Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, January 26, 2003

W is for water


Did you know USOF requires orienteering courses to have water stops every 2.5 km?

I looked it up in the USOF rules:

On each course refreshments consisting of at least potable water shall be provided at least every 2.5 km. Refreshments shall be provided at the start and finish and at appropriate control flags and indicated on the description sheets as such. There shall be enough water for each competitor to have .25 liters (8 oz.) or more at each refreshment stop. In the event of hot weather additional refreshment locations are recommended. These additional locations need not be at control locations but must be indicated on the map.

The USOF rules seem to be filled with detailed requirements that are, at best, tangentially related to the sport. I guess that is typical of sports and rules. It all seems a bit overboard.

Take water stops as an example. I'll buy that orienteers might need water on the course. But, there are lots of ways for an orienteer to carry water. When I ran today I had a bike bottle in a pack. No problem. I needed water, I took a drink.

If I were writing the USOF rules, the water rule would be different. The rule would be simple. It'd be something like this: "The event info shall say if water will be available. If water is available, the info shall include the number of stops and the distance between stops."

I suppose rule-setting follows a certain pattern. In the beginning, there are relatively few rules and those rules focus on the essentials. Then, rules are added. Some of the additions clarify problems, but a lot of them just add unnecessary detail. Eventually, a committee is put together to review the rules and make recommendations for changes. The committee recommends simplifying the rules (a bit). The federation considers the recommendations, accepts most of them and adds a few new rules. Then the process starts all over again.

posted by Michael | 4:54 PM


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