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Sandbagging

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 9:09 am
by rchschem
How many TAs actively punish sandbagging? The only time I have ever heard this actively threatened is at Brookwood. I am aware of some teams who currently practice this and was just wondering what the general population felt, or how this is handled in different parts of the country.

Eric
Raleigh Charter

Re: Sandbagging

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:59 am
by AKKOLADE
What are you referring to as sandbagging?

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:49 am
by Dan Greenstein
What is a TA?

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:52 am
by AKKOLADE
Dan Greenstein wrote:What is a TA?
My assumption is team advisor.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 12:06 pm
by rchschem
TA (tournament administrator), although team advisor would work. Sandbagging is when you intentionally put your better players on your B team so that they have a better chance of making the tournament in those formats where TAs (ibid) try to match A's against A's and B's against B's for fairness' sake.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 1:33 pm
by Howard
I've never seen this happen when it was made clear that it was not allowed. I figure let all the teams move players around however they want and let them all try to guess what the others are doing.

In swiss systems it really doesn't matter anyway. Of course, if the tournament is bracketed or has varsity and jv divisions, then it could be an issue and it's quite reasonable to ban it.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 3:37 pm
by solonqb
I've never seen it addressed by TDs in the Midwest, but most schools here woudn't play dirty like that anyway with the exception of a certain Michigan private school that shall remain unnamed (only last year, though)...

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:27 pm
by NotBhan
I don't think there's anything wrong with this practice unless the TD (or TA, if you prefer) specifically asks that the A team be the team that the school expects to be the strongest.

I presume you're talking about a situation in which all players are properly eligible, but the top players are put on the B team for some strategic purpose (like if the B team would have an easier road to the playoff round because of the nature of their bracket). "Backloading" is the term I've heard for this. Unless it violates a clear request of the TD, backloading is a fair strategic ploy. It sucks if you're the TD and you've carefully set up balanced brackets, only to have them tilted by one school's backloading, but that's only an 'unfair' ploy if the TD has failed to request in advance that the A team be the true A team.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:39 pm
by cvdwightw
Howard wrote: Of course, if the tournament is bracketed or has varsity and jv divisions, then it could be an issue and it's quite reasonable to ban it.
Bracketed round robin tournaments, if run correctly, should not have an issue with this so-called sandbagging. Most of the tournaments I have attended or helped run that are of this style attempt to place teams in roughly equal brackets, but because we don't know exactly who is going to show up (both literally and figuratively) for any given team, getting them equal is impossible. One bracket may be slightly more stacked than the other(s), but if rebracketing is done correctly, the teams should come out in roughly the order they should have.

With varsity/JV divisions this could be more of an issue. If a player qualifies for JV under the tournament rules, then he/she should be eligible to play. While that certain private school may have violated the spirit of the JV division, it did not violate the rules of the JV division (as far as I know; Noah, correct me if I'm wrong). It would be entirely unfair to single out players because they're "too good for JV" without some kind of impartial arbiter (i.e. a ppg average or scoring more than x ppg for a team that finished in the top n at a tournament) The inherent problem here would be sending a worse A team to the varsity division. This is unfair especially to the four players on the A team who should have been in JV, but also because it ends up "corrupting" not only JV but also varsity division, which has no fuzzy eligibility rules.

In summary: teams that qualify for JV should have the option to play JV, no matter how good they are. Some would argue that this violates the spirit of JV, and corrupts one division; they are completely entitled to this position. However, if a school is bringing more than one team, they should not place the better one in JV and the worse one in varsity, as this corrupts both divisions and therefore the spirit of quizbowl in general.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:21 pm
by Admiral
At most Illinois tournaments, it is strictly frowned on. That doesn't stop the occasional coach from trying it.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:30 pm
by UFeng
One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that while you may have given your best players (now on the B team) an easy road to the playoffs, you've also offered up your second team (now A) to the slaughter in the tougher division.

While I don't think there's a problem with a school doing this for a tournament, I also wouldn't see anything wrong if before starting, the tournament director sees this and flips the team's positions.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:30 pm
by quizbowlmike
How about when the A team switches with the B team because they think the B team got a better draw in the tournament seedings?

You may scoff, but it happened by a certain "D" team from SC 4 or 5 years ago.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:44 pm
by Tegan
As a coach, I would have a hard time going to my players and saying "Star, Star, Star, Star, and Star" are playing the "B" schedule because it is easier, and the rest of you are going to sent to the slaughter. This used to be a big problem in Illinois, but it has become a pretty frowned upon habit.

Rather than 'jack this thread, I'm going to start another one on when this might be permissible....such as when the Host appears to be screwing with your team, and putting them in the shark tank when it isn't deserved.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:19 pm
by acmatchbox20
Exactly how does one prove "sandbagging"? Ask the coach for rosters? Some coaches want their team to be as student-run as possible, including letting their captains choose lineups. There are schools out there, and successful ones I might add, that: 1. do not hold tryouts 2. do not make cuts 3. do not have "JV" and "varsity" teams 4. do not "study" nor divide up areas of knowledge and 5. take to a tournament whoever happens to be available that Saturday. This type of team is there because they love it,there to have fun, and yes, there to laugh at the teams who take the whole thing way too seriously. (Especially when they beat them, which happens more frequently than you might think.)
/shrugs. The best team, A or B or whatever, will prevail in the end. More productive to worry about your own players rather than what someone else is doing.

Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:57 pm
by jewtemplar
acmatchbox20 wrote:Exactly how does one prove "sandbagging"? Ask the coach for rosters? Some coaches want their team to be as student-run as possible, including letting their captains choose lineups. There are schools out there, and successful ones I might add, that: 1. do not hold tryouts 2. do not make cuts 3. do not have "JV" and "varsity" teams 4. do not "study" nor divide up areas of knowledge and 5. take to a tournament whoever happens to be available that Saturday. This type of team is there because they love it,there to have fun, and yes, there to laugh at the teams who take the whole thing way too seriously. (Especially when they beat them, which happens more frequently than you might think.)
/shrugs. The best team, A or B or whatever, will prevail in the end. More productive to worry about your own players rather than what someone else is doing.
For the most part, TJ is one of those.

Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 12:29 am
by No Sollositing On Premise
What do you mean "for the most part?" TJ is exactly that, except we practiced way more that our attitude would indicate.

Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:25 pm
by STPickrell
laszlow wrote:What do you mean "for the most part?" TJ is exactly that, except we practiced way more that our attitude would indicate.
I never saw the point of cuts. Why not let the weekend warriors have fun and have the serious players have fun too? As for being there, I only got annoyed if someone cut and ran at the last second b/c of poor planning. (By last minute I mean the Thursday-Friday before the tournament.)

Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:40 pm
by rchschem
If you see a team play at enough matches and get to know them a bit, you get to know who their aces are. When one week they show up as the A team and one week as B, it's obvious.

How would a tournament official know? Probably the same way, although it would admittedly be less likely that he or she would notice.

In its most egregious form, I have seen where teams have swapped players or complete teams amongst their A and B designations (whichever team makes the tournament, their A players end up on it regardless of what team they played on earlier). That's probably easy to catch.

As far as sending A to the slaughter, getting one team to the tourney rounds is better than none, but it would seem to me like a hell of a lot of work to scout all those teams in order to know how to rearrange the crews. Just play the darned matches.

I don't think this is a big problem; I've not seen it much. I was just wondering how others dealt with it when it did crop up.

Posted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 1:52 am
by NoahMinkCHS
The only time a tournament official would really "know" would be if there's a huge difference between the two teams. A couple years ago, we played a B team in the prelims at a big tournament (that had rules against it) and got beat... only to see in the standings later on that Team B had a better record and was scoring about 100 ppg more than Team A. In something like that, it's pretty cut and dried. But if the two teams are roughly equal, you can't tell, and it probably doesn't matter anyway; people have their good and bad days, after all.

I do think tournaments should have rules against this practice ("stacking" was the term I heard), at least if they have "balanced" bracketing. If not, or if there's no rule, I don't have as much of a problem with a team doing it. If there's no rule, then A and B are just arbitrary designations, and any assumption that A is better seems (to me, anyway) to be just an assumption.

Posted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 6:51 pm
by samer
UFeng wrote:One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that while you may have given your best players (now on the B team) an easy road to the playoffs, you've also offered up your second team (now A) to the slaughter in the tougher division.
Actually, I think in bracketed tournaments, a school doing this is just as liable to screw *both* teams over; I know of one school in CT that (allegedly) would routinely play their A team as their B team and vice versa at BHSAT.

Not knowing this, though, when I did the bracketing, I therefore ended up assigning the stronger (i.e., actual A, labeled B) team to a harder bracket than they would have otherwised played, while the weaker team might not be able to take advantage of the "gift" they received, given how strong many of the teams coming to Yale tend to be.

Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 9:02 am
by Tegan
I'm not sure how it is in other parts of the country, but in Illinois, we routinely do not submit rosters in advance. Once the pairings are posted, the coach can decide what they are going to do with assigning players. It really is not much of an issue in Illinois any more, but when coaches get found out doing this without a darn good explanation, they can find themselves in a world of hurt when they see their "A" team playing the state champs year in and year out, and their "B" team playing equally tough competition.

I think that's a great way to prevent it.

Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:16 am
by First Chairman
Just to provide assurance and confidence in the procedure, tournament directors should make it clear in advance that an "A" team means the better of two (or best of more) teams from that school. That's an implicit trust that the TD has with the coaches. There's not much one can do about it... even submitting rosters in advance doesn't always guarantee anything except in instances where we have prior data (nationals). Besides, kids get sick or don't show up to buses on time... rosters change...

TD's should also have the right to get the assurances from each coach that the spirit of assigning A and B teams to proper brackets is met. If the coach says, "Oh, my 'B' team is really my 'A' team", the TD should swap them at the team meeting.

Meanwhile, I do not advocate coach beat-downs for sandbagging. :)

Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 12:27 pm
by Stained Diviner
I saw it happen once, though it was several years ago and I forget the exact details. The TD announced in the morning that A Teams should be better than B Teams. One of the top players in Illinois was on a B Team because that team's coach perceived that his A Team had a tougher bracket. Even though both teams earned a spot in the afternoon rounds, only one of them was allowed to play.

Don't ask me for names--I ain't saying.