It's Academic discussion

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
Angry Babies in Love
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:09 pm
Location: MD//DC

Re: It's Academic discussion

Post by Angry Babies in Love »

Matt Weiner wrote: There are two things we can do about this. One is, again, making it clear that IA and quizbowl are different activities for different people, and not stopping in the search for the right quizbowl coach at a school just because we've found the IA sponsor (or, in short, "destroying" the impression that there needs to be a formal link between IA and quizbowl).
I think this is an important concept and I agree with this 100%, but I think as a community we need to figure out how to find these people in the schools that would make good quizbowl coaches. I'm not a teacher so I have no idea how those social circles work, but I bet if you explained it to a teacher at a school they would know someone who is interested? Or maybe just mass emailing every teacher at a school and seeing who replies would be the best way to go about this. This is obviously less convenient, but that's what History Bowl does to some success just within social studies departments.
Raynell Cooper
Arcadia ES '04
Richard Montgomery HS '11
George Washington University '15
University of Maryland, College Park '17
Hella things, National History Bee and Bowl
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:39 pm
Location: Blacksburg, VA

Re: It's Academic discussion

Post by mithokie »

Coaching quizbowl at a high level is very demanding; every bit as demanding as coaching a successful football or basketball team. Since the majority of good quizbowl happens at Saturday tournaments, it means sacrificing time with your family on Saturdays for what are often very long days. This is all done in the midst of a very demanding job that is only becoming more and more demanding with stagnant pay over the last several years. I do it because I enjoy this particular activity and found the extracurricular academic activities that I took part in when I was in high school to be the most intellectually stimulating things I did as a student. I want my students to have the same kind of opportunities that I did, and I see this as part of my mission as a teacher. Former quizbowl players going into education and becoming coaches themselves will go a long way toward making quizbowl more widely enjoyed at more schools than are currently participating in the activity today. I know some recent and soon to be graduates that are considering this and I applaud those that are making this decision.
Matt Beeken
Blacksburg High School
Math and Physics Teacher
(2012-??)ACE Coach, Blacksburg HS
(2010-12) ACE CO-Coach, Blacksburg HS
(2011-12) Science MACC Coach, Blacksburg HS
Volunteer Assistant (2009-2010) ACE Coach, Blacksburg HS
mbeeken AT mcps DOT org
User avatar
Everything in the Whole Wide World
Posts: 173
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:37 pm
Location: West Chester, PA

Re: It's Academic discussion

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World »

Clearing up the distinction between what is and is not quizbowl will go a long way to the growth of the circuit. Quizbowl is a trivia game. It's Ac and other "bad" formats are trivia games. Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit a trivia games. They are members of the same family, but each has its own niche and will appeal to different crowds. If we push the point that It's Ac, PA states, and other notorious formats are "not" quizbowl as opposed to "bad" quizbowl, not only do you remove some of the anti-establishment stigma from our game, but then quizbowl would be conceptually distinct from other games and will be treated as such. I would hope that administrations would see this as a wholly new way to get kids involved in an academic extracurricular activity and not a threat to the old formats they hold dear as they often do now. Whether we like it or not, a lot of these things have a lot of historic prestige attached to them.
Last edited by Everything in the Whole Wide World on Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ben Herman
Henderson High School (2007-2011) [West Chester, PA]
University of Delaware (2011-2015)
Penn State University (2015-Present)
Co-Founder and Director, Greater Pennsylvania Quizbowl Resource
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: It's Academic discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

I agree that external signalling of legitimacy is important to communicate what we are doing to people who are not yet involved in quizbowl. I think that the way to do that is to look for alternate sources of legitimacy that do not bring with them automatic commitments to bad quizbowl. TV shows are never going to be good by quizbowl standards, because of what a TV show requires (barring the possibility of someone airing the HSNCT playoffs in the middle of the night on Discovery Channel 3 in the future or something like that). However, this is not the case for state organizations. Some of them (Pennsylvania, Kansas) are very bad. Others (Virginia) are pretty good, certainly in the area of primary concern, namely "using good questions in a fair format." Others (Illinois, Missouri) have at least the potential to be a net positive at some point in the future if they clean up their ethical acts and choose to use better questions. For those places without athletic association-sanctioned quizbowl, it has long been the practice for quizbowl people to found their own organizations -- Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, etc. HSAPQ has been trying to use this strategy by helping to organize "Quizbowl Championship Associations" in new states. This year, we ran tournaments in DC, Maryland, North Carolina, California, New York, and Massachusetts. In all but DC, regional tournaments ran first as qualifiers for the state finals. Note that we very intentionally used "Quizbowl Championship Association" instead of something like "Quizbowl Alliance" -- the goal is to drop in the regional/state structure and all its benefits, while still allowing the state to develop its independent events on its own terms.

What some of the IA partisans are failing to see is that VHSL has served exactly the role they claim for IA in DC-Baltimore: an external source of legitimacy that eliminates the need for every potential coach that discovers quizbowl to plead with administrators for funding and students for participation. There are 314 public high schools in Virginia; the last number I saw for VHSL Scholastic Bowl participation was 292 of them. And that's not just showing up with three students and leaving early like we would count as "participation" for a regular event -- all the teams are full, most of them have lots of alternates, all of them have at least 1 coach. In 17 years of VHSL, I have NEVER heard of a team who qualified out of Districts/Conferences failing to show up to Regionals, or a team from Regionals failing to come to States, even when that means arranging a fourteen-hour round trip and hotel nights for a team from the far west of the Commonwealth to travel to Williamsburg. People understand what the activity is and the response is there. This is what other states can have if the regional/state concept is brought in. We did launch in Maryland and DC this year, so that is the answer to the alternate source of basic outreach that can replace IA, and as we saw from the post that started this discussion two weeks ago, it's working -- Don Bosco Cristo Rey was far from the only team who first heard of quizbowl and formed to play an HSAPQ regional after getting one of the 5000+ pieces of mail we sent out this year, and they and their compatriots who tried quizbowl for the first time at the Maryland Quizbowl Championship regionals did so without It's Academic.

HSAPQ will be expanding this program next year to as many states as we can find that don't already have a state tournament and have any interested hosts in them. I think that this, in combination with NAQT and NHBB's extraordinary efforts in planting new invitational tournaments across the country, is the present and the future, and TV shows are the past, as far as quizbowl is concerned.
Matt Weiner
Founder of
Al Hirt
Posts: 136
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:25 pm
Location: East Brunswick, New Jersey

Re: It's Academic discussion

Post by Al Hirt »

Edit: completely misread.
And my apologies for barging in. In Jersey, there's a similar problem with the "Team Jeopardy" circuit which is far more expensive, time consuming, and inefficient than quiz bowl. Somehow, many teams still prefer this to good quiz bowl. I believe Mr. Ibendahl, the Mountain Lakes Coach, made some major inroads through snail mail and found some interesting results as well.
Shravan Balaji
Academic Team Captain
East Brunswick High School '15
University of Pennsylvania '19
NHBB Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Northern Central Railway
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:23 pm

Re: It's Academic discussion

Post by Northern Central Railway »

Al Hirt wrote:Edit: completely misread.
And my apologies for barging in. In Jersey, there's a similar problem with the "Team Jeopardy" circuit which is far more expensive, time consuming, and inefficient than quiz bowl. Somehow, many teams still prefer this to good quiz bowl. I believe Mr. Ibendahl, the Mountain Lakes Coach, made some major inroads through snail mail and found some interesting results as well.
I don't know how applicable this is to the DC area and It's Academic, but the biggest thing I gleaned from my experience doing outreach is that many coaches don't go to good quizbowl tournaments because for the most part, they don't even know they exist in the first place. From talking to other coaches, I was able to figure out that the tournament Mountain Lakes hosted was the 2nd tournament using good questions in the last 3 years in NJ that bothered to send out snail mail invites. Conversely, one of the big Jeopardy-style housewrites sends out invites in the mail every year. The fact is, many coaches don't really see a dichotomy between good quizbowl/bad quizbowl. The majority of coaches are not as invested in quizbowl as the coaches that frequent this board, and don't take the time to actively seek out new tournaments to go to. One thing I did was actually send out five different versions of invites depending on what I knew about the school's previous involvement in quizbowl. There were two things that most of the 'new to good quizbowl' schools had in common. First, they were geographically not far away. Second, they were all teams where the invite framed the tournament as a way to help their team get better for their own local league. Rather than saying "here's how this is different than what you're used to", I went for the less heavy-handed "this tournament will give your team some practice so they can get better".

From reading this and just reading other regional boards for the heck of it, one thing I've noticed is that what works in one state isn't guaranteed to work in any other state. Whether the approach I described above would work in DC is tough to say, I just don't know enough about the culture of quizbowl in that area. Although quizbowl in NJ certainly has issues like the fact that the two largest tournaments in the state are Jeopardy-style housewrites and that some bad tournaments charge an ungodly $225 entrance fee, dealing with a show using bad questions that's been on the air for 40+ years is not a problem in the Garden State.
Andrew Ibendahl
Nashville (IL) '04
DePauw '08
Former Coach, Mountain Lakes (NJ)