Close friends that happen to be kite fliers know that I LOVE to play the 'what if' game when it comes to kites and how we see and use them. It seems an odd irony that we say kite flying frees us from so many things, it keeps us connected, and it gives us freedom... but in the same moment when called on to think of how we would do kites differently. AHHHHH Cue the sound of a scratched record or a car swerving off the road and crashing. I know it can be frustrating for those that perhaps don't know me well and get caught up in a conversation like that around the campfire. But those that stick around inevitably get what I am laying down. So to speak. When we challenge our traditions and our status quo, we either learn better ways of doing something, or our traditions become more valuable and stronger. It is a GOOD thing to constantly question, to constantly try something different, to constantly push the boundaries.
This happens often, and one of the subtopics in the kite world that I find it happening a lot with is Stunt Kite Competition. I have been challenging sport kite fliers with the following question. "If you were to create or host a sport kite competition, and it can't use ANY of the current rules... what would it look like".
Well guess what, dedicated sport kite fliers that have spent a lot of time growing up with the current rule set are balking at this question. Almost everyone without fault says a variation of one of the following:
It can't be done
It shouldn't be done, because the current rules are very important
This doesn't solve the 'problem' - (gas lighting to some other related problem)
I have been asking this question for a few years and getting the same responses over and over and over. All the while watching as sport kite competition in general is declining (not necessarily sport kite flying, just competition). It is almost as if everyone is accepting the end, accepting the defeat. They aren't standing around with their heads in the sand not seeing that numbers have been on a decline. But, are they perhaps passively saying 'ok, this is the end of it then'? It desperately needs some new energy, it needs something different, and right now is the best time to try that. Even if something DOESN'T work... the risk of killing all of the competition isn't there. Why not try different things... why not try something new. Why not at least try the thought exercise and see if it maybe gives us some insight as to how we can change what we are currently doing. If what we are currently doing is 'A' and the crazy idea that is out of left field is 'C', surely we could do 'B'?
Well.... this weekend, there was breakthrough with this conversation. After a bit of asking this question of a friend of mine several times, much to the frustration of both of us, he came back with a very helpful thought. Our previous conversation had ended with something like this. Apologies to the person that this conversation happened with... it is horrible paraphrasing. :)
Him: "When I compete I want an audience, I want them to see me perform."
Me: "So your competition is about the audience, but right now doesn't include the audience. They can't understand it. It doesn't make sense"
Him: The rules are pretty easy.
Me: "Well imagine I am the organizer of all events in the United States and I say the only way you can have a competition is to not do anything with the current rule set, and do something that involves the public 100%"
Him: "well I would just make it happen... i would go make my own event"
Me: "well yah.. but now imagine I am also in charge of all of the insurance... so you can't have any competition at any public festival/event. I mean you could go off down the beach somewhere far away and do something if competition is your end goal. What is your end goal here? If you want to fly in front of the public for competition... me as the grand master says it has to involve the public.. so what do you got?"
The conversation went on from here and kept ending up at a stalemate. Till the next time we saw each other. Again, apologies for the horrible paraphrasing here, but I LOVED what he came up with.
Him: "So, I have been thinking a lot about that whole 'ditching the rule set' thing, and tried to figure out why it bothered me so much. Then I started thinking about the big four sports here (football, basketball, baseball, soccer) and the way they do it is a score at the end of the game. Everyone can understand that end score, even if they don't understand the rules. Which got me thinking even more. Here we have a card game, say Poker. Not everyone plays poker, and there are a few variations of poker etc... And over here, you have gin rummy, and here you have 'Go Fish'. They are all card games. They are not taking away from one another, and they all share a deck of cards in common. Sport Kites... are the cards here..... So maybe.. just maybe we can all play Poker with the current rule set, and also play 'Go Fish' with a new one.
Insert...... wide eyed mind blown face right here. OMG... he nailed it on the head when it comes to explaining what I have been trying to do with that question. Failing to find the right words or the right analogy to perhaps better encourage others to look at it with different eyes... So, now all I have to say is ... GO FISH!!!
Would love to hear what you think. Shoot me an email, post in the comments on this blog, post as a comment on facebook. Let's have that conversation!!