Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

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Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:15 pm

As an activity, it's essential for quiz bowl's continued growth that new schools be added at both the high school and college level.

As a whole, quiz bowl has failed to accomplish these goals, and it appears that there's no real directive to change this, at least in terms of national conversations.

It is to high school and college teams' benefit to encourage the growth of the game, as more teams mean larger sources of revenue for hosting tournaments and more teams to play against. It is to the benefit of national organizations to encourage the growth of the game, most practically for financial reasons.

Unfortunately, there's a limited amount of work being done in this area. The largest source of it over the past year has been Dave Madden, who has practically single-handedly created circuits out of nothing but hard work. HSAPQ does important work in Virginia via their work with the VHSL. MOQBA does good work in Missouri drawing in new teams. I'm not as aware of NAQT's accomplishments as I probably should be; I know they work with the ACUI, though I am not aware of what exactly that consists of and how much growth has been produced at the high school level. PACE has not done as much as it should.

Posting tournament announcements on this website is not enough to ensure that fields are as bountiful as possible. More needs to be done about this issue, because it's holding back the growth of the game more than any other issue.

I'm running out of steam regarding posting things for the night, so I'm just going to post the "I am identifying what I think is a problem" part of this before I do some "here are some possible solutions" things.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Coldblueberry » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:34 pm

You forgot a shout-out to the UC guys in socal :) So many new teams this year...
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby NickConderWKU » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:44 pm

There needs to be more coordination between people who support good quizbowl in each state (like what is happening in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, etc.) to expand their circuits internally. It might be a good idea for some type of organization like a "quizbowl alliance" in every state, with those organizations coordinating all of the good quizbowl advocates in their area to spread good quizbowl in different corners of their state. PACE (or any national organization) can't send one person to a state and expect them to have 50 new quizbowl teams by the end of the year, it's going to take multiple people in every state to talk to the right people, host events in the right places and times, and get other people involved in supporting good quizbowl. Something that a national organization can do is try to affiliate itself with these organizations in every state and provide support when they need it.

Something that has been done by NAQT (with ACUI), KAAC (with Kentucky Dept. of Education), and David Madden (with a list of people and organizations too long to list) is to talk to powerful non-quizbowl organizations and convince them to partner with you and help you advance your goals. Letting non-quizbowl people have too much control is bad, but outreach is something that they can do fairly successfully. Recruiting schools individually can and will work, but a fast and effective way to recruit a lot of schools at once is to partner with a person or organization that a large number of schools already work with and trust.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Charbroil » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:52 pm

I think a big part of the issue is that most of Quiz Bowl is still in college and can't consistently focus on building the kinds of relationships necessary to promote the expansion of a new circuit. David Madden's example is incredibly inspiring, but 100+ hours a week (or even a tenth of that) of promoting Quiz bowl is probably impossible for most of Quiz Bowl, not only due to lack of time, but also because schedules in college are constantly in flux. Since college students can't follow up constantly with contacts and provide constant advice and feedback, relationships often fall by the wayside.

After all, it's noteworthy that every one of the organizations you mentioned as spreading Quiz Bowl (David Madden/National History Bee & Bowl, MOQBA, HSAPQ, and NAQT) has a strong core of non-students who can not only dedicate time, but more importantly, consistently dedicate time during the day (when schools are actually in session, but also when college students have classes) to outreach.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:22 am

I wish some state organization would hold a series of tournaments on an IS Set this Saturday for 176 teams.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby mhayes » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:51 pm

Something I would love to see is some sort of outreach towards the historically black colleges and universities who participate in the HCASC. This tournament is very popular amongst many black colleges, and I would bet that 95% of the participants (players, coaches, administrators) believe that this is the only college quiz bowl that exists. And with all due respect to CBI and the HCASC, the questions are quite bad.

I believe that this is a large untapped market and it would be a great opportunity to expand the circuit. It would also expose these schools to GOOD quiz bowl in the process. To my knowledge (and I very well could be wrong), I think Langston is the only HCASC school that has recently participated in a regular circuit tournament. Overall, I think there's much more that can be done here.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby alexdz » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:43 am

I believe Harris-Stowe State in Missouri attended something in St. Louis last year.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Flutist Wren » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:59 am

alexdz wrote:I believe Harris-Stowe State in Missouri attended something in St. Louis last year.

They sent two teams to last year's Early Autumn Collegiate Novice.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby tuscumbiaqb » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:03 am

Lincoln (MO) also attended at least one tournament two years ago.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Matthew Jackson » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:26 pm

mhayes wrote:Something I would love to see is some sort of outreach towards the historically black colleges and universities who participate in the HCASC. This tournament is very popular amongst many black colleges, and I would bet that 95% of the participants (players, coaches, administrators) believe that this is the only college quiz bowl that exists. And with all due respect to CBI and the HCASC, the questions are quite bad.


What due respect is that? Literally the only thing CBI does anymore is run an awful, awful tournament geared towards keeping colleges out of regular quizbowl for the sole reason that they're majority-black. If we're going to reach out to black colleges (which we should do, because it's part and parcel of reaching out to colleges as a unified task), we shouldn't respect HCASC at all, but should rather be honest about the kind of scheme that it really is.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:36 pm

Dave Madden once told me that a big advantage for him in spreading history bowl to every corner of the Earth is that he has a ready-made champion in each school: the history teacher. Most people who would become history teachers probably react to learning about history bee and bowl by saying "this is awesome!" and immediately wanting their school involved.

Regular quizbowl doesn't really have a built-in champion at most schools. Everyone always talks about contacting the people who run the honors program or the gifted classes or what not, but that's assuming a correlation between academic performance and interest in quizbowl that I just don't think is there.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby mhayes » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:47 pm

RyuAqua wrote:What due respect is that? Literally the only thing CBI does anymore is run an awful, awful tournament geared towards keeping colleges out of regular quizbowl for the sole reason that they're majority-black.


Oh I agree completely. I was being overly cordial.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Broad-tailed Grassbird » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:20 pm

RyuAqua wrote:
mhayes wrote:Something I would love to see is some sort of outreach towards the historically black colleges and universities who participate in the HCASC. This tournament is very popular amongst many black colleges, and I would bet that 95% of the participants (players, coaches, administrators) believe that this is the only college quiz bowl that exists. And with all due respect to CBI and the HCASC, the questions are quite bad.


What due respect is that? Literally the only thing CBI does anymore is run an awful, awful tournament geared towards keeping colleges out of regular quizbowl for the sole reason that they're majority-black. If we're going to reach out to black colleges (which we should do, because it's part and parcel of reaching out to colleges as a unified task), we shouldn't respect HCASC at all, but should rather be honest about the kind of scheme that it really is.


The great thing is, there's a list to poach teams off of. http://www.hcasc.com/enroll.asp . Individual TDs need to find schools within 4 hours of them and invite them. Most of them are in the south, but there are Midwest and Mid-Atlantic schools as well. You can find team contacts pretty easily by surfing around each school's student life websites.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby mhayes » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:02 pm

Pszczew wrote:The great thing is, there's a list to poach teams off of. http://www.hcasc.com/enroll.asp . Individual TDs need to find schools within 4 hours of them and invite them. Most of them are in the south, but there are Midwest and Mid-Atlantic schools as well. You can find team contacts pretty easily by surfing around each school's student life websites.


Exactly, because there's no way in hell that CBI will release the contact info. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they actively discourage enrolled schools from posting contact info on their respective websites.

If we ever host something, I'm going to reach out to Wilberforce and Central State. I'd recommend that Ohio State's club do the same, especially since these schools are only 1 hour away from Columbus.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Fake 4-ball » Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:19 pm

So, on this subject: how do you contact teams that have no easily available contact info? There are about 100 schools on Long Island that have sent teams to The Challenge or RQB, but I can't even get the name of a coach for a bunch of them. Would I just have to send out info packets addressed "to whom it may concern" to all of the schools and hope they reach the right people?
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby mithokie » Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:20 pm

On mailings I send to schools with no contact, I always include a generic title like:

Academic Team Coach
Anon. HS
Anon, AN XXXXX

I also include a similar greeting for schools that I have a contact for...

<Name of Last Known Contact>
or Current Academic Team Coach
Anon HS
Anon, AN XXXXX
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Fake 4-ball » Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:48 pm

Ah, that's basically what I was thinking, except with a lot more alternate titles.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Great Bustard » Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:36 am

Production of Watchmen wrote:So, on this subject: how do you contact teams that have no easily available contact info? There are about 100 schools on Long Island that have sent teams to The Challenge or RQB, but I can't even get the name of a coach for a bunch of them. Would I just have to send out info packets addressed "to whom it may concern" to all of the schools and hope they reach the right people?


Email me. If your intentions are good, I'm happy to help.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby KGeee » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:08 pm

mhayes wrote:I believe that this is a large untapped market and it would be a great opportunity to expand the circuit. It would also expose these schools to GOOD quiz bowl in the process. To my knowledge (and I very well could be wrong), I think Langston is the only HCASC school that has recently participated in a regular circuit tournament. Overall, I think there's much more that can be done here.


Let me preface this with an I love HCASC more than anyone here has a reason to,because it allowed me to meet a lot of cool folks, and because they fully funded our program at Langston while I was there and the money allowed us to travel to tournaments, and then share my own view that will probably further ostracize me from that community:

HCASC has become even more gimmicky in an attempt to get back on television and to be even more accessible. The new method, and the first nationals/pre-NCT under this style has yet to be played so this is (very) slightly premature, is watered down, and appears to be full of buzzer-races even for players who have studied at least two days in their life. That and the whole "we choose the nationals teams" and don't tell you why you did or didn't get picked thing has irked me in the past, especially since they had regionals similar to NAQT which at least based tournament qualification on a modicum of skill. Because of the shift of the game format, I'm willing to bet that even less teams start going off of the circuit, because it is now basically a game show format.

Going off of the circuit is a pure pride/because we liked playing and I'm glad that Langston has continued that tradition. Unlike the past when NAQT/ACF could help performance on the more academic bonus questions, it probably won't help very much in performing at HCASC, which funds the teams generously (3000 if you never win a single game, 6000 if you make the "Sweet Sixteen"), provides free trips for the schools, and has a party atmosphere with very attractive ladies. The ones that do attend will likely have a worse performance because of the lowered need to study for their "main" game and no-longer need to study academic material all-year to perform well. Mix that in with the fact that most schools in HCASC [we did not have more than one person who played on the Langston team while I was there who had played quiz bowl in high school (I hadn't either)] have no experience in quizbowl. I actually really enjoyed HCASC and it used to be a lot more (keyword: "more") academic than it is now, but since the departure of a few question writers, it has become slightly easier every year (obviously not on par with the circuit, but it is what it is.), then THIS. This whole thing seems to have been turned into a high-tech bar trivia, with an extremely high payout. They're hiring "interns" who must be undergraduates at the participating hbcus, but not on a hcasc team, to "research" and/or write "questions", which ultimately means that folks with no experience will be providing the material that will be played on for lots of money.

My word itself may be unfair, so check it for yourself:

http://youtu.be/PC4o5RbeExs

Edited for details and coherence.
Last edited by KGeee on Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:01 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby marnold » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:35 pm



This is disgraceful.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby jonpin » Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:09 pm

Awesome. Now it's a :party:-ty imitation of quiz bowl AND a :party:-ty product for television which has no chance of accidentally being confused with a quality specimen of either.

Forgot this counted as high school section. Amended.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Matt Weiner » Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:28 pm

One would hope that the descent of HCASC into (beyond) self-parody simply means that, because it is so far divorced from quizbowl, we don't need to address it at all when trying to get teams started at HBCUs, and can just use the usual approaches as on schools with no quizbowl program.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby cchiego » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:06 pm

One a slightly happier note than the rest of this thread, I'm pleased to see that the Texas Invitational produced some of the best-quality picture I've yet seen of quizbowl. This group oneis nicely situated and makes the players look both parts professional and entirely normal--these could be students at the school down the street. The Bellarmine victory one adds a nice bit of spontaneity too.

I don't know if there are legal issues or other reasons that are holding back other quizbowl organizations from adding photos, but we need more pictures of quizbowl if we want to convince potential teams and administrators to take us more seriously. It's a basic human response to empathize more with a picture of a person than with a text description. There may not be as much "action" as in other activities, but there are still excellent shots; Charlie pointed me to some photos a photography student took at a recent Mizzou tournament--the one with Charlie reading in particular is excellent.

I'd encourage more quizbowl associations to add more media to their websites and to any press releases they might send. The national associations should do this too, especially considering that they all have marquee tournaments with plenty of opportunities for photos.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby friendswithdave » Sun May 27, 2012 1:44 pm

I'll toot my own horn to talk about the positive things happening in North Carolina related to quiz bowl. To jump start quiz bowl a few years ago I founded a statewide association that promotes all scholastic activities and competitions: the NC Association for Scholastic Activities. While not a quiz bowl organization per se, quiz bowl is our "premier" event and by far our most popular. We doubled the number of schools participating in NCASA quiz bowl from 2011 to 2012, and expect to more than double it again next year. During our formation we benchmarked other similar associations including the Kentucky Association for Academic Competitions and the NC High School Athletic Association.

The key to our success in quiz bowl circles is getting the existing leaders involved with the presentation and administration of the quiz bowl tournaments. If these experienced quiz bowl people make all the decisions related to quiz bowl itself, it stands a great chance of being a quality product, which it has been. We don't yet have 100% buy-in from the quiz bowl community though. The annual membership cost is several times the cost to enter a normal quiz bowl tournament, and because we are a start-up association, these fees only cover our expenses because we are 100% volunteer run. We have a set of volunteers doing what paid employees do in similar associations in other states. This can only be sustained for so long with volunteers.

There are two keys to our overall success:
1) Getting the school administrators and even more importantly, the superintendents involved and on board. By promoting our product as a comprehensive scholastic program that can appeal to students with interests in nearly every academic area, it is easier for administrators and superintendents buy-in to the concept and promote this within their schools. I think many administrators don't like the idea of quiz bowl, but accept it as part of a comprehensive scholastic program.

2) Partnering with existing major scholastic competitions like Science Olympiad and Odyssey to present an award that recognizes excellence across many competitions: the NCASA Scholastic Cup. As far as I know this type of partnership is unique to North Carolina. To my knowledge, no other states have similar partnerships between existing scholastic competitions.

Granted creating a State Association is a monumental task, but if your state does not have a school association that presents and / or governs scholastic activities, creating a school association like NCASA will go a long ways towards growing quiz bowl and other worthwhile scholastic competitions.

By the way, with our expansion to middle schools next year, we expect NC middle school quiz bowl to explode, going from roughly zero teams that participate in more than one tournament per year, to a few dozen. If we can do this, it will prove our model to be a successful one for increasing participation in quiz bowl.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby cchiego » Mon May 28, 2012 3:48 am

Sounds like an interesting and promising idea, but I'm curious about this comment:

friendswithdave wrote: I think many administrators don't like the idea of quiz bowl, but accept it as part of a comprehensive scholastic program.


That suggests a long-term issue that might come back down the line if the admins don't fully buy in to the idea of quizbowl.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby friendswithdave » Mon May 28, 2012 8:42 am

Anecdotal evidence suggests many admins shy away from quiz bowl because they see it as an activity that encourages memorization of facts versus application of knowledge. No principal has said to me "I don't like quiz bowl", but few get excited about the activity when I present it to them. Part of what I promote is that having a variety of activities appeals to a variety of students. The more activities offered, the more students find something that appeals to them, whether it is a knowledge based activity like quiz bowl, or an application activity like Science Olympiad or a writing contest.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon May 28, 2012 2:09 pm

So, even if you take that criticism of the game at face value, isn't that still a really important skill to allow you to graduate from high school with good grades? A huge component of a successful education is learning how to read about, then memorize, a bunch of facts that could come up on tests or in assignments, which you absolutely need to do before you can progress further into analyzing or applying those concepts. I certainly took nonstop classes in history, biology, math, English, and god knows what else where I was tested over tons of rote memorized facts as one of a large group of skills the classes were cultivating. Quizbowl does a REALLY good job of teaching kids how to master that component of education, which can take you a long way towards getting an A sometimes. So even if you buy that all quizbowl is is a bunch of people memorizing useless facts (and I don't buy that), isn't that still a really important skill for educators to promote in the interest of people being able to do better in school?
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby jessbowen » Mon May 28, 2012 9:48 pm

I'm new myself, and perhaps you don't want to hear what I have to say, but I've been surprised at how difficult it is to break into this world.

In Massachusetts, there doesn't seem to be any kind of organization heading up quiz bowl. However, 2 years ago, our PBS station started running a High School Quiz Bowl show - and last year, over 90 schools showed up with a team of 4-5 kids to try out. Sure, it's not pyramid-style questions. But clearly there is interest - a teacher who is coaching and at least 4 kids who are interested in academic competition. It would be great if someone tapped into this and got some momentum going.

We went to 2 tournaments. I was surprised again at how difficult it was to get other coaches just to chat with me about quiz bowl (though one was a friendlier atmosphere than the other). It was like pulling teeth. I want to find out about resources, other competitions, how and when you practice, recruit, etc. Even organizers of the tournament seemed tight-lipped. (I realize they are busy the day of, but I asked questions leading up to and after the tournament and never really felt like someone was willing or able to help me access the quiz bowl world.)

I did chat with someone from Vermont where they seemed to have a league going. I should have gotten her name and contact information, but a round ended and we weren't chatting anymore and that was that.

I also think that there is a lot of scattered information as well as jargon and acronyms out there. I've just finished my second year of coaching and I think I'm starting to wrap my head around it all, but some kind of beginner's FAQ would be helpful. A single clearinghouse website of information would be helpful too. If all other groups pointed to it and vice versa, it would help both. It should be bery user-friendly and not require technical know-how to access it. Even a facebook page would help. (There is one, but it seems to be just players looking for other players to play online with.)

Both in person and online, when I have tried to seek ways to get more involved, I have encountered unfriendliness, academic snobbery (go read the KMO thread), websites with dead ends, and in general, a sense that newcomers or less-than-good players were not welcome. It has been frustrating. I'm a full time teacher with other advising duties who cannot make this a full time pursuit. I really like Quiz Bowl and I have a great group of interested kids, but I'm just not sure how to make it work better than I am.

I'm glad to see this thread - I'm glad someone is concerned that recruitment is a problem. I would like to be a part of a solution. If there are others in the New England area who would like to meet (in person or virtually) to try and improve Quiz Bowl here, please contact me. In the meantime, consider what you are doing to make QB a thriving activity - are you a good ambassador of the game?
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Banana Stand » Mon May 28, 2012 10:07 pm

jessbowen wrote:I also think that there is a lot of scattered information as well as jargon and acronyms out there. I've just finished my second year of coaching and I think I'm starting to wrap my head around it all, but some kind of beginner's FAQ would be helpful. A single clearinghouse website of information would be helpful too. If all other groups pointed to it and vice versa, it would help both.


http://www.qbwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Matthew Jackson » Mon May 28, 2012 10:17 pm

Ms. Bowen, I'm currently leading the college team at Yale University, which hosts two high school tournaments a year for teams in the area and beyond. I'd be glad to correspond with you about building a team, or about finding tournaments to attend (come to FAcT this October and BHSAT this spring!) or about improving the quizbowl circuit in the area for next year and beyond. You'll be glad to know that the state of quizbowl in the CT-RI-MA area of New England hasn't gone unnoticed, and several of us (including myself, Coach Bob Pirrie of E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, and Jeff Hoppes of NAQT, this board's chief administrator) have begun to hash out ideas for making the circuit more vibrant and welcoming this upcoming year. I'd love to have your team participating, both in the conversation and in events themselves, and wouldn't want any coach to be disheartened. Let's get in touch!
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby cchiego » Mon May 28, 2012 11:08 pm

jessbowen wrote:Even organizers of the tournament seemed tight-lipped. (I realize they are busy the day of, but I asked questions leading up to and after the tournament and never really felt like someone was willing or able to help me access the quiz bowl world.)


This is frustrating to hear on many levels. Even if organizers are seemingly so 'busy' that they're unable to make time to reach out to new teams and coaches, the moderators should hopefully be smart enough to recognize and welcome new teams. At the most selfish level, this is bad economics for the hosts because the more new teams they can grow and encourage the more money they'll make in the future when those teams come back to attend future tournaments.

On the other hand, you've got a great position yourself as a coach within the high school circuit. It's often difficult for college students and people from other areas to grow the game because of an inherent skepticism towards outsiders who are often seen to be trampling on tradition or meddling in affairs that don't concern them. Though it may take some work, if you can motivate your students to take up the mantle of some of the organizational tasks you could start hosting tournaments at your school (which would help solve funding issues) and engage in the kind of outreach that would start to develop more of a circuit in your area. Definitely take up Matt Jackson's offer to get in touch and get more plugged in to the NE circuit.

jessbowen wrote:academic snobbery (go read the KMO thread)


The problem is that KMO and the company that runs it has a long history of promoting bad practices that actively hurt the pyramidal quizbowl circuit. For people like myself whose coaches would only let them play on these bad questions in high school, for instance, there's a lot of inherent suspicion of anything involving bad questions and the practices associated with them. This occurs even when, as you pointed out in another thread, these other competitions can be useful stepping stones for new schools. It's not so much snobbery as it is a difference of experiences.

Here's the list of resources that I pass out in flyer form to coaches at all the local teams here in SoCal that might serve as a good starting point. NAQT also has a somewhat outdated guide on how to start a new team and a much better guide on how to improve as a player.

Quiz Bowl Improvement Resources: A Brief Guide
Quizbowl Packet Archive
http://www.quizbowlpackets.com
Contains tens of thousands of questions from old tournaments, including a large sampling of recent tournaments. All entirely free! Tournaments are organized chronologically and most can be downloaded as zip files.

The Quizbowl Database
http://www.quizbowldb.com
A searchable, browsable, and playable online database that is fully customizable for an individual practicing experience. Contains a number of useful search and category selection (i.e. only look for biology or geography questions) features as well as a "Read to Me!" mode where players can practice "buzzing" in online and compare their results to other players from around the country.

You Gotta Know Lists
http://naqt.com/YouGottaKnow/
Useful capsule summaries of 8-12 famous people, places, ideas, events, etc. centered around themes like "Deserts of the World," "Civil War Battles," "Architects," etc. Also includes Frequency Lists for art, music, and literature. Very useful to help new players to start studying in these areas!

Tips for Improvement
http://www.moqba.org/tips.php
Excellent guide to various strategies of improvement for both players and coaches from the Missouri Quiz Bowl Alliance.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Sniper, No Sniping! » Tue May 29, 2012 9:53 am

Re:KMO discussion; KMO in my opinion isn't quiz bowl, and I think that sentiment is shared by many. I don't think anyone is being snobbish when they give their criticisms towards KMO (of course, maybe my perspective is obscured as a result as having aired my negativity towards said competition). With that said, I think everyone on here that gives their opinion on quiz bowl has a passion for academic competitions, in particular, quiz bowl. The criticisms of KMO are justifiable; and truth be told, KMO doesn't do much to prepare a team for pyramidal quiz bowl.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby David Riley » Tue May 29, 2012 10:31 am

Ms. Bowen: Welcome! Go to http://www.ihssbca.org and check out the link "Scholastic Visions", our quarterly newsletter. It contains articles galore about quiz bowl and will give you an idea what goes on in an active circuit. If you like, you're welcome to join our organization, and then you will get the newsletter regularly. Best of luck to you!
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Tue May 29, 2012 10:47 am

Horned Screamer wrote:So, even if you take that criticism of the game at face value, isn't that still a really important skill to allow you to graduate from high school with good grades? A huge component of a successful education is learning how to read about, then memorize, a bunch of facts that could come up on tests or in assignments, which you absolutely need to do before you can progress further into analyzing or applying those concepts. I certainly took nonstop classes in history, biology, math, English, and god knows what else where I was tested over tons of rote memorized facts as one of a large group of skills the classes were cultivating. Quizbowl does a REALLY good job of teaching kids how to master that component of education, which can take you a long way towards getting an A sometimes. So even if you buy that all quizbowl is is a bunch of people memorizing useless facts (and I don't buy that), isn't that still a really important skill for educators to promote in the interest of people being able to do better in school?


While these are valid points in terms of benefits of the activity, I don't think this is the way to promote the activity to teachers and administrators. I think we want to stress that this activity encourages students to learn about important ideas and events, read books, study concepts that come up in class in more depth, and remember concepts that come up in class after the test is over.

Irene: I'm going to disagree with my good friend David Riley. Keep in mind that IHSSBCA is focused on Scholastic Bowl/Quizbowl in Illinois and that the free posted newsletters are a bit dated. Overall, keep in mind that this activity is still growing, and it's not unusual to have some uneven experiences with it. Hopefully, you can make it out to Yale and find a few people in Massachusetts doing things the right way, or at least willing to move in the right direction. You will find that many of us are welcoming and that this activity is worth your time and energy.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Tue May 29, 2012 11:12 am

Just to add to the suggestions for Ms. Bown in Massachusetts - I don't know exactly where you are in Massachusetts, but if you are close enough and your team is willing to travel far distances on Saturday mornings, there are an abundance of tournaments in the NY/NJ area that you could always come to if not enough is happening up your way. The tournaments that were in the area this year are all listed here (http://hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=11517) and I am sure there will be as many, if not more opportunities to play pyramidal quizbowl in the area next year.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby a bird » Tue May 29, 2012 11:17 am

jessbowen wrote:We went to 2 tournaments. I was surprised again at how difficult it was to get other coaches just to chat with me about quiz bowl (though one was a friendlier atmosphere than the other). It was like pulling teeth. I want to find out about resources, other competitions, how and when you practice, recruit, etc. Even organizers of the tournament seemed tight-lipped. (I realize they are busy the day of, but I asked questions leading up to and after the tournament and never really felt like someone was willing or able to help me access the quiz bowl world.)

I did chat with someone from Vermont where they seemed to have a league going. I should have gotten her name and contact information, but a round ended and we weren't chatting anymore and that was that.


I'd like to apologize for any unwelcomeness I may have played a part in. I tend foccus on the game, and don't talk enough to other teams and coaches. If you're wonering, the orginization you mentioned is the Vermont Scholars Bowl, and I think the coach you spoke with was Mrs. Smith of Essex. I could try to find her contact info if you like.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Great Bustard » Thu May 31, 2012 8:53 pm

Just chiming in here - Massachusetts (thanks in large part to Janine Simard of Everett, who is sadly moving to Pensacola, FL), has become a great region for NHBB. Next year, we're going to have at least 2, if not 3, tournaments in Massachusetts, and we'll certainly encourage all teams in attendance to get more involved in all-subject quiz bowl tournaments. That said, I can understand where Ms. Bowen is coming from with regards to her sense of encountering hostility, especially regarding other competitions. If there is one thing I could change about quizbowl today, it's that everyone (coaches, teams, tournament organizers, etc.) stands to benefit from more schools getting involved and should do all they can to welcome new and interested schools. NHBB in particular, with a 4 quarter format, serves as a useful bridge to teams who don't play at all, and teams who don't play pyramidal questions that often. This welcoming approach has had, and will continue to have, far more success in bringing schools into pyramidal quizbowl than an approach of simply getting mad at teams and coaches that play other formats, or not taking the time to do outreach at all, of course. Our efforts in Guam, Westchester County, Lancaster County, Massachusetts, Washington State, and many other places attest to this.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu May 31, 2012 11:49 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:NHBB in particular, with a 4 quarter format, serves as a useful bridge to teams who don't play at all

No it doesn't. The only utility derived from the four quarter on the recruitment front is the other group of people you mention, people who already are used to four quarter tournaments. Entirely new teams to quizbowl who want to play quizbowl couldn't care less if it's 20 tossup matches or four quarters or a format where you answer questions and then literally go bowling. They will simply play what is offered in the region that they are guided towards and learn to think is normal.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Great Bustard » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:27 am

Horned Screamer wrote:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:NHBB in particular, with a 4 quarter format, serves as a useful bridge to teams who don't play at all

No it doesn't. The only utility derived from the four quarter on the recruitment front is the other group of people you mention, people who already are used to four quarter tournaments. Entirely new teams to quizbowl who want to play quizbowl couldn't care less if it's 20 tossup matches or four quarters or a format where you answer questions and then literally go bowling. They will simply play what is offered in the region that they are guided towards and learn to think is normal.


I dispute this. While you are correct that the primary benefit of four quarter on the recruitment front is more for teams that are used to that format, I firmly believe that with a greater variety of types of questions it's easier to get them hooked in the first place. Granted, this is a belief and I don't have empirical evidence for it, but I highly doubt you have any evidence against it either. 20/20 as people have noted many times is more repetitive in its approach and more inclined to lead to drubbings and whitewashes that are dispiriting to many new teams.
In any case, though, the much bigger advantages we have are the fact that we have a burgeoning middle school program backed by the History Channel, the fact that we can go in to any school and immediately have a target audience with the history teachers (even overseas), and that we will have four highly capable people working full time on outreach to find new teams and Nationals staffers next fall. No other qb organization comes anywhere close to that focus and level of commitment.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Auroni » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:31 pm

Edit: formatting
Last edited by Auroni on Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Auroni » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:33 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:Granted, this is a belief and I don't have empirical evidence for it, but I highly doubt you have any evidence against it either.


So you're just saying things then?

20/20 as people have noted many times is more repetitive in its approach and more inclined to lead to drubbings and whitewashes that are dispiriting to many new teams.
.

When will you stop projecting your fond memories of playing the NAC to new teams? Your armchair psychoanalysis of what they want has no basis in reality.

In any case, though, the much bigger advantages we have are the fact that we have a burgeoning middle school program backed by the History Channel, the fact that we can go in to any school and immediately have a target audience with the history teachers (even overseas), and that we will have four highly capable people working full time on outreach to find new teams and Nationals staffers next fall. No other qb organization comes anywhere close to that focus and level of commitment.


No, you don't get to use the commercial size and grandeur of your organization as leverage to put forth stupid arguments.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:43 am

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:In any case, though, the much bigger advantages we have are the fact that we have a burgeoning middle school program backed by the History Channel, the fact that we can go in to any school and immediately have a target audience with the history teachers (even overseas), and that we will have four highly capable people working full time on outreach to find new teams and Nationals staffers next fall. No other qb organization comes anywhere close to that focus and level of commitment.


No, you don't get to use the commercial size and grandeur of your organization as leverage to put forth stupid arguments.


I am pretty sure he is getting at the notion of NHBB seems to be more popular / catch more quickly in quizbowl deficient areas than regular quizbowl often will, and this very well may be part of the format - the merits of the format for the game as a whole is a whole other can of worms, but its not a stupid argument to say "region X never had good quizbowl, but now they took interest in NHBB, and they said they enjoyed the format and are hooked on quizbowl," which I think in a few regions is a true NHBB-related story. How much of this is because of the format and how much is because of history's natural ability to be easier to sell than some amalgamated academic competition is hard to tell. But complaining about the utility of the format when clearly something is being done right is a bit silly - this forum is titled "Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment" - and NHBB in areas like Massachusetts and others is an example of expansion not failing for NHBB, and whether it be because of History or format we don't really know, and we certainly don't have empirical evidence that there is no advantage to a new team getting to play 4 quarters.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:51 am

The last time we discussed this, wasn't there a consensus reached that there is nothing inherently "bad quizbowl" about the four quarters format and that it, like bounceback bonuses, can coexist with good quizbowl principles? Reputable organizations like HSAPQ still write four quarters formatted questions, after all.

There is a logical fallacy very popular on this board, the fallacy of "if [bad quizbowl person] does it, it must be wrong". Just because bad formats use bouncebacks or four quarters doesn't mean that these things are inherently bad. Chip Beal breathes oxygen, after all, but oxygen is not bad just because Chip Beal breathes it.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Cheynem » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:04 am

There is nothing wrong with bouncebacks and the four quarter system. I'm not sure who argues this. Auroni is saying that the four quarter system does not seem inherently more appealing to new teams as Dave is suggesting.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:05 am

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:Granted, this is a belief and I don't have empirical evidence for it, but I highly doubt you have any evidence against it either.


So you're just saying things then?



Yes. And by your standard, then so was Charlie with his opinion, and yourself, in your next quoted passage below. At least I'm being forthright about this, and citing a few logically-construed arguments as to why this very well may be the case. Sorry if I forwent the formal statistical analysis before posting.

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:20/20 as people have noted many times is more repetitive in its approach and more inclined to lead to drubbings and whitewashes that are dispiriting to many new teams.
.

When will you stop projecting your fond memories of playing the NAC to new teams? Your armchair psychoanalysis of what they want has no basis in reality.


When will you stop misconstruing arguments and saying things that are logical fallacies and utter non-sequiturs? What on earth did I say about NAC? Are you implying that the 4 quarter format that we use is identical to NAC? It ain't, btw. But since you mentioned it, did you know that we were sent home from NAC one of the two years I went after being told we weren't going to make the playoffs only to find out a week later we did? Or that my team lost the final match my senior year due to wacky 60 second rounds that blatantly favored the other team and due to two hoses in the bonus round? Really enjoyed those...
Whatever - my argument stands and anyone with a basic understanding of elementary reading comprehension can see the point I'm making.

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:In any case, though, the much bigger advantages we have are the fact that we have a burgeoning middle school program backed by the History Channel, the fact that we can go in to any school and immediately have a target audience with the history teachers (even overseas), and that we will have four highly capable people working full time on outreach to find new teams and Nationals staffers next fall. No other qb organization comes anywhere close to that focus and level of commitment.


No, you don't get to use the commercial size and grandeur of your organization as leverage to put forth stupid arguments.


You did not give one remotely compelling reason as to why these are stupid arguments. And since this is a thread about recruiting, and I was making the point that we're putting an effort here, I am completely justified in noting the connection with the History Channel (since that has a huge impact on outreach) and the number of people doing outreach (same).
I have no idea what compelled you to make your post.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:22 am

So, magically, MOQBA got 115 teams to start playing pyramidal quizbowl on a diet of 20/20 events in the span of four years in a state which was once incredibly hostile to all forms of pyramidal quizbowl. I have no ideological opposition to 4-quarter format events, and MOQBA ran, like, 2(?) events in our first couple of years that did have 4-quarters (which was an experiment that ultimately was not successful, so Rolla's quizbowl team stopped doing it and just started buying NAQT sets instead, because it was too much work while doing absolutely nothing to recruit more teams). We also ran one event in the old PACE style written by HSAPQ when they still made those. Pardon me for also having actual facts to back my opinion, but yeah, all that anything spreading good quizbowl has ever taught me is that, as I've said before, you can sway teams towards anything based on what you game-style you expose them to first. Missouri was almost universally exposing players to bad MSHSAA format events, and magically the state remained bad at quizbowl, then after MOQBA got involved and more and more players were having lots of early experience with our kinds of events, the newer players got used to it and are now way better at this style. If we had had the means and interest to pursue a heavier four quarter schedule, we probably would have produced a circuit that is four-quarter centric, which would have been fine as long as the questions were good and the game format wasn't too long. Given that 20/20 was the style being made most often, we went with that instead, made a point of still having our events not always use a uniform style when it came to powers, negs, and rebounding bonuses because we wanted to make sure teams don't get too used to one style, and clearly have no trouble recruiting teams.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby cchiego » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:21 pm

Dave, there's a couple of issues here that may be getting in the way of people embracing NHBB and some of your advice as outreach strategies.

First, it's unclear whether or not these new 'teams' that are playing NHBB are new teams that will also play good quizbowl. How many teams that came to NHBB also played a good quizbowl tournament for the first time this year versus how many stuck to chipbowl, local formats, or nothing? I suspect that you may have statistics on that and it would be interesting for everyone to see.

Second, the logistical failures of NHBB the past two years are a net negative for good quizbowl outreach. It's great to get in touch with lots of new teams, but if you sell them a logistical disaster of a tournament then all that outreach is in danger of going to waste. For instance, I know that the teams at NHBB from the San Diego area who had never been to a national tournament before expressed concern about the HSNCT based on people at NHBB saying that all quizbowl nationals were that badly organized. I'm not sure who precisely they heard that from, but it's not a good sign that the failures of NHBB are getting conflated with all of good quizbowl.

Even for next year it's still not clear if NHBB is going to be a national tournament that we can recommend to new teams or even established teams to attend. It's not a matter of commitment--your commitment to NHBB was never in doubt-- it's just the more general NHBB logistical abilities that still have deservedly large question marks.

In general though, mainstream quizbowl has much to learn in the way that NHBB not only engaged in on-the-ground outreach but was also able to convince a decent number of political and corporate sponsors to jump on board. If you could continue to share your methods for success in these areas[I'm particularly curious what you've found to be the best way to get groups of schools in a new area started at once; have you been able to get an in with school districts as a whole?], that would help the world of quizbowl as a whole and, conversely, NHBB by expanding the pool of quizbowl teams as a whole.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby 40th Day after death » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:00 pm

cchiego wrote:First, it's unclear whether or not these new 'teams' that are playing NHBB are new teams that will also play good quizbowl. How many teams that came to NHBB also played a good quizbowl tournament for the first time this year versus how many stuck to chipbowl, local formats, or nothing? I suspect that you may have statistics on that and it would be interesting for everyone to see.


Speaking of which, maybe NHBB can focus "DC-area recruitment" on all of those teams from the Maryland NHBB who won't go to any tournaments (like Mt. St. Joe's)?
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Great Bustard » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:16 pm

Willmune Sof Burrghtenstein wrote:
cchiego wrote:First, it's unclear whether or not these new 'teams' that are playing NHBB are new teams that will also play good quizbowl. How many teams that came to NHBB also played a good quizbowl tournament for the first time this year versus how many stuck to chipbowl, local formats, or nothing? I suspect that you may have statistics on that and it would be interesting for everyone to see.


Speaking of which, maybe NHBB can focus "DC-area recruitment" on all of those teams from the Maryland NHBB who won't go to any tournaments (like Mt. St. Joe's)?


The focus of our recruiting will be for NHBB (see longer explanation of this in subsequent reply to Chris's post), but of course, we'll encourage teams to go to other tournaments. I know at least 1 Mt. St. Joseph student went to ACE last summer.
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Re: Quiz Bowl's Systemic Failure At Expansion and Recruitment

Postby Great Bustard » Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:48 pm

cchiego wrote:Dave, there's a couple of issues here that may be getting in the way of people embracing NHBB and some of your advice as outreach strategies.

First, it's unclear whether or not these new 'teams' that are playing NHBB are new teams that will also play good quizbowl. How many teams that came to NHBB also played a good quizbowl tournament for the first time this year versus how many stuck to chipbowl, local formats, or nothing? I suspect that you may have statistics on that and it would be interesting for everyone to see.


I don't have comprehensive stats on which other tournaments NHBB schools attended, though I do have some examples of how the work we're doing has spilled over into all subject tournaments.

1. In Washington state, Klahowya's History Bowl coach took the initiative to get $2000 (possibly $3000 by now) worth of buzzers. Since in Washington, many schools use a different non-standardized buzzer system, and these systems are purposefully not just for NHBB use, but for all tournaments, this will be of great benefit.
2. In Florida, Chaminade Madonna who found out about NHBB through their county's social studies supervisor, sent 1 team to HSNCT last year and 3 this year. Steve Frappier of Ransom told me that prior to NHBB, there were two good tournaments in Florida they competed in - the two NHBB regionals in S FL doubled that, which has catalyzed South Florida quizbowl overall.
3. In New Jersey, aside from my work in getting Ridgewood to basically go to more qb tournaments this year than in the past 5-10 years combined, we've helped launch a program at Bergenfield and assisted Mountain Lakes in getting their program started. They went to HSNCT this year too.
4. In Westchester County, while Sam and Ryan can attest to this perhaps better than I can, I think we played a role in helping get Ardsley and Irvington to tap into the wider quizbowl world. Ardsley then went to HSNCT this year and did very well - I'm wondering if they're the first Westchester team to ever go.
5. In Hawaii, I put 'Iolani in touch with Jeff Hoppes and NAQT - there will likely be an NAQT event in Hawaii for the first time this year.
6. In Kansas, the so-called "North Korea" of quizbowl, we had four schools send teams to our Nationals, which, if nothing else, shows them there's life outside of their state format.
7. We ran a grant program that provided $3000 to quizbowl teams around the country this year. The money went primarily to buzzers and registration fees for non-NHBB (in fact, it could NOT be spent on NHBB) tournaments. Likewise, we got Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to provide $10,000 in funding. $2000 of that went to Hunter for winning, which then promptly turned into NY's NASAT expenses.
8. We have spent 100+ hours this year running OSPL - while this isn't likely to provide much in the way of bringing anyone new on board, hopefully it has helped give students additional opportunities to play and get excited about quizbowl.
9. We are sponsoring the National Quizbowl Awards - this will disburse $1500 as well as help provide recognition to players and teams. Hopefully, some media outlets in their hometowns may pick up on this, which could generate more funding for teams.
10. I put together "David Madden's Guide to Quizbowl Resources" which I sent out to over 100 schools new to quizbowl this year. It lists websites, books, team building strategies, etc. in four single spaced pages. If anyone wants it, or if it would make sense to post it permanently on the forums, let me know. Though whether I will keep the forums on next year's iteration is an open question - I have serious concerns as to whether new teams are likely to be more put off and intimidated by the forums. Conversations with a number of coaches confirms that this is not a sentiment that I am alone in having.

Not that we can't do more and will do more, but for not having existed two years ago, I think that's a pretty good record, and hopefully one that schools and quizbowlers everywhere can benefit from.

That all said, then, a few caveats here:
1. Even if schools only play NHBB, that still counts for a lot, since NHBB uses good questions (HSAPQ), and while its appeal is less for some qb players, it's more so for others. So even if our outreach only impacts NHBB, that's still for the benefit of quizbowl, since NHBB is a form of quizbowl (in a way, say, that science bowl, isn't).
2. At some point, HSAPQ/PACE, NAQT, etc. have to pick up the baton for overall quizbowl. I'm happy to put them in touch with schools, and there's been hints of interest in spots, but I haven't gotten too many concrete requests.
3. We are a very young organization, and the crossover effect will take time. Odd as it may sound, given our increase in the number of regionals from 1 (the pilot Tri-State History Bowl) to 32 to 63 and the increase in teams at Nationals from 0 to 98 to 196, I felt all last year that I wasn't able to give outreach the attention it deserved. That won't be the case this year, as Nolwenn and I handle high school outreach and nationals coordination almost exclusively, Greg Bossick handles high school logistics, and Nick Clusserath handles the middle school side of things. Most of my posts regarding outreach have tried to convey this fact, namely, that the true benefit of this will really start making itself known in about 2-3 years, and then even more so, in about 5-10 years. Yes, that time horizon may not satisfy those in the game today, but this thread seemed to be looking at things from a long-term perspective.
4. My first concern, as it needs to be, is meeting all the expenses for NHBB, which will likely total well over $200,000 next year. So, with that in mind, forgive me if most of my efforts are directed at getting schools to come to NHBB, not other events first and foremost.

cchiego wrote:Second, the logistical failures of NHBB the past two years are a net negative for good quizbowl outreach. It's great to get in touch with lots of new teams, but if you sell them a logistical disaster of a tournament then all that outreach is in danger of going to waste. For instance, I know that the teams at NHBB from the San Diego area who had never been to a national tournament before expressed concern about the HSNCT based on people at NHBB saying that all quizbowl nationals were that badly organized. I'm not sure who precisely they heard that from, but it's not a good sign that the failures of NHBB are getting conflated with all of good quizbowl.


First of all, I have no idea who said that - certainly not me, or any NHBB high-level staffer. Also, while I don't want to rehash the whole NHBB Nationals thread, I do want to point out the fact, that in the wake of Nationals this year, I got emails from roughly 20 teams saying that they had a great time (if people really doubt this, I'm happy to provide a list). Odd as it may sound, I did not get one email that was so discouraged saying they wouldn't be back. The same pattern, btw, was also true last year. I don't mean to gloss over what we obviously need to fix, or that there aren't teams that won't come back (or at least, will want to see clear indications that we've fixed what needs fixing, which I imagine is much larger than those who will never come back) but I am disputing the fact that our Nationals has been a net negative for good quizbowl outreach. And I am quite frustrated at some level, that all the criticism seems to be coming on the forums, and all the positive emails coming to me in private. I've always thought that the reverse is a better way of dealing with people, but maybe that's just me...
In any case, I would think that if any team were at all considering going to a different National tournament, they would ask around to get opinions of that. I highly doubt that conflating NHBB Nationals with HSNCT / NSC / whatever is really a major issue. And moreover, while our 63 regional tournaments certainly weren't 100% problem free, there wasn't one that had major logistical problems, and more teams obviously experienced a tournament there than at our Nationals anyway.

cchiego wrote:Even for next year it's still not clear if NHBB is going to be a national tournament that we can recommend to new teams or even established teams to attend. It's not a matter of commitment--your commitment to NHBB was never in doubt-- it's just the more general NHBB logistical abilities that still have deservedly large question marks.

Fair enough, though I would hope that the "Fixing NHBB Nationals Thread" goes a long way to alleviating many people's concerns. In the next few days, there will be two posts that continue this process. The other thing to note here, is that next year, aside from the noted fixes, our high school Nationals will have a very similar format to this year's. That is to say, rebracketing during the middle of Saturday, we'll be at the same hotel, the number of teams will likely be comparable, etc. Many of this year's logistical issues stemmed from the fact that we didn't rebracket last year, we had half the teams, and we weren't at the same hotel. Now that we have that experience under our belts, it will make things much easier. And beyond that, during this spring, I spent five weeks on the road running middle school tournaments, got engaged in February, married in May, put together a TV show from scratch, and handled most of the high school logistics - in addition to Nationals. And I wasn't living in DC either. Next year - those things magically disappear as being concerns, leaving me time to focus on running and coordinating Nationals. Nobody has more at stake here than me, so hopefully that all helps provide some modicum of reassurance.

cchiego wrote:In general though, mainstream quizbowl has much to learn in the way that NHBB not only engaged in on-the-ground outreach but was also able to convince a decent number of political and corporate sponsors to jump on board. If you could continue to share your methods for success in these areas[I'm particularly curious what you've found to be the best way to get groups of schools in a new area started at once; have you been able to get an in with school districts as a whole?], that would help the world of quizbowl as a whole and, conversely, NHBB by expanding the pool of quizbowl teams as a whole.


There's no magic bullet, but often it's just one contact at a school, and then everything starts rolling. That and a lot of gruntwork regarding phone calls, emails, and some paper mail (though this hasn't been all that successful for us). I have with very few exceptions worked at least 80 (often 100+) hours a week on NHBB since June 2010 - that is going to be hard for others who aren't doing things full time to replicate, of course. The connections with the History Channel was pure dumb luck (a producer googled "National History Bee" 3 weeks after our website went online), and the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt connection stemmed from that. One thing I do want to make perfectly clear, though. We have had quite a bit of success in Westchester County, Lancaster County, Guam, Kansas, Washington State, Massachusetts, Northeast Pennsylvania and elsewhere with teams who have played little in the way of pyramidal quizbowl, but lots of non-pyramidal quizbowl. We have ALWAYS been welcoming, and never criticized teams for what tournaments they choose or choose not to play. I know all of the arguments in favor of good quizbowl, and I agree with all of them. That said, I got my start back in the day by playing non-buzzer "Jeopardy format" tournaments in New Jersey. Are these as much fun as pyramidal quizbowl? No, not by a longshot, but I still enjoyed them, and good thing I did, since at the time, that was all there was. People - especially teams who aren't as clued in to the pyramidal game - need to be welcomed. Some people will always prefer other formats. But very few teams will write off pyramidal quizbowl entirely, and most will come around to see the benefits of pyramidality, without being berated for whatever tournaments they choose to go to or not. That said, one way to short-circuit this process very effectively, is to condescend to them and resent them for enjoying those tournaments. This does not make me an apologist for bad quizbowl - the reverse is true, if people can see where I'm going with this. And yes, tone and civility on the forums and off, matter here. Period. Back when I launched NHBB on the forums, I was basically told "your questions suck". There was virtually no sense of "hey, here's another cool set of tournaments we might enjoy" or even "hi there - here are some helpful tips in question writing, if you need some help, let me know" sort of posts. Obviously, I was committed to improving things, but if teams who enjoy other formats or don't know the slightest thing about qb and are just getting started get the same sort of welcome on the forums as I did, that's going to turn a lot of people off. You won't ever hear from them, since by definition, they just will find other things to do, but that doesn't mean they're not out there. Look at the whole NAC forum. If you're an NAC team coach and you see that, you may see the points people are making regarding the tournament (which, for the most part, are all very valid in terms of content), but you may also really be put off by the actively hostile attitude that so many people have towards the teams that go there and (horribile dictu) enjoy it. Good quizbowl will catch more teams with the honey of a welcoming attitude than the vinegar of getting mad at teams for participating in non-pyramidal tournaments, NAC included.
In a different vein, one idea I've had, since someone emailed me about it for History Bowl a few weeks ago: many students these days have to do a community service requirement. Could starting up a team at a different school new to quizbowl (even just taking them to a few tournaments and a few practices - it doesn't need to be huge) be a viable community service project? This could particularly work for low income schools, though I think volunteering one's time at any school would probably suffice, no?
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