Okay, along similar lines as what Alex (alexdz) put down, critiquing your post point by point :
But first, a disclaimer. I must admit, I don't know how Quiz Bowl is run outside of the state of Missouri. Perhaps it is
some sort of utopia where every single match is won based on which team knows more, etc., etc. In any case, you'll have to forgive my ignorance.
Matt Weiner wrote: *Teams have a date window outside of which they are not allowed to play, affecting about a third of the normal high school quizbowl season.
Okay, so this is rather annoying. However, is it really that serious? First of all, the number of teams that would be interested in going (and thus that would be affected) to summer tournaments is tiny. Certainly, this doesn't seem to be a reason to call High School Quiz Bowl in Missouri lost--nor is it a problem worth getting so excitable about.
And yes, I realize that the teams penalized by this rule are those that are the best, and that this is an unfair penalization of such teams. However, may I ask how many tournaments there are in the summer in any case? And besides that, there is no restriction of participation in open tournaments, etc.
Matt Weiner wrote: *College students who want to aid high school teams at their practices are disallowed from doing so.
As Alex said, uncool, but not really the end of the world. May I ask how many teams are really penalized by this? And how much damage does this rule actually do to teams' performances?
Matt Weiner wrote:*Players are not allowed to participate in collegiate or open tournaments.
First of all, as Alex said, this is only during the regular season. Again, how many teams are going to do that anyway? And would the lure of being able to participate in such tournaments really improve the Quiz Bowl situation? How?
Matt Weiner wrote:*Teams are not permitted to travel more than 250 miles out of state during the season.
Yet again, how many teams are going to do that anyway? And would the lure of being able to participate in such tournaments really improve the Quiz Bowl situation? How? I realize that the lure of such tournaments might prompt some teams to improve more than they have already...but given that most teams can't even improve to compete effectively in Missouri, I doubt that .
Matt Weiner wrote:*The format used at the MSHSAA state championship series, and thus at events which emulate it, takes 45 minutes to run a game and is full of math calculation.
Alright...Missouri Quiz Bowl involves math. I fail to understand why that's really a problem. A real study in liberal arts does involve math--in fact, two of the seven traditional liberal arts incorporated math (being arithmetic and geometry). As for the length of a game...alright, I'm not really qualified to evaluate the problem with that.
Matt Weiner wrote:*The format used to qualify teams for the state championship is dependent on arbitrary district assignments that often preclude the second- or third- best team in the state from qualifying for the tournament.
This is, I admit, very annoying, because the district assignments are actually not
arbitrary (implying randomness), but are actually geographic (for the most part...some are rather odd), and certain areas are simply more inclined to hold tougher Quiz Bowl teams than others. This is hardly something to describe as indicating that Missouri Quiz Bowl is non-salvageable, though--it only affects very few teams, and given that your whole argument is that Missouri teams should avoid MSHSAA sponsored events anyway, I fail to see how it is a critical problem.
Matt Weiner wrote:*The questions for the state championshiop series are written by Questions Galore.
Again, very, very annoying if the questions written by QG are as bad as they've been described, however, I think that issue has been significantly exaggerated. Yes, there is a significantly greater chance of poor teams advancing farther than they should with bad questions. Certainly, poor questions inhibit good scoring and are generally frustrating. However, in an overwhelming number of cases, the better teams still wins the game--and wasn't that the point all along? Only in situations where the teams were already fairly close to one another in ability do problems arise, and the number of those situations are, as far as I have ever seen, fairly limited.
Matt Weiner wrote:*Missouri teams cannot participate in national championship tournaments held during the school year (this means a great deal of them cannot participate in PACE NSC this year, since most Missouri schools are in session until Memorial Day weekend). To participate in a post-graduation tournament, they have to apply for special permission from the MSHSAA, which is not always granted, and often involves waiting until two days before the tournament to find out that participation is sanctioned (this means some teams will not participate in NAQT HSNCT this year because their applications will be denied or will be too much hassle to file at all).
I'm not sure where you're getting this. I'm fairly sure it's untrue, for the simple reason that North Kansas City participated in the NAQT HSNCT on the 25th of May, 2008, even though NKC's school year for the 2007-2008 year ended the 29th of May, 2008:
2007-2008 State Rankings showing their participation: http://ratings.aiquizbowl.com/team.php? ... 20City%20A
May 2008 NKC Calendar showing the end of their school year: http://www.nkcsd.k12.mo.us/nkhs/calenda ... 008_05.htm
Matt Weiner wrote:*The MSHSAA levies sanctions against schools who attempt to use "ineligible" players in their tournaments, by penalizing the entire interscholastic competition program. This means, for example, that someone who participates in ACF Fall and then tries to play in MSHSAA States can get his school's football team disqualified from competition. The implied threat of a quizbowl player being ostracized or assaulted for harming the high school sports establishment is the appalling basis behind MSHSAA's power over quizbowl.
I suppose this is theoretically true. May I ask whether this has actually happened
Matt Weiner wrote:*Nobody can hold a tournament anywhere on Earth without the MSHSAA claiming jurisdiction over it. To invite any teams from Missouri, one must apply to the MSHSAA for approval of the tournament. The approval process is designed to give the MSHSAA grounds to reject any tournament it feels like, as it is nearly impossible to actually complete the required forms. Even for tournaments held within Missouri, approval is not automatic and is sometimes withheld in order to punish people for criticizing the MSHSAA.
Also true, but how often does rejection for no apparent reason actually occur? And how often is approval "withheld in order to punish people for criticizing the MSHSAA?"
Matt Weiner wrote:*The attitude of the vast majority of Missouri coaches is quite poor. This is, I think the most major of the problems. When the coaches in the state are not on the side of good quizbowl, there is no effective voice to create positive change. The coaches on the MSHSAA Academic Competition Advisory Committee and the most influential members of MACA clearly demonstrate contempt and misunderstanding towards good question-writing principles and to the idea of quizbowl as an opportunity for intellectual growth. Questions which do not reward or encourage learning are the norm in Missouri. A militant egalitarianism coupled with an attitude of "anyone who can beat me is cheating" is the ideological framework for all policy decisions. Any player or team who seeks to get better is ruthlessly cut down. Coaches publicly mock players on other teams for events in their personal lives, then turn around and complain about "sportsmanship" when their own terrible ideas about quizbowl are criticized. Players who want to improve their games, learn more, attend more tournaments, and write questions are derided as troublemakers, while perpetually mediocre players who cheerlead for the MSHSAA are praised for their "good attitudes."...Most coaches have no interest in teaching their students anything or in improving their gameplay through legitimate means; instead, they come to quizbowl with an attitude of entitlement and seek to "level the playing field" by making every aspect of the game a complete random draw.
Examples of this being...? (Specifically, though you can omit the actual names)
Matt Weiner wrote:Every effort from every perspective has been made to change things in Missouri. WUSTL has been running a tournament with pyramidal ACF-format questions for several years, and no one seems to have caught on to why this is better. People have written letters to coaches and to the people on the MSHSAA and MACA boards, which have been met with stone silence in 99% of cases, and incoherent ranting and namecalling in the other 1%. Jeremy Gibbs, the president of MACA, was on this board, promising to speak up for change. Instead, he went behind the backs of the good quizbowl people he had been talking to, repeatedly claimed that good quizbowl is something that "only the best three teams in the state" want, and participated in such decisions as adopting the participation restrictions and giving the state championship contract to Questions Galore. He then disappeared from this board when his actions were questioned. This is, sad to say, exemplary behavior for a Missouri quizbowl coach, since most of them won't even give the time of day to anyone who questions them in the first place. At least Gibbs had the patience to lie to us!
The participation restrictions and the questions are, as I've mentioned, unfortunate. However, Gibbs brought up a legitimate point with this "best three teams" comment. This simply isn't the grandiose problem you are portraying. As I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of problems mentioned above apply only to top teams restricted to going to all of the tournaments they wish to go to, or restricted from going to tournaments of the quality they hope for. This is a problem, but I fail to see how this somehow ruins Missouri Quiz Bowl when most teams in Missouri can't even competently play the tournaments, however badly written, that do exist. That's a problem that merits a title of "ruining Missouri Quiz Bowl," in my mind, far more than the problem of the top teams being restricted.
I'm going to refrain from quoting the next two paragraphs in their entirety for the sake of brevity, but the point of them seems to be that MSHSAA should let schools play at whatever games they wish and that a revolution is necessary to bring that about. However, let's try to put all of this in context. The problem simply is not so grandiose as to require such an effort. Alright, a few top notch teams are being stifled to a degree, and some more lower level teams occasionally feel MSHSAA's negative influence. Is it really that important?
What I believe to be the real problem in Missouri Quiz Bowl--and possibly Quiz Bowl all around the United States, though I am not in a position to judge--is the fact that rather than being a popular activity, with an audience that encompasses a significant portion of the public outside of the part of the public that actually plays, it is an activity which is overwhelmingly limited to an elite--the elite which, I would guess, is represented on this message board. The concerns of this elite are overwhelmingly those that are represented in the list of complaints that have prompted this thread, and I feel that if that is so, then we have missed the overall purpose of improving Quiz Bowl.
Quiz Bowl should not be improved for the sake of some sort of "Quiz Bowl aesthetic" which, while benefiting the elite few who do enjoy Quiz Bowl, really doesn't help the greater population which gains nothing from such an improvement. Rather, I believe that Quiz Bowl should be improved with a mind towards what will improve participation in the activity, and in turn, what will allow more people to enjoy the benefits of what Quiz Bowl brings to a participator. As the originator of this thread has mentioned, the purpose of Quiz Bowl is to promote the "liberal arts canon" and "advocate for...intellectual growth" in turn to aid students in their goal of being better students.
What I feel would best promote such a goal would be to, yes, improve question quality. However, it is also to work to promote the sport at every level. As the originator of this thread mentioned, there is action to be taken if one is "a proponent of good quizbowl at any level--student, coach, or alumnus." That action isn't to make it easier for the elite teams to compete to their heart's content , though--thought of course that would certainly be nice. That action, rather, is to attempt to promote actions which make Quiz Bowl enjoyable at every level, both at the level of the State and National championships, and at the local level, by promoting Quiz Bowl as an activity not for some sort of nerdy elite, but as a fun activity which anyone with a reasonable interest in academic knowledge can enjoy.
It's worth explaining how such a post about the overall focus of Quiz Bowl came to be in a discussion of poor formatting in Missouri. The reason for this discussion of the overall focus of Quiz Bowl is because statements such as the one below, and the mentality which engendered it, are simply counterproductive to what I believe to be the point of Quiz Bowl and its promotion, as mentioned.
Matt Weiner wrote:Creating such absurdity in relation to quizbowl is what football coaches do. I don't know if Missouri will ever recover from it...if you are a proponent of good quizbowl at any level--student, coach, or alumnus--then the football-lovers do not have your best interests at heart.
The problem being, of course, that football is a national sport with a following in the dozens of millions, while Quiz Bowl certainly isn't. Football has its following because its promoters do not only come from the absolute pinnacle of ability and thus only dwell upon what can improve the situation for teams at that pinnacle, rather, its promoters emphasize what can improve the experience of players at all levels, an emphasis which I feel is lacking in discussions so far, other than a focus on better questions, of course. It's this sort of elitism, of "good Quiz Bowl for good Quiz Bowl's sake, with other issues ignored" which I feel is far more problematic to the future of Quiz Bowl than the detailed problems with MSHSAA's organization and bylaws. There's no value in acting as if football coaches are ignorant fools who have their hearts set on destroying good Quiz Bowl.
The arguments presented against MSHSAA are misguided because of their excessive emphasis on issues pertaining to only a few teams.
This excessive focus on issues pertaining to a few teams is misguided because the purpose of Quiz Bowl--or any activity--is to become as popular as possible (within reason) so that as many people can partake of its benefits.
And many of the statements that have been made seem to have no concrete examples backing them up.
However, commentators have hit upon one of the critical problems with Missouri Quiz Bowl--poor question caliber. That is a problem that I feel can be solved, not by a boycott of MSHSAA--which, you have to admit, would be difficult and rather unlikely to succeed anywhere in the near future--but by finding a source of questions in the Missouri format and supplying them at a lower cost than someone like Questions Galore. I realize that this is easier said than done, but given the wide variety of Quiz Bowl enthusiasts available around here, I'm sure that a method could be found.