Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

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Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by kievanrustic »

While I know that in the thread "So You Want to Study Quizbowl" http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 30&t=14099 the evolution of the quizbowl player was touched on, it seemed as though it was glossed over (largely due to the fact that that was not the main topic of the thread). Ergo, this topic.

1st Stage: What's Quizbowl?

The student comes into their first quizbowl practice, they're a little unnerved. They may be a freshman, eager to try out this "quizbowl" that they have heard of, or they may be someone roped into going to a practice by one of their friends. At this stage, the new quizbowler effectively knows none of the rules, but they learn them throughout the practice. Most likely, they do not even answer a single question as they are intimidated by the quizbowl prowess that surrounds them. Considering how many people came to my school's first quizbowl practice and then to the second, I'd say that only 40% of students advance beyond this stage.

2nd Stage: Learning the Ropes

The basic rules are set; now simple quizbowl theory comes into action. The students who continue to go to practice after the first one learn that bonuses have easy, medium, and hard parts, and the idea of pyramidality sets in. The quizbowler starts to realize that the same answerlines come up again and again, and they make write notes about this. During this time, the quizbowler goes to their first tournament, where they either do somewhat poorly on a novice team or are overshadowed by another, more experienced player. The player likely begins some minor studying with the goal of getting questions in some field of interest. My estimate is that it takes 25-50 hours of practice, tournament attending, and studying to advance beyond this stage, and once it seems that 30-40% of players advance beyond this stage.

3rd Stage: Supporter

The player now gets around 30-40 ppg when playing with an inexperienced team against other teams with similar experience levels, but ppg drops to near zero against tough competition. Likely, the player has a somewhat solidified niche set out for themselves such as Greek myth, and they get questions in that topic quite readily. At this point, the quizbowler plays on the B team (with exceptions for schools with very competitive B teams) or maybe as a third or fourth scorer for a semi-decent A team. It should be noted that this stage is different from supporters on competitive teams, as those players could probably captain their own teams if they wanted to. The supporter studies at a higher rate than in the previous stage, probably around 2-3 hours a week outside of practices. With around 200 hours of practice, I feel that one advances out of this stage. While that takes around a year or two for most students, diligent studying can hasten the change (e.g. I went on a study binge my sophomore year over three months in which I surpassed the 200 hours). This stage seems to be a resting place for many quizbowlers, and I'd say that only around 20% of players advance beyond being a strong supporter.

4ath Stage: Competent Generalist

Many supporters decide to put in the time to become competent generalists, especially when they primarily face local competition. Generalists at this stage will put on ppgs of 60-90 when facing their typical competition, and they'll still put of some points against top 100 teams. In fact, this generalist may be captaining a team near the bottom of the top 100! Depending on whether the supporter stage was rushed, the generalist may still be a freshman or sophomore, though they are likely an upperclassmen. The player now studies at least 5 hours a week, and they are likely seen a the quizbowl "role model" for less experienced quizbowlers. Questions are typically snagged around the power mark. Very few generalists advance beyond this stage, largely due to the massive (I'd say at least 750 hour) barrier to becoming very nationally competitive. Less than 5% advance beyond this stage.

5ath Stage: Nationally Ranked Generalist

These are people like Max Shindler, Sameer Rai, and Dylan Minarik. They lead top 50 (if not top 20) teams, pulling ppgs north of 150 when against "normal" competition and 80-120 even when playing a national tournaments. While there are substages in between 4a and 5a, this is notable in being the end of the road for high school. By the time one reaches this, they are ready for the world of college quizbowl.

4bth Stage: Decent Specialist

Let's backtrack for a moment, shall we? Not all players decide to generalize; in fact, many supporters decide to expand on and lock down their topic of interest. The specialist covers 3/3 to 5/5 of the distribution, but they begin to lock it down. Around 40 ppg is pulled against most competition, and the drop in ppg that generalists experience when against tough teams isn't as pronounced. The player probably plays in non-quizbowl academic competitions in their areas of expertise (e.g. History Bee, Science Bowl, Lit side events),and they perform pretty well. Because the specialist is more narrow in their focus, they beat generalists in their specialization, but a single specialist on a team won't do well unless they have teammates covering other areas of the distribution. I'm not going to make another stage for ridiculously good specialists, because for the most part they are simply specialists with even more lock down on their topics. A specialist studies 3-20 hours a week, depending on how good they want to be and their level of competition.

Closing

So, anyways, this is my detailed description of the evolution of the high school player. If you have any points of contention or thoughts, please post them below.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by Oh No You Didn't »

This is all sorts of silly. Of course players who learn more things will just get more PPG.

There's no magical amount of hours you just study to get some amount of stats in quizbowl.

Also you spelled Max Schindler's name wrong

The way you've worded this seems to suggest that collegiate quizbowl is a magical higher level of quizbowl where you need to be a 100 ppg generalist in order to play, and this is also just wrong.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by Emil Nolde »

Basically, it's not a good idea to say that there's some sort of 'manifest destiny' for any particular player. You develop into a role that fits with the team you're a part of, and for that reason, at higher levels of play, it becomes somewhat idiotic to just straight out declare that "player x is better than player y". One of the things about quizbowl is that nothing is a sure bet. Especially when you're investing a lot of time into the game, results are going to boil down to how you hit that particular packet or set. Also, I think that the idea of the complete generalist is mostly mythical. Given the chance to do so, pretty much everyone is going to find something special for them to lock down. The reason that a single player learns to buzz on such large portions of the canon is mostly Darwinian; they're going to lose games otherwise. This year, my state's NASAT team is comprised of three of the best quizbowl players in the country. Each of them has been the anchor of their team, with the possible exception of Morgan, for the past three years. However, just because they're used to playing largely unassisted doesn't mean that they aren't going to be able to divide up the distro appropriately. If this wasn't the case, then they'd be doomed to have buzzer races on practically everything, and probably lose to a lot of teams who've put in less time than they have to studying.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

I am just very confused as to the purpose of this thread. Do we really need to say "If you invest time into this, you will be good?" If we do, do we need to quantify how good someone will be after investing arbitrary amounts of time?

[The answer to both of these questions is no.]
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by SrilankanSwagga »

the evolution of the quizbowl player was touched on, it seemed as though it was glossed over (largely due to the fact that that was not the main topic of the thread). Ergo, this topic.
I feel that it was merely glossed over not because it wasn't the main topic of the thread, but because it was more common sense than anything else. You've seem to have done a very good job of taking what should be said in a few sentences, or even words, and blown it up to Pentagruel's size.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by Southern Double-collared Sunbirb »

Wait, you're supposed to study?
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by geowzrd »

Because I went to an "intermediate school"(8th and 9th grade in the same school, 10-12 at the high school) freshman year, I only did a minor local, buzzer based competition with the High School that year. Sophomore year, I was at a completely new school and was sort of thrust into Scholastic Bowl where I did well despite not having much prior experience. It was only after NHBB that year that I began studying and found out about the quizbowl community, as well as It's Academic. But I never really went through the supporter stage.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by Al Hirt »

You're making the assumption all quiz bowlers study. With a little bit of common sense, you can get to the competent generalist state relatively easily by playing a few packets every so often.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by Banana Stand »

EBAcademicTeam wrote:You're making the assumption all quiz bowlers study. With a little bit of common sense, you can get to the competent generalist state relatively easily by playing a few packets every so often.
Your definition of "competent generalist" is probably very different than most people's.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by Al Hirt »

Banana Stand wrote:
EBAcademicTeam wrote:You're making the assumption all quiz bowlers study. With a little bit of common sense, you can get to the competent generalist state relatively easily by playing a few packets every so often.
Your definition of "competent generalist" is probably very different than most people's.
I'm going by the 60-90 ppg and role model part. I wouldn't consider myself one, but our captain last year (who you probably played against seeing you're from St. Joes) was an all-State player who didn't study (with nearly 80 ppg at states).

Maybe it's why my school doesn't do as well as some of the other schools in our area despite probably having the ability to do so. It's not a culture we've usually had. But you don't need to parallel Malcolm Gladwell's ideas regarding hours in quiz bowl, especially when there's a good portion of people who've managed to get that level by simply playing packets.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling »

EBAcademicTeam wrote:
Banana Stand wrote:
EBAcademicTeam wrote: Maybe it's why my school doesn't do as well as some of the other schools in our area despite probably having the ability to do so. It's not a culture we've usually had. But you don't need to parallel Malcolm Gladwell's ideas regarding hours in quiz bowl, especially when there's a good portion of people who've managed to get that level by simply playing packets.

Let's ignore the at best questionable intellectual coherence of Malcolm Gladwell's conclusions. If you want to do well by playing packets, yeah, you're going to do better at regular high school level questions than the people who went into the tournament completely unprepared, which might be most people where you live. You'll pick up some things late in the question against bad teams who don't have foreknowledge of quiz bowl's eternal recurrence of clues or the answer lines that are commonly used at tournaments. But don't confuse that for being "competent." That just means you'll be able to beat up on the lowest common denominator. And you'll still be walloped by good teams.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by theMoMA »

I can't speak for other college players, but the amount of studying (looking at flashcards, reading Wikipedia, writing skeleton questions not for general consumption, etc.) that I've done in my entire quizbowl career probably amounts to about 10 hours. I memorized a list of like 200 literature works when I was a junior in high school, I wrote a bunch of lead-in-heavy questions prior to ICT one year, and I tried to learn a bunch of opera clues once. In place of "studying," most of what I've done has been to some other productive end: playing packets, reading about things that interest me, and writing lots and lots of questions for others to play.
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Re: Evolution of a Quizbowl Player

Post by theMoMA »

This adds to the above, which I don't think conveyed the point I was hoping to convey very well. It's very cool to see people starting out in quizbowl who want to get better. There are lots of ways you can improve, and if you're willing to put in the time, all of them will eventually bear fruit. To name a few, you can practice on old questions, you can make flashcards or lists based on what's come up in the past and memorize them, you can pick a subject area and compose a reading list of books to help you improve in that area, and you can write questions. All of these things will work, just like any good exercise program will help you get in shape if you stick to it long enough.

That said, I think more players should write questions instead using other, memorization-based study methods. The reason is that it helps keep this game going, and the more you give back, the more quizbowl there is to enjoy for people down the road. Most of us are only able to spend a limited amount of time on the game, and the more of that time that goes to perpetuating the activity, the better. I can also attest that writing questions as a study method really works, especially if you supplement it by reading books and articles about things that genuinely interest you that you run across (and there will be many). It's also a lot of fun to come up with ideas, track down clues, and see quality players buzz on your questions.

Here are some resources for anyone interested in writing:

Jerry's guide to writing

Subash's guide to writing

ACF's writer feedback program, which allows you to submit up to five of your own questions for detailed comments and critiques.

Read Jerry's and Subash's guides, write five questions, and send them to the feedback program. This is probably the best way to get started.
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