Matt Weiner wrote:"Stop having some teams be better than other teams in this competitive activity where we keep score! Every team should win every tournament! That is definitely the problem here!"
Arguing against a silly idea that wasn't presented does nothing to dispute the presented hypothesis.
Matt Weiner wrote:More seriously, do you have any response to the fact that, when the DC area had several 64-team high school invitationals per year, the "split division" and "novice" crazes were unheard of and questions were way harder? Does the empirical evidence matter AT ALL here or is everyone going to keep just saying stuff?
I'm not sure I buy into the idea that questions were harder in the times of 64-team tournaments. I do, however, believe that there is a more concerted effort now than there ever has been to create tournament sets accessible to novice players. Nonetheless, if we're to accept that empirical evidence indicates tournaments draw more teams without split divisions, that same empirical evidence should imply that Swiss pairings, sitting out a round between each game, single-elimination playoffs, bonuses with wildly varying difficulty levels, and questions with clues regarding obscure names of relatives of famous people should be our approach toward getting more teams at tournaments.
I think the more important question is: have we been asking coaches who leave or do not attend tournaments why they leave or do not attend? This is something I do. So when I post here regarding what coaches tell me about why they're not attending or have decided to leave a tournament, I'm not pulling it out of thin air. Nor do I think they're lying to me when they tell me these things. They have no reason to do so. Let's review what I've been told, and I'll try to keep the list in order of most frequent to least frequent:
-- Discouraged after too many losses
-- Students/coach unwilling to commit entire day
-- Unhappy with questions (large variety of reasons)
-- Unhappy with management of tournament
-- Entry fees too high/budget issues
-- Did not know about tournament
-- Organizer does things coach finds so objectionable, coach refuses to support organizer.
So, really, here's the ultimatum these coaches are offering: we can do things that address and fix their concerns, or we needn't bother contacting them for outreach because they won't attend our events anyway. And we need to ask ourselves whether we would like to have these teams begin attending tournaments again, or if we would rather write them off, either because we have strong philosophical positions against making changes the teams desire or because we simply don't get around to making those changes.
Matt Weiner wrote:The problem in DC remains that people don't communicate effectively about tournaments. Posting here and using outdated mass email lists isn't going to cut it. Send paper letters and build face-to-face relationships. There are secondary problems with the near-demise of the Sunday tournament and subsequent conflicts with noted cancer on quizbowl It's Academic, and with the decreased willingness of teams to find solutions to minor funding and travel difficulties instead of using them as excuses to not attend.
I agree that communication about tournaments needs drastic improvement, but contend this is only part of the issue. It does absolutely nothing to address the large number of coaches who do not attend events for the other reasons I enumerated above.
I'm not really sure to what you're referring as the near-demise of the Sunday tournament. There has never been a large quantity of Sunday tournaments in the DC area-- two to three a year at most. I find it hard to believe that fewer Sunday tournaments had more than a slightly more than negligible effect. If there's something you know about this that I don't, I'd love to hear it.
As for It's Academic
being a "cancer," I challenge for tangible support. The way I see it, the best argument that can be made regarding It's Academic
damaging the circuit is that teams choose to participate and cannot attend tournaments and tapings at the same time. At the same time, this television show is nearly singlehandedly responsible for the majority of participating schools having academic teams to begin with as evidenced by the number of schools in the Baltimore and DC area which refer to their team as an "It's Academic" team. When It's Academic
began in 1961, most schools did not even have organized teams-- the producers quizzed students and chose who would represent the school on television. Some may not like the questions or the game show atmosphere, but like it or not, It's Academic
has done more to involve high schools in academic competition in the Baltimore-DC region than any other single thing.
something ambiguous wrote:What I have seen that has worked is having a novice set run at the same time as the regular set.
I have seen this work as well. I've also seen tournaments run the same set in both divisions successfully. In most cases I question whether the latter appropriately differentiates between the top several teams or is accessible enough for the bottom teams.
Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:So you want to split a tournament field that has 14 teams showing up to it, then?
This certainly isn't optimal. Maybe, if the line of demarcation were almost at the middle. Otherwise, one division will have too few teams. If we have 16 teams (mostly because it's close to fourteen and it's easier to work with), I think I'd rather see 4-team preliminary brackets followed up with 4-team double-round-robin rebrackets. That way, the number of games with easy wins (serving neither the winning nor losing team well) are minimized while the tournament field is still sorted reasonably well. It's a little harder question with 14 teams because it doesn't bracket easily, but considering typical tournament distribution right now, two brackets of seven teams each seems to provide a large number of games that aren't competitive. And for the record, the reason I'm looking for a greater number of competitive games has nothing to do with being able to be declared a winner and everything to do with the fact that teams have the best potential for learning if they're playing teams of similar strength.
Two divisions is a better solution for a larger tournament, say 32 teams or more, where there's a better guarantee each division will be of a reasonable size.
something ambiguous wrote:I agree with Matt here, dumbing down the questions so every team can get 20 ppb is not the answer, that'll just lead to a decrease in competition in the long run.
For the record, this is not my position. It would accomplish little and greatly reduce the ability of the tournament to differentiate between upper teams. On the other hand, I'd like to see the vast majority of teams achieve 10 PPB or better. This is already largely the case in most DC-area events, but I doubt it would continue to be the case if we were to begin attracting larger numbers of teams to tournaments, as the added teams would be more likely to be at the lower end of the spectrum. I pick the 10 PPB number as I believe it to be the reasonable point where a team psychologically believes they are accomplishing something and willing to give up the fact that it isn't as good a differentiator as a distribution from near zero to near 30 PPB.
Courvoisier Winetavius Richardson wrote:Man, I don't remember making that post at all. It's a pretty good post. I still agree with most of it.
Personally, I think it's a great post, and I'd like to thank you for making it. I should have done that at the time it was made, but like I said, it gradually slipped away from me. In fact, Mr. Singer from Wilson and I at one point discussed the fact that many of the points in the post were excellent.