I've come to a realization this week about Cat 1 competitions, or maybe I've known it for some time and it's finally really staring (or slapping) me in the face here. The morning of the practice task (and most days since) we had what felt like the world's longest team leader briefing where most (myself included) of the team leaders came off as a bunch of spoiled, cranky children demanding to have everything our way.
What is really creating my huge disappointment now is the unbelievably high expectations that many seem to have arrived here with. I'm not talking about high expectations for reaching the podium or having fantastic flights or something admirable like that, but the expectations that everything...and I mean everything...will be absolutely perfectly organized and run at all times. Since when do we expect 100% perfection? That buzz phrase we all here "first world problem" is so appropriate here. Do we have everything so good and so perfect in life in general that we expect and believe we deserve it everywhere, all the time? What does it say about us as a hang gliding community that we seriously feel the need to bitch endlessly about the live tracking delay, the size of the task map, the format of the task board, the contents of our lunch packs? Truth is, I'm ashamed of us as a community.
I'm probably in a unique position given that I not only organize competitions, but I also compete and I also serve on the CIVL. I really can see all sides of everything that is going on here. From an organizer's standpoint, complaints are an everyday thing - complaints about the task, safety, etc. I'm accustomed to that. I've also found myself on the giving end of the complaining at Cat 1 events. Wearing my CIVL official's hat, I could pick apart plenty of imperfections with how things are going here. But, at what point to we all stop and recognize that this isn't Formula 1. There aren't millions of dollars at stake. There is no international stardom on the line. This is just hang gliding....and it's supposed to be fun! And we aren't even complaining about the hang gliding! We're nitpicking at details that, in reality, just don't matter enough to justify the huge amount of negative energy being spent.
When do we stop and recognize that the organizers want this to be an awesome, fun event every bit as much as we do. They're not back there thinking "let's see if we can screw over the pilots!" They're making every effort to show us a great time! I truly believe that.
My hope is that everyone here will remember that and perhaps come to the organizers with solutions, instead of complaints. I can say without a doubt as an organizer that complaints are so much better received when they comes with suggestions for a fix...something like this: "Hey, how about we try XYZ because we're having a little problem and this might help solve it?"
Putting my CIVL hat back on, I can promise that there will be no more Cat 1 competitions if we all don't stop acting like spoiled brats. There will be no one left on the planet that is willing to go through what organizers go through to provide us with a place to choose our world champion. There is no money to be made. People do this out of the goodness of their hearts and out of a love for the sport and it's a thankless job. Based on what I've seen this week, I will NEVER do it and I haven't spoken to a single recent Cat 1 organizer that says they would EVER be willing to do it again.
So, there's my rant. I hope some people will take it to heart. Meanwhile, I'm going out to have a fantastic holiday hanging out with my friends from all over the world and watching some very cool flying.