“Nation-building” was kind of a current events metaphor, sorry that wasn’t very clear. What I meant by that term was just all of the things involved in creating a team (recruiting people, fundraising, student org paperwork, organizing people/schedules to attend things) as contrasted with simply joining an existing team and showing up when/where told to. If anyone is not convinced that the former is objectively more difficult and time-consuming than the latter, I can explain why that is the case in further detail. My point is simply that the amount of effort required for an average player to become and remain involved in quizbowl is very case-dependent and is nowhere close to being equal for all students at all schools.
I don’t think my situation is unique. On the contrary, there are probably lots of average players on average teams who finish undergrad programs and then become grad students at another school which doesn’t have an established regular-difficulty team. When they attended a school that had a team, they were able to participate, but when they landed somewhere that didn’t, the need to find teammates and start a new team became prohibitive. That’s why players “in my situation” are so rare: because most of them are no longer quizbowl players. I bet that “people in my situation” are far, far more common than “players in my situation”.
Note that these are circumstances beyond anyone’s control. The fact that many current players are able to play on school-affiliated teams with much less effort than it would take for me to do so is not anyone’s fault. It’s just a fact. It doesn’t mean anyone owes me anything. I’m not complaining about not being allowed to play closed tournaments as an open/non-affiliated player. I was not asking for discounts as a short-handed player, even back before I knew they were already present. What I am complaining about is that someone is judging me for failing to do something (e.g. starting a team) under circumstances in which 95% of quizbowlers would be no more able to do so than I was. Of course, this doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to judge me - if anyone has earned the right to cast the first stone, Matt Weiner and Mike Cheyne most definitely have. I’m the equivalent of a mortal among deities in this discussion, and I’m sure if Matt Weiner was in my position, he would have overcome even the obstacles that I can’t. That’s why we look up to him. I just think it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to live up to that level of dedication. I realize that on the forums, my opinion may be in the minority, but someone has to say it and I guess I’m it right now.
Recruiting teammates is a good idea on paper (yes, I did think of that myself as well), but from my personal experience I don’t think it will work. What Matt calls my “fantasy universe” is merely the reality I observed on the ground around me. Doing things just like every other team does only works if you’re in a similar situation/environment as every other team is. I’ve learned that the hard way.
Some schools have a higher concentration of the kinds of students who easily become interested in quizbowl. Various Michigan and Illinois players for example have told me that they get many new students each year including a large number of in-state former high school players (some already super-good). In Arizona, by contrast, even the best high school recruits are substantially below the skill threshold needed to enjoy regular-difficulty college quizbowl, and between 75 and 100 percent of graduating high school quizbowlers go out-of-state, so the ASU team is lucky if even one of their 2-3 new players ends up staying in any given year.
In other words, the type of students who might actually go on to play regular college difficulty (e.g. would be potential teammates for the "imaginary person in Kenneth’s situation”) are not the kind of students that usually go to a place like UIC.
This doesn’t mean we can’t also look for new college students with no high school experience, but those students often don’t make it in regular difficulty either. For example, at ASU I once sent many new students to ACF Fall, but over the years few of them stayed. Back then, as an idealistic undergraduate, I was frustrated by those high rates of quitting. It wasn’t until I went to ACF Nationals 2011 that I really began to understand how many less-skilled quizbowlers must feel when playing a regular-difficulty tournament. I’ve heard the same thing from all clubs – that only a small fraction of their recruits stick around. When the mountain looks too steep to climb, people quit whether you judge them for it or not. The number of recruits it would take to end up with a viable regular-difficulty team several tournaments later is much higher than the number you need to end up with. At ASU-Tempe, a campus of 50,000 students (overwhelmingly undergraduate) with a heavily-advertised honors college, only about 40 people joined over a 5-year period and only about 5 of those people remain, almost all of those people were honors college students. Of UIC's 28,000 students only about 17,000 are undergrads and the honors college I might try to recruit from is two rooms in a building (according to one of my classmates who was in it). Many of the grad students are health professions (pharmacy, dental, medical, PT/OT, etc) and like me, have little time to spare. (There are three former quizbowlers in my medical school class but none would give up a full Saturday to join me.) If you can find 4 UIC students who actually like quizbowl enough to sacrifice their weekends and do the work to improve as a team and play regular difficulty, I will eat my hat.
Quizbowl is known to draw disproportionately from students of higher socioeconomic levels. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that students who go to “cheap” public schools for cost reasons are disproportionately unwilling to pay out-of-pocket for anything, quizbowl included. Given what I know about UIC and its demographics, and my experience pulling teeth at ASU trying to get money, I don’t believe anyone would pay out-of-pocket to support a new UIC team.
Tournament hosting is a great idea, except that it depends on recruitment (difficult as noted above) to obtain staff, none of whom would be high-quality since they would all be new to the game. (Would all the local high school students come despite that?) The paperwork and logistics would have to be on UIC East Campus (undergrad). I don’t know anyone there, and the traffic between UIC East and UIC West (the health science campus) is heavy enough that the commute takes 20-30 minutes even though it’s only 1.5 miles. But those are relatively minor difficulties compared to the problems of finding/retaining team members and navigating the student government bureaucracy (a simple yet time-consuming task). The latter is a time commitment issue, the former involves both time and structural issues.
The Arizona quizbowl circuit only exists because I literally made it my entire life outside of school for all those years. I’m sorry (to the entire community) that I am no longer able to give that same level of time commitment now due to my increased course load. Like I said, if that’s how dedicated you have to be just to play (not to mention actually win a game at regular difficulty), only a small proportion of students would be able to overcome that. I’m not saying that’s a good or a bad thing. That’s for the community to debate and decide.
I share my perspective, as someone from the edge of our world, because it is one that many on these forums may not otherwise have access to. It’s been a strange experience coming from a place where everyone thought my expectations were unrealistically high when I asked them to learn things outside of practice, and now being on the receiving end of even higher expectations (start a whole team! BE a whole team!), but maybe my unusual combination of being in this (possibly imaginary?) situation and being someone who cared enough to post about it was exactly what we needed to start this discussion. If I didn’t love this game as much as I do, I would’ve left this community after the kind of flak I’ve gotten just for giving my outsider’s perspective. I understand now why other outsiders feel unwelcome on this forum of insiders, but I also understand and respect the perspective of those here – enough so that I have continued to participate in this community in whatever small ways I can, forgive and accept the implied attacks on me for not contributing even more, and neither expect nor desire any apologies.
Anyway, other specific discussion:
Matt Weiner wrote:It baffles me that you still think that "novice only teams" are a thing
I remember seeing a discussion on these forums about teams that only play “ACF Fall, SCT, and MUT” some months ago. I may be out of date – if all of those teams have since gone on to consistently play regular difficulty as well, then that’s something to be very happy about.
For teams which meet all of the following conditions, further discounts are available:
A team of less than 3 people
The team is being funded directly by its members (rather than by its school or by a team budget)
If required to write a packet, the team writes a packet before the no-penalty deadline and it is of acceptable quality
Under those circumstances, solo teams will get a discount of -$80 and two-person teams will get a discount of -$60. The teams will still be eligible for further discounts down to the minimum $0 fee.
It’s great that solo players are being financially accommodated. This is great for the subset of solo players who are sufficiently good generalists to actually enjoy playing solo. However, a team (solo or not) that only gets to play 2-5 bonuses per game is almost certainly not having much fun. Scorning them for not having fun/not investing enough time to become better players won’t change that fact and might additionally make them feel less welcome. Of course, if you think those teams don’t contribute anything positive and shouldn’t be welcomed, then driving them away is a good thing, but that doesn’t seem to be the prevailing opinion on the circuit.
Matt Weiner wrote:
Excelsior (smack) wrote:I have never quite understood why tournament fees are charged on a per-team basis rather than on a per-player basis. Granted, there are some costs tied to the number of teams participating (e.g. rooms to be reserved, moderators to be located); to deal with this, one could have fees like "$20 per team you register plus $25 per player you play".
costs and effort on the tournament logistics end depend on the number of teams participating and in no sense directly on the number of players. Because games are played between two teams, you need a minimum of n/2 staff and you need to expend whatever amount of effort and money you normally do to get those staff, regardless of whether every team has 1 player or every team has 6 players. Handwaving away the obvious answer to this post before proceeding anyway is strange.
I think Ashvin asked this because he and I both noticed that there were 6 total free-agents at our DEES mirror but the two of us were charged twice as much each as the other 4 free-agents because we were charged per team. Is there a policy justification for making one free-agent pay more than another for the same tournament, all other things equal? If not, one possible remedy I can think of would be for all open players at open tournaments to equally share the total registration fees for all open teams while the official school teams continue to pay per-team. This way the open players have an incentive to combine into fewer teams (less work for the TD/hosts) and the short-handed open teams don't get penalized when the number of open players isn't divisble by 4. The school teams, meanwhile, don't get disincentivized from bringing their "extra" players when they have a 5th or 9th or 13th player who wants to attend.