Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

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cchiego
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Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by cchiego » Sun Nov 24, 2019 11:13 pm

If a team drives 5+ hours to an off-the-typical-circuit tournament to have their A and B teams basically annihilate all the local competition (and it was pretty obvious from the get-go that they would do so), why, exactly, travel to that tournament in the first place?

To be clear, I don't mean an average team making a long trip for fun or to add some variety while finishing in the middle of the pack or even in the playoff bracket (this is fine/good). I also don't mean teams from newer circuits going to other new circuits to play opponents of similar abilities (this is, after all, a necessity to help get those circuits to expand). And I don't mean a highly-ranked team going to play a tournament with multiple other top teams in the field, particularly in a "competitive/nationals" division.

I specifically mean an established team from an established circuit going into a new or emerging circuit where there are basically no teams of comparable abilities for their A and B teams and dominating the field (and taking nationals qualification spots that local teams would otherwise have filled).

I don't see the point of this. Are the baby seals who are clubbed supposed to gain some kind of perspective from this? Do the winning teams give something back to the schools they beat and make a point to help/encourage them (I have seen this before and that can be a positive outcome, but it seems limited to certain situations)? I understand generally the idea that more quizbowl is better than less quizbowl and that teams want to play all question sets, but there seem to be better alternatives than this kind of situation.

I'm interested as well in what the community thinks of this. Should there be more explicitly local-only events (like the highly successful SWATA tournaments in Southwestern Virginia)? Should TDs have the option to reject registrations from overpowered teams, particularly those from far away?
Chris C.
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Re: Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by EricChang5 » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:07 am

In my opinion, it really depends on the team/tournament/field/etc. I do agree with what you are saying, but sometimes it is nice to get a different experience and competition. I think it is certainly more of the responsibility of the TD.

I used to run the tournaments at Virginia Tech, and due to the location, we had some teams have to travel 4-5 hours. Generally, those were also the better teams since they were willing to commit to that travel. There would certainly be tournaments (usually our biggest fall tournament or our reg+ tounament) where I would invite teams from a much stronger program even though they were further away. This was really to give our local teams an opportunity to see how they can stand against top-level competition.

The downside of course is having your newer teams get stomped on. Virginia Tech has had teams that are very new to quizbowl only be able to make it to our reg+ tournament or a harder spring set. It is very unfortunate since that may be the only tournament they play all year, and to get stomped on is not a great experience. However, it is also good for them to see what a top-level team looks like as well. I'm currently coaching a new program in the Richmond area, and they have no idea what "good" quizbowl looks like. It wasn't until our first competition that we got stomped at to realize that they really need to improve and to take it more seriously. Granted, it took coaching and talking with them to make them want to come back in the first place, but I do think it helped my team out a lot to be able to see "this is what we could be."

It really is a case-by-case scenario where the TD has to be very considerate of all teams in the field. I think there are definitely times where TDs just want to fill up their field so they don't put much thought into this. I've never downright rejected a team, but I think that is a very interesting point you bring up! Thanks for the discussion!
Eric Chang
Christiansburg High School '15
Virginia Tech '19

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Re: Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by yellow7206 » Mon Nov 25, 2019 12:29 pm

Back in the day, we took a flight all the way from DC to Chicago to play in a local tournament (Barrington) and won it by a pretty wide margin. We did this because these were the days before MSNCT. In addition, there was not a single MS tournament within 8 hours (no joke). There weren't any national tournaments for pyramidal quiz bowl either, but I wanted to see how good we were compared to Barrington Station who by reputation we knew to be very good. We won't do this ever again because we don't need to. We have MSNCT once a year and enough MS level tournaments in our area.

I think this was said in a previous reply, but from the TD's point of view, the reality of hosting a tournament means getting as many teams to come as possible to raise funds for your QB team. TDs may not vet every team they are preoccupied with signing up as many teams as possible. And if a known strong team is coming, does the TD really have an obligation to refuse registration?
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Re: Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:00 pm

I hope that teams are not doing this to qualify for nationals. As somebody who has been part of the NSC Wildcard process and talked to people about the HSNCT Wildcard process, let me encourage teams to try it out. Teams actually do get in that way each year, and there are more teams that could get in that way if they applied. If anybody has any questions about the NSC process, feel free to contact me via PM or outreach@pace-nsc.org. If you have questions about HSNCT or SSNCT, then NAQT will be happy to talk to you too.

(NOTE: Do not email me to apply for a wildcard spot. To do that, wait until at least January 1 and email wildcard@nsc-org.)
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Re: Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Mon Nov 25, 2019 5:52 pm

This definitely strikes me as something that should be decided by the TD, as Eugene and Eric have already said. I disagree with the idea that we need to shame teams, though, for attending tournaments, whatever the reason, since this is already something that doesn't happen very often.

Local-only tournaments could work very well, as SWATA tournaments and a few of Kyle Hill's tournaments have shown.
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Re: Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by troyharris » Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:33 pm

This is an interesting question to tackle because there is no doubt that when a national power moves to a smaller circuit to play "up and coming" teams, it affects the outcome of the event and may actually take away some spots at nationals for some of those local teams, but at the same time it can be a real benefit to those teams in the long run. From our perspective at Plymouth, when I think back to when we first started playing outside of the NH QB League and really didn't know what top-notch teams played like, we needed to see great teams like AMSA, Lexington, Acton-Boxborough, and Phillips from Massachusetts, Bishop Guertin (NH), Burlington (VT) and Essex (VT) to see what really good quiz bowl was all about. We took some pretty bad poundings to all those teams, but It gave us a goal to shoot for and to realize that to get better and ultimately get to Nationals (SSNCT) and be competitive, there was a lot of work to be done. By seeing these other teams and just how good they were, we ended up getting kids studying, going to camps, expanding our list of events to attend, playing with kids from the Illinois schools, DCC, Beavercreek,etc at camp, and it helped our program really grow. Obviously many teams are only looking to play a few local events and it may not be a great thing for them, but if having really good teams come to an event inspires a few of those teams to really want to get better and expand programs, is that not a benefit to quiz bowl on the whole?
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Re: Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:05 pm

I can (and will) only speak from my own experience with this, but when we started up the Hoover Invitational, we pulled local teams exclusively. By the fourth or fifth year, however, two things were clear - one, that we had a tournament where one or two local teams would be dominant, and everyone else was playing for experience/practice, and two, that while those teams below the top two or three were getting valuable experience seeing what stronger competition looked like, our best teams in state were not. Alabama good was not translating to Southeastern good, let alone nationals good.

I know that this question is about teams coming in to play in relatively new circuits, but even then, I think that such play has two positive effects. First, it makes the top teams at the tournament reevaluate where they are in their process of improvement realistically. A team may feel like they are world-beaters after smashing their local competition, but when you then get trucked by a national-caliber squad, it is a real wake-up call, and it really does make students think about what they have to do to get to that next level. While a complete beatdown of a very weak program may be disheartening for some players who are really on the fence about the game, I think it does more to motivate players who have decided they like quiz bowl than to drive them away. These kids are competitive, and they don't like losing. They rise, given the opportunity.

The second thing I think these out-of-state teams do, and I am guessing here, is that they give the teams that are weaker in the grouping hope that they can improve and grow, and eventually beat the powerhouse teams in their area. If all you've seen for two years is one team dominating all the others, you might well feel like the gap between you and that team can't be closed. Seeing that dominant team lose to another team makes a mental difference. You realize that they aren't unbeatable, and that someone figured out how to beat them. You talk to the coach from the team that beat them, and you learn what to do. It changes your way of thinking.

Just some thoughts.
Joshua Rutsky
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Hoover HS Coach, 2007-2019
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Re: Teams Traveling Long Distances to Dominate New/Emerging Circuit Tournaments

Post by cchiego » Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:17 pm

Joshua Rutsky wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:05 pm
I can (and will) only speak from my own experience with this, but when we started up the Hoover Invitational, we pulled local teams exclusively. By the fourth or fifth year, however, two things were clear - one, that we had a tournament where one or two local teams would be dominant, and everyone else was playing for experience/practice, and two, that while those teams below the top two or three were getting valuable experience seeing what stronger competition looked like, our best teams in state were not. Alabama good was not translating to Southeastern good, let alone nationals good.
I don't think that Alabama is quite what I had in mind of a "new/emerging" circuit. In the case of a state like Alabama that had a well-organized statewide pyramidal circuit and whose teams had essentially "maxed out" their local competition, then playing top out-of-state teams was definitely more of a good thing, particularly since the best local teams were still generally competitive with them. Even now though if a top-20 national program from 8 hours away showed up at a local Alabama Community College tournament and claimed the top 2-3 spots with 200-300 PPG more than any other team, then that would strike me as being not very helpful for the local circuit.

To illustrate further, if a school in Kansas decided to hold a pyramidal Saturday tournament and a top program from Texas drove in and annihilated the competition with multiple teams far ahead of any local school, I don't think that would be helpful since it's more likely that the Kansas teams would simply reject pyramidal questions rather than think "how is that team so good, I want to study pyramidal questions now." Same for, say, a Knowledge Bowl school in rural north Minnesota that decided to hold a tournament and a pyramidal school from the Twin Cities drove up to dominate the competition.

I also want to stress that how a top team acts at these kinds of events (and more generally how they act period) matters. At one tournament in SoCal (after 3 years of circuit development), we had Bellarmine come down for an event but (1) there were several strong SoCal teams who needed a measuring stick to see how they stacked up against their NorCal competition; (2) it was noted that Bellarmine was widely regarded as the best team in the country and thus that losing to them was no shame; and, most importantly (3) the Bellarmine players and coach were extremely friendly and helpful to all the teams that they played, congratulating the other teams on good buzzes and happily explaining when asked how they knew things. This last part is extremely important and something that can at least partially explain the difference between inspiration and discouragement.
I think this was said in a previous reply, but from the TD's point of view, the reality of hosting a tournament means getting as many teams to come as possible to raise funds for your QB team. TDs may not vet every team they are preoccupied with signing up as many teams as possible. And if a known strong team is coming, does the TD really have an obligation to refuse registration?
This depends on the circuit. Sometimes quizbowl tournaments hosts may adopt (perhaps inadvertantly) a short-term mentality in which the goal is to get as many teams into that tournament as possible rather than to expand the local circuit and build programs that last for awhile. It's also usually the case that more organized teams will sign up earlier and potentially crowd out less-organized local teams who get together later. I also suspect that not all TDs are as "plugged-in" to the quizbowl circuit and might not be aware of how strong a far-away team is. Relying on strong far-away teams can then discourage local competition and inhibit the growth of local quizbowl (which, in almost all places, could still stand to grow quite a bit).
Chris C.
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