Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

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Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:34 pm

Given the events of the last few months, I'm wondering if those in the know about good quizbowl have any thoughts on when further effort to save a state is futile.

A brief review of what the situation in Missouri is:

*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.
*College students who want to aid high school teams at their practices are disallowed from doing so.
*Players are not allowed to participate in collegiate or open tournaments.
*Teams are not permitted to travel more than 250 miles out of state during the season.
*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.
*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.
*The questions for the state championshiop series are written by Questions Galore.
*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).
*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.
*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.
*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." Every time someone figures out how to improve his ability at the game, new rules are passed and old rules are conveniently re-interpreted to make sure no one in the future may repeat what that player did. 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.

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!

If this situation was going on in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, California, North Carolina, West Virginia, Minnesota, Ohio, or any number of other states, the solution would be easy. Teams would start their own circuit of good quizbowl and stop attending the nonsense MSHSAA tournaments. Indeed, this is what has happened in some of those states--Pennsylvania and Michigan, for example, have state championships run on absolutely terrible questions and formats, while Minnesota has the infamous Knowledge Bowl. The serious programs in those states focus their efforts on real tournaments that high schools and colleges in the state hold. Most of them still play in the subpar state events (though some don't even bother), but they are not obligated to use the terrible state format and are not restricted from playing in a full year of good events in addition to that one weekend where they have to play Academic Hallmarks buzzer-race questions in single-elimination format.

In Missouri, this is not an option. The MSHSAA claims jurisdiction over any tournament in the universe that involves a Missouri high school student. Through their "sanctioning" of independent events, through their power to disqualify football teams from schools who play good quizbowl, and through the lack of any interest on the part of the coaches in changing the system, Missouri has effectively killed high school quizbowl. There is no point to playing what they have now--Trivial Pursuit is a diverting board game to play once a year; it is not the inducement to learning about a liberal arts canon the way good quizbowl is. Forming a breakaway circuit or eschewing MSHSAA in order to travel to the tournaments held on NAQT or other decent questions in bordering states is not possible. The entire state is being held hostage by football coaches who insist on regulating every interscholastic activity, and quizbowl coaches who are happy to be controlled in this way because it may allow their team to win a trophy without doing any work. The only solution seems to be political--to participate in the ongoing effort by Missouri's state legislature to reform MSHSAA, and particularly, by seeking to have MSHSAA's power over non-athletic events legally removed. Such an effort must take years on end and is not guaranteed to be successful. To have to get involved in politics in order to fix quizbowl is a gargantuan effort, and to have created a situation where establishing good quizbowl requires lobbyists and protest marches, rather than properly editing a tournament set, is just ludicrous enough to be something that Missouri has in fact done.

Creating such absurdity in relation to quizbowl is what football coaches do. I don't know if Missouri will ever recover from it. The only good that may come of this is as a warning to other states. Get your high school quizbowl teams out from under the jurisdiction of athletic associations NOW, before it's too late. If you have managed to remain independent to this time, then fight to keep that independence by any means necessary. Don't believe the promises of people who claim they can expand quizbowl by sacrificing it to athletic directors. 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. Once you sign away control of high school quizbowl to state athletic associations, you sign the activity's death warrant.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby at your pleasure » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:08 pm

Nutty idea: palace coup to install someone who cares about quizbowl
less nutty idea-contact people who care about quizbowl to suggest dissacociation from school, by playing as non-school representing teams, not personally representing the school, off the school's dime. They can hardly forbid students from pusuing hobbies, after all. Give missiouri players and players in similar situations special dispensation to do this. If this can be coupled with mass deafilliation, then there is ever so slightly more than a snowball's chace in hell of missouri quizbowl being salvaged.
IIRC, teams in illinois do this sometime to curcumvent illinois rules on competition attendance.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby quizbowllee » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:11 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Once you sign away control of high school quizbowl to state athletic associations, you sign the activity's death warrant.


I know that there are a few states that have done this... Is it working anywhere? Illinois definitely seems to have it's problems, but they don't seem as prevalent as Missouri.

Also, Alabama is teetering on the edge of "Missouri-dom". I don't think it's quite too late for us yet, but the clock is ticking. With Questions Galore writing all but our varsity questions, it is rough.

I think it might be too late for Missouri.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:18 pm

The Chrysanthemum and the S-Word wrote:Nutty idea: palace coup to install someone who cares about quizbowl
less nutty idea-contact people who care about quizbowl to suggest dissacociation from school, by playing as non-school representing teams, not personally representing the school, off the school's dime. They can hardly forbid students from pusuing hobbies, after all. Give missiouri players and players in similar situations special dispensation to do this. If this can be coupled with mass deafilliation, then there is ever so slightly more than a snowball's chace in hell of missouri quizbowl being salvaged.
IIRC, teams in illinois do this sometime to curcumvent illinois rules on competition attendance.


I assumed that someone in Missouri would eventually "go Ike Jose" and just start attending tournaments in Tennessee all the time. However, this requires having a family that is financially able to support such rambling, among other things. At most, 1 person per year will do this, and by the very nature of what he is doing, he will not be able to serve as an example for anyone else, since he will have to keep it secret. I do not see this route as being a good way to effect change.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby aestheteboy » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:25 pm

Wow. I didn't know that the situation was quite that awful in Missouri. If individual principals have any decency, I imagine they would try to step in, but I guess that's not the case. More practical (and perhaps the only practical solution) would be to simply quit playing for the school. Most of the people running good tournaments would probably understand and let those unfortunate people play without representing a school. If it's not related to the school in anyway, then what right in the world would MSHSAA have telling what people can or cannot do in their free time? I don't see how MSHSAA can stop the team (technically a bunch of friends) from doing whatever the hell they want to on weekends.
Of course, you won't have the honor or whatever of getting recognized by the school or winning that "state champion" title, but if you enjoy quizbowl at all, those things are probably less important than being able to play actual quizbowl.

If they (MSHSAA) are, indeed, claiming that they have jurisdiction outside of school-related activities, I would have to say it's a human rights issue . . .

EDIT: I guess it's exactly what Douglas said
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby at your pleasure » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:30 pm

Lee- missouri's problem to me is the competition restrictions. If your (insert crappy local format) lets you do whatever you want in addition to it, then it can possibly coexist with good quizbowl. Of course, if these are starting to develop in alabama, than I urge you and anyone you can get on your side to petioin the state school board to let you form a independent quizbowl regulatory body.
Weiner- I was thinking that this would go on locally- a local circuit that is purely private individuals competeing, not schools competing.
Now if Diachi is right ,then we could take this to the courts. However, quizbowl is probably not worth that expense and effort.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:31 pm

aestheteboy wrote:More practical (and perhaps the only practical solution) would be to simply quit playing for the school. Most of the people running good tournaments would probably understand and let those unfortunate people play without representing a school.


This would get your tournament disqualified by the MSHSAA and prohibit you from involving any aboveboard Missouri teams. Obviously, no tournament actually located in Missouri could consider this.

If it's not related to the school in anyway, then what right in the world would MSHSAA have telling what people can or cannot do in their free time? I don't see how MSHSAA can stop the team (technically a bunch of friends) from doing whatever the hell they want to on weekends.


It's a horrible injustice, but they do it by threatening to sanction athletic teams from the school if their quizbowl team acts up.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby quizbowllee » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:44 pm

The Chrysanthemum and the S-Word wrote:Lee- missouri's problem to me is the competition restrictions. If your (insert crappy local format) lets you do whatever you want in addition to it, then it can possibly coexist with good quizbowl. Of course, if these are starting to develop in alabama, than I urge you and anyone you can get on your side to petioin the state school board to let you form a independent quizbowl regulatory body.


Good point. While our state series needs a lot of work, they do allow us to go to whatever tournaments we want. So, good quiz bowl does co-exist with bad in Alabama.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:47 pm

I thought the state championship in Alabama was run by the Alabama Scholastic Competition Association. Is that body not independent of the sports league?
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:48 pm

There are obviously marked disadvantages to swimming, for example, with the Missouri wacko rules, and Charlie told us about an example whose details I can't remember about some swimmer who rocked the boat and the status quo changed.

I know that generally speaking the rules imposed by state organizations hurt more sports than just swimming. Technically, high schools in WPIAL (if not PIAA in general) can't coach their soccer teams before a certain date before the season starts. Obviously, coaches circumvent this by having the captains run practices, which the coaches drive by (to make sure, at the very least, that they're taking place). While this is on the surface a good way to keep athletic coaches from insinuating themselves any deeper into the lives of their athletes than already they try to, it also is broken in that the teams that act in the spirit of the rule, and there are a few, or those who aren't too smart, and there are a lot, are at a massive competitive disadvantage to the teams whose coaches are just as domineering, if not in precisely the way the rule was designed to prevent.

Chances are, Missouri's rules grate a little with athletic teams too. Inevitably, they're a bit unfair. Even more inevitably, we could cook up a case to suggest that athletic coaches shouldn't like the status quo either.

Having already done the impossible, we celebrate, and then pick one of two courses of action: either we harness their discontent to make it so that schools don't mind when quizbowl teams break the school's affiliation, or we harness their discontent and have them overthrow the organization--and ask them politely not to include quizbowl when they create it anew. They'll be so grateful that we opened their eyes that they won't mind at all.

Barring that, we stuff a lot of matchheads and strikers into some footballs.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby quizbowllee » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:54 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I thought the state championship in Alabama was run by the Alabama Scholastic Competition Association. Is that body not independent of the sports league?


It is independent of the sports league, thank God.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Auroni » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:35 pm

While I think that this borders on impossible, I thought a bit about the football end of this whole nonsense. How does MSHSAA have power to disqualify teams from playing football? What if we asked the football people to shrug off any requests by MSHSAA to do so if the situation ever arose? If I were a football coach, I would never be willing to listen to what a non-school, non-league or conference organization had to say about my team's activities.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:40 pm

it's not just football, but every single activity run by MSHSAA. Also, my understanding is the officials at these events are MSHSAA employees.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Auroni » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:49 pm

then why should MSHSAA be informed if a team goes to a collegiate tournament or an out of state one? Do they secretly know what a team is doing with their funds? are there spies everywhere?
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:50 pm

The Structure of SoCal Action wrote:then why should MSHSAA be informed if a team goes to a collegiate tournament or an out of state one? Do they secretly know what a team is doing with their funds? are there spies everywhere?


Well, this was discussed before. Of course you COULD break the rules if no one found out. But most people are not going to be willing to take that risk, and it's absurd that anyone should have to.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:14 pm

MSHSAA runs the state football tournament, and all football teams will do whatever they say. That's just how it is.

As to quizbowl, the situation cannot change unless there is a dedicated core of coaches willing to press for the changes for several years. Organizations like MSHSAA and IHSA answer to Administrators. They get input from coaches, but final decisions are made by Principals and Superintendents. If a high school or college student writes a letter, it probably will get read, but it will not be seriously considered unless coaches push the idea and administrators accept the idea. Administrators are willing to go along with coaches' suggestions as long as they don't cost money and don't perceive that the changes will cause a disadvantage for their own school. If an Administrator got a letter from one of us suggesting changes, the best possible situation we could hope for would be that the Administrator would show the letter to a Missouri Coach or two to seek their opinions. If the coaches were less than enthusiastic, however, nothing would happen.

People in Missouri are still allowed to run good tournaments. Washington University probably is the best example of this. Teams in Missouri are still allowed to attend good tournaments that fit the qualifications. The fact that few good tournaments exist is due in part to the hosts and teams, most of whom prefer to run and attend tournaments that model the same problems as the state tournament. Large portions of Illinois and Minnesota have the same problems even though our state tournaments use reasonable questions. I'm not defending the limits--I have argued on many occasions that Illinois should not have them. I'm just saying that if I coached in Missouri my team would attend a few good tournaments each year. I'm not saying the situation is good--I'm saying that this is the best light you could put on it.

When you allow a big state organization to take over, you are making a huge compromise. The upside is that more teams play. The downside is that people who know nothing about Scholastic Bowl get involved. When IHSA puts somebody new in charge of Scholastic Bowl, the first thing I do is introduce myself and invite them to attend a tournament. Chances are that they have never heard of me or watched a match. We currently have an 18-date limit on five-on-five tournaments, and most tournaments in Illinois are five-on-five. If we wanted to change that rule, it would have to be voted on statewide by Principals. The biggest problem with such a vote is that most Principals have no idea what the difference is between a Tossup and a Bonus.

In Illinois, things aren't horrible. One reason for this is that the last two people IHSA has put in charge of Scholastic Bowl have listened to us. Before them, there was an interim year that also was OK. Before that, the person in charge made it very clear that the opinions of coaches and students did not matter. I have been to several meetings of the IHSA Scholastic Bowl Advisory Committee, and they are scary. Only seven people are allowed to vote, a few of whom care so little that they don't show up to the one meeting of the year and a few others of whom have never witnessed any form of Scholastic Bowl other than the old-fashioned kind played in their region of Illinois. Hard work and luck has prevented us from making the same mistakes as Missouri, and there is no guarantee that things won't regress.

If you feel bad for Missouri, allow Wash U, Mizzou, and/or NKC to mirror your tournaments for free or at low cost. Because of some of the issues Matt listed in his initial post, the tournaments will draw small numbers. Some of the same issues apply to Illinois, and some of our best tournaments are among the least attended. Such acts will not solve the problems listed above, but I don't know if there's anything else outsiders can do.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:52 pm

Why would a rational, self-interested Missouri high school quizbowl coach want to switch to real questions? I think you would need to focus on what's in it for them if you want to convince them, not just "it would be more in line with Matt Weiner's quizbowl aesthetic".
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:57 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:Why would a rational, self-interested Missouri high school quizbowl coach want to switch to real questions? I think you would need to focus on what's in it for them if you want to convince them, not just "it would be more in line with Matt Weiner's quizbowl aesthetic".


I'll pretend this isn't one of your usual contrarian trolls and actually answer, in case anyone else wants to know:

The reality is that if you're not playing good quizbowl, there's no point in playing at all. Good questions and good formats encourage you to LEARN THINGS, which is the point of this activity. Bad questions and formats reduce to nothing more than reflex tests, math contests, and rewards for trying to make psychic connections with the writer. School-sponsored Trivial Pursuit serves absolutely no purpose, and increasing participating in it is no achievement.


Coaches should want the activity to be fair and to educate the students because they are teachers and role models in an academic setting who have the responsibility to advocate for fairness and for intellectual growth.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:59 pm

I'm not trolling. I am in favor of good quizbowl and would like to see it come to the Missouri high school quizbowl circuit. I just feel that it won't happen unless coaches have a concrete reason to support good quizbowl and wanted to refocus the conversation on finding such a reason.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:09 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Coaches should want the activity to be fair and to educate the students because they are teachers and role models in an academic setting who have the responsibility to advocate for fairness and for intellectual growth.


I agree with your description of the ideal coach. But this is pie-in-the-sky idealism.

Most high school coaches probably see their interests as something closer to
(1) deliver a winning team to the school;
(2) minimize the number of complaints from parents.

For the elite quizbowl schools, (1) provides a powerful incentive to switch to real questions. For the vast majority of schools, fake questions make it much easier to win cheaply. Moreover, since quizbowl results get more random as fakeness increases, fake questions allow everyone on the team to do at least OK, so (2) creates an incentive to keep bad questions. The kind of alliances that Missouri coaches seem to be making with each other to keep questions fake is exactly what one would expect if coaches had the above two interests in mind.

I'm not saying this is a good thing. I'm just saying that it's what I think stands in the way, rather than just people being stupid or mean. Framing arguments for good quizbowl to fit these interests (or other interests like money) might be more effective than trying to change their aesthetic views.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby alexdz » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:19 pm

I want to make it clear from the beginning that I do agree with the general mood here. However, I want to clarify a few things and throw out my two cents.

Matt Weiner wrote:*College students who want to aid high school teams at their practices are disallowed from doing so.

Not cool at all.

*Players are not allowed to participate in collegiate or open tournaments.

Clarifying this by saying that they are not allowed to do so during the quiz bowl season.

*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.

Math isn't our greatest evil, and any arbitrary time can be complained about. I can just as easily say that a 20-minute game is too long or too short. This point doesn't really carry any argumentative strength to me.

*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.

Case in point, South Callaway. Not that there aren't many other examples, but I happen to be an alum... Anyway, we placed fourth in state with me as a sophomore, and when my senior year rolled around, I had the third highest PPG in the state from districts. But Hallsville got to go, not us. They deserved it, too, but I think we were better than some of the teams that qualified that ended up 0-3 from the morning rounds.

*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.

Hyperbolically speaking, the first part is true. I don't know that they withhold sanctioning just to punish people, really. Maybe that's just my optimistic side, but... And I'm in the process of completing said required forms, which is not that difficult.

The MSHSAA claims jurisdiction over any tournament in the universe that involves a Missouri high school student. Through their "sanctioning" of independent events, through their power to disqualify football teams from schools who play good quizbowl, and through the lack of any interest on the part of the coaches in changing the system, Missouri has effectively killed high school quizbowl. ...... The entire state is being held hostage by football coaches who insist on regulating every interscholastic activity, and quizbowl coaches who are happy to be controlled in this way because it may allow their team to win a trophy without doing any work.

Again, an instance of improper authority...where what's good for one is seen as good for another. But to say that Missouri has killed h.s. q.b.? That seems a bit harsh. Sure, it's not what YOU think it should be. Maybe it is more of a buzzer-racing trivia contest. (And bear in mind that I have my complaints with MSHSAA as well for my next few sentences...) What I dislike from this side of the spectrum is that you all seem to have a somewhat similar attitude to MSHSAA - "this is what we think is best," "this is what Missouri should do because everyone else does it too." If MSHSAA would loosen their restrictions on participation, eligibility, and that end of business, then those that like the ACF/NAQT/PACE/etc style can play it, and those who prefer a more relaxed, novice, trivia game can play it. You're extending qualities to MSHSAA that I think are somewhat hyperbolic.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Jeremy Gibbs Lemma » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:21 pm

Agreed with Bruce. Reason doesn't work with these people. What is in it for them is the more proper question.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Jeremy Gibbs » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:10 pm

I haven't read through all this, but I am not sure if this makes any sense. Where is all this coming from?

Does anyone care about the real story behind all this or would you rather just base your opinion on false rumors?

Is this the Presidential election? Someone is spinning things in enormously incorrect ways. I just hope a cabinent position is open to them in January for their troubles.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Jeremy Gibbs » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:11 pm

I will try to read this when I get a chance, but as far as my disappearence is concerned, school started and they blocked this site and moquizbowl.com as well as my yahoo fantasy football site at school ruining my morning routine! Ugh!!!
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Terrible Shorts Depot » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:19 pm

What reason do they have to change? Ideally, the idea of good competition and higher learning should be enough, but hundreds of high schoolers have no choice but to enjoy their product, and, to them, the only people who seem to really want a change are a bunch of random people on the internet.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Sir Thopas » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:47 pm

This may not be feasible, but how about sending a rather large delegation to their annual legislative meeting next year? I suspect we might be at least slightly more effective in person.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby cvdwightw » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:52 pm

alexdz wrote:If MSHSAA would loosen their restrictions on participation, eligibility, and that end of business, then those that like the ACF/NAQT/PACE/etc style can play it, and those who prefer a more relaxed, novice, trivia game can play it. You're extending qualities to MSHSAA that I think are somewhat hyperbolic.


Here are some facts:

1. Many of the "eligibility restrictions" were passed after Charlie Dees, who played at several out-of-state tournaments, including college/open tournaments, and generally practiced on high-quality questions that rewarded knowledge, essentially dominated much of the state series. This may be a coincidence, but a lot of people outside Missouri believe that the MSHSAA instituted these rules to institute (or, arguably more correctly, preserve) a Harrison Bergeron-like state of quizbowl in which no player or team is allowed to get "too good".
2. When Shawn Pickrell got out of writing for the state series, MSHSAA solicited bids to write for the state series. Matt sent in a bid, at a comparable rate to most other question companies. Questions Galore, which specializes in one-line questions that minimally reward knowledge, got the contract, allegedly by bidding something like $30 a round.

I think a whole lot of people would be happy if Missouri schools were given the choice to play whatever style they want, and some of Matt's hyperbole comes from anger over MSHSAA's blatant rejection of his bid to write quality questions at a reasonable rate.

If you look at Matt's first post, he cites Pennsylvania and Michigan as states with terrible local formats that aren't actively destroying quizbowl, because teams in those states are allowed to play other, "better" formats and in general pursue the acquisition of knowledge through quizbowl, and many of the better teams in those states do. While Matt has a problem with these local formats, he isn't flying off on an idealistic crusade to rid those states of their terrible formats.

However, MSHSAA is essentially forcing a steady diet of bad quizbowl onto teams, and if teams decide that they like good quizbowl better than the toxic waste MSHSAA is force-feeding them, then not only the quizbowl team but the football team, the basketball teams, and all other teams who compete in MSHSAA events are penalized. If one of the main goals of quizbowl at the high school level is to encourage students to gain knowledge in the humanities, arts, and natural/social sciences outside of the classroom (a view to which most pro-"good quizbowl" adherents subscribe, and a view to which we believe all quizbowl coaches should subscribe), and MSHSAA is instituting measures designed to keep teams and players from attempting to achieve this goal, then it can be said that MSHSAA is actively destroying quizbowl in Missouri. If teams are not given a choice to play formats that do encourage students to gain knowledge outside of the classroom, then "high school quizbowl in Missouri" is no longer quizbowl. It's just some game that uses buzzers to answer trivia questions, that bears some sort of ancestral similarity with quizbowl but diverged somewhere on the quizbowl evolutionary tree.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:57 pm

Jeremy Gibbs wrote:Does anyone care about the real story behind all this or would you rather just base your opinion on false rumors?


Please explain how it's a false rumor that Questions Galore is going to be writing your questions next year.

Alternatively, explain how Questions Galore agents held top MSHSAA officials hostage until they relented and gave them the bid.

We'd be very happy to hear the "real story" behind all this, but no one has told us. All we can go on consists of the report of the rule changes plus Questions Galore.

Also, why is your organization still involved in quizbowl? I thought I asked it--long before the school year started--to leave. Hmph!
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Ike » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:58 pm

To directly answer this thread with a terse answer: no.

More directly, it appears that Missouri is caught up in a cyclic chain of ubreakable links: You have these ridiculous laws that could be changed by foward-minded coaches, but then you don't even have those. At the same time, even if you did have those, I really doubt they are going to want to lose their careers over it, and bring literally, shame upon the entire school. Upon reading this thread, I think I am lucky to be living in Ohio, and able to do things sub rosa.

I also think for the purposes of Matt Weiner's warning that someone can detail why this even happened in the first place. What made Missouri law integrate QB (or not even that, really) into sports? Was there a specific event that prompted this, or did they just do this for the heck of it back then before "good quizbowl" was even around?

Nevertheless here are a few suggestions, (or thought experiments, because they are largely theoretical)

If we had a bunch of warm bodies, I think part of the solution would be to give them a teaching license, and have them institute good quizbowl to such a degree that teams across Missouri would severe all at once and that would create some noise, but in reality, that's not going to happen. (Perhaps if some variant of this could be used, it would be quite effective.)

Another idea off the top of my head is to create some type of fund for these students to play sub rosa. If Missouri catches on to this fund, I don't think they can claim jurisdiction, and even if they did, the idea of funds being funneled from state to state ought to create enough noise so that lawmakers have to do something about this. It would be absolutely ridiculous for MSHSAA to claim that funds for donation fall into their jurisdiction.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:58 pm

Jeremy Gibbs wrote:I haven't read through all this, but I am not sure if this makes any sense. Where is all this coming from?

Does anyone care about the real story behind all this or would you rather just base your opinion on false rumors?

Is this the Presidential election? Someone is spinning things in enormously incorrect ways. I just hope a cabinent position is open to them in January for their troubles.

Hey,

If you want to say what parts are wrong, that's fine, but you need to say what is wrong and why. And don't do the unnecessary "Presidential election" stuff either; normally I wouldn't call this out too much, but there are a lot of concerns for Missouri quiz bowl - about question quality, the level of competition, the MSHSAA's involvement, and more. This thread deserves better than to descend into a bunch of trolling

Everything Matt has said is correct as far as I know. That's the key phrase there - as far as I know. If anything he said is incorrect, please consider this my formal invitation to correct him. For the portions Matt is right about, please consider this my formal invitation to defend Missouri quiz bowl and what you're trying to change for the better.

Also, everyone else be cool, okay? I don't want to see unnecessary sass posted.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:01 pm

Ike wrote:Another idea off the top of my head is to create some type of fund for these students to play sub rosa.


Unfortunately, my alchemy gloves are in my other pants.

This is a good idea in principle, sure, but it doesn't work in practice unless your pockets are a lot deeper than mine. We have to find some other way to redirect coaches' idea of their best interests.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Terrible Shorts Depot » Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:24 pm

As far as slush fund creation goes, I think a benefit concert or dinner of some sort would work well.

To me, the best way to influence the Missouri people would be an appearance en masse at one of their meetings. Once we put a face to these internet ideas, things could become a lot easier. Throughout history, massed amounts of people have tended to be effective at getting things done and wrongs righted.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Jeremy Gibbs-Duhem Equation » Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:47 pm

I would certainly be willing to show up at one of their meetings. Anything that can be done to end this cruel tyranny is rockin' in my book.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Sir Thopas » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:08 pm

Dees, then, you better start planning MoO (Missouri Open, of course) for the summer, and then we can argue with them until the cows come home. An effective trip, all in all, I'd say.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby ScoBo » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:27 pm

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 know I've seen this claim before, but I can't remember where. As ridiculous as MSHSAA is, I'm not convinced that this would actually happen. Where's the example or rule that backs up this claim?

It seems that the easiest way to bring about change is for schools who care about good quiz bowl to not even participate in the MSHSAA series at all. From section 3A of the MSHSAA Academic Competition Manual
Based upon the total number of schools participating in the activity, schools shall be divided equally into classes.

This essentially implies that not all MSHSAA member schools register for Academic Competition (which I believe is true). What if NKC decided not to register for MSHSAA academic competition this year, and instead goes to real quiz bowl contests that happen to violate one of MSHSAA's rules? Does this mean that NKC's football team gets punished, even though they're not even registered for MSHSAA academic competition?

It's convenient that MSHSAA doesn't post its bylaws on the website. If they're going to be super-restrictive, their by-laws should be easily accessible by all participants, instead of the "Questions regarding student eligibility or specific MSHSAA by-laws should first be directed to your local school administrator" that seems to be the only thing about by-laws I can find on their website.

--edited: minor typos/syntactical errors
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby jrbarry » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:38 pm

I do not know if Georgia's example adds anything to this discussion, but we fended off our state high school association in gthe early 1990s as follows.

Our coaches association, GATA, voted to avoid the GHSA as long as we could. We were bascially united on that objective.

GHSA required us to get any tournament in which we were to participate approverd by them at least 30 business days in advance. We (GA coaches) enundated their offices with requests for approval. Heck, I remember asking for approval for tournaments all over the country just to clog their system. BY 1994 they were tired of us and they washed their hands of our activity. Since 1994, we only have to make sure our kids are eligible to aprticipate accoprding to Styate Board of Education guidelines.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby ScoBo » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:43 pm

jrbarry wrote:GHSA required us to get any tournament in which we were to participate approverd by them at least 30 business days in advance. We (GA coaches) enundated their offices with requests for approval. Heck, I remember asking for approval for tournaments all over the country just to clog their system. BY 1994 they were tired of us and they washed their hands of our activity. Since 1994, we only have to make sure our kids are eligible to aprticipate accoprding to Styate Board of Education guidelines.

Since MSHSAA requires the same thing, this would be possible. It would be great to see every single tournament in the country request for MSHSAA sanctioning to see how they would handle it.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:45 pm

Jeremy Gibbs wrote:I haven't read through all this, but I am not sure if this makes any sense. Where is all this coming from?


Remember when you got an e-mail for me explaining why the current direction of Missouri was damaging to the intellectual development of the students? Remember when you came here to the board to "find out what other states are doing" in response? Remember when you said that you would ask the Advisory Board to "revisit" the no-open-tournaments rule?

Remember when, after saying those things, instead of addressing the rule, you spent the Board meeting doing things like giving your state championship contract to Questions Galore, and not overturning any of the terrible rules that we discussed?

That's what this about.

However, I'm not looking to debate with Mr. Gibbs or any of the other people who represent the problem in Missouri. There is no point in bickering, and this bloc of anti-progress coaches have already made it clear that they do not want any sort of rational discussion. I want to talk with other people interested in getting rid of the problem (MSHSAA and its collaborators among the coaches) about how best to do so.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:46 pm

ScoBo22687 wrote:Since MSHSAA requires the same thing, this would be possible. It would be great to see every single tournament in the country request for MSHSAA sanctioning to see how they would handle it.


I appreciate what Mr. Barry did for Georgia. It sounded like a smart thing that was in the best interests of high school quizbowl.

Would it work for Missouri? Only if you assume the MSHSAA would actually have a problem de-sanctioning every tournament besides its own state series and penalizing Missouri teams who played invitationals.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby aestheteboy » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:47 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
aestheteboy wrote:More practical (and perhaps the only practical solution) would be to simply quit playing for the school. Most of the people running good tournaments would probably understand and let those unfortunate people play without representing a school.


This would get your tournament disqualified by the MSHSAA and prohibit you from involving any aboveboard Missouri teams. Obviously, no tournament actually located in Missouri could consider this.

So please clarify this for me: Does MSHSAA have the power to punish schools for what "a bunch of friends" (non-official teams) do on weekends? Or, is it that they have the power to punish schools for sending official teams to tournaments attended by "a bunch of friends" / tournaments for allowing "a bunch of friends" to play?
EDIT: reading through again, I guess it's the former, but my point doesn't change.

If it's the former, than again it seems like a human rights issue. If it's the latter, it may work. Of course, it probably won't be happening in Missouri, but non-Missouri tournaments can simply let MSHSAA disqualify them or whatever, and ask kindly that Missouri teams to send non-official delegations; I guess they lose few Missouri teams who insist on sending official teams, but I think it's a necessary sacrifice.

Even if it is the former, I would probably just ignore it. I wouldn't care if I risked my schools athletic teams' eligibility. Nobody has the right to tell me what I can and can't do on my free time, and if people try to convince me otherwise by taking the school's football team as hostage, I will simply tell the football team to fight for their own right. Yeah, I probably will get scorned by the football team, but I think it will eventually convince them how ridiculous it all is, and then I would have football teams (and all the other athletic teams) demanding change. If the school goes even further (e.g. try to expel me), by then I would be ready to fight legally (or move out of this horrifying state, I guess).

The problem may be that with Charlie Dees gone, we probably don't have any high schooler in Missouri who really cares enought to go that far.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:02 pm

Jeremy Gibbs wrote:I will try to read this when I get a chance, but as far as my disappearence is concerned, school started and they blocked this site and moquizbowl.com as well as my yahoo fantasy football site at school ruining my morning routine! Ugh!!!


Thanks for posting here. Like most internet threads, this one represents a lot of viewpoints and takes a lot of turns. The most significant post in this thread is the one Matt made to start it off. If you could reply to that and let us know how decisions have been made at recent MSHSAA meetings, you would be doing us a favor. Also there are a lot of people on this board with direct or indirect stakes in Missouri Quizbowl, so it would be helpful if you could let us know what, in your opinion, can be done by Missouri high school and college students as well as people who don't live in Missouri but are involved in quizbowl on an interstate basis to help Missouri Quizbowl.

The tone on this board sometimes is aggressive, but you don't need to satisfy everybody's demands or meet fire with fire. Since you know about the inner workings of Missouri Quizbowl, you can help us by sharing that knowledge with us.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Ike » Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:16 pm

Mr. Jeremy Gibbs:

I think a perfect example of the sentiment we feel towards Missouri Quizbowl can be found directly on Bryce Avery's site:

http://averyenterprises.net/academic-su ... -sets.html

Particularly the testimonial that says ""[After using your questions], we brought home our first trophy!"
This clearly illustrates the egalitarian issues Matt Weiner brought up, and the fact that a question-writing company has to rely on testimonials like these to ensure credence of their product illustrates not only the sentiment of Missourri coaches, but also the other end of the line, where in question-writers, NOT players are, praised. If anything, all of this vitriol, wrath, rage, and spite you may encounter is because Missouri does not put their players first.

That being said, I really hope you do pave the way for players to learn - with rule changes, and I sincerely hope you can influence the attitudes of people who make those kind of testimonials. If people like these are involved in quizbowl, then they do not make growth of learning a high priority, and short of saying they should be removed from quizbowl altogether, I am willing to bet that as a community, we all say that growth of learning is what we are here for.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Charbroil » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:00 am

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 before?

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.

*********************************************************************
In summary:

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.
Last edited by Charbroil on Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby NKCtrashman » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:02 am

Unfortunately, guys the quizbowl climate here among coaches is apathy and contentment mostly. However, every activity has been upset by MSHSAA. Some lawmakers out in Jeff City have grown upset too( I believe i heard about a proposal to ban MSHSAA all together). Maybe MSHSAA can be taken down via MO state legislature? (Insert political joke here). Btw, our football team wouldnt be missed, they lost 76-0 last week :sad:
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:09 am

Uh, if any other anonymous people want to post passionate defenses of bad quizbowl and use anti-intellectual talking points about "elitism" and about how great it is to be "popular" (DO YOU THINK BLAKE WILL ASK ME TO THE PROM, LIKE OH MY GOSH?!?!) then you can e-mail me if you really feel like being told why you're hopelessly wrong. But, that's not what this thread is for. This thread is for people who do understand and support good quizbowl, to discuss how to go about getting Missouri to adopt it, since most of the methods that have succeeded in other states are blocked by the MSHSAA structure.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Charbroil » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:22 am

Matt Weiner wrote:Uh, if any other anonymous people want to post passionate defenses of bad quizbowl...


First of all, apologies for the anonymity. I registered for this forum a long time ago, before the requirement to add one's personal information in one's signature came into being--that mistake has been edited.

That being said, isn't that besides the point?

Matt Weiner wrote:...and use anti-intellectual talking points about "elitism"


I don't think elitism is an unreasonable description of a broadly based statement such as "Creating such absurdity in relation to quizbowl is what football coaches do." It's that sort of mentality, that only the Quiz Bowl cabal knows anything about good Quiz Bowl and that football coaches (and anyone else who doesn't play) are utterly incapable of improving the activity that I'm branding as elitist, not the overall desire to improve Quiz bowl.

Matt Weiner wrote:...and about how great it is to be "popular" (DO YOU THINK BLAKE WILL ASK ME TO THE PROM, LIKE OH MY GOSH?!?!)...


I'm not arguing for popularity for popularity's sake. I'm arguing that the focus on issues involving relatively few teams and individuals takes away from promoting Quiz Bowl as an activity as a whole. I am assuming, of course, that promoting Quiz Bowl to the overall population is something you support.

Matt Weiner wrote: This thread is for people who do understand and support good quizbowl, to discuss how to go about getting Missouri to adopt it, since most of the methods that have succeeded in other states are blocked by the MSHSAA structure.


I realize that. I'm merely attempting to offer a different definition of "good quizbowl"--and mine is an activity which attempts to draw in as great a number of individuals as possible to its benefits without damaging its overall quality.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:28 am

Hey, I'm not going to conduct Remedial Quizbowl 101 for you or argue about whether having 10 math calculation tossups in a game is good or not. I'm just not going to do it, at least not in this thread. If you want to ask someone to explain good quizbowl to you, I can help you over e-mail. In this thread, people who already understand good quizbowl are talking about how to expand it.
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Charbroil » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:40 am

Alright, that's fine. Unfortunately, it's getting late, so could you just pm me your email or tell me where to find it, so I can save myself the trouble of hunting for it?

Thank you...
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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Matt Weiner » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:40 am

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Re: Is high school quizbowl in Missouri salvageable?

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:55 am

Yeah, also, if you're unwilling to email Matt for fear of being, as he said, told that you're hopelessly wrong, I'd refer you to the qbwiki. We take as assumed many concepts that aren't immediately obvious but which seem reasonable after some thought--many of them are outlined there.

Moreover, proponents of what we consider "good quizbowl" are backed up by lots of empirical evidence. In many areas, people have said that a fairer activity (one with less artificial equality, enforced by poor questions or other anti-competitive measures) would never catch on, because it would be less accessible to weaker teams or whatever. Not only have they been proven wrong by increased participation in those areas, those weaker teams have risen to the challenge, and since a canon that doesn't include a study guide on "sewing" is probably easier to study and learn from and get better on, everyone has learned more about the liberal arts (barring noted liberal arts "Verbs," "Spelling Words A-M," and "Words, Words, Words").

The qbwiki is a great place to learn about the history of the game, and a great place to learn why, in fact, good quizbowl is better than bad quizbowl if you want a fair activity, a rewarding activity, an activity you learn from, et cetera. Most of the questions you asked Matt can be answered there, and really that makes more sense than derailing the discussion to bring up what many of us already know. Not to step on your toes, but things are easier this way.

EDIT: I realize that the tone of this post is that of a backseat moderator, and I don't mean to be taken as such. I definitely don't mean to claim that sort of authority, either.
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