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?