Keeping a Team Alive

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AKKOLADE
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Keeping a Team Alive

Post by AKKOLADE »

Basically, the deal is that the 'team' here at WVWC is dying. We're down to about five regular members, with one graduating and another two stating that they have no real plans of keeping the team alive if it came down to them. Combining this with the fact that we're a small college in West Virginia, aren't very good to begin with and are hardly a school that draws in high level academic students, you wouldn't exactly call this a stellar program.

So I'm looking for advice on ways to increase membership, specifically members that care. Open meetings, trash and non-trash intramurals have all been attempted, and we've garnered all of two new members who have stuck with it over the past two years. Any advice on alternative methods (or methods to make the previously mentioned methods work better) are doubly enjoyed, but I appreciate any words of wisdom people are willing to toss out.

Edited: My brain eats words before I type them.
Last edited by AKKOLADE on Tue Jan 11, 2005 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Dan Greenstein
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Post by Dan Greenstein »

First of all, the standard checklist:

http://www.naqt.com/HowTo/start-a-college-team.html

My first thought is you can use the "small college in the middle of nowhere in West Virginia" as a positive. I am not familiar with your college, but if it is like the stereotypical small college in a small town (Oberlin is the first one that comes to mind), the only recreational options in town are drinking, drugging and having sex. Since your college has a religious influence, those activities might be stifled to some degree. I am only going off stereotypes that might or might not be true at WVWC.

Those activities may be fine for a lot of people, but it might not be for the "nerdy" types quizbowlers tend to be and that you might wish to attract to your program. You can offer them an escape. You can offer them trips out of state, to large metro areas.

The "high level academic" problem is only a problem of perception. You do not need to be Ivy League material to buzz in and answer questions. You do not need to be in the top 10% of your high school class to memorize Nietzsche's works, or gosh forbid, read them! If teams were scuttled before they formed just because they do not attract Ivy League talent, only the Ivies would play the game! You get good by playing, and to that end, if you have the money, attend lots of tournaments, which means lots of travel, which is a means of escaping the campus, if only for two days, one night.

Name dropping might be useful. Probably Fred, you are the only person at your school who has heard of Kevin Olmstead, but probably almost everyone has heard of Ken Jennings. Drop the name, make the connection, and suggest if they work hard and learn stuff, they can not only compete with the Ivy League teams, they can eventually win money on Jeopardy! Ask your friends, and ask people to ask their friends. Oftentimes people will have more desire to do something if (1) they can do it with their friends and (2) if it is a means of meeting people, especially those of the opposite sex.

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grapesmoker
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Post by grapesmoker »

Dan Greenstein wrote: Name dropping might be useful. Probably Fred, you are the only person at your school who has heard of Kevin Olmstead, but probably almost everyone has heard of Ken Jennings. Drop the name, make the connection, and suggest if they work hard and learn stuff, they can not only compete with the Ivy League teams, they can eventually win money on Jeopardy!
Fred, I sincerely hope that you manage to keep your team going. However, I would advise against "name dropping" and even hinting that you can win money. In my view, it's misleading. Yes, Ken Jennings made a lot of money on Jeopardy in large part due to his quizbowl skills, but he got on Jeopardy because he was telegenic, which has no connection to quizbowl whatsoever. If people get into it thinking they can win a million bucks and then it doesn't happen, they might become upset or bitter.

I suggest playing up the social nature of quizbowl and actively recruiting freshmen, who are young and starry-eyed and may have some extra energy to spare.
Jerry Vinokurov
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mps4a_mps4a
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Post by mps4a_mps4a »

Some tactics you might employ:

1) We had a girl on our team who went to two or three tournaments, probably answering a total of five questions. She was from deep Southwest Virginia; one our way to the first tournament of the year, she mentioned that this was the first time she'd been north of Virginia. I know everyone from SW Virginia or WV is not so un-travelled, but playing up the travel aspect of it might help. Go to Penn Bowl or even a tournament at Maryland and make a point to spend some time in Philly or DC, and you might get some people interested who wouldn't otherwise be.

2) As Dan and Jerry said, play up the social side. That may take an effort on your part and that of the other members'. As someone a member of a not terribly social team, I don't really know what that would entail, but I'm sure you can come up with something.

3) When I was an officer on our team, I was too lazy to do this, but you obviously have more initiative, so it may work for you. There are always a lot of people who could be good at quizbowl, but would never do it on their own. I'm thinking about kids who read a lot of different kinds of stuff, or are really into their majors, etc. I've got a friend at JMU who is a philosophy fanatic, and I'm sure if he got onto a team he'd do quite well on philosophy questions. But he'd need to be courted. Think about like a business (or a cult): identify the kinds of people who might want your product, and go after them.

4) kind of an extension of 3- play up the knowledge-acquiring aspect of QB. Oddly, this doesn't come up much in QB discussions. The biggest reason I play is because I like the fact that it exposes me to a bunch of stuff I either wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. The social aspect is kind of minimal, the travelling is nice, I took the GRE in Literature a few months, and I'd say that quizbowl gave me 100-150 points on it. My knowledge of the canon (literary, not quizbowl) is so good largely because of QB. So selling it to a potential grad student this way might be a good hook.

5) Again, something I was always too lazy to do, but try to get hooked up with other organizations in other, subtle ways. This can be mentioning QB to random people in other clubs, or helping with some kind of bowl at another club. At UVA, we let the Black Student Union borrow our buzzers for a Black History Month Bowl they do. As a religious school, maybe you could get hooked up with some religious group on campus and have a Bible bowl kind of thing. Have a politics match between members of the College Republicans and Democrats.

6) Look up some of the community college team coaches and ask them how they keep up their teams. They presumably are even lower draws for "high level academic students", and there are several that are quite good (and more that have persisted for a decent amount of time). i can't think of anyone but Chris Borglum who's active on the boards, but go track them down and maybe they can help you.

This post is much, much longer than I intended, but then I guess that's what happens when you're trying to pull an all-nighter working on your thesis on winter break. Good luck with keeping your program a-float; I hope it goes well.

Morgan

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

mps4a_mps4a wrote: 5) Again, something I was always too lazy to do, but try to get hooked up with other organizations in other, subtle ways. This can be mentioning QB to random people in other clubs, or helping with some kind of bowl at another club. At UVA, we let the Black Student Union borrow our buzzers for a Black History Month Bowl they do. As a religious school, maybe you could get hooked up with some religious group on campus and have a Bible bowl kind of thing. Have a politics match between members of the College Republicans and Democrats.
My high school used something similar to this strategy to keep its program alive. We were a school of about 80 kids total, so it was very difficult to consistently field talent. That didn't stop us from doing that all four years I was there, and I'm told that they are still beating up on larger schools even now that I'm gone.

One of our coaches was the French teacher, and she used the buzzer set to play bowl games in French class. Apparently quite a few people signed up after being curious at this. It was also later given to science classes and the such, although with less success.
Bruce
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