Moderating for Your Own Team

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Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:27 pm

I only recently noticed the end of the ACF at WUSTL discussion in the above forum, and I'm taking Jeff's suggestion to start a thread on the above topic.

I didn't know this issue really came up at the four-year level since coaches aren't really part of that game, but we've argued it at the CC level in Florida for years. I've always been of the mind that there is no advantage at all to hearing one's own teammate or coach read in a match. His or her voice isn't going to be able to let you know an answer any more than anyone else's voice. And I'm not swayed by arguments about "comfort" or "being accustomed to his reading," as I don't imagine those things really matter very much when it comes down to knowing things.

The one counter-example I can think of regards readers who might have an idiosyncratic style or tic, which, if one is familiar with it, one could exploit. In the mid-90s on the Florida CC circuit, there was one regular reader who was a little older and who could be counted on to continue for a word or two after one buzzed in, which some players learned to exploit by buzzing as soon as he'd get to something like "name this author best known for The" --buzz-- "Sound and." But this is pretty rare, and if a reader has that problem he shouldn't be reading at all for anyone.

FWIW, most of my players usually prefer not to have me read to them, as then I'm more aware of what they're not getting, leading to more yelling.

Anyway, since there aren't coaches at most four-year tournaments, is there ever much issue taken with teammates reading for their own teams and such? Or do any of the HS or other CC people think I'm wrong here?
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Matthew D » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:14 pm

Chris I am with you.. I actually prefer not to read for my crew due to the fact that I tend to get a little agitated when they do miss things I think they should know plus I have my daughter on my team which leads to even more fun for her at times. But if given the choice to let them have me read for them or have a crappy moderator, I would rather read for them
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Bartleby » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:21 pm

I don't think that coaches/team-members on bye should read for their own teams in a tournament. Certainly, people in Quiz Bowl are almost always honest and upstanding individuals, and it really doesn't concern me from a moral standpoint. Where I have concerns is the ability of other people in the tournament to misconstrue/allege some sort of bias or cheating. These accusations, even if unfounded, just lead to massive circular arguments, which are easily avoidable. How? By not having people from a team read questions to that team in the first place. If you have enough staff to reasonably staff a tournament, and you're doing your staffing assignments ahead of time, you should endeavour to ensure that people do not read for their own teams.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Kyle » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:23 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:The one counter-example I can think of regards readers who might have an idiosyncratic style or tic, which, if one is familiar with it, one could exploit.
Or a British accent.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:26 pm

I don't mind reading for my team. I've been at tournaments where i know that "my room" that i've been reading in has been purposefully scheduled to prevent any of my teams from being there, but most don't care. I do know a few coaches that think it's a big deal. I don't. I know i read fairly and i also know that i read better than most any other volunteer at tournaments we attend, so ideally i'd like to read as much as possible.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:32 am

Matthew D wrote:Chris I am with you.. I actually prefer not to read for my crew due to the fact that I tend to get a little agitated when they do miss things I think they should know plus I have my daughter on my team which leads to even more fun for her at times. But if given the choice to let them have me read for them or have a crappy moderator, I would rather read for them
It takes tremendous patience for one not to get agitated when reading for his/her own crew. This is actually something I practiced quite a bit in practice, this neutrality that we speak of. It would probably take most people a good deal of practice not to let this natural bias toward your own team show up even a little bit, as we are accustomed to commenting on such botches in practice when we are moderating in front of teammates.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:41 am

I've read for my clubmates plenty of times and it's never been a problem.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Unicolored Jay » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:56 am

During a bye round, I ended up reading for our own B team at ACF Regionals last weekend. In situations like that I know I have to be as impartial as I can, and it turned out okay. At halftime, I asked if there any problems and the other team didn't have any. In fact, my room was one of the first to finish.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:05 am

Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast wrote:During a bye round, I ended up reading for our own B team at ACF Regionals last weekend. In situations like that I know I have to be as impartial as I can, and it turned out okay. At halftime, I asked if there any problems and the other team didn't have any. In fact, my room was one of the first to finish.
That's probably because you are a solid reader. I think the problem with people reading for their own team would be more of a problem at the high school ranks more than the collegiate ranks, as you are more likely to have coaches/parents in the room and whatnot, and some of them may have objections, even though they are for the most part just spectators. College teams tend to be more mature and not care about such issues.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by kayli » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:18 am

Eh, I think that being familiar with someone's cadence and style of reading helps a little bit. Also, I think that moderating for your own team could have issues when it comes to challenges because you'll tend to try to side with your own team even if subconsciously. Additionally, it's hard to be completely unbiased for your own team. Even if it's subconscious, you might give them an extra tic or two to think or something of the sort.

I'm not saying that it's impossible to be unbiased for your own team. I just think that reading and moderating for your own team should be avoided as much as possible because it's a source of possible bias, and I think that any source of possible bias should be eliminated if possible.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:40 am

How does cadence help you at all when the whole thing is that you have to listen to the substance of clues to then process them and buzz in?
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:45 am

When I was in middle school, we had a coach who was a Dutch immigrant with a thick accent and a slight speech impediment to boot. She read for us during practices and sometimes during the games, and let's just say that by the end of the year we were much more able to tell what she was saying than other teams.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:55 am

Yeah, but having an undecipherable accent is something that should make you not be a moderator in the first place. I'm not talking about crazy outliers who should be scorekeeping, I'm talking about listening to people who are native speakers of English who are educated enough to be able to correctly pronounce enough words to be an OK moderator.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by kayli » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:20 am

Well, cadence doesn't help that much with answering questions I guess, but the familiarity of it all helps in my opinion to ground myself and to sort of understand what types of clues are coming up and when. That sounds sort of silly (which it is), but it does help in some weird way. But that's not really the crux of my argument here.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:33 am

I feel like I am actually a bit less lenient when reading for one of my former teams, as I expect them to know how to properly pronounce a name, how long they have to answer, and not to make common pronunciation errors. Perhaps I am being a jerk or simply erring on the side of caution (by proving to any onlookers that I most definitely do not show favoritism to my wolfpack), but I would be willing to bargain (hope?) that this issue is pretty prevalent. Down here in the South, it is not uncommon to run into a few thick accents, and I could definitely see where this would aid a team who is used to hearing it. At the end of the day, if a team is complaining about someone affiliated with their opponent reading for them, they could probably remedy the situation by learning more clues and getting better at quizbowl. Being quick on the buzzer (which I feel is the only added benefit of having a familiar reader), is an added bonus to a good quizbowl player, not a necessity.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:30 am

Ar$oni$t$ Get All the Girl$ wrote:Well, cadence doesn't help that much with answering questions I guess, but the familiarity of it all helps in my opinion to ground myself and to sort of understand what types of clues are coming up and when. That sounds sort of silly (which it is), but it does help in some weird way. But that's not really the crux of my argument here.
I guarantee you it does not help your ability to play, but rather you are more comfortable listening to their voice, and thus you leave the match convinced in your head that it was easier to play those questions because of familiarity, when the reality is that it was the exact same as if another reader were reading. I'm going to say you are being silly and easily duped, as are other people who seriously think that familiarity with a cadence is going to allow them to play better.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:00 am

I feel like I am actually a bit less lenient when reading for one of my former teams, as I expect them to know how to properly pronounce a name, how long they have to answer, and not to make common pronunciation errors
I do exactly the same as Ethan notes above. Generally, reading for CC-level players, if we're not at the CCCT or something, I'll try to give players the benefit of the doubt, as most are pretty new to the game, and at times they're going to inadvertantly consult by saying something irrelevant to a teammate during a toss-up, or mildly mispronounce something; if the consult doesn't affect the question or the mispronunciation isn't egregious, I'll usually let it slide, but NEVER for a Valencia team. First, you can't even have the chance of seeming biased, so I'll rule against them every time, but more importantly, as Ethan noted, Valencia players are aware of how to play perhaps more than some teams are, so they have to do it right. To be honest, I'm kind of that way with the Chipola people, too, for the same reason, even though they're not my team.

edit: correct contraction!
Last edited by ValenciaQBowl on Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by kayli » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:59 am

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:
Ar$oni$t$ Get All the Girl$ wrote:Well, cadence doesn't help that much with answering questions I guess, but the familiarity of it all helps in my opinion to ground myself and to sort of understand what types of clues are coming up and when. That sounds sort of silly (which it is), but it does help in some weird way. But that's not really the crux of my argument here.
I guarantee you it does not help your ability to play, but rather you are more comfortable listening to their voice, and thus you leave the match convinced in your head that it was easier to play those questions because of familiarity, when the reality is that it was the exact same as if another reader were reading. I'm going to say you are being silly and easily duped, as are other people who seriously think that familiarity with a cadence is going to allow them to play better.
Probably right here.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:43 pm

Ar$oni$t$ Get All the Girl$ wrote:
Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:
Ar$oni$t$ Get All the Girl$ wrote:Well, cadence doesn't help that much with answering questions I guess, but the familiarity of it all helps in my opinion to ground myself and to sort of understand what types of clues are coming up and when. That sounds sort of silly (which it is), but it does help in some weird way. But that's not really the crux of my argument here.
I guarantee you it does not help your ability to play, but rather you are more comfortable listening to their voice, and thus you leave the match convinced in your head that it was easier to play those questions because of familiarity, when the reality is that it was the exact same as if another reader were reading. I'm going to say you are being silly and easily duped, as are other people who seriously think that familiarity with a cadence is going to allow them to play better.
Probably right here.
I think that being familiar with the reader's cadence could help a team out slightly with the giveaway clues. If you know that your coach/teammate likes to have a brief pause before giving away some important clue in the giveaway (e.g. "For 10 points, name this country with a capital at [PAUSE] Jakarta"), then you're less likely to try and pre-emptively buzz and hear the first syllable or two of the key clue. The inverse would also apply if you know that the moderator often goes over by a word or sometimes two after the buzz.

Disclaimer: This is less of an issue with quizbowl than with the standard Cdn. high school format, which is all speed checks (and often less competent moderators), and in which anticipation is important, but I think being familiar with a reader's cadence could help in end-of-tossup buzzer races.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:43 pm

I moderate for South Carolina all of the time. I've never been biased for or against them in any match. I can't imagine the fact that I read to them at practice gives them an advantage over their opponents. In my 12 years of involvement in quizbowl at the college level, I can't remember a tournament where perceived moderator bias was a real (not imagined) issue. I suppose the best argument against having affiliated moderators is that it might give an appearance of impropriety. But I don't really buy that argument.

I have been to a tournament in which I had to scorekeep several matches because the TD didn't want me to read for South Carolina. An incompetent moderator read in my place. By having this irrational fear that I would be biased towards USC, everyone's tournament experience was lessened. Indeed, there aren't many tournaments in which you have enough good readers to be able to afford the luxury of benching or substituting good moderators.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Cheynem » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:01 pm

I think there is a non-zero benefit in playing with a reader whom you like their cadence and style (there certainly are readers who I feel take too many long pauses near the end of questions, for instance). However, this doesn't have a lot to do with coaching, as you may in fact hate your coach's cadence and reading style. You could have a reader that your team really likes who has no connection to your team whatsoever, for instance.

I've gone back and forth on this issue, but after talking about it with people, I've reached these conclusions. I have had many matches read in which the person reading was affiliated with the other team (Mr. Douglass himself at ACF Nats against South Carolina, Eric Hillemann numerous times against Carleton). Minnesota people have read for my team against other teams numerous times (indeed, at tournaments with house teams this is completely unavoidable). At no time whatsoever was there even the hint of impropriety nor has anyone suggested it.

There are times when such instances would not be logical. For instance, being a reader somewhat nullifies your ability to "coach" your team especially if there are actual coaching decisions to be made (like substitutions).

I would suggest that perhaps this is a communication issue--letting teams know that this is a regular occurrence, that it is the best move because it gets higher quality readers, and that no team, especially veteran teams, object to it. I agree that avoiding the appearance of impropriety is probably a good thing, but this doesn't necessarily mean coaches should never read for their own team, especially if as Eric suggests, it would lead to worse problems. Obviously, you don't want a coach reading every match for his or her team (just as you wouldn't want one reader reading every match for any team). I also think that if at all possible (or unless both teams are okay with it), probably team-affiliated personnel should not be reading finals matches for their own teams (although, this has happened with no real problem at various tournaments).
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Bartleby » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:02 pm

[Disclaimer: I have never run a tournament]

I guess it comes down to the fact that there are so many things that can go wrong/cause problems during a tournament which are independent of the TD's control, and so if there was something I could control as a TD (like say, preventing allegations of bias against people reading for their own teams), then I would want to control that thing.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by theMoMA » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:07 pm

In high school, I observed a moderator who once went to a certain high school attempting to give a hand signal to help the current team at that school win an important game. The team didn't notice him (or ignored him if they did), but I don't think we can overlook the fact that this stuff happens, especially in high school where the collegial atmosphere that pervades the college game doesn't really exist. As a tournament director, I would be wary of letting high school coaches read or keep score for their own team, and I would try to avoid it if at all possible. In college games, moderating for your own teammates happens all the time and I've never seen a problem with it.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by jonpin » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:10 pm

At the high school level, I can certainly understand people being nervous about coaches reading for their own teams, but in some cases it's essentially unavoidable. Some observations:

1. In my own right, whenever reading, I try to end the buzzer checks by introducing myself and my affiliation. Quiz bowl is a social event, and I like to get to know the students. In the event that I'm reading for one of my teams, I note that fact and ask if there are any complains about the situation, which is just common sense.
2. Some tournaments in the NJ area still do Jeopardy or worse, and there are nonzero tournaments which book essentially zero staff, and require that the coach of one of the two teams read each round. This is less preferable, but (a) is probably low on the list of bad things about those tournaments and (b) generally tempered by the fact that since all teams are required to bring coaches, both teams have a coach in the room.
3. I have had two tournaments hosted at my school in which a certain coach asked to read for only his team. In the first case, he was the official tournament director, and we were understaffed (it was an emergency re-location of a state championship; he could direct but not host). In the second case, I was directing, and as we were not really in a crunch for staff, I declined his offer.
As a tournament director, I would be wary of letting high school coaches read or keep score for their own team, and I would try to avoid it if at all possible. In college games, moderating for your own teammates happens all the time and I've never seen a problem with it.
I see absolutely nothing wrong with letting coaches keep score. In general, there's usually either a player or someone else keeping an unofficial score which can cross-check, and I tend to think that despite the less "collegial atmosphere", outright scorekeeping fraud is essentially non-existent.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by theMoMA » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:25 pm

If avoidable, I don't want high school coaches, former team members, or extra team members anywhere between the questions and their own team. It happens sometimes, and it's almost always not an issue when it does, but I would rather schedule so it doesn't.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Charbroil » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:26 pm

theMoMA wrote:If avoidable, I don't want high school coaches, former team members, or extra team members anywhere between the questions and their own team. It happens sometimes, and it's almost always not an issue when it does, but I would rather schedule so it doesn't.
Are you saying at the high school level, or at all levels? If the latter, wouldn't this make it impossible for any of those people to read for their own teams? I'm somewhat confused.
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Re: Moderating for Your Own Team

Post by Cheynem » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:27 pm

Judging from his previous post, he's talking high school.
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