DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

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DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Howard » Wed May 09, 2012 7:08 pm

I'd like to suggest everyone go back and read one of Isaac's posts: http://hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=11668&p=219609#p219609. I had intended to comment on this at the time, but it somewhat slipped away. I can't say I agree with all the conclusions of the post, but the end section on what to do is excellent.

There's a much larger problem than those areas Charlie identified as deficient. If we just look at the DC area, the percentage of schools competing in quiz tournaments of any type is embarrassingly low.

In areas like DC, there are two basic things that need to occur. There needs to be much more contact with individual coaches/teams. And tournaments need to be more accessible to the middle and lower end of the spectrum. I continue to hear from coaches that teams are don't want to attend events because they are continually beaten by first and second tier teams. And I continue to see at tournaments evidence of this as the bottom teams frequently leave after preliminaries, missing out on those rounds where they'd have more appropriate competition. We can continue to play the "this is your motivation to get better" card, but it surely isn't that hard to understand that the middle and lower end teams are the ones that aren't that motivated in the first place. Partially, this needs to be accomplished via answer lines and the questions themselves. If teams come in and only know 50% of the answers, they're not likely to want to continue. Additionally, this needs to be accomplished by field separation. We can do this with separate divisions on the same questions, or even having more novice events or running novice events alongside regular difficulty events.

In areas where quizbowl is largely absent, making contact is a nice first step. But if you really want them involved, run free or at-cost events. And I'm not talking about a few, either. Four to six a year would be a nice start. Realistically, I know this isn't going to happen anytime soon. At present, there aren't enough novice-level questions around for a somewhat active area like DC, let alone an area where nearly all the teams will be novice.

If we take a step back and look at the Baltimore area, it's somewhat unique. It's close enough to DC that it's not unreasonable to expect these teams to attend the northern DC area tournaments. At the same time, we see few teams from the Baltimore area venture into northern Virginia. In areas like these, outreach and difficulty-appropriate tournaments in the nearby active area should solve half the issue. But if you're really looking for the circuit to be active, it'll still need more events closer to the area.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Matt Weiner » Wed May 09, 2012 7:23 pm

"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!"
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Matt Weiner » Wed May 09, 2012 7:25 pm

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?
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Smuttynose Island » Wed May 09, 2012 8:49 pm

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?


Although I wasn't around for such large tournaments, is it at all possible that one cause of DC's failing circuit is due to teams ultimately grew tired of the hard questions and losing by wide margins to certain teams all the time? The fact that larger tournaments did run without split divisions and on hard questions does not mean that the lack of split divisions and easier questions weren't, at least partially, responsible for the downfall of such large tournaments.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Weighted Companion Cube » Thu May 10, 2012 9:17 am

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. What I have seen that has worked is having a novice set run at the same time as the regular set. For example, the Culver tournament had it's varsity teams on an IS set, while the JV teams played on an IS-A set.
Edit- Removed typos and rephrased things
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Thu May 10, 2012 9:21 am

I'm certainly not saying that questions should be unplayable! Questions should be written such that all teams can play on them without either 20 to 10 results or "dumbed down" content. If an IS set is too hard for half your field than it means IS sets need to be easier, not that we need to go down the split-tournaments rabbit hole.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Thu May 10, 2012 9:25 am

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.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Weighted Companion Cube » Thu May 10, 2012 9:50 am

Matt Weiner wrote:I'm certainly not saying that questions should be unplayable! Questions should be written such that all teams can play on them without either 20 to 10 results or "dumbed down" content. If an IS set is too hard for half your field than it means IS sets need to be easier, not that we need to go down the split-tournaments rabbit hole.

I'm not saying they should be either. This just shows the ever lasting hunt for the "goldilocks" set, which hasn't been found and pobably never will. Having a set that is appropriate for teams on both side of the curve isn't going to happen, as teams onthe right will always want it harder, while the teams on the left will slowly die as they can't answer the "who wrote the wastelenad" tossup. That is why, in my opinion, split fields is a good thing. Every Illinois tournament I have gone to has had them, and they work pretty well.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Weighted Companion Cube » Thu May 10, 2012 9:54 am

But I do agree, even though I would not like it personally, the long term survival and growth of good quizbowl does require a drawback of difficulty. Otherwise you'll have teams just start to play :chip: and KMO, which is not good at all.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Thu May 10, 2012 10:14 am

something ambiguous wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:I'm certainly not saying that questions should be unplayable! Questions should be written such that all teams can play on them without either 20 to 10 results or "dumbed down" content. If an IS set is too hard for half your field than it means IS sets need to be easier, not that we need to go down the split-tournaments rabbit hole.

I'm not saying they should be either. This just shows the ever lasting hunt for the "goldilocks" set, which hasn't been found and pobably never will. Having a set that is appropriate for teams on both side of the curve isn't going to happen, as teams onthe right will always want it harder, while the teams on the left will slowly die as they can't answer the "who wrote the wastelenad" tossup. That is why, in my opinion, split fields is a good thing. Every Illinois tournament I have gone to has had them, and they work pretty well.

So you want to split a tournament field that has 14 teams showing up to it, then?
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Weighted Companion Cube » Thu May 10, 2012 11:35 am

Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:
something ambiguous wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:I'm certainly not saying that questions should be unplayable! Questions should be written such that all teams can play on them without either 20 to 10 results or "dumbed down" content. If an IS set is too hard for half your field than it means IS sets need to be easier, not that we need to go down the split-tournaments rabbit hole.

I'm not saying they should be either. This just shows the ever lasting hunt for the "goldilocks" set, which hasn't been found and pobably never will. Having a set that is appropriate for teams on both side of the curve isn't going to happen, as teams onthe right will always want it harder, while the teams on the left will slowly die as they can't answer the "who wrote the wastelenad" tossup. That is why, in my opinion, split fields is a good thing. Every Illinois tournament I have gone to has had them, and they work pretty well.

So you want to split a tournament field that has 14 teams showing up to it, then?

Obviously it isn't a perfect solution
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Thu May 10, 2012 11:47 am

something ambiguous wrote:
Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:
something ambiguous wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:I'm certainly not saying that questions should be unplayable! Questions should be written such that all teams can play on them without either 20 to 10 results or "dumbed down" content. If an IS set is too hard for half your field than it means IS sets need to be easier, not that we need to go down the split-tournaments rabbit hole.

I'm not saying they should be either. This just shows the ever lasting hunt for the "goldilocks" set, which hasn't been found and pobably never will. Having a set that is appropriate for teams on both side of the curve isn't going to happen, as teams onthe right will always want it harder, while the teams on the left will slowly die as they can't answer the "who wrote the wastelenad" tossup. That is why, in my opinion, split fields is a good thing. Every Illinois tournament I have gone to has had them, and they work pretty well.

So you want to split a tournament field that has 14 teams showing up to it, then?

Obviously it isn't a perfect solution

Indeed, and it's an imperfect solution to a different problem from the one in question.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby something similarly dumb » Thu May 10, 2012 12:45 pm

Man, I don't remember making that post at all. It's a pretty good post. I still agree with most of it.

Last weekend, Maryland Spring pulled in a disappointing 18 teams [17, if you count one of them as a scab team]. What went wrong? Well, it wasn't an ideal weekend. AP exams are coming up and the semester is near its end, and that's never a good time for an introductory tournament.
That being said, I thought the set we produced was good. Teams in the middle of the field were getting 15-16 ppb, and only one team [the scab team] dropped slightly below 10. Still, one and a half teams left after lunch, even after scoring well, winning a few games, and having a decent PPB. Some teams are chronic leavers, I guess.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Black-throated Antshrike » Thu May 10, 2012 1:41 pm

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. What I have seen that has worked is having a novice set run at the same time as the regular set. For example, the Culver tournament had it's varsity teams on an IS set, while the JV teams played on an IS-A set.
Edit- Removed typos and rephrased things


ie: What Charter already does for tournaments.....
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Thu May 10, 2012 2:22 pm

Black-throated Antshrike wrote:
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. What I have seen that has worked is having a novice set run at the same time as the regular set. For example, the Culver tournament had it's varsity teams on an IS set, while the JV teams played on an IS-A set.
Edit- Removed typos and rephrased things


ie: What Charter already does for tournaments.....

Okay, well for anything but NAQT, this is not really an option. So if there isn't any other NAQT sets left (or a school doesn't like NAQT and doesn't want to use them), what is going to be your "novice" questions for the lower bracket that day?
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Thu May 10, 2012 6:06 pm

So, to elaborate on some factors that I believe are the issue in DC (and likely affect other areas in similar ways) and on why I think other things are NOT the issue:

The problems:

1) Less solution-oriented thinking: too many teams will not seek to work around an unavailable coach, the lack of non-public-transport options to get to a tournament, or a question of school funding. The willingness to find obvious solutions to these problems, including paying $15 per person out of pocket, which most of the people in DC quizbowl can more than easily afford, seems to have gone down over the years. Lots of teams view attending a tournament in the metro area in which they live as some sort of huge undertaking that should be abandoned if anything doesn't go perfectly. Consider walking people through the steps needed to overcome these minor obstacles.

2) Teams who would go to tournaments, but don't know that a given tournament exists: this is still the largest issue. If you're not sending paper letters, you're not doing anything. Most team email addresses turn over in less than three years. Even if you do have the valid address of a faculty sponsor, you don't know if your message is getting through or if someone who isn't part of the active quizbowl scene is going to know what your message announcing the "TROLLFACE Invitational Tournament of Glitter" is or want to open it. Email does NOT work on the teams who aren't already attending your tournaments. Send letters addressed to "It's Academic sponsor" care of every high school within 45 miles of DC. They will pay for themselves in registration fees from teams that otherwise wouldn't have come. Figure out where the money to pay for the mailing supplies is going to come from and gather the will to stuff envelopes for one afternoon--don't let problem 1 rear its head here. People who read this message board or care to update their club's email address with local contacts are, by definition, the more active teams in quizbowl, and are at most 10% of your potential audience. DO NOT rely on the Internet to get the word out!

3) Teams who know, to some extent or another, that tournaments exist, but don't believe they should go: This is solved by building face-to-face relationships. Meet people at the TV show or VHSL Districts or anywhere. If you are an adult, or a student who has some connection (a sibling or family friend involved in another school, for example), go meet the IA sponsor. Shake their hand, introduce yourself by name, and talk about your tournaments. Follow up with a personalized message later. If they say they can't come, get a specific reason, and a commitment to try to come to the next one.

4) Conflicts: IA tapes on Saturdays. IA doesn't care about quizbowl (or, if it does, probably wants it to go away so people stop realizing how terrible IA is) so this isn't going to change. In the past, DC tournaments that wanted to avoid conflicts with taping were held on Sundays. People, at some point, decided this was impossible even though the evidence shows it's quite possible. Try doing more of this at places besides just UMCP.

Things that are not the problem:

1) Difficulty, beyond the extent to which difficulty is a problem in areas without attendance issues: The teams that have become newly active have quickly become contenders. People who want to compete at quizbowl will do so, people who want to make excuses for not showing up will exaggerate the difficulty problem. I definitely think that some of these high school-produced sets are out of control, but there's lots of mostly to fully appropriate sets being run in DC each year that teams could come to.

2) The lack of "novice" tournaments: I've seen no evidence that running these hastily produced, poorly written sets that often end up no easier than any other high school set actually leads to any kind of increased participation. DC didn't have these when tournaments were three times as big, so I don't see how their absence is the cause of the issue now.

3) The lack of split divisions: If you want to do this, do it, I guess, but bad teams are just as capable of losing to the 17th best team in a 32-team field as the 1st. The lack of interest shown by many teams in sticking around for bracketed consolation playoffs indicates that playing games against teams of their own skill level is not a big priority for a lot of programs. This is one of those ideas in the "there's nothing inherently wrong with it, so go ahead and do it if it works" category, but I've seen no evidence to support the "it works" part of the proposition.

If you're running a tournament, consider issues 1-4, and consider them far enough in advance to actually execute the solutions properly. I would like to see how it turns out.
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split thread

Postby Howard » Thu May 10, 2012 6:22 pm

I'd made a post in this thread pointing out, among other things, that even some areas (such as DC) which are considered active, still have embarrassingly low numbers of teams at quizbowl tournaments. This post was split to another thread.

Andrew Watkins pointed out that the post regarded a different problem than the one in this thread, and this of course doesn't make any sense now that the whole thing has been moved to another thread.

The reason I posted in this thread to begin with is that it's only partially a different problem. While the number of events in the DC area isn't an issue the other problems still apply everywhere, although perhaps in different ratios. And these issues, if allowed to persist, will inhibit development in, as Charlie says, the deficient areas. Answer lines still need to be accessible to the vast majority of the teams. There still needs to be significant effort made on the part of organizers to make sure teams receive word of tournaments.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Thu May 10, 2012 7:34 pm

Do you realize that [the previous thread --Mgmt.] is about areas that don't have good tournaments and that the DC Area has good tournaments? Do you realize that the problems in DC can be solved by a small number of the many great people in the area reaching out to teams, while the problems in many of the areas Charlie listed require solutions from outside the area?

Do you realize that Chicago and every other active region has the same problems as the ones you associate with DC? The reason I didn't demand that this thread discuss Chicago is because, well, it didn't enter my mind, because the thread is titled "Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl," which proves that it has nothing to do in any way with Chicago or DC. If it was about Chicago or DC, it would be titled "Metro areas with enough good high school quizbowl."

There are teams that travel to HSNCT, demonstrating that they are willing to go to significant lengths to play good tournaments, but they only play 1 or 2 decent tournaments a year because they do not have access to tournaments in their region. It would be nice if we as a community found a way to address that problem. It would be more than nice--it would be great.

Edited for clarity of reference re: thread split -Mgmt.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Howard » Thu May 10, 2012 7:53 pm

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.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Kouign Amann » Thu May 10, 2012 8:03 pm

Howard wrote: 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.

In at least the case of St. Anselm's, and I'm sure in that of other good teams as well, teams do not, in fact, choose to participate. Administrations choose to participate, and the quizbowl team has to go along with it lest bad things happen. Administrations blindly insist that IA is the best form of publicity available, despite repeated attempts by team members to get people talking about much more worth-while accomplishments. Students who don't wish to make enemies of their administrations cannot opt out of IA, even if they would love to do so.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Howard » Thu May 10, 2012 8:06 pm

Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:Do you realize that [the previous thread --Mgmt.] is about areas that don't have good tournaments and that the DC Area has good tournaments? Do you realize that the problems in DC can be solved by a small number of the many great people in the area reaching out to teams, while the problems in many of the areas Charlie listed require solutions from outside the area?

Do you realize that Chicago and every other active region has the same problems as the ones you associate with DC? The reason I didn't demand that this thread discuss Chicago is because, well, it didn't enter my mind, because the thread is titled "Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl," which proves that it has nothing to do in any way with Chicago or DC. If it was about Chicago or DC, it would be titled "Metro areas with enough good high school quizbowl."

There are teams that travel to HSNCT, demonstrating that they are willing to go to significant lengths to play good tournaments, but they only play 1 or 2 decent tournaments a year because they do not have access to tournaments in their region. It would be nice if we as a community found a way to address that problem. It would be more than nice--it would be great.

Edited for clarity of reference re: thread split -Mgmt.


I do realize those things, Dave. The reason I was attempting to post in the other thread (which management appears to not want me to do, at least on this topic) was to illustrate the fact that approaching the problem in underactive areas will only get them to the already abysmal state in the active areas unless we simultaneously address those issues as well. It didn't necessarily need to be about DC, I was using that as an example of more global issues pervading all of quizbowl.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Ukonvasara » Thu May 10, 2012 8:08 pm

Howard wrote:
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.

Howard wrote: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

This is the idea you're presenting, by doing this: that somehow, tournament organizers and directors are responsible for any team at any given tournament losing games, and that somehow it is incumbent upon them to "address and fix" this concern. You can repeat the platitude that "answerlines need to be easier" as many times as you want, ignoring the fact that the past several years have seen a massive and comprehensive push to accomplish that exact end, but that won't change the facts that some teams are worse than others, and that much like in any competitive activity, someone will end up losing. If a team's response to losing regularly is to flee, rather than to make (or continue making) an effort at improving, there's only so much that tournament organizers can do.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby bird bird bird bird bird » Thu May 10, 2012 8:19 pm

Howard wrote: The reason I was attempting to post in the other thread (which management appears to not want me to do, at least on this topic) was to illustrate the fact that approaching the problem in underactive areas will only get them to the already abysmal state in the active areas unless we simultaneously address those issues as well.


I absolutely agree that we should address all of these issues; I just thought this was a different-enough issue to be worthy of its own thread.

(Compare:

Isaac wrote:Maryland Spring pulled in a disappointing 18 teams


with:

1. The largest Bay Area tournament this year attracted a total of 17 teams

and

2. The Bay Area is much more active than any of Bakersfield/Fresno/Modesto/Stockton/Sacramento mentioned in the other thread.)

Different problems, different solutions.
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Re: Metro areas without enough good high school quizbowl

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Fri May 11, 2012 1:13 pm

Howard wrote: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

Fixable by single elimination (losses capped at one). But that totally conflicts with the second part: if they hate losing so much, all tournament formats require you to play MORE of the day the more you win. Ultimately, though, if you don't enjoy playing enough to play all day, why do you enjoy playing enough to play some of the day? This sounds like it's really a complaint of "I am unwilling to commit an indefinite amount of time to play tournaments because of some bad experiences with tournaments running really late and not getting a clear idea of the latest time a tournament could end." Because I could sure get hating that--that is pretty frustrating (and plays into "unhappy with management of tournament"). But modern tournaments are better, generally, in terms of games guaranteed, if not as reliable as single elim as providing people with a way to leave whenever they want (just throw a game). So I think this complaint is pretty trumped-up. And I'm certainly not willing to sacrifice good formats to satisfy people who don't want to play to improve.

-- Unhappy with questions (large variety of reasons)
-- Organizer does things coach finds so objectionable, coach refuses to support organizer.

These are too vague to be useful. The total information content you're providing us with is "sometimes teams don't go to tournaments because they don't like the questions or the tournament organizer." Well, no kidding: but the only advice that can be given, the inverse of that, is "write questions teams like and be liked by high school coaches." The only thing unsatisfactory to anyone with length- and difficulty-controlled pyramidal questions is that bad teams can't reliably win on them. The alternative is unsatisfactory to good teams for obvious reasons, and it's unsatisfactory to... I don't know, integrity? And I guess the era of intentionally angering high school coaches and expecting them to still want to come to your tournaments is over... had it ever started?

-- Entry fees too high/budget issues

This is a fine issue to cover, but the DC area doesn't have entry fee problems to speak of, and tournament organizers tend to be willing to negotiate with teams that need legitimate help.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Fri May 11, 2012 1:44 pm

Schools in DC need to buckle down, suck it up, and start co-hosting tournaments. Look, it's awesome that at CR i have a group of dedicated kids who want to drive 2 hours ten times a year. But i would rather do it 6 times a year to go to competitions with more teams playing. Just because Thomas Jefferson CAN host 3 tournaments a year doesn't mean they should. Many schools host 2 as well. And other schools that are 15 minutes away from others host tournaments a few weeks after their neighbors.

Yes, it's great to raise money, but is it worth it when you get 12 teams to come? If schools started working together (and i suppose this can involve a co-written house set), they may end up raising more money in the long run, and attracting more teams. I have little doubt that the size of fields would greatly expand. I believe this is the biggest reason for their decline. Schools around DC could get 48 teams 5 or 6 years ago because there wasn't another competition for at least a month or so.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri May 11, 2012 2:11 pm

Logically, playing more games in brackets means you will play more teams you can beat, because you spend the whole afternoon playing teams who were not good enough to make the playoffs if you weren't either. If a tournament has a few really great teams, you'll usually only run into them for one or two prelim rounds at all events with enough teams to justify splitting into brackets. This argument that teams should play the afternoon rounds for the purposes of gaining experience and getting a chance to play more teams they will be competitive with absolutely needs to be made at all opportunities in the announcements and morning meetings. If you have teams who still keep leaving early (like, even after a whole season of playing good events, they just keep leaving), then people directing tournaments need to go out of their way to talk to the coaches to find out why they are leaving and try to correct their misperceptions, but then eventually you need to tell them that it's really poor etiquette that screws with TD's plans and makes the other teams paying to play them waste their money and that they need to cut it out.

Also, the larger your tournament is, the less likely a team is to have to play great teams. If a team goes to a 36 team event and plays a single national contending team in the prelims, they will be almost assuredly pleased with their afternoon schedule unless they are good enough to make the playoffs, at which point they shouldn't be complaining anyway.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri May 11, 2012 4:20 pm

Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:Schools in DC need to buckle down, suck it up, and start co-hosting tournaments. Look, it's awesome that at CR i have a group of dedicated kids who want to drive 2 hours ten times a year. But i would rather do it 6 times a year to go to competitions with more teams playing. Just because Thomas Jefferson CAN host 3 tournaments a year doesn't mean they should. Many schools host 2 as well. And other schools that are 15 minutes away from others host tournaments a few weeks after their neighbors.

Yes, it's great to raise money, but is it worth it when you get 12 teams to come? If schools started working together (and i suppose this can involve a co-written house set), they may end up raising more money in the long run, and attracting more teams. I have little doubt that the size of fields would greatly expand. I believe this is the biggest reason for their decline. Schools around DC could get 48 teams 5 or 6 years ago because there wasn't another competition for at least a month or so.


Is this really the case? Everything I'm reading here is telling me the biggest structural problems in DC are that not enough teams know about these events due to an insufficient contact list, and that an overlapping group of teams are uninterested in these events because they like speedcheck questions and don't like playing top teams. If these teams aren't appearing for events that are already happening, does reducing the number of events mean they will start to appear? I think not.

I agree that larger tournaments have all kinds of great benefits. Teams who win them get the honor of saying they won a really big tournament, teams who aren't as good can avoid playing a lot of the top teams. Teams that are less involved show up, see the gigantic auditorium filled to the brim with players, and realize this is an activity that lots of people take seriously. If every tournament ever run had between 24 and 36 teams, quizbowl would be infinitely more vibrant. However, I don't see the correlation between a region having lots of tournaments and the lack of really large tournaments. In Missouri, MU hosted 3 events this season with 32 or more teams even though the central Missouri area alone (not a big city) had something like 15 events this year (another 3 of which had 24 teams or more). In Chicago, there are tons of large events (I think their kickoff site even had like 80 teams!), and also tons of events period. I don't think that reducing the number of tournaments is the right way to go right now, as opposed to keeping around all the good, regular events and doing a better job of pulling in teams through other means, and perhaps trimming out some outlier events (for instance, all this hemming and hawwing over the GDS mirror of a college set maybe goes to show there really aren't that many teams outside of the top tier who care about playing that kind of event).

I don't quite understand what telling teams they need to collaborate on hosting is intended to deal with either. I know of no other region of the country where collaborative tournaments happen more than once or twice a year, if ever. If you reach a point where there are like 36 teams signing up for every single tournament and some schools have teams that are too small to make it work, OK, like, I guess that could be an option worth exploring, but it hardly seems like a serious suggestion to fix what's wrong in DC.

I think once you make it so that the currently existing events all have 18-24 teams at least, you can keep pulling in more teams consistently and expand back up to having events be 30+ teams routinely because these peripheral teams will realize what a serious circuit should look like and will start to participate in it. An easy way to infuse a lot more life into that circuit would be to make a big Baltimore area push, so this seems to be imperative right now. Once more teams are consistently showing up, ideally the circuit will be even more self-sustaining (more schools can host stuff, fewer teams have to run multiple events). Ultimately, I believe the goal is to have enough events so that every active team can play 10-12 tournaments every year, and all of these tournaments have at least 24 teams playing. If almost every active team can go to almost every event, having a few more than this is ideal so that every team can play almost everything, but not have too big an issue if they have a couple date conflicts during the year, while still having tournaments be a really nice size. This is sort of the ultimate end-goal to work towards.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Fri May 11, 2012 4:50 pm

One way in which reducing the number of *packet sets* might help is, by encouraging collaboration, creating a certain number of solidly edited 15 packet sets, instead of a greater number of slipshod, overly hard 11 round tournaments. This will address both the question accessibility issue and the formats which don't allow enough time in the schedule for teams to play at parity skill levels. This is something high school quizbowl nationwide needs to be worrying about and can't be solved by DC alone, though.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Fri May 11, 2012 5:06 pm

Charlie, you make a great point about Baltimore. I know there were a good number of teams from that area at NHBB a couple weeks ago, including one, Mt. St. Joseph, who has a player who'd already talked to Daniel from GDS about quizbowl. I referred him to the forums and hsquizbowl.org in general. CR even had Perry Hall make the drive to Rider Bowl III back in April too.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Fri May 11, 2012 6:15 pm

I think Watkins' responses to the reasons are about right. Basically, the goal shouldn't be to get 100% of teams returning--it should be to get more new teams than teams that don't return. Some of the larger tournaments in Illinois now put something on the invitation saying that teams that want to leave before 4:30 should not register. It means that certain teams don't register, but it's worth it in a region where tournaments traditionally sent most of the teams home at lunchtime and then moved to single elimination.

I also don't think it's necessary for all tournaments to grow. Twelve team tournaments with lots of good teams that know what they are getting into generally are enjoyable experiences for everybody involved. Illinois has its share of such tournaments, and it would be a loss if they disappeared.

In my mind, the solution is picking two or three tournaments that are ripe for growth. Consider factors such as a good date for high school teams and moderators, a proven TD willing to address this problem, and a facility that can handle a lot of teams. Those tournaments should do at least what Weiner suggested--send letters and emails. It might be helpful to make phone calls or search school websites for contact info and get contact info from other TD's in the region. Also, keep in mind that this is a long term effort that will have uneven results. If you invite a bunch of schools that generally don't go to quizbowl tournaments, most of them won't come to your tournament, but some of them will.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby 40th Day after death » Fri May 11, 2012 8:34 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:2) Teams who would go to tournaments, but don't know that a given tournament exists: this is still the largest issue. If you're not sending paper letters, you're not doing anything. Most team email addresses turn over in less than three years. Even if you do have the valid address of a faculty sponsor, you don't know if your message is getting through or if someone who isn't part of the active quizbowl scene is going to know what your message announcing the "TROLLFACE Invitational Tournament of Glitter" is or want to open it. Email does NOT work on the teams who aren't already attending your tournaments. Send letters addressed to "It's Academic sponsor" care of every high school within 45 miles of DC.


For NAQT States, we e-mailed and/or mailed every team that plays It's Ac in MD/DC (obtained from this contact list), and got a few novice teams to come (mostly from HoCo). A ton more didn't respond, (including every single Harford County team) or couldn't make it.

Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:Charlie, you make a great point about Baltimore.


Coming from what could be considered the Baltimore area, the amount of teams that would be active (and good, too) if they knew/cared about the scene is huge. From talking to every team we play in It's Ac, it's really just an awareness issue. Take, for example, Severna Park. They were trying to host a tournament, but couldn't because they only invited teams from their (lame) county who all bailed. If they had known about the forums, pyramidal sets of good quality, and other such things, not only would they host a tournament, but they would also go to others on the circuit.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby PastryBowl » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:32 pm

In my quizbowl experiences, I have seen a lot of teams come to tournaments. They usually get pummeled into the lowest brackets/leave before lunch. Getting defeated like this causes teams to lose interest in getting better because "the field is already so good" (actual quote), and they are usually in the better half of junior year, so self improvement isn't an option.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Matthew Jackson » Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:23 pm

PastryBowl wrote:In my quizbowl experiences, I have seen a lot of teams come to tournaments. They usually get pummeled into the lowest brackets/leave before lunch. Getting defeated like this causes teams to lose interest in getting better because "the field is already so good" (actual quote), and they are usually in the better half of junior year, so self improvement isn't an option.


You know that just three summers ago, between his junior and senior year of high school, noted DC resident Matt Bollinger went from nearly unknown to one of the best high school quizbowlers in the country, right? Drastic improvement is possible within short time spans if people want it - and the paradigm example of that happened right here, in DC, during that exact timeframe!
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Public safety diving » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:31 pm

PastryBowl wrote:In my quizbowl experiences, I have seen a lot of teams come to tournaments. They usually get pummeled into the lowest brackets/leave before lunch. Getting defeated like this causes teams to lose interest in getting better because "the field is already so good" (actual quote), and they are usually in the better half of junior year, so self improvement isn't an option.

If you go to a tournament for the first time and expect to finish in the top bracket, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Quizbowl, like most other things, requires practice. That doesn't mean that you can't be a good player if you start in your junior year, though. Heck, look at all the sophomores that are putting up huge stats (Sameer, Max Schindler last year, just to name a couple). They were able to get that good in under two years, and they didn't have the head-start that having a junior-year education brings.
Last edited by Public safety diving on Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Strange Fascination » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:43 am

RyuAqua wrote:
PastryBowl wrote:In my quizbowl experiences, I have seen a lot of teams come to tournaments. They usually get pummeled into the lowest brackets/leave before lunch. Getting defeated like this causes teams to lose interest in getting better because "the field is already so good" (actual quote), and they are usually in the better half of junior year, so self improvement isn't an option.


You know that just three summers ago, between his junior and senior year of high school, noted DC resident Matt Bollinger went from nearly unknown to one of the best high school quizbowlers in the country, right? Drastic improvement is possible within short time spans if people want it - and the paradigm example of that happened right here, in DC, during that exact timeframe!


Danish knows that's possible, but that's entirely beside the point he's making. He's not saying people can't get good in two years. I think he's saying that some people get discouraged, and some people Matt Bollinger. Some people just don't enjoy the process of getting better and instead of doing something about it, they sort of drop off. This happens on a smaller scale when recruiting players to a team. Some join despite being a little outmatched at first and use that as motivation to get better, and some are intimidated and drop off.
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Re: DC-area tournament size and split field discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:16 am

I mean, I'm not sure what we can do when we specifically offer people the opportunity to play teams of their own skill level in the afternoon brackets, basically guaranteeing that no one will be crushed and everyone will win some games, but the teams who allegedly want this skip out instead of playing the games. At the end of the day not everyone is going to want to play quizbowl, and if people flee tournaments instead of playing them, perhaps those are not the people at that school to be targeting and we should move on to other people.
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