Is The ARRL DXCC Operating Program Still Relevant?

There are actually flying bikes and eBikes and other types of bikes that beg the question “Are these still bikes?” and “Is this still considered cycling?” Double plus points for using it in a brewery name . . . 

There is hardly a thing in this world that hasn’t been affected by technology in recent years. The DXCC Program stayed relatively stable during my years working towards Honor Roll – 2001 – 2013. But just barely. The biggest changes were a few entities were added and removed, but that was no big deal. Radio’s and connecting radios with networks were in the incubation stage. DXpeditions were not revolutionized – they had been planned and carried out the same way they did them since 1997 and VK0IR, maybe even before. DX Clusters were considered a potential DXCC killer at one time – but it was a non existential threat.

A few years later, and Remotes were allowed. I watched many OT’s and OOT’s claim that DXCC was DEAD.  Today, I read a ham who said that FT8 has the potential to kill DXCC because if it is used as a remote then anyone can set one up in P5 and then anyone can earn Honor Roll or Top of Honor Roll. It has been declared an existential threat . . .

That is a poorly thought out argument. The real existential threat to DXCC is the cost and access to activate an ultra rare entity. North Korea, Syria, Turkmenistan and Mount Athos are examples of entities off limits due to man’s folly. In a day they could be made common place garden variety DX. But Bouvet, Heard Island, etc will never be made easy. At $750,000, Bouvet is a bell weather – is this the beginning of the end of being able to activate some places? I think yes IF we insist on only large scale projects. 3Y0E was one man in a tent. Scientists visit there yearly …

The problem is NOT DXCC, its aging MEN who want to hold onto some “olde tyme” idea – when things were better – Ham Radio V1.0 (and each of us have our description of what that is – heh heh). We might not be ready for Ham Radio V2.0. But the problem is the operator, not the technology.

Another existential threat is the fact that the DXCC is made up of aging Boomers who seem to be going SK regularly. That will certainly have an impact and my crystal ball is cloudy after 2028…

And if the DXCC Program needs an occasional rule tweak, so what, that’s been the rule, not the exception (bad pun intended).

I will admit – the ARRL DXCC program is an anachronism. One reason many get into it is the lore of days gone by – there is the romance of adventure, the changing world map, etc, etc. We seem to be able to handle changes in the world map – where the list changes, but very ironically, we cannot handle changes in technology as well. And this is a technology based hobby!

I think the problem is most people think that the DXCC program is a contest and an award. It really is NOT. It is an Operating Activity where YOU compete against YOU.

Most people I know don’t really get that – or maybe they do get it but also slip into the belief that it is also a contest of some sort. That might be natural because the only output of any value of this Operating Activity is the knowledge and experience we get (and its a recreational experience for sure), and the only “award” really is “bragging rights”. But its only human nature to get puffed up when bragging and then it can start feeling like a contest.

The DXCC program is only still viable because people want it to be. Its a way to center ourselves and give the chase of DXing a framework – a program of sorts. It gives us some guidance and sets boundaries for our bragging rights. We can learn a lot along the way, and it can be great fun.

I know one person who chases DXCC Challenge but who has never filed for a DXCC “Award”. He is content and happy just having his electronic bingo sheet filled in, and you know what – during my 2001 – 2013 HR pursuit I dumped all of my QSL cards except one for each entity / ATNO. I also have enjoyed the online digital records as much as the cards themselves – maybe even more. That took a little doing since I was first licensed in 1973. However, I’m also a database programmer. But sometimes we hold onto emotional footholds from the past I guess – its part nostalgia and part fear (?)

99% of the people who have groused about DXCC being dead are in the very next pileup – and they will most certainly be trying to work 3Y0Z in just a few weeks. Its a gyration we go through – maybe a “checkpoint” – there are so many advances in technology that it seems normal and healthy that every now and again we have to ask ourselves “Why am I doing this?” and “Does this matter?”

I know several people who just like that rush of “winning” in the little pileup battles. There is a “rush” for sure – a sweet little sugar high you get when you’ve made it through – especially – when its rare and an ATNO.

Technology will keep marching on, and we either adapt or sit in a rocking chair reminiscing about when times were Great.

I’ll be out in the back yard goofing with antennas . . . . and then in the shack goofing with new technologies and new toys. Only because it brings a lot of joy in my life and its something I do just because its fun.

DXCC is like a non gender specific fraternity. (Pretty PC, eh?). But I do feel “akin” to others on the DXCC list in the (now) electronic only DXCC Yearbook.

As long as there is DXCC, I will at least follow along, even if I don’t actively play in it forever.

2 Comments on “Is The ARRL DXCC Operating Program Still Relevant?

  1. Wow — I saw the same comment and was about to write this as an email to you.

    I think sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that technology hasn’t changed is pointless. Funnily enough, all these “DX Ending” technologies have eventually become super popular and even integral parts of the hobby. Online logs, DX clusters, SSB, all were controversial at one time.

    I do believe that “DXing as we have known it” is over. But that’s nothing new. Compare DXing from the 30s to how it is now. I’ll take now, thanks.


    • I’ve had to check my own emotions at the door. For example, I stated my goal in 2001 that I wanted to make Honor Roll in 10 years with 100 watts and only wire.
      I changed that a bit, but stuck to “in my own backyard”.
      Now I feel like a fool for not taking my neighbor up on his offer to work FT5GA, and I’m at a point where I dont know if my interest will stay long enough to work Glorioso for the last one.
      Then I stop and ask “Is this just a hobby?”, And then laugh at myself.
      Passion is good. Having a sense of humor is required.

      The only winner of the contest is the person who has fun and enjoys ham radio!


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