- Category: Archive 2010
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- USA Team Selection
USA Team Selection Section
Comments from Editor - or self appointed moderator..:-)
A couple observations - on Chuck's comments :
that we follow the AMA team selection contest that has a finals format. If a grass root participants effort believes we should change that to better represent the country, the we need to propose that to the AMA.
that people vote for the current format - this is probably because there is no well defined or organized counter proposal and they are concerned that the alternate may well be worse.
This ties with Aram's comment about not changing TSC membership , Roger implied disatisfaction with the TSC and process by his use of the Tea Party reference and the fact the participants have no real way of affecting change. After the in-person TSC meeting is carried out the participants vote to accept or reject the proposed team selection process for the following cycle, up to this point the particpants see this as a fait acompli so do not bother vote to reject it. Not sure what would happen if a majority did reject it?
Finally looking at this "conversation" we have 3 proposals we "know" about, Roger's and Mikes's that we know about and are similar and Chuck's that sounds different, more events and more complicated. To change the current way we need a more united consensus. If we proceed as we are I'm assuming that seeing Roger, Mike and Chuck are from different AMA districts then those proposals would go forward from those districts without a clear indication of National support.
So what's the next step?
More from Mike
Hello F1 fliers;
I made a proposal to get a discussion going, and to create a dialog to get opinions from the group. What was proposed is 2 sets of contests that probably over 90% of Finals constestants actually attend. In fact that 90% number may be low. So as to the travel costs to easterners, that is unfortunate, but since you are here anyway it is hardly an added burden. If there was a model site back east, I would be happy to go.
Next, if the flyers want to add the Nats into the mix, that is fine with me. It is expensive as to entry fees and so forth and the field is marginal, but I have no problem with it. And for the record, the marginal comment has been stated by all flyers, east, west, north, and south.
If the Nats were added to bring the total to 7 contests and count 3 or 4 on point basis, that is fine as long the flyers want to do this. The team selection commitee should send out a questionaire over the internet to get a idea of all flyers attitude.
As to setting a proposal cast in stone, I did not do that. I can detail it up, if needed. This is a general concept on how it can be done, without adding higher costs to the flyers, as you all attend these contests.
Comments on selecting a team
The current selection process has hopefully run into a dead end. Although claiming
to mimic a world championship format - a combination of consistency (7-rounds)
and performance (flyoffs) - the 14-rounder in practice eliminates enough fliers to
make the flyoffs a means to determine the alternate, if they are required at all.
So our Finals measure consistency. To make it easier, we fly with a dedicated
timer (borrowed from a flyoff setup) over 30 minute windows. But a pole at the world
championship is shared by three flyers. Just suggesting that two fliers share a pole
over a 50 minute window, raises protests of being unAmerican and “don’t tell me
when to fly".
Something along the lines suggested by Jim Parker with two 7-round contests will
amazingly reintroduce flyoffs into the mix. And if we double up per timer, over 50
minute windows, the timing crisis will suddenly disappear. Maybe, we can even
find a way to weave in results form selection contests to the Finals scores, along
the lines of many proposals advocating switching to or back to selection contests.
Another, less obvious contributing factor, is the way the team selection committee
(TSC) is made up. (I happen to represent district II, the only one to fly from my
district at the last Finals.) TSC members are appointed by the AMA district VPs.
Appointments have no time limits, and some members have logged many decades
on the committee. The results are very well run Finals, but in the dreaded 14-round
When I joined the program, in the mid 80’s, the program stated that representatives
were to be (re)elected on a four year cycle. This was never done and the clause just
disappeared from the Final’s document. Personally, I think that we all should be
re-elected periodically and that cumulative term limits apply (20-30 years). I know
that the “blue book” is silent on this matter, that some districts have one flier and
that some of us are irreplaceable. Well, not so sure about the last one.
Chuck's POV on the selection process
that the Team Selection Committee follows as closely as possible. In
that document, it is assumed that there will be finals contest to
select a team. That assumption is played out in several sections of
the document governing how a finals should be conducted. That brings
the obvious question of how are we to go around the AMA-established
process? I do not see such behavior as part of the Committee's
activity. We represent the AMA.
Second fact: According to the results of the questionaire given to
the participants after each finals, the great majority are and always
have been in favor of the current program. Because of that result,
the Committee does not feel motivated to make great changes in the
I do sympathize with those who feel some changes would make the team
selection program more inviting to newcomers as well as those who feel
that the goal is not worth the effort.
Because of that sympathy, I authored a proposal that, at least to me,
combines the two factions in a way that may satisfy a majority.
Briefly, it uses results from a significant number of contests held
throughout the USA as part of the selection. The other part comes
from the finals contest. The weight given to each part could range
from 25:75 to 5:95 with the major part belonging to the finals score.
For those who want a fly-off at the finals; using the 5:95 ratio any
contestant whose at-large score (the 5% max part) plus the finals
score (the 95% part) sum is greater than 95% would be in the finals
fly-off. If not, the team would be selected without a fly-off because
of the very nature of this point system with fractional points being
the norm. I will be happy to share the complete details with anyone
who wishes to see the document.
Team Selection - what else
First I'll say that I would support a change in our program to a multi-contest system like Roger Simpson has proposed if for no other reason than the logistics may demand it. The last finals almost did not happen as the deadline passed with nobody having volunteered to host the contest and it only came together through some unselfish efforts of some great people. However that may not happen next time so I believe that the time has finally arrived for the TSC to consider a completely new direction for the program, even if the surveys say that many are still satisfied with the old program.
I'll say that I never had a big problem with the old program now that it is clearly in the last stages of its life. I don't quite understand people that talk about losing interest in flying because they are not on the team and need to wait another long two years for another chance. Isn't it fun to just get outdoors and compete in the regular contests and enjoy the flying and fellowship and the constant efforts to improve one's flying and rise to the top occasionally? Maybe it's just me, and maybe I'm weird (I know I'm weird!), but if you don't enjoy flying just for the sake of flying, whether it be at local contests, or on local practice fields, then why are you in this sport? Sorry, but I just love things that fly and I always will. I didn't make the team this time but I'm happy to see some new guys that did and I'm as motivated as ever to work on new stuff and fly my best at the next contest whether it counts for the team or not!
But ok, I can see that the multi contest format may help with interest and motivation as I think it will raise the caliber of those contests another notch and all those contests will be taken a little more seriously, but I hope they don't lose any of the relaxed fun factor either. One thing that I liked about the finals was that it was a very serious pressure packed contest much like the World Champs. Flying in the WC is no picnic and one should really prove that they can perform under pressure to be successful. We may lose some of that with the multi contest format but there may be no other choice.
It does seem unfortunate that one bad flight can drop you from the team in our finals approach, but hey, that is outdoor free flight! I'm always surprised that we keep talking about this because this is a sport that demands near perfection with almost no room for error and yet there are many things during every flight that are out of our control and we all know it. There is no room for bad flights during the WC so consistency under pressure should be ranked very highly, but still there is that bit of the lottery effect in free flight that will occur now and then. The best flyers simply minimize it.
The singles finals system has produced some great teams and some world champions. I think it is interesting to note that our very best flyers made many teams under this format, but NOT every team because that one bad flight happens to even the best of them. A couple great examples in our FF history are Bob White and Randy Archer. Both were world champion and placed very highly at other world championships on multiple teams. Both made the US team under the single finals format many times. I haven't calculated their finals success rate, but I'm guessing it is around 70 to 80%. I would argue that this rate is about right as the very best should be on the team most of the time, but occasionally missing the team is not a bad thing as it lets others have a chance. In fact I believe that the single finals format has done a very good job of selecting teams that are a mix of the very best and others with less experience which is not a bad thing as it has given many people a chance without a few always holding a monopoly on the team spots. Under the single finals many people have gone away disappointed because one bad flight knocked them out, but many of those that came back and kept trying were eventually rewarded. Hey, it could take 6, 8, or 10 years to finally make it, but many people did!
Indeed my biggest concern with the multi contest format is that it might really pick the very best flyers every time, and in that case we would see the very same guys on the team each cycle. Perhaps that is the way it should be, as the ones that don't make it simply have to raise their game consistently over a two year period to be able to beat the best. But hopefully there will be just enough of the lottery effect that will survive the multi contest format to keep mixing up the teams and keep us all motivated! But then again, just watching models soar in a thermal should be motivation enough to get out and fly - it is for me!