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Show Profile  James Posted: 14 May 2003, 3:19 PM  
Just for the record Andrew, me and my skanky white pants are still going strong, and have been out to the last 2 weekends, and no doubt will be skanking this saturday night as well.
The reason for not seeing them, probably has something to do with the fact that you havent been present in the same skanky/meatmarket clubs that I have, although I do comend you on your classier options of partying venues. But strongly doubt that my white pants could work their magic in the clubs where you down your beverages.
To think that an Orienteering event could stop me and my skank pants from hitting the town! Really Andrew!

Show Profile  fancy_michael Posted: 14 May 2003, 5:15 PM  
Trying to restrict entries into M/W21E is a stupid idea. It's an open grade and anybody keen to throw their rocks in should have the chance -especially people that LIKE being out on a mission course. What about people like Steve Gurney? He doesn't qualify under the Aussie guidelines -but certainly has the endurance to run a 14km red course (whether he finds all the controls within 3 hours is another matter)
Provided people know the safety bearing and are aware of course closure, they have a right to be on the map for 3 hours... let them get value for money on course 1! Not everyone likes Short Red courses.

Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 14 May 2003, 11:25 PM  
I don't think there should be restrictions put on people of elite age running elite. Now that is just hindering competition

So Jamie, people of elite age shouldn't have restrictions put on them because it hinders competition, but people of elite age less one should, so that it can aid their development.

Interesting. You don't vote Labour by any chance, do you?

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 15 May 2003, 1:57 AM  
We won't get into what I voted, lets just say it was purely strategic.

I think you are getting your arguments confused. What the others, Malcolm, Melissa etc are proposing is akin to an M20 having to qualify for M20E, everybody should be able to run THEIR A-grade if desired.

I've got no problem with people losing, unless they could be winning somewhere else, and (do I dare say this) the winner of a B-grade, or an A-short grade, or indeed an A-long grade is not actually a winner. Except in the context that we are all winners.

I guess that designates me as right wing? Or maybe a right wing party hidden in left wing clothes (ala United Future). Whatever so be it.


Show Profile  fancy_michael Posted: 15 May 2003, 5:50 AM  
...the winner of a B-grade, or an A-short grade, or indeed an A-long grade is not actually a winner
I couldn't agree more!
I felt genuinely embarrassed to recieve a trophy at Nationals for M21"can't handle course 1"A. Oh well... at least my name will be engraved under Frazer's and Jamie's!
Why do we even have B grades? If you aren't running A (E for 21s) you should simply chose the course you want to run, and run outside of any "grade". This would actually give people more choice and would reduced the ridiculous number of grades (42 at ANZAC!)

Show Profile  Andrew M Posted: 16 May 2003, 3:45 AM  
42 grades on 12 courses does sound a little absurd when you think about it.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 16 May 2003, 8:42 AM  
Jamie, I'm on record in the Technical Committee as saying that the difficulty/age relationship (while embodied in the rules) is a coaching rather than competition matter, and the TC should be guided by the Coaching Director on it. Well done for tackling it.

Having said that I hope that you investigate what other countries do. There is a particularly interesting system in Britain (not sure whether it applies nationally) in which juniors move through the difficulty steps at a rate they choose, kind of like the karate belt colour system. Try the BOF Coaching Director for details.

On the restrictions to moving up (or for vets down) I think you are on thin ice there. I can recall an excellent article in the Australian Orienteer by Kay Haarsma about choosing different lengths at different times of the season. And given the various objectives that we all have, we may be wanting extra length at random times. I would prefer that you got this info to those who would be interested rather than thinking about restrictions.


Show Profile  Neil K Posted: 22 May 2003, 2:48 PM  
This is my more serious answer to Jamie’s proposal. I would only bother to read it if you have time and are actually interested in the issue.


Problem Identification/Analysis

There is a problem with the strength of the junior grades, especially M/W20A. The strength is lacking in the size of the field and the fact that the top 2-5 juniors are not running their grade. This distorts the competitions, as a true champion for that age grade is not found. The top juniors claim that there are few other challengers running in their own grade and they seek more competition. Similarly the remaining juniors in the grade compete against only a few others and have trouble getting excited about the competition levels.

Another reason why many juniors run up a grade is that the technical level is not challenging enough for them. This is more so in the younger where New Zealand is a stage behind Australians technically at the same age. Because many of the top juniors run up a grade when they are 14 or 15, they continue to run above their age grade when they reach red level (despite there being no technical difference between M18A and M21E) because they wish to continue competitive rivalries and progress grades with their new peers. There is currently a proposal afoot to align the technical levels of juniors a curtain age to a simular level as Australia. Also proposed is an M/W10 grade to help with the first step.

The top juniors are running the elite grade. The majority of them post results around a competitive second tier group of elites and other juniors in short and medium length competitions. In long classic races however the juniors have struggled, with many taking uncompetitive times and DNF’ing. The coaching Director who has experienced such shit results himself has recognised this as being detrimental to the development of the junior’s orienteering. It is worth noting that simple physical fitness is not the only factor in the long times. The longer the race the more the navigational errors/concentration have become a factor in the long results.

There are many reasons why a junior would wish to race the elite grade. Competition is a major factor with not only many elite age graders but also their traditional junior rivals. The National squad is also an incentive. Regularly under 20’s are selected for the squad which encourages many into running elite in order to qualify for selection. They aspire for national squad selection for the achievement, the higher difficulty/knowledge of technical training, an increase in funding (especially travel funding to Super Series events) and a desire to associate with the best in order to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to one day become the best.

Running elite for the Super Series allows the juniors to become part of the increased competition, publicity, prizes, travel funds and excitement of the series.

The importance of juniors to the continued growth of orienteering in NZ is extremely high. The junior grades provide not only the competitive elite future but also the base members for future participation and organisation.

Studies have shown that children play many sports but from the age of 16 to 20 begin to decline in the amount of sporting participation. It is not just orienteering, which loses participants after they leave school/home life. However the important part of the study is that when the adults have settled in life and are keen to rekindle sporting/recreational activities, it is not generally a new sport they try, but it will be a sport they enjoyed in their junior days. So get juniors to enjoy orienteering now and they are more likely to come back with the family later.

The characteristic of juniors is that they are competitive, extremely social, poor, enjoy fast and exciting events and don’t often have the physical and mental endurance of adults.

Possible solutions

1 Restrict athletes running out of age grades
2 Increase junior numbers to the point where there are enough people in each grade even when the best (who are now really and truly good) run up a grade.
3 Entice athletes back into M/W20 with incentives rather than restrictions
4 Continue with status quo

Option Analysis

1 Restrict athletes running out of age grades with the exception of “approved” special juniors.

This would serve the purpose of instantly adding respect to the junior grades. The winner of the race would be the true champion. This would help also mean the juniors not get knocked around in the elite classics.

However, there would be many juniors who would feel frustrated and even outraged (judging from the maptalk forum) by the limitation imposed on them. I suspect there would be a long lasting and continued negative effect from the lack of freedom imposed on the athletes who individual may not have much regard for the “problem”.

The process, which would excuse special juniors, would require a well designed and efficiently run system to avoid the almost inevitable bureaucratic workload and need for uncharacteristically organised/planned juniors. The system would either be subjective or exceptions would be granted on a results based formula. The subjective method would add further bureaucracy and politics to the system, which is likely to cause more frustration from athletes. The results formula would provide motivation to gain certain results but is inflexible…unless further subjective tests are allowed.

2 Increase junior numbers to the point where there are enough people in each grade even when the best (who are now really and truly good) run up a grade.

This is a more long term approach and is not an easy thing to achieve for the NZOF. As this is something that many people including the NZOF have wanted for years it obviously isn’t easy. However I believe that a serious effort has not yet been made to focus on the recreating junior members. By enlarge the majority of membership drives have been focussed on adults of a similar demographic background as the majority of current NZOF members.

The encouraging exceptions to this rule is the amazing successes of school participation in Birkenhead, Putaruru and the Hawkes Bay (there are also others of a similar but less consistent nature). These schools have shown continued successes in participation from a particular focus from one person. This tells me that it is possible to create orienteering participation in schools so long as we tailor our focus. An obvious place to start would be to look at why these teachers/people have been successful at the above schools. Many would have us believe that it is simply volunteer effort. But I believe the people responsible have provided more than that to sustain students interest. They have managed to provide the students what they want from a sport.

Another disappointment many have is with he lack of juniors traversing the gap from school orienteering to club orienteering. I believe that it is not as bad as most people believe in that is comparable to most sports. However I do think that this is an area that would need to be focussed at the same time. For example it would seem obvious to offer the same successful style of events that school students enjoy at a club level.

An increase depth in school orienteering will provide an increase depth in national junior orienteering and eventually an increase depth in adult orienteering and organising.

This method is more long term (but should be acted upon immediately) and focuses more on the underlying problem rather than the M/W20A symptom of lack of current competition.

3 Entice athletes back into M/W20 with incentives rather than restrictions

This is a medium term solution, which serves the purpose of pulling juniors from the elite grade back to their correct age grades. It also has a positive benefit of doing this without frustrating restrictions and providing rewards/enjoyment which will encourage further participation in the sport.

Firstly the proposed new technical levels should help to make running your own grade more appropriate and reduce the culture of running up grade started at a young age.

To entice juniors back into the 20’s grade you must give firstly give them what the elite grade offers them:

· Exciting competition
· A high profile series
· The series will also help provide a basis for a competitive season
· Travel subsidies
· Publicity and recognition (the need for recognition may be very high for many “top” juniors, but also for those that don’t normally to well but when they do would feel overjoyed to get noticed)
· Elite level training and exposure to elite athletes
· Prizes
· Access to the National Squad (A separate issue again really)

Secondly you will need to give the juniors what the elite grade doesn’t offer them but they want:

· Social interaction eg, social functions and organised shared accommodation for all juniors (not just D squad).
· Teams competition. For pride in selection. Pride in representation. Team social aspects and further competitive incentive and reward. A junior teams competition was formed previously and I would appreciate comment on how successful this was and why or why not. I believe Micheal Wood was involved with this good idea?
· Make it cheaper

With the success of elite Super Series this year due to support from the NZOF and professional organisation I believe many of the above ideas show proven results in similar circumstances.

Another method of increasing competition between the juniors and elites in some events (were practical) is to have the elites run the exact same course as the juniors but then continue for the remainder of the course whilst some/all of the juniors finish. With electronic punching the split times could then easily be compared with to provide a result for the first piece of the course. In fact with electronic punching the finish for the juniors could be anywhere within the course and not necessarily at the finish chute and computer terminals.

4 Continue with status quo

This would be a cheap and easy for the NZOF. Would not be a step back. Would not enrage athletes. Wouldn’t solve problem above. Also wouldn’t solve long term problem of low NZOF junior and adult athletes and volunteers.

Preferred Solution.

Firstly I invite others to add further solutions and analysis to the problem and solutions presented.

You will no doubt be able to come to your own conclusion as to which alternative/s are worthy of further development, however I will state my current opinion based on my own (biased) analysis above.

I believe options 2 and 3 should both be persuade aggressively. I think that the option 3 of encouraging the 20’s grade is something, which is easy and relatively quick to implement once the NZOF has commitment. The 2nd option I fear requires a greater commitment by the NZOF and obviously more time to implement. However I believe that the 2nd option of increasing junior depth will be the most rewarding for the sport and its participants. I strongly believe that the first option of stopping juniors from running up a grade is detrimental and short sited; I would prefer the status quo to continue than option one.

Neil K.

Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 23 May 2003, 2:51 AM  
Neil, I'd like to thank you for your time and effort in producing the above. From my point of view, I will take your comments to the NZOF for discussion and consideration, and I look forward to seeing feedback from others on what you have written. I understand the M/W10 issue has already gone into the bureaucratic process - i.e. is with the Technical Committee.

Show Profile  mark Posted: 23 May 2003, 3:27 AM  
That post is way too long.

Show Profile  addison Posted: 23 May 2003, 8:45 AM  
Simon Addison's version on the matter.

School Orienteering

Secondary School Orienteering is the key to NZ Orienteering in the long run.

Orienteering has long been a family sport. And has also long been a school sport. But it has not worked together really. What I mean is families generally have not got schools involved, and schools have not got families involved. Their are some exceptions, such as the Barrs with St Johns, but how long will this last? Will St Johns continue into the long future as an Orienteering School?

Peer pressure plays a vital role in keeping school orienteers to stay orienteering. A view of the general population that Orienteering is a 'nerds sport' or 'dumb' is a vital deterrent of keeping the border line Orienteers in the sport.

This problem needs to be solved somehow. Perhaps by making it look like a more inviting sport by:
- Electronic Clipping throughout the country, and in SS orienteering
- Special competitions
- Lots of short, sprint, spectator friendly races
- Prizes
- Grants? (to keep costs to competitors down)
- Being Cheap

Secondary School Orienteering could also do with a face lift. Have what the Australians do, organise a place where the 'majority' of teams will stay. I believe this will help get more people to go to the events, just so that they can stay in this exciting place with so many other juniors.

Some Advantages of having such accomodation could be:
1) Making it cheaper to the competitors
2) Having registration etc at the facility
3) The organising club could make a financial gain of it
4) Larger numbers of Junior Orienteers will come just for this type of camping situation
5) Socials etc could be organised at this venue with venue hire being cheaper?

School Programmes
A vital part of promoting Orienteering in schools, is getting things such as 'Acheivement Standards for NCEA' written out. This would make it easier for things such as PE Departments to teach it. I believe Compass work could be used for junior mathematics? And of course map reading for Geography.

Putaruru High School uses Orienteering mainly in its Bursary Assesments. It is probably one of the only 'all round sports'. Meaning: Physical, Technical, and Decision Making. It is an ideal sport. Maybe promoting this type of thing to new schools could develop orienteering in those schools. Geography also uses orienteering as a 'skill assesment'. Its great, means I get 5/5!

The problem with this type of assesment is that its too late in the school system. Some of the 7th formers like orienteering enough, that they are willing to go to NZSS Nationals. But this is sort of too late to 'catch them' into the sport. They say comments such as "wish i had started when i was 3rd form" etc. So perhaps it can be promoted for Juniors at high schools. Dont know how.

We must really get local papers etc involved here. A write up of results, occasional article etc really can go quite a way. I remember having an article in my local paper when I was 5th form. Soon after this we really promoted the sport to the other two high schools in the area before the CDSS Event. These people were bought into the sport by hard work by Pinelands members, promotion in paper, easy courses (yellows), promotion to school sports co-ordinator, and by promotion as an alternative training for runners. This worked for one day, but didnt keep them in Orienteering for long. But at least they got into the sport, and had a taste of it.

Sending informed information to schools is vital also. Even by just sending newsletters to Sports Co-ordinators may go quite far. By keeping schools up-to-date, may keep schools involved.

Perhaps this is the answer to Orienteering Deveolpment needs. But what would happen at SS level is what I want to know. Stay with the status quo, or raise the level of technicality. Meaning Intermediates run Red. I believe not so. Most SS Orienteers are in the sport socially. The social factor is the key to keeping these people in the sport. Thats why we need a one-stop-shop for accomodation / registration (night before event) / social activities.

But if a M/W10 was created, perhaps the Year 7 & 8 Orienteering could be added to NZSS. This would cater for all, and would allow a widening of exactly who could come. This would also allow for a full scale of difficulty to be created.
Year 7&8's - Yellow
Juniors - Orange
Intermediates - Red
Seniors - Longer Red

Distances dont need to change. Difficulty may need to change.

My Ideal Outcome for SS
This involves the above.
- A One-Stop-Shop for Accom/Rego/Socials etc
- Making grades harder
- Better promotion of the sport (perhaps by also having annual NZ vs AUS School Challenge)
- Having Assesments for NCEA written out for Schools
- Electronic Clipping for NI/SI/NZ SS events.

Brief Note
Greg Flynn onced talked about having the timing changed of NZSS Champs. This may be a good idea. I think we need to look at this quite hard. By having them during school time will cause some problems, and may cause some interesting results. Will the amount of people increase? Perhaps, but the problems with Seniors and Schooling commitments may be the biggest problem of all. Perhaps the Technical committee could discuss this after consultation with schools and students.


Edited by - Simon Addison on 23/05/2003 18:10:31

Show Profile  stu barr Posted: 23 May 2003, 4:44 PM  
Well, if we are going to get serious......

If orienteering in New Zealand was a product and you were in charge of marketing it, what would you do? You would try and make the best and most appealing product for the target market.

First we have to establish the market.

In this case we are assuming the market is the junior grades, especially the M/W20’s and inclusive of secondary school competitors.

If we compare it with the opposition in the market what do we find?
Popular sports:

Are readily available: most of our popular sports can be played on fields “just down the road” from most households. Cricket, rugby, soccer, tennis, etc, are all available at local schools and sports fields. They can be played at almost any time with a minimal amount of equipment.
Require minimal organization: these sports can generally be organised on a social level instantly. Participants can set up a game quickly and referee themselves. Competition level events need official referees and kept grounds, as well as co-ordination of a season timetable. Teams have to organise uniforms and prepare for matches in terms of training, positions, captains, etc.
Have role models: these sports have international level competitors constantly featured in the media in competition and at a social/community level. Junior competitors have an idea of what they can aim to achieve and how the elite got to their positions.
Have visible club structure: in these sports local clubs and associations are normally quite visible. Most sports have local grounds with signage and clubrooms as well as advertising for club days in newspapers and club open days.
Provide regular competition: In the defined season competition is provided nearly every weekend. These seasons are normally structured towards a final at the end to determine a competition winner. Competition grades are normally defined at the beginning of each season to ensure they are good quality and are even.

If we look at what the other sports, or the competition, have to offer it is obvious why orienteering can’t compete. We have a product that we know people want. It is both physical and mental. It is outdoors. It is available for people of all ages.
The problem is that it is not actually available to most people! If we look at the sports that most people in our target market are participating in, it is as simple as grabbing a bat, ball or both and heading down to the local park. Or if it is an organised weekend game there is minimal travel, normally within their own town or city.
This is why orienteering has relatively easily become such a popular sport in Scandinavia. You walk out the front door of most houses and it’s only five minutes to an area conducive to orienteering. Unfortunately this isn’t the case in New Zealand.

So what do we have to offer?
In New Zealand we can offer park orienteering. We have numerous parks in all our cities that could be easily mapped. Generally park events take less organisation, they cater for beginners, they require less travel to the event, the areas can be run on at any time.
I think we should focus more on providing more park orienteering events. I believe a lot of New Zealand orienteers are scared we will lose traditional orienteering if we organise more park races. But in fact we have to realise they cater for a different market. There are hundreds of orienteers around the country that turn up to park races every year, but never venture on to the “real” events. I think we have to stop our obsession with trying to lure them to the forest and instead realise they want different things. It requires a paradigm shift in New Zealand orienteering, but one that will increase participant numbers by perhaps 100%! If we can offer regular events that are close to home, we can target these young competitors who could then compete independently and decide for themselves whether to move on to the more traditional forms. We can then also provide a more obvious “face” of orienteering to the public in cities.

Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 24 May 2003, 3:15 AM  

Good comments and I agree with a lot of what you say. Its good to view Orienteering as a "business" - and look at ways of improving - better marketing being one example, but with any business, a large component of what you can achieve is determined by the resources you have.

Comparisons to other sports though can be dangerous - if you use Rugby as an example, then in business-speak Rugby, with an annual income of $90 million and a player base of 120,000, should (and do) be able to achieve a lot more than say Orienteering, which has an annual income of $80,000 (thats less than 0.01% of rugby's) and a player base of 1600. You can view Orienteering as being in competition with other sports, but there has to be an acceptance that (like in all commercial activity) there is never a level playing field.

There are a lot of things that can and should be done to improve our sport and in addition to the things you say I can think of many more - but to implement improvements requires resources - both financial and human, and in both cases those resources are limited in our sport.

Stu, I actually think that there are some clubs who do realise the importance of park orienteering and some areas do include a reasonable amount of park orienteering in their calendar to varying degrees of success. I think over recent times there has been a greater acceptance of park orienteering and an acceptance that it is not a "threat" to traditional orienteering. Yes, it would be nice if all clubs were running a significant amount of park orienteering that was well advertised and well attended, but unfortunately there are some clubs who struggle to hold a committee meeting, let alone run a decent event calendar.

Despite the need for improvement in many areas, there are a few good things happening in Orienteering, such as:

1. a slight increase in club membership in an environment where society is more and more interested in casual participation in sports - and many sports are dealing with declining membership

2. a significant increase in orienteering events held and an increase in the average participation at those events.

You'll see in a reply to another thread that this years Nationals had 474 participants - I think thats a record - certainly the biggest in the last 10 years (checked the figures on that excellent B. Teahan database). To compare, when I checked the Irish Champs fields when Stu put up the posting about Bill E. - their particpant numbers were 188 (and the largest grade - M21E with 23 entries)

I'm not saying these things to say Orienteering is going great - if it was we'd be experiencing a "Birkenhead College" explosion nationally, - but I think its going OK and I'm just balancing the obvious need for improvement in some areas with things that are actually happening.

The development of our sport is something that constantly occupies my sub-conscious and schools and park events are 2 of the most important areas relating to that - but unfortunately we still remain too reliant on enthusiastic volunteers putting time and effort into these areas.

Coaching and Development are 2 of the 3 cornerstones (the other being High Performance) of activity that a national sporting organisation needs to focus on, and I'm relieved that we now have 2 individuals who are reasonably motivated and committed on board to work in these areas.

Hopefully the fact that we are now contracting a part-time Development Officer to assist clubs who struggle to develop the sport in their areas will help lift the profile of Orienteering and generate activity in areas such as schools and park event.

Hopefully this post is long enough to piss Mark Hudson off again.

Show Profile  addison Posted: 24 May 2003, 5:04 AM  

I would be very interesting in moving forward with my NCEA Achievement Standard type thing. And what I was wondering was
1/ Who wrote the original unit standards for Orienteering
2/ Would the NZ Qualifications Authority allow Achievement Standards in Orienteering and/or Orienteering components such as bearing work.
3/ Who would pay for these to be made (If someone was to make them at a financial cost)
4/ Would the NZQA allow schools to give unit standards for Orienteers completing Red Courses etc. They are currently only allowed to give White / Yellow (As far as I believe). Infact I dont even know who can give the harder grade standards. And I dont even know who would really want these, as Unit standards mean nothing. It is the NCEA Achievement Standards that need to be pushed...

Show Profile  3 monkeys on fire Posted: 24 May 2003, 9:00 AM  
make a m/w10,

thats all

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