we've got to make it fun, and right now, it
seems too much like work. We've got to cut down the number of disciplines
and time taken to be more balanced with the available resources.

Those are my thoughts, what about yours? It'll be difficult to continue
this discussion via email because I don't want to expose everyone's email
address, but I've also started a post in the Sport Kite Competition section
on the AKA http://www.aka.kite.org Kite Talk forum called "SKC -
something's gotta give" that repeats this email. Of course, you're welcome
to respond to me, but posting there will allow everyone to share in the
discussion, so I hope you'll consider that.

Thanks,

--
Marc A. Conklin
Commissioner
Eastern League Sport Kite Association
www.easternleague.net <http://www.easternleague.net/>
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010, 07:33 AM »

Master Conklin has all good points and there's nothing there that I would disagree with except how much fun is NOT to judge precision,... I'd much rather see the flyer's efforts in ballet or freestyle using props!  Precision is boring to watch, or judge and even to perform, the other fliers don't even care enough to witness it carefully.

I like the idea of more people being invited to grand nationals as well!
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 08:22 AM »

Master Conklin has all good points and there's nothing there that I would disagree with except how much fun is NOT to judge precision,... I'd much rather see the flyer's efforts in ballet or freestyle using props!  Precision is boring to watch, or judge and even to perform, the other fliers don't even care enough to witness it carefully.

I like the idea of more people being invited to grand nationals as well!

I disagree about precision being boring to fly, but that's no surprise.  I have more fun there than in ballet.  Not the figures mind you, but the technical routine.  It can be a work of art if the flier gives it some effort.

I sent my thoughts to Marc directly on this whole thing, but for me it comes down to this - who are we doing competition for?  The spectators, or the people competing?  If it's the spectators, I think we may as well just perform a mercy killing right now - it's never going to be much of a spectator sport.  And if we dumb down competition completely in an effort to get more people watching, what's the point of competing at all?  Frankly I don't care if people are watching or not - I don't do it to entertain people.

And as for more inviting more people to Grand Nationals, the same thinking applies - if we just end up "inviting" everyone (in most conferences we're just about there already), is there really a point anymore?

Just the thoughts of a cynical and somewhat burnt-out sport kite competition veteran....
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 11:32 AM »

We did this a couple years ago and I was outspoken against dropping precision because as a first time competitor having never witnessed an event because of the distances involved, precision was the only area I felt comfortable entering. I could do the figures, I could not develop a ballet routine having never seen one. (With You Tube today a potential competitor can now research what is being done)

An excellent bit of work from Mr Conklin IMO.

Marc has addressed my concern by suggesting to keep Novice Precision and much of what I recall was voiced last time around. He's pointed out and addressed the concerns of Promoters, Organizers and Field Crews and put a few very workable solutions on the table based on educated facts and figures.

If I was a competitor or active in any of the governing bodies I could be persuaded to participate in another Round Table based on Marc's idea's.

I might lean toward keeping Novice Precision and the MIX idea if the AKA etc felt some sort of precision judging needs to take place during qualifiers.


ps: As a novice being asked to judge I would definitely feel more comfortable judging precision too then Ballet and there is more interaction between judges and competitors during precision so I would agree it's more fun. I had a great time at my first comp, time to joke & get hints between figures & as we waited for wind.

« Last Edit: May 05, 2010, 11:34 AM by mikenchico » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 11:39 AM »

Quote
I disagree about precision being boring to fly, but that's no surprise.  I have more fun there than in ballet.  Not the figures mind you, but the technical routine.  It can be a work of art if the flier gives it some effort.

I sent my thoughts to Marc directly on this whole thing, but for me it comes down to this - who are we doing competition for?  The spectators, or the people competing?  If it's the spectators, I think we may as well just perform a mercy killing right now - it's never going to be much of a spectator sport.  And if we dumb down competition completely in an effort to get more people watching, what's the point of competing at all?  Frankly I don't care if people are watching or not - I don't do it to entertain people.

+1. I love love LOVE precision. And it'd be nice to have more people at times but who really cares in competition? We're all there for the fun of it. It's the experience that matters TO YOU, not what other people think about it. That's why I'm a kiter- because I love it, I do it for the fun of it, and I don't care what people think about it. and that is and will always be my mentality of the sport. What it means to you.

Fly Precision or not, either way people are going to come and go. Just be happy there isn't nobody there all the time.
Be thankful for what'ya got
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 09:28 PM »

Not a competitor, but I do have an opinion.

Why not give MIX a try?

They use it in other countries, so it brings the US into line there making it easier for fliers to compete internationally.

I happen to think it makes for a more watchable format, that can be run in less time overall, and that includes both elements.

What the heck, maybe the competitors in opposition to the MIX format will find the don't hate it as much as they think they do.

It would be a shame to do away with Precision entirely.

Give it a shot.
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2010, 10:32 PM »

To my knowledge, "Mix" was created to make a less time consuming option.
I believe it's only been actually used a few times. It's hardly the "norm" for STACK.
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2010, 07:41 AM »

I sent my thoughts to Marc directly on this whole thing, but for me it comes down to this - who are we doing competition for?  The spectators, or the people competing?  If it's the spectators, I think we may as well just perform a mercy killing right now - it's never going to be much of a spectator sport.  And if we dumb down competition completely in an effort to get more people watching, what's the point of competing at all?  Frankly I don't care if people are watching or not - I don't do it to entertain people.

I think this is a very good point.  Who cares if folks are watching?  In my experience, the only spectators at any TPs in the NL are those that are there with the fliers, rather than random spectators per se.

obi
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2010, 08:43 AM »

This has all been hashed over many times, but it's a subject dear to some of us. I'll chime in again.

This is not a spectator sport. Everything should be done to increase the fun and challenge to the competitor. Spectators should be very low on the priority list.

Everyone who competes should Judge (see below)

Pre-registration is excellent if you can pull it off. And if it actually makes a difference. Sometimes it doesn't.

I think the issue with Precision is the figures, not the technical. Dumping the technical and putting figures into Ballet or whatever might meet some organizer's goals but certainly makes competition less appealing for the flier.

I think it would be better to do away with separately judged figures and have two disciplines, Technical and Ballet. There should be compulsories in Technical, but they need to be judged as part of a whole routine, not just start, stop,start, stop, etc. Compulsories could be figures or tricks or both depending on the interest of the local flyers or maybe the Class.

A category that judges you purely on flying skill, without having to choreograph is ideal for a first timer. Just go out and show your stuff. The judging criteria for Novice would need to be somewhat different than other classes, but that's OK.

I enjoy the challenge of figures, but they are the biggest time suck and the least attractive to new fliers. The same skills judged in individual figures should be on display in a technical routine.

Novices should be required to shadow judge at least once at each event, but I don't think it's appropriate to have them score events. There are times when the lack of warm bodies makes that difficult, but if you are so short on participants then you've got bigger problems than Novice judges.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 08:47 AM by Allen Carter » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2010, 08:49 AM »

I've been to many festivals now - the crowds, for example at WSIKF, seem to enjoy hot tricks, ballet, and demos.   

I think that they would be interested in precision, but its hard for an onlooker (even an experienced one)  to know what is going on all the time without a dedicated announcer describing everthing.  It's like baseball - 15 minutes of setup for something thats over in 20 seconds (no offense to baseball fans).


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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2010, 08:54 AM »

Many of our competitions are being combined with larger kite events rather then standing on their own. As such some of those events receive support from the communities where they are held. A city that invests time or money in an event does so in order to generate tourism dollars, if the event is not entertaining and they see the spectators wonder off to watch the chess game down the road will they fund the event or advertise it next year? Although we don't have any competitions here in Chico merchants provide sponsorship, the city provides. The park & event insurance & manpower, a radio station provides free advertising for weeks and sound system & live broadcasting for the event. If 10 people came do you think they will support it next year? If the sport is to grow past 600 active fliers it has to appear to be entertaining.

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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2010, 10:15 AM »

I just don't think you should try to make it something it's not.

Demos are for entertainment and to show off your stuff in front of an audience. Comps are entirely for the small group of people standing behind you with clipboards.

If some portions of comps are entertaining, that's fine. Pairs & Team especially.

The only comp in California that's combined with a festival is Berkeley. It's a big successful festival but comps are a dwindling part just because of low participation. In the past, the more spectator-friendly parts of the comp (Masters Ballet, Pairs & Team) were held on the main demo field for the audience. Other disciplines are down on the comp field out of the way. Pretty good way to do it i think.

But that's once a year. All the other comps are just a group of kite nuts and their relations. The more entertaining you try to make comps for spectators, the less entertaining it might be for competitors. These days, a routine that would kill in Masters Ballet might not be as well received by an audience of civilians as a more traditional, old-skool routine that wouldn't cut it in the comp.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 10:16 AM by Allen Carter » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2010, 10:38 AM »

The more entertaining you try to make comps for spectators, the less entertaining it might be for competitors. These days, a routine that would kill in Masters Ballet might not be as well received by an audience of civilians as a more traditional, old-skool routine that wouldn't cut it in the comp.

This is the essence of what I've been saying.  Most of the suggestions I've heard for "saving" the sport involve watering it down, turning it into something closer to a demo-fest than an actual competition.  Suggestions like "let the audience decide the winner!".  Thanks....but no thanks.  I've put in years of my life, many thousands of dollars, and buckets of sweat trying to gain the skills and experience necessary to be both a good competitor and an experienced judge of the sport - I have no desire to show up on competition day and be assigned a score by people who know next to nothing about it.  I think people who take it seriously deserve to be evaluated by people who take it seriously, whether it draws a crowd or not. 

Maybe I'm just a byproduct of the era and area of the country where I started competing.  I certainly didn't enter the sport at its zenith (late '99), but there were still enough dedicated and experienced competitors and judges left at the time to set the tone.  I've always taken it pretty seriously.

Personally I'd rather see it die than watch it become a complete joke.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 10:47 AM by RonG » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2010, 01:43 PM »

Just as an aside as I've done my time in the oh-competition-woe-is-me trenches.... a Precision Freestyle Technical Routine (or whatever the hell it's referred to these days) that meets the 1 minute minimum but ends before 1 minutes would be more than welcome in Virtual FreestyleWink If you've put the time in to create and practice such a thing, this is one way to put it to some use.

Personally I'd rather see it die than watch it become a complete joke.

Be careful what you wish for  Embarrassed

Mike.
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2010, 04:31 PM »


I think it would be better to do away with separately judged figures and have two disciplines, Technical and Ballet. There should be compulsories in Technical, but they need to be judged as part of a whole routine, not just start, stop,start, stop, etc. Compulsories could be figures or tricks or both depending on the interest of the local flyers or maybe the Class.


I'm still a relative newcomer, but isn't this how competition used to be run?
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