Dear Memory Athletes,
I have now been running the Canadian Memory Championship for 8 years as Chair and I recently began to believe that the format of the World Championship of Memory needs to change to something more open and accessible to everyone. If my idea here gets some positive feedback, we may go ahead with this approach for next year.
First, I think the sport should have 3 levels of World Champions of Memory.
- The Self Administered World Champion.
One organization creates the memory disciplines and select the day memory athletes self-administer it. Obviously, this is wide open to cheating but this should not be a concern. It is like if you train and self report for yourself higher scores than what you actually get. It would makes little sense.
Such self-administered test are important for a number of reasons. I don’t want to cover all the reasons here but if a memory athlete is capable of creating special conditions at home --that aren’t possible at a group competition-- and these conditions help him/her achieve higher scores then it would be interesting to find out about that. Also, it is in the very nature of memory techniques to learn individually, on one’s own and so the self-administered memory disciplines should count for something and having a memory champion there would help acknowledge this.
But then some people might cheat anyway for the sake of getting attention but I think that in such a championship, finishing first is not what it is all about; participating is what it is about. Being part of a cool international event is what matters. You would get the sense that winning this competition is not what this event is all about because memory techniques should be about self-empowerment and not about finding the most self-empowered person.
The second level of world champion should be assisted World Memory Champion. You have a friend and he’s helping watching and monitoring and reporting your score to the main organization that created the memory discipline as in 1). This would help ensuring that the memory disciplines are well administered and provide at least one witness to the performance.
The third level should simply be groups of memory athletes that get together with some arbiters to administer the memory disciplines of the main organizaton. Here cheating would be much more difficult. You would have a local winner on top of a new Group World Champion of Memory.
If these events occurs all in the same day, you know that the 3 new world champions of memory will be different persons.
This may diminish the clout of the current winner of the single group competition that we now have but the overall benefit of having many times more people participating and being interested in the sport would make up for that, in my opinion.
I think it is time for memory sports to evolve to something like this. As it is right now, it does not provide much in terms of equal oportunities. As it is right now, we try to imitate the ways of other sports that are geared to creating a marketable stars or gurus of the sport. But since memory sports make most sense from the perspective of creating people that work on their own to empower themselves the other sport’s approach really does not serve us well in my opinion.
The goal of other sports is to create something awesome and visual that the camera can catch for a market. It isn’t self empowerment and we won’t ever have anything spectacular to offer the cameras as it is the mind’s camera that provides the “real” spectacle for us. So we do need to embrace a different approach from other sports if we are to start making some real gains in popularity, in my opinion.