Just a note:
A while ago, I started a thread that (also) included the issue of the AKA's
focus on sport kites vs. its focus on single-line kites. If you look in
the archives, you'll find that I got to the point of questioning the AKA's
very existence in the sport kite world, and introduced the idea of creating
another non-profit org. (or even a for-profit org.) that would deal
specifically with sport kites and competition...
>There are two sides to this discussion:
> 1. Those who feel that the AKA National Convention shouldn't have so
> much competition. The National Convention is a time to make/meet
> friends, talk kites, etc.
> 2. Those who feel that the AKA Grand Nationals should be mostly
> about competition. The AKA as the governing body of stunt kite
> flying in the USA should try to meet the desires of the
> competitors. Other things are necessary, but the competition is
> the most important aspect.
>Of course, there are people between the opposite points. There are
>quite a few folks out in netland (and elsewhere) who believe in 2, and
>feel cheated that the AKA Board of Directors decided to set up the
>convention with only one day of stunt kite competition.
>I believe that the board made the right decision at the time. I also
>believe that the board earnestly tried to get input from competitors,
>but that, for the most part, flyers just ignore the AKA and the board.
While at the competition in Long Beach, WA, I got a chance to talk to Dave
Gomberg at length about many issues, this one in particular. Although I
didn't get a chance to completely air my complete viewpoint, I managed to
get a fairly decent insight as to how the Decision was made.
This is not to say that I now know what the exact arguments were, or what
some of the concerns of both sides of the issue are, but I have a (vague)
idea of what went on that produced the decision...
I think Marty hit the nail on the head here: from what I could tell, there
are many different factions within the AKA, and, to a large extent, the
voice of flyers is not as strong as the AKA's constituency should warrant.
Now my opinion as to why this is happening.
One thing that Dave Gomberg mentioned to me that I found pretty suprising
was the lack of information the AKA had about its members. Basically, when
you join the AKA, you check a box, "My interest in kites is: a) single-line,
b) sport kites, c) both". Dave mentioned that most people checked both. Come
to think of it, _I_ probably checked BOTH! This is all the AKA knows about
Now, a little background about why the above information is almost useless.
As I said, _I_ was probably one of many of AKA joinees that checked "Both"
under the "My interest is..." column. Let's talk about numbers. I own ONE
single-line kite. It has a retail value of about $50. Well, without going
into a lot of detail, sitting in my car right now are kites I normally fly
all the time (i.e. not my whole collection)--retail value: $1600 (kites
alone). I have been flying for about two years now, and I've spent countless
THOUSANDS of hours behind the lines of one of many sport kites. Although
I've flown and appreciate single-line kites of all kinds, the ratio of
hours I've spent on each concern is easily a thousand to one--in favor of
Although I might be an extreme example--particularly when it comes to the
money aspect--I simply can't imagine that I'm that atypical. Every
weekend I'll go to one of several flying fields here in the Bay Area.
What I'll see is several dozen sport kites in the sky, and a few
single-liners. Outside of unit numbers, you can look at retail value: how
many people on these fields do you suppose went out and spent $150 on a
single-line kite? Close to none. The sport kites I see, however, are a
When somebody spends such a large amount of money on some kind of toy
(viz. a bicycle, volleyball net, rollerblades, etc.), there is a good chance
that they will become very interested in the particular sport (this is called,
"buying in" in marketing terms). Also, since sport kites can be such an
exciting and involving activity (gets real exciting here in the 25MPH+ Bay
Area :-)), a comparitively large percentage of these people will get "hard
core" into this sport.
This kind of 'mass appeal' cannot be applied to single-line kites.
I think that the AKA should more carefully examine its constituency, and
also examine its _potential_ constituency and market itself accordingly.
I think comparing the appeal of single-line kites to sport kites is like
comparing oil painting to water skiing. There's just no comparison. If you
judge simply by the amount of advertising copy in a magazine like _American
Kite_, sport kites would seem like practically the only things happening.
Dave Gomberg needs to "balance" between the concerns of single-line advocates
and sport kites flyers. He also needs to keep the "non-profit" charter of
the AKA in mind (viz. the AKA has no _direct_ interest in manufacturers
making lots of money).
As I've said before, I think that Dave and AKA, etc. are doing a fine job
given that parameters they are working under. Unfortunately, I don't think
that these parameters are a very nice thing to do to somebody...
>After this years AKA convention, the whole issue of competition will
>be reviewed again. A decision will be made about competition for next
>year. I would like to start a discussion about how the competition
>should be done next year. Please don't discuss the conference ranking
>system, I'll start another note for it after this one...
>So, here are the questions:
> 1. Should the AKA Grand Nationals be an Invitational (only those who
> are asked can compete) or should it be an Open (anyone can
> compete) event?
> I believe that the AKA Grand Nationals in Hawaii were the last
> year that the competition was Open. Since then you could only
> compete if you qualified.
I think that the "best of the best" idea is a good one--lest the Grand
Nationals have way too many competitors. One idea I would have is this:
figure out how much time the GN has for competitions, thereby derive how
many competitors in each event you can run, and then simply admit the top
N competitors ("points"-wise). No-shows could allow people further down in
the ranking to be allowed to compete... Just a thought.
> 2. What classes should there be?
> Currently, the AKA recognizes Novice, Intermediate, Experienced,
> and Masters level flyers. Additionally, some events are open for
> any competitor. In the recent past Experienced and Masters level
> classes flew. This year, all levels will be flying.
I think that the Grand Nationals should be a place for the most serious
flyers to fly. I don't think that the Grand Nationals is a place for
novice/intermediate flyers to fly--the AKA should leave that to the
local competitions (which makes way more sense, I think). Personally,
I'd like to see the event be Master's class only (mabey I could be convinced
that Experienced Team events should be run also...).
> 3. How many competitors should be allowed to compete?
> In the recent past, everyone who qualified was invited, and
> everyone who qualified and entered could fly. It wasn't unusual
> for three or four heats before the finals. This year there is a
> cap of approximately 15 per event.
See above comment. Figure out how much time you have and work backwards.
> 4. How does the AKA staff this event?
> Your plan for staffing should ensure that no volunteer is
> overworked, and that qualified judges should be judging.
> One of the primary reasons that competition was cut to a single
> day was that it has been very difficult to get adequate staff to
> run the event in the past. Usually what happened was that a small
> number of people did all of the work. Volunteers from the flyers
> were few.
I've talked a little about how to more get volunteers before--which had to
do with putting a value--perhaps even a dollar value--on volunteer work.
Dave Gomberg (I think it was Dave) brought up the idea of getting large
sponors (viz. Coca Cola) to help pay for the event. I don't personally
know all the answers off hand, but I think people need to be realistic
with their expectations and open to new solutions...
> 5. Should the AKA Grand Nationals be separate from the AKA
> The convention has the annual meeting, the auction, a banquet for
> awards, workshops and seminars, etc. The Grand Nationals took
> place at the same place and the same time.
YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES! I think that THIS will solve a lot of the problems
we've talked about here...
> 6. What would be a reasonable fee for competing in the AKA Grand
I keep referring to that article I wrote a while ago about funding a
competition, fees, volunteers, etc. Does anybody know where that article
might be (I'm not adept enough net-wise to know where to find this).
In essence, I said that people should have to pay for what they get. What
is a "reasonable fee" for an orange? The answer is, whatever it happens
I think that this question is not a correct one. The correct question is,
"how elaborate to we want to make the GN, how much money can we get from
other sources, what is left for competitors to pay?".
I support the AKA, and I wish the best for them. I'm still not convinced
that the AKA can adequately support the interests of both single-line
advocates and sport kite flyers--by definition. Somebody very clever will
be needed to figure this all out, and then show how it CAN be done...
"Hokey weapons and worn out legends are no
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