Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

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Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:52 am

[EDIT: Although I reference SCT, my main argument applies only to ACF Fall and independent housewrites. This may not have been clear in the original post.]

Last season, the CU Boulder team hosted both Fall and SCT. Both tournaments came uncomfortably close to getting canceled, and both eventually ran as 4-team round robins (which, as anyone who's played one knows, tend to be extremely monotonous). Some may recall this thread, in which it was revealed that the the Colorado site of SCT did not have enough teams to act as a qualifier.

In both of these cases, we could have added 2-3 more teams to the field if we had brought in local high schoolers. There are several Colorado high schools while not currently national powerhouses, would welcome a chance to play something more challenging. Unfortunately for everyone, neither ACF nor NAQT permits high schools to play in their events.

This is my (perhaps immodest) proposal: allow some ACF Fall sites, upon approval by ACF, to open the field up to high school teams At the very least, local high schools should be able to sign up standby teams in the case of a last minute cancellation.

Here's my justification (Many of these are Mountain-west-specific, but can be generalized to any sparse circuit):

-- It's more fun to play against another couple teams, regardless of their skill, than to play the same 3 teams over and over in a multiple round robin.

-- Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that the main justification for ACF's policy is to prevent top-tier high school teams from thrashing new college players. The makes sense for circuits like Illinois and Texas, but Colorado is neither Illinois nor Texas, and the circuits probably won't be comparable for a great while.

-- I understand that, since both SCT and Regionals are qualifiers for collegiate nationals it makes sense to exclude non-college teams (though I would welcome a rules change permitting high schools to play D2 SCT). Fall does not have this problem.

-- In areas with sparse high school circuits, high schoolers don't get a lot of other chances to play, especially not at difficulties above IS. I recognize that we can change this with outreach (which we're doing plenty of), but outreach takes time, and it doesn't change the fact that existing teams could play another tournament right now if ACF made an exception. In addition, Fall offers a nice change of pace from the standard high school quizbowl fare, since the vast majority of HS tournaments (especially in small circuits) are on NAQT questions. Hell, my very first tournament was Fall, and I greatly enjoyed the experience.

-- There is plenty of precedent for high school teams playing non-ACF and NAQT college tournaments with good results, especially in the Mountain West. The Boise State site of 2017 EFT, for example, was greatly improved by the presence of a high school team. Everyone I spoke to at the tournament had an excellent time, including the BSU players who lost to the high schoolers (keep in mind that quizbowl novices are not idiots, and generally understand that a more experienced team will do better regardless of age).


If this isn't doable, I completely understand. However, I hope that ACF sincerely considers this suggestion.
Last edited by A Very Long Math Tossup on Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by Cheynem » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:42 am

I've always been under the opinion that Fall should allow high school teams (and maybe even blended teams) under special circumstances and the approval of ACF.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:24 am

I find it difficult to disagree with esteemed community member Mike Cheyne on this. It seems obvious that existing ACF rules were designed to solve problems that simply don't exist in Colorado, and ACF would be justified in waiving this rule there.

I suppose there's still the argument some people make that if there are high school teams at college tournaments, college quizbowl will "seem less professional" as a result, but surely an "unprofessional quizbowl tournament" is better than no quizbowl tournament at all, or a highly professional triple round robin with the same 3 teams.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by LeoLaw » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:33 pm

Have you tried asking the tournament head editor for exemption privately before? I have found that they are usually okay with it as long as it makes the field better.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by jonpin » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:54 am

LeoLaw wrote:Have you tried asking the tournament head editor for exemption privately before? I have found that they are usually okay with it as long as it makes the field better.
There have been some recent incidents where Person A has assumed that a certain action that goes against publicly-stated rules is clearly forbidden, Person B has privately asked for and received exemption, and Person A has been upset at that perceived under-the-table exemption. I think it's a good thing for this request and discussion to be public.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:06 am

jonpin wrote:
LeoLaw wrote:Have you tried asking the tournament head editor for exemption privately before? I have found that they are usually okay with it as long as it makes the field better.
There have been some recent incidents where Person A has assumed that a certain action that goes against publicly-stated rules is clearly forbidden, Person B has privately asked for and received exemption, and Person A has been upset at that perceived under-the-table exemption. I think it's a good thing for this request and discussion to be public.
That's the main reason I posted this publicly (also, I thought open discussion could potentially benefit other small circuits). I'll also be submitting a formal request once the details for the Mountain West site are finalized, unless ACF responds to this before then.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by 1.82 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:47 am

LeoLaw wrote:Have you tried asking the tournament head editor for exemption privately before? I have found that they are usually okay with it as long as it makes the field better.
As Jon mentioned, there's no situation that I can think of where a private exemption to announced eligibility rules would be justifiable, and they have caused serious problems in the past. Moreover, it would certainly be inappropriate for an organization like ACF to grant private requests to flout the rules.

More generally, I disagree with the original post, for reasons that I've already discussed in the past. Out of the various reasons that this would be inadvisable, I'll list a few here. The first is that ACF is a collegiate quizbowl organization (and, really, the face of the collegiate quizbowl community), and running mixed tournaments does not further its mission. This is why high school teams are no longer allowed to play ACF tournaments against college teams in the first place. To the extent that recruiting efforts involve contacting student activities offices at new schools, it stands to reason that these offices would be less inclined to look kindly on quizbowl as a serious activity worth supporting if these low-level tournaments involved games against high schools.

Furthermore, mixing of high school teams with college teams in this way is bad for the existing college circuit, particularly at low-difficulty tournaments like ACF Fall where new college players are introduced to the game. In parts of the country where top high school teams routinely compete on a level footing with better college teams, the strength of the high school circuit does not help improve the college circuit; things instead say the same, and college teams continue to stay mediocre even as local high school teams remain strong. A college student who shows up to their first tournament and loses to high school students is not likely to see quizbowl as something worth committing to; similarly, a high school student who regularly beats college teams is not likely to see college quizbowl as worthwhile competition after the thrills of high school. This sort of mixing does no one any good.

Moreover, acquiescing to this sort of request would not make the difference between life and death. A triple round-robin with four teams might not be as interesting as one would hope, yes, but it's a perfectly reasonable format; four-team tournaments happen all the time, and the teams are able to play a fair format and get as many games as they want, which are the factors that matter most. The relief of monotony that results from playing a six-team tournament instead of a four-team tournament does not seem to me to be worth the drawbacks I have mentioned. If you have, say, four college teams and four high school teams in your area that are interested in playing ACF Fall, setting up two tournaments side-by-side on the same day and the same set in the same building is in keeping with both the letter and spirit of the ACF eligibility rules. The teams in question won't get to play against the most diverse set of opponents possible, but aside from that this configuration would provide all the benefits of joining high school and college teams without the drawbacks.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:41 am

More generally, I disagree with the original post, for reasons that I've already discussed in the past. Out of the various reasons that this would be inadvisable, I'll list a few here. The first is that ACF is a collegiate quizbowl organization (and, really, the face of the collegiate quizbowl community), and running mixed tournaments does not further its mission. This is why high school teams are no longer allowed to play ACF tournaments against college teams in the first place. To the extent that recruiting efforts involve contacting student activities offices at new schools, it stands to reason that these offices would be less inclined to look kindly on quizbowl as a serious activity worth supporting if these low-level tournaments involved games against high schools.

Furthermore, mixing of high school teams with college teams in this way is bad for the existing college circuit, particularly at low-difficulty tournaments like ACF Fall where new college players are introduced to the game. In parts of the country where top high school teams routinely compete on a level footing with better college teams, the strength of the high school circuit does not help improve the college circuit; things instead say the same, and college teams continue to stay mediocre even as local high school teams remain strong.
I'm extremely curious as to what specific examples are being cited in the latter half of Naveed's post, because I can't actually think of any. I highly doubt the strength of Wayzata is even in the top ten reasons as to why Minnesota-area teams remaining fairly similar in strength from year to year. I also don't recall a single conversation with any activities administrators, over four years of speaking with them on behalf of the Dartmouth club, in which they expressed the remotest bit of interest in who our opponents were during a given tournament - and I would have been more than mildly surprised if they had decided to look up our first ACF Fall's field, find out that Hunter College High School was in it, and suspend our funding.

In general, the phenomenon of people in strong circuits, who do not possess knowledge of unique local dynamics, dictating to people in weak circuits who do possess such knowledge, strikes me as rather arrogant. This is not to say that experienced outsiders completely lack insight, but someone who has probably developed a lot of substantive knowledge of good quizbowl like Matt probably isn't trying to do stuff like force chimera teams on to official ACF tournaments.

EDIT for clarification
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by Cheynem » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:56 am

In general, I think Naveed is correct in that high schools and colleges should remain separate as much as possible. In particular, ACF Fall, a tournament meant to introduce many new schools and teams to the game, should not be a place for good high school teams go to "play up." (I am unsure about tournaments like Penn Bowl or other regular difficulty tournaments)

However, I also think that Matt and various other schools are placed in circumstances where both the high school and collegiate circuits are equally burgeoning. In this case, a clear exemption policy could be a good idea. I do think that there is a difference between a 6 or 8 team round robin and a 4 team one, and I also question how feasible having a concurrent ACF Fall tournament for colleges/high schools is. I see a potential handicap in that there is a danger that this arrangement can stagnate and that the collegiate teams not grow enough to be able to stand on their own feet. But I know in this case that Matt is working extremely hard to correct this.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by 1.82 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:13 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote: I'm extremely curious as to what specific examples are being cited in the latter half of Naveed's post, because I can't actually think of any. I highly doubt the strength of Wayzata is even in the top ten reasons as to why Minnesota-area teams remaining fairly similar in strength from year to year.
Minnesota is in fact not an example of the phenomenon I cite. Ever since the founding of the modern program there, the U has always been better than any high school team in the state, and of course Carleton wrested away the state title from Minnesota.

Examples that do readily come to mind are Georgia and Texas. In both those states, top high school teams for years have completed nationally and have been good enough to meet local college teams on their level. Out of players from this programs who have continued to play seriously in college, the majority have gone to out-of-state schools, whereas local collegiate circuits have not developed. I am in fact speaking from some direct experience here.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by ezubaric » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:38 am

Of course, ACF is free to do whatever it likes. It makes the rules and folks need to play by those rules. That said, sometimes the policies that are sensible and workable in mature regions with powerhouse HS teams just aren't applicable to regions where QB is weak: it becomes a question of consistency vs. optimality.

However, I think that the major quiz bowl organizations should have a goal of encouraging the development of QB in more regions. The more teams, packet submissions, talent, money flowing into the parent organization, the better.

It's not just a question of a four-team Groundhog Day RR vs. a more palatable schedule. It's often a question of a tournament happening at all, which could mean the life or death of QB in a region. If for multiple years, if CU has a choice of fielding N house teams, staffing, etc. to make a tournament viable for two or three paying teams, they're not going to do that forever. Then there will be no more ACF tournaments played in the region. And this may also remove the only good QB tournament that high schools in the region can attend that semester (e.g., CU often hosts a Spring HS tournament but not a Fall one); if high school players don't know good QB exists then they won't play when they get to college, and the circuit dies.

I think Matt is putting a good spin on things because that's his personality, but national quiz bowl organizations take emerging regions for granted at their own peril. In many regions, QB is not entrenched and needs support both from motivated local evangelists and national organizations.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:27 pm

ezubaric wrote: It's not just a question of a four-team Groundhog Day RR vs. a more palatable schedule. It's often a question of a tournament happening at all, which could mean the life or death of QB in a region. If for multiple years, if CU has a choice of fielding N house teams, staffing, etc. to make a tournament viable for two or three paying teams, they're not going to do that forever. Then there will be no more ACF tournaments played in the region. And this may also remove the only good QB tournament that high schools in the region can attend that semester (e.g., CU often hosts a Spring HS tournament but not a Fall one); if high school players don't know good QB exists then they won't play when they get to college, and the circuit dies.

I think Matt is putting a good spin on things because that's his personality, but national quiz bowl organizations take emerging regions for granted at their own peril. In many regions, QB is not entrenched and needs support both from motivated local evangelists and national organizations.
Yeah, this may not have come across in my original post. I'm not just worried about having a small field---I'm worried about not having a tournament at all. BYU has a hard time getting travel funding, and it's possible that UCCS or Kansas State might not have a functioning team next season. If cold-emailing college activities directors doesn't pan out (though I sincerely hope it will), there's a small but siginificant chance that ACF Fall just won't happen in the Mountain West.

Hell, we actually lost money on SCT this year because the profit from the attending teams wasn't enough to cover the registration fee for the house teams.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by ezubaric » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:39 pm

A Very Long Math Tossup wrote: Hell, we actually lost money on SCT this year because the profit from the attending teams wasn't enough to cover the registration fee for the house teams.
That ain't good, but it isn't the first time it happened. At the first Rocky Mountain SCT, I paid for the house teams personally so as to not drain the coffers of a nascent club. It's particularly bad as your arm is twisted to supply those teams to make the SCT site viable in the first place.

To reiterate: emerging regions need support from national organizations, and a one-size-fits-all policy doesn't cut it.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by ashwin99 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:33 pm

Thank you for raising this point, Matt. ACF has decided to allow certain ACF Fall sites to host high school teams, for the purpose of helping smaller circuits that would benefit from having local high school teams play at Fall as well. Each exemption will be approved by ACF on a case-by-case basis.
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Re: Small Circuits, High Schools Teams, and ACF Fall

Post by tiwonge » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:29 am

I guess it's moot now, but I believe that UW's ACF Fall last year did have a high school team. One of the reasons that we chose to host EFT last year rather than ACF Fall was that EFT permitted high school teams. But UW's mirror had them anyway.

http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/tournament ... ned_stats/

(Lakeside is a high school team.)
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