The Great Nationals Debate.....

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Tegan
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The Great Nationals Debate.....

Post by Tegan »

To keep the PAC stuff in the PAC thread, and the whole "national formats" thing separate.....

Matt mentioned the idea of a single national format, and while a really good thought, I'm not sure at this point in time if that is going to happen.

I think there needs to be a re-examination of this. Baseball and football have single championships, but maybe we need to look at it more like tennis. Tennis has four major championships, and even though they are all "tennis", they are all a bit different, and each tests a slightly different skill.....you can't stop fast on clay....its a little easier on grass....and much easier on a hard court. I may be bungling this analogy a bit, but a clay court negates speed as a factor, where a hard court really rewards it.

I think it is possible to have nationals played in slightly different formats, with the preconception that a team could play all, some or one depending on their budget. It is also incumbant on the idea that there is no one National Champion. Tennis uses a ranking system to decide "#1" but otherwise is content to end each season with up to four major champions. I don't see a big problem with that. And before I get jumped on too much, I acknowledge that not all nationals may in fact necessarily be worthy nationals.

Its just a thought.....
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Post by First Chairman »

There's only one problem with the tennis or golf ranking programs, and that is that they truly measure an individual's performance in the sport (which makes sense). Quiz bowl on the other hand is usually about team play, and the rosters from week to week can change. Also considering that a team can play as many as five or more different formats in the course of a year, it is going to be very difficult to track one team's performance, much less compare between regions. Hence we tried for the poll, and unfortunately the sample was highly dependent on circuits and who each judge had observed. As JRB alludes, his ballot post-nationals is completely different from his ballot pre-nationals because of the number of contenders he actually got to observe first-hand.

Even for contests like equestrian racing where you're really talking about different surfaces, different lengths, different jockeys... I don't think they rank their horses, and Horse of the Year is voted upon... at least that's what I know.

Basically, the issue is... we need reliable data and reporting of results. We need TD's to take extreme care in reporting valuable statistical data for individuals and for teams. And we need people to stop being so darn parochial and begin to encourage teams to travel to other tournaments outside their home base. That last point isn't going to be easy in light of budgets and liabilities, but we need to have teams act as benchmarks (like in some cases of high school football) to compete head-to-head with the best teams in other areas of the country. Only then will any data start to make sense or become comparable.

For what it's worth, my first ranking model (which I sometimes fall back upon) is based on ordinal ranking similar to what people do with ballroom dancing (and the old ranking system for figure skating). I look for consistency in performance over the course of a year against particular opponents at certain competitions of known question quality. If there is any information that makes me discount the validity of a result (like someone was sick or had to take the SAT instead of competing), I try to factor that in. But it's not easy to do this as it relies heavily on TD's actually reporting results. But as long as I get an idea who the top 8-16 are, usually I can sort out who the top tier is fairly easily. The downside is that it does penalize teams that do not travel and may bias towards those teams that compete in those benchmark events.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

The more apt analogy in tennis is if there were one good grasscourt tournament and one good claycourt tournament, as well as two other tournaments where you hit softballs with canoe paddles and sometimes the line judge throws a second ball onto the court because he doesn't like you. In addition, there's a tournament where twenty-four players are running around with six rackets trying to hit the ball into a golf hole, as well as a series of minor-league tournaments attached to specific country clubs that don't even publicize their own existence.

The differences between grass and clay play are immense, but they are both still tennis and it is a respectable feat to win either event and a laudable accomplishment to win both. The other stuff really doesn't affect who the best player of legitimate tennis is, although some of the same teams may participate in order to win the prize money.
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Post by quizbowlmike »

The more apt analogy in tennis is if there were one good grasscourt tournament and one good claycourt tournament, as well as two other tournaments where you hit softballs with canoe paddles and sometimes the line judge throws a second ball onto the court because he doesn't like you. In addition, there's a tournament where twenty-four players are running around with six rackets trying to hit the ball into a golf hole, as well as a series of minor-league tournaments attached to specific country clubs that don't even publicize their own existence.
Well I think that pretty much sums up the current situation quite nicely. As far as I'm concerned--and as far as most people that know anything about quizbowl are concerned--there are two national championships--NAQT and PACE. The only real difference I can see between those two tournaments is that one of them is timed and one of them is not. Granted they do have different formats, but they both have pyramidal questions with bonuses--which is the only accepted way the game is played in college.

As far as unification goes, I dont see that happening. If anything, other formats may fold. In which case, I think NAQT will be the format left standing. Why?

1. If I'm not mistaken, they are the only format that runs invitational tournaments and state championship tournaments that qualify teams for their national tournament in the same format. I'm just guessing here, but weren't there something like 20-30 different states that had NAQT style tournaments this year? The other formats also allow you to qualify by some means, but the formats are not always the same as that tournament at the national level.

2. The questions at NAQT are well written (as well as at PACE) and they are of the form where it generally rewards the team that has the most knowledge and can remember it the fastest, which is suppose to be the point, right? In both tournaments, the questions are written by former or current players who generally have a good understanding of the game.

3. Both PACE and NAQT are run by college players and former players who, for the most part, know what they are doing and dont need a panel of judges to watch and moderate every game.

4. NAQT and PACE are generally the cheapest tournaments to attend. (barring actually living where the tournament is being held)

Dont get me wrong, I like PACE. I've been to it twice, once as a coach and once as a moderator. And, I hope it continues to run its NSC. Most of the teams there seemed to like it. I believe it is the most academic and well rounded of any of the national tournaments. If it had an active state circuit, I think it could rival NAQT.
ASCN is a cute format, but the attendance of the top teams in the country has been dropping consistently and it probably isnt one of the more well known and talked about tournaments.
NAC is "CRAP," and that's the best thing I can think about saying about it. None of the top teams in the country attend their tournament. Next to no one likes their format. I personally think NAC is on par with asking teams to pay thousands of dollars to get together and play trivial pursuit questions.
PAC has its own interesting, but overly technical format. Their teams are generally all-star teams. (or at least the ones that win are) PAC by no means crowns a "high school" national champion. The only possibly redeeming things at PAC are the visual art questions, audio questions, and foreign language questions; but as we've seen lately, with the use of technology, those types of questions can be flawed.

If NAQT could put together some sort of corporate sponsor or by some other means, find a way to give out scholarships to the winning teams, they would be all alone at the top with PACE sitting comfortably relaxed in second.
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Post by jrbarry »

Basically, the issue is... we need reliable data and reporting of results. We need TD's to take extreme care in reporting valuable statistical data for individuals and for teams.


WHY DO WE NEED INDIVIDUAL STATS REPORTED AT ALL? INDIVIDUAL STATS SHOULD BE FOR IN-TEAM USE, IMHO. YOUR IDEA ABOUT TEAM STATS IS GOOD.



And we need people to stop being so darn parochial and begin to encourage teams to travel to other tournaments outside their home base. That last point isn't going to be easy in light of budgets and liabilities, but we need to have teams act as benchmarks (like in some cases of high school football) to compete head-to-head with the best teams in other areas of the country. Only then will any data start to make sense or become comparable.


IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO OVERCOME BUDGETS FOR MOST OF US. I HAVE 18 KIDS ON MY VARSITY TEAM AND I MUST FIND PLACES FOR THEM TO PLAY. IT IS POSSIBLE TO PLAY 8-10 TIMES IN METRO ATLANTA FOR ALMOST NO COST. ONE TRIP FOR 5 KIDS TO DC OR CHICAGO OR DETROIT OR WHEREVER COSTS WHAT THOSE 10 TOURNAMENTS COST. WHICH SHOULD I CHOOSE? MY CHOICE IS THR LARGER NUMBER OF LOCAL TOURNAMENTS. YOU MAY THINK THAT PAROCHIAL, BUT IT IS A NECESSITY IN MY POSITION.
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Whoa Rick...

Post by First Chairman »

The individual stats would help me if I were to select an all-star team for Panasonic if I weren't able to have bona fide try-outs (which I may be charged with for a process of selecting a North Carolina team), or at least to narrow down a field to invite for try-outs. If this were a reward for a student's overall performance, I want to know what that performance is and not rely solely on written recommendations and nominations.

The individual stats would also confirm the rosters of teams that were competing. Split-squad concept in baseball spring training you know. We have situations where two or more comps are running at the same time, so why a team did poorly than expected could be due to a "B" team representing a school instead of an "A" team.

Of course, I do value more team stats than I do individual stats because I do weigh those a bit more. But you do need both in case there are weird aberrations.

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As for parochialism, I don't count limitations on budgets against the concept of "parochialism". Instead I refer to situations in which a team is actually penalized for making trips outside of a state by some other group. I think we both know of a couple of states that don't allow their teams to travel out of their state for whatever reason (some of those reasons may actually be valid of course). But it's silly for me to see a school assume an alias so that "legally" that team cannot be penalized to compete at nationals by their state organization. That's at least why the efforts of Tom Egan to help loosen those rules and allow Illinois teams to play at a national is so important for that state. (If you want parochialism, talk to me about Decathlon later.)

That said, the same thing holds in DC where sometimes a tournament in run on Saturday and another on Sunday. You could pretty much play 12 tournaments each semester? in and around DC or the neighboring states for very little expense, and you can have four teams' worth of kids traveling. Regardless, they do travel out of state to other competitions whether it's at Duke or Yale or Boston (as you have done before). I don't think they have any less difficulty with their budgets than any other team in any other part of the country, and I certainly believe that having a diverse field geographically only helps raise the level of competition for everyone (as it is in academia where diverse faculty are generally recruited across the country or internationally rather than drawing from only the local pool). My point was only that until there are more teams that are willing to take on that responsibility and do some in-season traveling that there's no way we can do comparisons to have a meaningful poll (which was the real point of this thread in the first place).
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Please turn off caps lock when using this board.
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Something that is sadly left out of this argument is the facet of online quizbowl, perhaps because the technology is not there yet, or that it hasn't been applied to this at the level it needs to be to work at a national level, or because the only currently running system is run by :chip: . If a national system could be run over the internet, travelling costs would be thrown out of the window, as could, potentially, format disputes.

The program would only have to worry about anywhere from 2-8 buzzers (the captain sits at a keyboard, KMO style, to answer for the team, or actual buzzers are somehow integrated to the system for each individual player), which should be easy to program. The moderating would be difficult, but not unbearable, as the group of us that plays in an AIM chat room know (a sentence at a time from a TU is read- say buzz to stop the moderator and answer...there are flaws, but only related to human error). While disconnects could be a problem, the TD could pause any matches affected by it, and most schools that would be interested have computer systems that wouldn't be prone to crashes like that. Cheating would only be as much of an issue as it is in the KMO, and I haven't heard of a problem there.

A tournament could be held just like a normal Saturday tournament, only no travelling would have to be done. It could be held over the course of a week, featuring 20 game prelims, or a 32-team Swiss ranking tournament could be held. It would open the doors to insane schedules and marquee matches, and raise the level of competing higher than it has ever been before.

Any thoughts?
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Post by MLafer »

Cheating would only be as much of an issue as it is in the KMO, and I haven't heard of a problem there.
I think cheating would be the biggest potential problem with this setup. It isn't the same as KMO because KMO gives more points if you answer the question in less time, so doing something like Googling the answer would be more trouble than it's worth. On the other hand, it's easy enough to copy/paste, say, a book title into Google in two seconds and get your answer.
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Ahh...which would be why I haven't heard of KMO cheating. I see.

What if multiple teams played in the same building? Teams could bring 2 coaches, the head coach would watch over their team, and the assistant would watch over a different team to officiate the proceedings. While you'd still have to travel, instead of going from Maryland to Chicago for a tournament, you'd have to go from Bethesda to Rockville, or something like that.

The teams wouldn't have to play against each other (although they could), and they wouldn't have to be on the same questions/packets. You could have one team in half the room and the other team in the other half. Cheating then flows from Googling to collusion, which is an easier problem to solve. Judges hired by the tournament could watch over teams/coaches.

You'd have to travel, but you'd still be able to play across the nation.
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Post by Ben Dillon »

There's another potential use for individual stats. If we had a national poll (to pick up an entirely different thread), it strikes me as inherently unfair to allow teams to keep their ratings from year to year given that players graduate, but as perfectly logical to scale those ratings back based on the stats of the returning players.
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Post by Tegan »

I really like Matt's extending the analogy of tennis..... :lol:

The problem with a poll, is that no matter who you are talking to, no one has a really good feel for who is really out there until after the fact. The polls in and of themselves become somewhat regional at best, and I don't see any region as being totally immune. The west coast teams would never see the midwest and eastern teams, and the eastern teams, while the hub of quizbowl, would miss some of the better teams from the midwest and the west.

You could look at how teams finish at NAQT and PACE, and possibly factor in how they perform at other more local or regional tournaments, but it would involve some kind of a points system (I think Dr. Chuck was talking about this). I think something like this could be more objective.

For the record, clearly PACE and NAQT are the flagship tournaments. While I really think that PAC can be saved, I see that there are issues (though when a single school team goes in and can beat some all-star teams, I think that might count for something...sure, it depends on the team).
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Post by samer »

quizbowlmike wrote:Dont get me wrong, I like PACE. I've been to it twice, once as a coach and once as a moderator. And, I hope it continues to run its NSC. Most of the teams there seemed to like it. I believe it is the most academic and well rounded of any of the national tournaments. If it had an active state circuit, I think it could rival NAQT.

FWIW, those of us involved in PACE back then made an intentional decision to have the PACE fomat be a relatively unique one. Teams seem to like it enough that it hasn't been abandoned in favor of, say, strict tossup/bonus, but as anyone involved with editing can tell you, making sure it stays balanced can be a royal pain (most of the changes in the format have been to improve the balance while keeping the questions high-quality).

As far as creating an active circuit goes, remember that NAQT is a business, while PACE is a non-profit organization. PACE could compete with NAQT if it decided that were in its best interests, but I'm not sure that it is (nor would it be in NAQT's interests, from a PR point of view, to attack PACE).

Ultimately, I don't see unification as likely, though it's not impossible. That probably has as much to do with the era when PACE was founded (c. 1996) than anything else (among other things, my original conception for PACE was half-untimed, half-timed, but that quickly got dropped).
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Post by Tegan »

Maybe this could be more like boxing.....with the WBC, WBA, and IBF......

The only problem is we need someone in the role of Don King....I don't know who that could be, but perhaps we'll come up with someone.
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Post by jrbarry »

I am as ugly as Don King though he has more hair than I!
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Post by First Chairman »

Maybe more appropriately a Dick Vitale. I could do that. Maybe people have heard me impersonate Dick Vitale. :eyebrow: :shock:
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Post by mhanna »

I think that Jim Garrick should be lured from retirement. He would make an excellent Don King. But, if Garrick won't do it and Hodges Lewis can't do it, maybe Dorothy Meek will. Thought I'd interject a bit of humor for my favorite people, not to slight J.R.
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Oh, my...

Post by sabine01 »

mhanna wrote:I think that Jim Garrick should be lured from retirement. He would make an excellent Don King. But, if Garrick won't do it and Hodges Lewis can't do it, maybe Dorothy Meek will. Thought I'd interject a bit of humor for my favorite people, not to slight J.R.
Mac --

I'm just trying to imagine Jim with the Don King Hair... *laughs* Or Rick or Hodges, or Dorothy for that matter... :wink:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled nationals debate...

Best,
Tricia
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Post by ksattelmeyer »

Just imagine the legal bills! Are there enough weekends in a year to hold fundraiser tournaments for such a figure?
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Post by First Chairman »

ksattelmeyer wrote:Just imagine the legal bills! Are there enough weekends in a year to hold fundraiser tournaments for such a figure?
That's why it would be on Pay-Per-View....

Don't tempt me. I have Photoshop. :cool:
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Post by STPickrell »

Tegan wrote:Maybe this could be more like boxing.....with the WBC, WBA, and IBF......

The only problem is we need someone in the role of Don King....I don't know who that could be, but perhaps we'll come up with someone.
That is a grandificent idea of the highest order.
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Post by Tegan »

And all other tournaments can be sent into bolivian....and we could eat their children.....

Actually, I was thinking that the Don King of quizbowl would need a certain game show host quality.....
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Post by Trevkeeper »

The Bolivian Oblivian? Now there's a name for a cheesy (Way) South of the Border show, eh?

On another note, Mr. Egan, did you know there was once a Tom Egan who was a catcher for the White Sox?
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Post by jrbarry »

Tom:

Do you teach at Maine South HS? I have a friend, Dennis Wyatt, who teaches at Maine East High School and has been at our SC-TN ACE camps since their beginning in 1994.
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Post by Stained Diviner »

Tom and I both know Dennis well. He has done a lot of good for scholastic bowl in our area, and he has coached some very good teams over the years. Unfortunately for us, this coming year will be his last before retirement.
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Post by Tegan »

jrbarry wrote:Tom:

Do you teach at Maine South HS? I have a friend, Dennis Wyatt, who teaches at Maine East High School and has been at our SC-TN ACE camps since their beginning in 1994.
I coach at Maine South, but I am well acquainted with Dennis Wyatt. He is among the most accomplished coaches I have ever known. He is a true champion builder, and a tremendous advocate for his team (Maine East does not have a "trophy case", they have a walk in display case that is bigger than any trophy case for any athletic team, and it ain't empty either!).

On one level I will be very sorry to see him step aside when he retires, I am glad that he is one coach that I will not have to coach against anymore. My Maine South team beat Maine East this year. Going back to the beginning of quiz bowl in Maine Township schools, this gives Maine South a record of 1-23 (roughly) against his teams, dating back to the late 1980s.

Little does he know, but there is a surprise being prepared for him. I hope he likes whipped cream!

;-)
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