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ITT Help me improve IESA Scholastic Bowl

Posted: Mon May 18, 2009 11:46 am
by the return of AHAN
I've sent out the following e-mail to a cross-section of middle school coaches, including some in central and southern Illinois....
Dear scholastic bowl coaches,
I would like to propose the following changes to the IESA rule book to the Advisory Committee when they meet in 2 weeks. I invite you to comment, object, question, etc. prior to my sending it in to Julie Cochran. I've included my rationale for such changes to attempt to explain them, as we shouldn't change for the sake of changing, rather change for the sake of improving the activity. Feel free to hit "reply all" if you wish to share your comments with the other coaches receiving this.

Rule 5 Article 1 a.
Current: No conferring will be allowed.
Proposed: No conferring will be allowed. Conferring is defined as giving or receiving aid, including looking over at a teammate's written material during or after the reading of a toss-up and then triggering the lockout system.

Rationale: If a player glances over at a teammate's paper, or perhaps watches as they do a math problem, there shouldn't be any penalty imposed unless that player then attempts to answer. Some moderators have interpreted correctly interpreted illegal communication as happening when a player looks at another's teammate paper. But there shouldn't be a penalty applied unless the offending player attempts to gain an advantage by buzzing in. Moderators should have the power and discretion to determine when such communication is aiding a team unfairly or not.


Rule 3 Section 2, Article 2 part d, subsection d2.
Current: If a player on either team answers before being recognized by the moderator, that team forfeits the right to answer that toss-up question. The toss-up question would then be rebounded to the opponent.
Proposed: (deleted)

Rationale: The rule is in conflict with the new rule 5-1-1f

Rule 3 Section 2, article 2, part g
add part 2
Proposed: If a player buzzes in early and gives an alternative answer or a different form of the printed answer (noun instead of a verb, for example), moderators have the authority and responsibility to accept or reject alternative answers as long as their decision is not contrary to an instruction by the question writer to accept or reject specific alternatives.

Rationale: In recent years, there has been a trend towards 'trick' questions being asked periodically. Consider this toss-up heard in a 2009 match;
"Many species of birds travel for purposes of mating and finding food on a seasonal basis. What is the verb that describes this activity?"
Answer: Migrate
Before the first sentence is done, many players can recognize that this is clearly a description of 'migration.' Yet the question, as asked, will burn them for not waiting for the prompt, despite demonstrating a clear understanding of what was being asked. Scholastic bowl should not be an exercise in reading the minds of question writers. Some moderators recognize this and rule accordingly, while others rigidly adhere to the "what's on the paper" guideline in the moderators instructions. This rule is needed to clearly empower moderators with the decision-making power needed to insure a fair match. Many moderators are already doing this, and this power should be officially extended to all moderators.
Rule 3 Section 2, article 2, part g
add part 3
Proposed: If a moderator believes that a toss-up has misled a player by clearly changing intent or direction in mid-question, resulting in an incorrect buzz by one or both teams, the moderator should replace the toss-up question for both teams to hear.

Rationale: Certain question writers, whether intentionally or not, have created matches where a faster team has been penalized for their quickness because an important piece of information, which changed the meaning of the question, was asked at the end. Consider the following toss-up heard in a 2009 match;
"What has a bowler accomplished when he knocks down all 10 pins using two balls?"
This question begs to buzzed on "all 10 pins." Not buzzing and waiting for the rest of the question is tantamount to a game of chicken, which was never the intent of scholastic bowl. In the case of equally matched teams, questions such as the one mentioned reduce the match to a game of chance, instead of skill.
(Adoption of such a rule should include numerous examples for the IESA case book of what should and shouldn't be thrown out)

Re: ITT Help me improve IESA Scholastic Bowl

Posted: Mon May 18, 2009 4:16 pm
by the return of AHAN

Coach A wrote:Jeff - I do have some concerns about the last suggestion, although I understand the heart of the suggestion, I think this could create some challenges and debates in meets.

I think that this may be better addressed with a communication with the question writer rather than a change to the actual IESA rules. I would hate to open an opportunity for there to be arguing and disagreement at meets over individual questions.
(Personal thoughts... Why would QG listen to that suggestion when they pretty much end-arounded the reasoning behind the new "answers in terms of pi" by using long decimals for the radii and diameters in this year's TUs?? And why not codify what we want to see? Otherwise, it has no teeth when a team gets hosed.)

Coach B wrote:Hi Jeff,
I agree with you on all. I also agree with (Coach A) that the last 2
should be addressed to the question makers asking them to identify just
what they are looking for in an answer in the front end of the question.
ie. What is the verb that describes bird activity where birds ......

Re: ITT Help me improve IESA Scholastic Bowl

Posted: Mon May 18, 2009 4:23 pm
by Mechanical Beasts
Yeah, I don't see "ask them nicely to write better questions" as a solution, certainly not one good enough to preclude also "make it a rule that the questions can't screw you this way." Even if we assume (ridiculously) that QG just doesn't get it and means well and wants to write good questions, what do we do if they accidentally let a hose in, say "well, we had this conversation, so they understand that we didn't like that question, so let's not decide the result of this game correctly."

Re: ITT Help me improve IESA Scholastic Bowl

Posted: Mon May 18, 2009 5:34 pm
by rjaguar3
Actually, I live in Wheaton, and it would take me about 15 minutes to drive to Questions Galore's headquarters. Do you think it would be a good idea for me to present a case in person to Questions Galore?

Re: ITT Help me improve IESA Scholastic Bowl

Posted: Mon May 18, 2009 5:51 pm
by jonah
I'm inclined to think it'll be a waste of time, but if you're not busy this summer, go for it. And record all conversations for our amusement. (Illinois is a two-party notification state, unfortunately.)

Re: ITT Help me improve IESA Scholastic Bowl

Posted: Tue May 19, 2009 1:13 am
by Tegan
I will throw this out there:

While QG has a lot of contracts, I would guess that the IESA is one of the bigger ones. Certainly,it has become clear that QG will not listen to coaches. However, if the IESA (from the AdCo) requested certain changes to be made .... and said changes were not made, I would hope that when contract time came around the IESA would remember that their supplier was staeadfastly refusing to bow to their requests, and make selections accordingly. Perhaps a state agency would make them listen a little more given that not only would QG potentially lose the IESA contract, but would conceivably lose sales to member schools who are more likely to buy questions from whomever is supplying the state series.

Not to mention that it should send a message loud and clear that if a question writer can't even maintain contracts in their home state, what does that say about them ..... not that this will really change people's minds.