high school - college retention

Old college threads.
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high school - college retention

Post by AuguryMarch » Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:07 pm

My recent trip to HSNCT was extremely enlightening. Aside from seeing scads of bad teams, I did have the fortune of seeing and speaking to people from a few of the good ones, one of which will likely be attending the masters tournament from CMU. Since I don't have permission, I am not going to repost my email with their captain, but what struck me was his attitude towards playing. He basically said that his team really wanted to win nationals, and that they would welcome the opportunity to play against better teams on harder questions. I thought to myself, why can't more college players have this attitude? And more to the point, why don't they?

One possible reason is that this high school student feels like he is working towards an attainable goal. Perhaps the problem is that for those same incoming freshmen, the goal does not seem attainable. But why did they join in the first place in high school?

Another factor might be that the motives governing high school versus college quizbowl joining are different (parental/school pressure, need for an extra curricular activity for college apps, etc.) Clearly the motives are diverse. But still, with more and more high school students showing such enthusiasm for the game, why aren't there likewise more and more college students rising up? It seems like night and day.. in college we complain that people don't want to work and feel entitled. Is that because high school success spoils people? Is it easier to obtain greatness in high school quizbowl than college? I sincerely doubt that it is, actually. While there are more things to learn in college, there are also many fewer serious competitors. But regardless if there is, is there a perception among incoming college freshmen that it is?

But the key question, I think, is whether high school students expect to play in college but then don't, or whether only a small subset of students ever intend to play in college. One could easily imagine the former. High school kid thinks he or she wants to keep playing, but archeology, chasing tail, drugs, music, reading, or other interests take over. If that is the case, then trying to do better outreach to high school kids would be largely useless. If they mispredict but its because there is some facet of the college game that drives it, that would be really useful to know also, because then maybe we could change it (or decide that we don't want to and accept the lower numbers). On the other hand, if there is no misprediction and only a small subset of students ever intend to play in college, then this is simply a fact of life and we should live with it.

Oh yeah, another reason might be NAQT D2. They go, they play, the good players win and feel like their college career was a success. If that is the case, then D2 should be abolished for the good of the game.

So I guess the point of this long rumination is that we in the college game might be greatly benefitted from trying to understand the attitudes of high school seniors towards quizbowl. So we could ask them... like with a survey..... a TRASH survey.... BIATCH!

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Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:07 pm

The team in question, whoever they are (and, by the way, are they writing a packet?) obviously have a good attitude; more power to them. However, I'm not sure to what extent even people who are currently playing and are good had that kind of attitude when they were starting out. I know I certainly didn't have it in mind that I would win national championships when I was starting out. The ultra-competitiveness came much later.

When I was playing in high school, about half my team comprised people who were just there because it was the "smart kid" thing to do or because they were going to put it on their college apps. They didn't love the game, and only cared marginally about winning. I think we just have to accept that about half the people won't want to play in college anymore for reasons that have nothing to do with the game. Most likely, stuff they like more just comes along and displaces the game, and that's just how it goes.

But I do want to dispute the claim that it's no easier to be good in high school than in college. I was a pretty decent player in high school, but upon coming to Berkeley, I was at first blown away by people who, though they hadn't played in high school, had been playing in college for just one year. It's amazing what a difference that time makes. That's because the collegiate canon is so huge relative to the high school canon, which is right and proper but might discourage some people. In high school, if you were a good student, the answers to many, if not most, of the questions would be found in the curriculum and you would be getting those questions because you had covered the material in class. This is much harder to do in college simply due to specialization, and I would bet that a lot of people who were pretty good at science or art or whatever at the high school level suddenly find themselves surrounded by specialists who are beating them to stuff all the time.

As far as retention goes, I think that if you can pull in two dedicated people per year, you are doing a stellar job. Not everyone is going to be interested or willing to put much work into the game, so, while I would encourage anyone who showed up, my experience tells me that a yield of two people per year indicates a phenomenal success for an established club.
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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:58 pm

Well, I for one would be very interested in seeing an answer to this question - maybe from some previous or current decent high school players. What gives, guys? I mean, right now, just looking at the acf situation - there is a super-small handful of undergrads who might be considered regular competent circuit players, Kwartler and my fellow Michigonians Will and Dave to name some of the very few (not counting other quasi-undergrads and outgoing ones like Meigs).

No doubt, some just play hs because it's the smart-kid thing to do. But, there must also be a vast number who legitimately enjoy the game, and most of them will go to bona fide college programs. If you like the hs game, why wouldn't you like the college game even more, what with its more free nature and different tournaments and expanded canon, etc.? I've never believed that it's "intimidation," that always seemed so silly to me. So, what really happens...why is it so difficult to haul in a crop of people each year who are willing to actually invest themselves in the game?

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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:47 am

Ryan Westbrook wrote:... I mean, right now, just looking at the acf situation - there is a super-small handful of undergrads who might be considered regular competent circuit players...
There's one possible answer. I'm probably going to go in and out of my experience and that of others in this post, but I know one common complaint is incoming players don't feel like they fit in. A lot of "normal" people play in HS--as other threads have mentioned recently, HS players might include athletes, super-involved people, resume builders, or just-having-fun type players, among many others. Honestly, coming in, the college game can feel like -- and I'm sorry for the stereotype, but you wanted an answer -- a bunch of aging, unkempt, male grad students who re-read Benet's to get them up in the morning.

I know that's not, by and large, an apt description, but if that's the impression a newbie gets (while facing hundreds of alternatives involving attractive people of the same age who bathe regularly and might be female), it makes sense that they would prioritize something else. And, as has been said many times, college qb requires time and effort. It's not like HS, which I do think was easier -- spend a few hours a week at practice, maybe some stuff in your own time, and you can be a good player. (I was the 10th place individual at HSNCT my senior year with this exact regimen.) Most people -- myself included -- really can't or won't dedicate the time it takes to be that successful in college. And, while I know the game is about expanding knowledge and all that, sometimes you just want to win; some people, especially those who were good and dedicated in high school, won't stick around if they don't repeat similar success. If anything, D2 helps keep the fire around long enough that maybe they'll develop into a quality college player; I know after my team did passable at ICT this year, most of us felt like stepping it up so we'll be able to compete at D1. (We'll see how that goes...)

Honestly, though, we DO have a PR problem at most colleges, and I'm not sure if that's due to the nature of the game (more intellectual and less socially acceptable than most pursuits; harder than HS), the people who play it or at least the image thereof (sorry, again, guys), or some combination. I do feel like those are the top factors, though, again from what people who chose not to play in college tell me. People (even your unnamed team) tend to overestimate how much time they'll be willing to devote in college and underestimate how much they need to succeed.

What can we do? I don't know. I'm not here to suggest dumbing anything down. And I don't know how we can make quiz bowl seem "cooler", if that would even be worthwhile. But I'll think about it and get back to you.

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Post by Desi Waugh-lover » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:34 am

[quote]What can we do?[/quote]

More drinking?

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Post by MLafer » Thu Jun 08, 2006 8:56 am

maybe this should be moved to the Misc HS section so more HS people will read it? I think this thread is pretty important.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:26 am

NoahMinkCHS wrote:If anything, D2 helps keep the fire around long enough that maybe they'll develop into a quality college player; I know after my team did passable at ICT this year, most of us felt like stepping it up so we'll be able to compete at D1. (We'll see how that goes...)
While I really can't speak to your team at all Noah, and thus don't take this as in any way related to your particular situation, I think in general division 2 decreases long-term retention. A lot of teams will do reasonably well at D2 or even just qualify for the ICT and think they have something going, but when they get to D1 and finish way in the bottom bracket or don't qualify at all, they just drop off the face of the earth. Instead of essentially telling them they can as good as ride their HS success through D2 with minimal additional effort, I think we should make it clear from the get-go that yeah, you have to work to win. Sure, let's keep the undergraduate championship because it's just a part of division 1, and maybe incorporate D2 in the same way (which would mean substantially upping the ICT open field size), but we don't need to totally sequester our young players.
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Post by yoda4554 » Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:42 am

I'm curious if anyone has actual examples of teams that played D2, succeeded, and then stopped playing. I'm curious also as to why anyone thinks that such teams, who having triumphed in the lower division are unmotivated to move up, would be retained on the long term by being thrown at Chicago and Michigan A from the start.

I understand that the type of person who frequents these boards is likely to be motivated enough to want to take their beatings against the top teams and improve as a result. I think that such people, however, are a minority, and going to be playing under any circumstances. I don't know that I'd have played the last couple years if I didn't get to play a couple junior birds and D2 Regionals early in my career.

If there are people who play D2 and then never higher, I think it's most likely that they never really wanted to play at the highest levels anyway, and forcing them to do so from the start would simply scare them off. At the very least, it keeps a few people playing who wouldn't otherwise.

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About College Players

Post by salamanca » Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:29 am

I think that Noah's candor is instructive, though I suspect that it is also somewhat self-deluded.
Clearly the college game is made up of un-social, maladjusted, and smelly people. Meanwhile, the HS game, where one can get "good" by just showing up to practice is populated by a variety of folks including "athletes" and "women" [btw. this is extremely offensive to those women players who do play in college, since you don't acknowledge that they exist, and to those playing in HS, since they are relegated to the status of window dressing] who just play for a variety of reasons and are not as invested in it [this claim is particularly amusing to someone who spent the day reading to teams 70 something and 50 something and watching them argue vociferously for one protest after another].
Ultimately, moving successfully [whatever that means] from HS to the College game, unless you want to have no life [another one of my favorite characterizations to pin on people who work to excel at QB] is seen as impossible.

Now, I'm not here to say there is no truth to this broadly painted portrait, but the "it's a different world" argument can only get you so far before it becomes an excuse and a pretty vapid one at that.

Let's begin with the assumption that QB is an inherently nerdy activity invested in meritocracy. That is true at all levels from HS to ACF Nationals. In other words, look at the top teams in HS or DII: how different is their social composition from the top DI teams in either NAQT or ACF... my claim is, not so much. Here are people that want to win and have done work [some more, some less] to insure that this is accomplished. They are by turns cool and dorky, nice and boorish, humble and arrogant, and for the most part mostly dudes who care less about Armani and more about Arminius.
I think the real problem is that once you come to college it seems like you have to start all over again to learn clues... of course the little secret to QB is that if you are an outstanding or even just a good HS player then you are building on a base that you've been establishing for years and you will be pretty competitive again before you know it. Now, to win Nationals in college [DI that is] will require some investment, that is undeniable, but to be competitive is easily within reach of most HS players after a year or two of college competition.
So Noah, I have a question for you [and please don't construe these comments as insults, I have singled you out since you have spoken up about this transition a few times]: Did you really fit in more with the top teams that surrounded you in HS, or was that comfort bred out of your mastery of the area and the ease with which you could then navigate the various social situations presented to you? I mean it is much more gratifying and cool to be a BMOC than a lowly upstart, again...
I also think that going to Cal Tech has deeply influenced your decisions and views on upper level college QB and that isn't your fault at all. QB teams with no institutional memory or those that have decided the upward reaches of the game are too annoying or hard to achieve will pass those viewpoints on to the next generation. I was fortunate to play for teams that had a tradition of playing at the highest levels and a cadre of folks who wanted me to succeed where they had not. Instead of telling me that shit is too hard, they were like you can do it... I think you and your squad can too.

Peace,
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Mistake

Post by salamanca » Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:44 am

Noah, I realize you may not go to Cal Tech and that you are a different person than I had initially thought. If so then I apologize. But I stand by my point about team history and its impact...

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Re: Mistake

Post by jagluski » Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:48 am

salamanca wrote:Noah, I realize you may not go to Cal Tech and that you are a different person than I had initially thought. If so then I apologize. But I stand by my point about team history and its impact...

Ezequiel

Yes...that was Noah Mink of Georgia with that post

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Post by First Chairman » Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:53 am

Since I get to advise students going through the high school to college transition for my career, after over 10 years of observing, I will add a few things to what has been said.

There is something to be said about how important high school places on your team winning a tournament. Academic excellence as evidenced by winning an invitational here and there, or filling up a trophy case, is a real source of pride in high school. As part of that team, you are perceived as being important, and quiz bowl adds to many students' sense of personal value. And we know how much that means in high school, even if you are doing a relatively "geeky" activity.

That support simply won't exist in college (or at least most of them). At the schools I have attended, the environment from administration down to students is one where achievement is measured more by distinguished professorships, grant funding, Rhodes scholarships, NCAA(ish) championships, and getting the Vice Presidential Debates for 2004 (at Case). It's a slice of real life; as many times as we really encourage students to play on Jeopardy!, the university really doesn't want to make it an educational outcome. To that extent, you as a student have to take more personal interest and responsibility for organizing a team, something that I can say a vast majority of high school students have difficulty doing without some history or hands-on guidance. I am unusual in that as an advisor, I care very strongly about keeping a program going (no matter what program I advise).

Unlike in high school, college advisors are not really encouraged to run the team. In my opinion, they actually shouldn't be running the team; it's an opportunity for student leadership, and the students I have had who really took the ball I handed to them have come out much more appreciative of quiz bowl, leadership, friendships, and the realities of the game than anyone else who wants to be involved for just playing. Advisors can't really give out "extra credit points," and as anyone can tell you at Duke, sometimes the buildings aren't logistically set up to handle a good tournament. You have to learn the administrative bureaucracy, and realize that the President of the University isn't going to pull the same strings that your principal would. (If anything, the Duke president is a bit distracted right now that I doubt he'd give a **** about quiz bowl.)

For any student organization, retention is an issue. Freshmen think they can sign up for 10+ clubs in college like they did in high school before they drop out 2 weeks later. The best factors for retention fall on having a core group of 3-6 people who are really excited and passionate about their activity and are internally motivated to get things done. As advisor, I make sure they don't flunk out of school or break the law or put the university in any legal trouble (at minimum).
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Post by jazzerpoet » Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:08 pm

I'm curious if anyone has actual examples of teams that played D2, succeeded, and then stopped playing. I'm curious also as to why anyone thinks that such teams, who having triumphed in the lower division are unmotivated to move up, would be retained on the long term by being thrown at Chicago and Michigan A from the start.
The University of Kansas is a perfect example of a team succeeding at the Division II level and then quitting for no apparent reason. To give you all a little background on the team: the team was founded in, I think, the Fall of 2003 by three or four people who played for Edmond Memorial HS in Oklahoma. Edmond Memorial is one of the most active HS programs in Oklahoma, and in fact, they were a semi-finalist at ASCN in 2002.

They competed in most of the regional tournaments, from OU's Route 66 to WUSTL's Gateway Invitational to ACF Regionals at Wichita State, for two whole years. And what is more, they were very successful from the beginning. In their second year, they won DII SCT at Arkansas, and they subsequently played at the ICT at WUSTL, where they finished somewhere in the vicinity of 18th-ish.

The following year, they were nowhere to be found. With the exception of CBI Regionals, I do not think that they are still active on the circuit, even though there are more and more teams being formed in this region every year, including intrastate rival Kansas State University.

What is more, the majority of that Nationals-qualifying team is still at KU. I know that one of their former players is now a grad student at OU, and he has resumed his playing career; so I do not know what the deal is with Kansas, since they obviously had some players who were still interested in competing.

Ultimately, I do not know why they ceased playing. For all I know, it could have been a financial issue or a bureaucratic/university issue. But what I do know is that they stopped playing the moment they lost their DII status, even though the region at large was expanding. And had they not played for such a well-respected program as Edmond Memorial, I would have thought nothing of it; but to have played for so long at such a high level with lots of success and then quitting unexpectedly, that is odd to me.

I hope this example suffices. Thanks.

Cheers!
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Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:29 pm

NoahMinkCHS wrote:I know one common complaint is incoming players don't feel like they fit in. A lot of "normal" people play in HS--as other threads have mentioned recently, HS players might include athletes, super-involved people, resume builders, or just-having-fun type players, among many others. Honestly, coming in, the college game can feel like -- and I'm sorry for the stereotype, but you wanted an answer -- a bunch of aging, unkempt, male grad students who re-read Benet's to get them up in the morning.
The average trash tournament is by far older and more malodorous than the average ACF tournment. In fact, I've observed that there seems to be a direct correlation between tournament quality and the personal quality of the people attending. Perhaps Georgia should rediscover the mainstream quizbowl circuit, and thus you will be able to go to tournaments with less offensive people in them.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Thu Jun 08, 2006 1:13 pm

I appreciate your thoughtfully reasoned response, Noah (of whereever you're from). I suspect that you're partially right about a number of things.

Maybe one important point you make is the "work to reward" ratio of qb. Putting in the work and succeeding at acf will probably end up netting you a handful of obscure books to throw in the corner and the respect of a very small and unlikely group of people. From the perspective of someone deciding whether or not to do this, maybe that's not appealing. Then again, people here always say they like to "win" - win what, from whom? Wouldn't it be simpler if it were just about the personal achievement of knowing stuff and competing against other people who are trying to do the same?

Also, the college qb game is very disorganized in a way, especially with acf and macf play...it can seem, like Noah says, like a bunch of obnoxious friends just hanging around (in the same bunch of places) answering questions that they've written and telling inside jokes. If so, some things could be done to fix that perception - to convince people that players are not just engaged in a secret password circle jerk, but that it really is a competition, and that the really good players actually are awfully knowledgable people. Tournaments in college are just sort of "there" and if you want to go you do, and if you don't want to you don't, just like practices. Again, this wouldn't matter if people just played out of a sense of personal achievement - which is what I always come back to. And, it's why I don't think the answer is sheltering, coaxing, or babying players. I think the best way is to show them top-level competition and say "is this something you'd like to spend time getting good at?" - but, we should make sure that they know what they're seeing, and don't get false impressions that are hard to change.

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Post by brownboy79 » Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:04 pm

As a high school student, I can honestly say that I love the game and I will definitely play in college. As for the other people on my team, I will be surprised if more than 2 or 3 continue in college. I think that is partly because college questions are significantly harder than high school (Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in dumbing questions down, it helps weeds out those who don't care) and also because it is not as "cool" in college. For example, I have known some of my current teammates since 2nd grade, and we have developed as players and individuals. But in college, when everyone leaves for a different place, there are no friends to hang out with. And when your roommate tells you how dorky quiz bowl is, you are even less likely to join a team.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:10 pm

I'd definately chalk it up to the huge jump in difficulty between high school and college.

I know that when I first started attending practice last year, I was absolutely stumped and had no real clue as to what was going on around me. I'd consider it a "good practice" if I got one tossup, and at several points I seriously considered quitting. The gap between what I knew and what quiz bowl wanted me to know just seemed so insurmountable. Compare that to high school, where I was a dominant player (albeit in a very insular and inactive circuit) and could probably beat most teams in my league playing solo.

Having talked to a lot of people who showed up to Chicago practices this year and then quit, I'd have to say that the dominant reason among them for quitting was that they also felt it was prohibitively hard and there was no way they could become a good player. On this board we all know that that's objectively wrong and that you can become better through work even if you start off at nothing, but that idea just sounds so absurd when you're just starting out in college (I know it did to me), and when people tell you that, there's a huge suspicion that they're just trying to be nice.

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Post by First Chairman » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:29 pm

MLafer wrote:maybe this should be moved to the Misc HS section so more HS people will read it? I think this thread is pretty important.
This is one of those times that I wish I could mirror a thread rather than split or move it. Yo, sysadms... any help?

"Shadow topic" created in Misc HSQB --admin
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Post by cvdwightw » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:30 pm

yoda4554 wrote:I'm curious if anyone has actual examples of teams that played D2, succeeded, and then stopped playing.
Stanford seems to repeatedly lose players after they lose their D2 eligibility, despite regularly finishing in the top 10 in D2. I don't know why, and I hope this year's excellent crop of freshmen stick around, as they could do decently well in D1.
Ryan Westbrook wrote:I mean, right now, just looking at the acf situation - there is a super-small handful of undergrads who might be considered regular competent circuit players, Kwartler and my fellow Michigonians Will and Dave to name some of the very few (not counting other quasi-undergrads and outgoing ones like Meigs).
I think the issue here is what exactly do we mean by competent? If we mean able to be a decent #1 player at ACF Nationals level questions, then I would agree there is a super-short list of undergrads who are competent, if only because it requires both dedication and experience to become both deep and broad enough to achieve that level of competence on those questions. At Regionals level and lower, I would argue that there are a number of undergrads, myself included, who are competent players but lack either breadth or depth (or both) to be a force at ACF Nationals.

I echo a significant amount of what Bruce says. I went from being the #1 individual scorer at HSNCT to scoring 10 ppg at ACF Fall. Now, much of the difference would be attributed to having Charles on that team and playing against Jeff Hoppes, Seth Teitler, David Farris, Eric Smith, Raj Bhan, etc., but also because there was a large step in difficulty that I didn't yet have the coverage to get questions in (I've looked at the 2003 set recently; it's a significant amount more difficult, at least on the bonuses, than the 2005 set). Because the college canon is so much largely expanded from high school, I feel that many players may be lost initially. Giving people a sense of familiarity with the game they played in high school, and bringing them along slowly, gives them a foundation to build on. That's why I like the idea of having ACF Fall at its current level and other similar-difficulty tournaments, so new players can see that "hey, this isn't that much different". A lot of people probably get scared off because the questions they initially are exposed to are "too hard", and they don't think that even with a decent amount of work they'll be able to answer those.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:55 pm

cvdwightw wrote:Giving people a sense of familiarity with the game they played in high school, and bringing them along slowly, gives them a foundation to build on. That's why I like the idea of having ACF Fall at its current level and other similar-difficulty tournaments, so new players can see that "hey, this isn't that much different". A lot of people probably get scared off because the questions they initially are exposed to are "too hard", and they don't think that even with a decent amount of work they'll be able to answer those.
I don't know, I think immersion might be better in the long-run. Sure, ACF Fall is fun, and I look forward to it as my one chance each year to put up big individual stats. But if you just feed new players ACF Fall and Div II, they will not get as good and might be more frustrated in the long term.

What took me from "I have no clue what's going on" to "I have a clue as to what is going on, even if I can't answer this question" was playing Illinois Open, playing Manu, playing Chicago Open, and practicing on harder packets. And I think its eliminating that "I have no clue what's going on" feeling that is key to retaining people.

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Post by grapesmoker » Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:59 pm

Sticking with it for only one year makes a tremendous difference. I'm already seeing it in my team, all of whom either started this year or have only high school level experience. Once you've been playing long enough to get the hang of it, all of a sudden you start understanding the questions better and better. The trick is to practice and not shy away from tournaments.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:00 pm

cvdwightw wrote:
Ryan Westbrook wrote:I mean, right now, just looking at the acf situation - there is a super-small handful of undergrads who might be considered regular competent circuit players, Kwartler and my fellow Michigonians Will and Dave to name some of the very few (not counting other quasi-undergrads and outgoing ones like Meigs).
I think the issue here is what exactly do we mean by competent?
I think what Ryan means only partially has to do with ppg etc. It's a question of undergrads that don't just play. I know you were on the editing staff of Jerry's tournament, Dwight (and possibly other things, sorry I don't know), and Dave Rapaport (and maybe Will Turner as well? Dunno) helped out with MLK, and for some mysterious reason I am allowed to edit ACF Fall, but in general undergrads don't take that step. Also, sorry Weiner, you don't count. So yes, part of it is whether you put up points at Nationals, but the other part of the "competent (not the word I'd use) undergrad" is someone that involves him/herself in the circuit beyond picking up a buzzer. Many are looking at the circuit and trying to find the people that will take over when the old guard finally does quit, and there aren't that many people that make the list. I guess that's another "why?" that needs answering.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:19 pm

I'll also note that a lot of high school programs/regions are very focused on developing either one-person teams or four generalists, whereas that really is not possible if you want to succeed at the most important collegiate tournaments. Few people will ever be more than a specialist of some type at the college level, and it can be hard to adjust to being a player who is only in the hunt for four, eight, or twelve questions per game when you expect to compete on every question in high school.

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Post by grapesmoker » Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:23 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Few people will ever be more than a specialist of some type at the college level, and it can be hard to adjust to being a player who is only in the hunt for four, eight, or twelve questions per game when you expect to compete on every question in high school.
Don't let this stop you from trying to become a generalist, though. Of course, we all have our strengths because we major in something or other, but there's no reason one can't be both a good science player and a good lit player (much easier if you major in science, though).
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Post by dtaylor4 » Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:27 pm

Bruce wrote:I don't know, I think immersion might be better in the long-run. Sure, ACF Fall is fun, and I look forward to it as my one chance each year to put up big individual stats. But if you just feed new players ACF Fall and Div II, they will not get as good and might be more frustrated in the long term.

What took me from "I have no clue what's going on" to "I have a clue as to what is going on, even if I can't answer this question" was playing Illinois Open, playing Manu, playing Chicago Open, and practicing on harder packets. And I think its eliminating that "I have no clue what's going on" feeling that is key to retaining people.
I wholeheartedly agree with Bruce's statements. I went to ACF Fall, got my ass kicked by some damn good teams, but still had fun and put up good stats. On the other hand, I put up no more than 10 ppg at ACF regionals and the Wirt mirror. At times, I did get frustrated, but I knew that if I put in the work and got better, I would start kicking ass much like those I played with and against.

I think what it takes is exposure to good teams and questions of varying difficulty. Yeah, it may mean getting shellacked 500-10 by Chicago, Michigan, etc. but if undergrads want to get better, they should use such beatdowns as motivation.

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Post by vig180 » Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:47 pm

My high school team almost exclusively played AUK-style, thus even playing on pyramidal questions came as a welcome relief to me in college. Even now when I read high school packets I find that I still don't know the traditional "canon" very well. It might have been a benefit to me that I went into college using the online ACF and Stanford Packet archive questions as my primary resource instead of old high school packets (of which my school had none), since I grew accustomed to the college canon and the level of difficulty. Once you spend a few hours with ACF Nationals questions, everything else seems so simple.

I'll echo Noah's sentiment about the stereotypes of college quizbowl. The question is, how can we change that? I've had some ideas- instilling school pride, getting teams more school support- but when it comes down to it, there isn't much one can do; it's a truly personal decision whether or not one likes quizbowl enough to continue playing it in college. Having a low retention rate may not be a bad thing for the college circuit as I think anyone would rather play with a few motivated teammates instead of a horde of resume stuffers.

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Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:09 pm

From my personal experience, I tried to get many folks from what might be considered elite programs to play at the University of South Carolina, and was usually unsuccessful. I often got the reply that they were simply burned out after high school and wanted to move on from quizbowl. That's an unfortunate attitude given how much different and, in my opinion, better college quizbowl is than high school. I can fully understand why someone who experienced one line questions, overbearing coaches, and excessive protests for four years might want another hobby, but those things don't exist in college quizbowl. That said, I'm sure that many of the things discussed on this thread are also reasons people quit in college, but I heard the "burned out" argument enough that I thought this issue should also be considered. Indeed, anyone who is burned out by high school quizbowl should give college quizbowl a look; it's a very different game indeed.

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Post by Matthew D » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:11 pm

E.T. Chuck wrote:Unlike in high school, college advisors are not really encouraged to run the team. In my opinion, they actually shouldn't be running the team; it's an opportunity for student leadership, and the students I have had who really took the ball I handed to them have come out much more appreciative of quiz bowl, leadership, friendships, and the realities of the game than anyone else who wants to be involved for just playing.
Okay to pick your brain a bit then.. would it make sense to push the players by having them run tournaments on their own. I am in interesting situation, I have both HS and middle school teams. I was thinking that it would be a benefit for my HS team to actually setup and run our middle school tournament in January. I think with a small amount of help they would be able to do it.
Here is my question, do you think that would translate into helping with the college transition?
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Post by Matthew D » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:14 pm

I have a hard time understading the burned out arguement... if you really like the game, you would at least try to see what it would be like on the college level. I guess that is one of the reasons that I get my players to help me up at our local CC's quiz bowl tournaments, they get to see the other side of things for a bit and get to talk to the players..
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Post by First Chairman » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:56 pm

Matthew D wrote:
E.T. Chuck wrote:Unlike in high school, college advisors are not really encouraged to run the team. In my opinion, they actually shouldn't be running the team; it's an opportunity for student leadership, and the students I have had who really took the ball I handed to them have come out much more appreciative of quiz bowl, leadership, friendships, and the realities of the game than anyone else who wants to be involved for just playing.
Okay to pick your brain a bit then.. would it make sense to push the players by having them run tournaments on their own. I am in interesting situation, I have both HS and middle school teams. I was thinking that it would be a benefit for my HS team to actually setup and run our middle school tournament in January. I think with a small amount of help they would be able to do it.
Here is my question, do you think that would translate into helping with the college transition?
In a lot of other high school programs, I do see that academic team members run middle school events, so your suggestion is one that I would also suggest for the purposes of 1) fundraising and 2) "marketing" yourself so that the students that will attend your school know that you enjoy this type of activity for students.

As for whether it would help translate for HS-college qb transitions... I think it would give those students additional exposure to knowing how to be a responsible organizer of events and have a semblance of understanding just what it takes to run a tournament. Having that exposure before doing it in college is a lot better than having none. I will defer to others on whether that helped with one's transition, but I should note that having that experience expand's a student's role into organization in case playing tournaments is too stressful or is no longer satisfying at the college level (compared to other distracting activities).
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Post by solonqb » Thu Jun 08, 2006 6:17 pm

To add to the clarity of this thread, I, the "other" Noah would like to weigh in.
Zeke wrote:QB teams with no institutional memory or those that have decided the upward reaches of the game are too annoying or hard to achieve will pass those viewpoints on to the next generation.
If you are attempting to insinuate this about Caltech, I beg to differ. Though our institutional memory is certainly alive, we do intend to compete in D1 next year. (ACF participation is a stylistic difference between me and my teammates; I still am going to try to convince them to play Fall) The team of the past's actions are just that -- in the past, and I certainly don't think you'll argue that Jordan Boyd-Graber was into softpedaling hard quizbowl.

Look for some changes in the next few years out here. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

And as to high school retention, I think I depends strongly on college outreach, especially during HS tournaments they are hosting. Look to the impression you are giving the teams; if you are appearing to them as a bunch of disheveled guys who don't get out versus being well-groomed, neat and somewhat talkative, the PR might do wonders. (I'm not attempting to perpetuate stereotypes here, just pointing out the best way is to lead by example.) If they see college quizbowl people are relatively normal guys with an interesting hobby they enjoy, it can only help the cause of retention.
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Post by leapfrog314 » Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:21 pm

As a high school player (gasp! venturing onto college threads!) I agree with the comments about question difficulty: when I look at college packets, I am often clueless. On the other hand, it helps to hear people say that it gets easier with perseverance, and I can attest to a similar phenomenon between junior varsity (freshman/sophomore) and varsity high school questions here in Illinois: as a JV player, I thought varsity questions sounded impossible... until I started playing them and had no trouble at all. Maybe more people would stay if it was made clear to them that they shouldn't get discouraged too quickly. (It is rather intimidating to walk into a practice and see a room of players infinitely better than you are at the moment.)

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Post by jrbarry » Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:20 am

I encourage the kids in our program to give college bowl a try. Some do, but ony a very few of my players over the 20 years I have been at Brookwood stay with college bowl. I get varying answers when I ask them about it. Most answers are personal revolving around not liking personalities involved on their college bowl teams.

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Post by Monica Marks » Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:07 am

College bowl is a self-motivated and largely recreational enterprise, which makes having a good time extremely important. While college tournaments will never be meccas of "well-groomed" or "relatively normal" guys (my apologies, Noah) they have alot of appealing features that we can stress to high schoolers. Unescorted road trips, better question quality, and deliciously eclectic Physics majors are just a few of my favorite aspects of the game. Letting would-be competitors know about seemingly small perks of college play such as in-question cursing and mid-game fraternizing can go a long way to stimulate interest. Promises of en route Swedish techno and backseat assignations also work wonders.

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Post by STPickrell » Fri Jun 09, 2006 10:05 am

To this day I wonder what prompted my teammates to make those frequent trips with me to various points across the country. Thanks.

Now, to address the issue at hand. Monica is correct in that it must be fun for people to want to stay involved. If the program leadership doesn't seem like they are having fun then I don't know if the rest of the team will be enjoying themselves.

While winning helps, I don't know that it is necessary, as long as you can win a few, and be reasonably competitive in some of the others. Losing 300-0 in every game is not good. But, winning 2, losing 3 by 50-70 and losing the other 5 by 150+ is not a bad thing in my book and in fact was my experience.

Did I have fun hanging out with my teammates? Did I laugh at a few of the questions and remember some salient fact or two or three to become a more interesting cocktail chatter?

Also we must remember that not everyone will be willing to put in as much effort (or that their effort will be as productive as your own.) The only thing that got me upset was when someone did not keep their word regarding tournament attendance.

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Post by ValenciaQBowl » Fri Jun 09, 2006 10:20 am

This thread has provided interesting reading. Unfortunately, it has witnessed reiteration of some of the more ossified stereotypes and/or ideological positions regarding our beloved game. To wit: D2 success isn't really success; teams are mostly made up of smelly, bad-looking, socially crippled dudes; and the key to making players love the game like we do is to have them play as freshmen on the Auspicious Incident set against a team of Yaphe, Kelly Mackenzie, and Subash. I realize I'm caricaturing the thread, but allow me to expand.

Paul wrote:
"Oh yeah, another reason might be NAQT D2. They go, they play, the good players win and feel like their college career was a success. If that is the case, then D2 should be abolished for the good of the game."

My question here is, Who says a player's college career has not been a "success" if he is on (or better, leads) a team that does very well at or wins ICT's D2? It's important that the game continues to generate folks like Jerry, Matt (Weiner and Lafer), and Erik (among many others, obviously) who will dedicate themselves to becoming elite players and productive members of the community by writing packets, editing tournaments, etc (oh, and providing judgments on everyone else in the game de cathedra). But there seems to be a fallacious notion that if one doesn't have that goal and/or put forth that level of dedication, he doesn't help the game or contribute. And that if one doesn't do well at ACF Nats one isn't playing "real" quizbowl. If someone wants to play the game casually, learn some stuff and have fun, and maybe drop the game when its difficulty level ramps up, that's fine. Enough HS players will continue playing to keep the game going, and many players discover the game in college. The last thing we should do is eliminate junior bird tournaments or D2; as Yoda4554 said well above in the thread, that would almost certainly take some people out of the game completely.

Further, other than the anecdotal evidence discussed above, are we really sure that so many D2 players are giving up the game? I wonder. Maybe someone with too much time on his hands should compare the roster of players who participated in ICT D2 in, say, 2003, with who played in D1 this year, though obviously that wouldn't account for everyone still playing.

Noah M. characterized college teams as
"a bunch of aging, unkempt, male grad students who re-read Benet's to get them up in the morning."

Not bad! And yet a tired notion. Having read at one and hosted another PACE NSC, I wouldn't say that most of the elite HS players I saw there would be elected homecoming king or queen, so I doubt that hygiene/looks really matter that much in making one decide whether to continue playing in college. Attitude, however, might: there's nothing wrong with inculcating a fierce desire to win and introducing new players to tougher questions, but a truly welcoming and friendly greeting and mentoring approach to new players is needed. Lack of this is more likely to put some people off, I think. I've written before (and been sneered at for it) that I've observed some (not all, just relax!) excellent players as being a bit stand-offish at tournaments between rounds or before games; whether that's elitism, insecurity, aloofness, or just a mistaken inference on my part I'm not sure, but I hope that pose isn't present when new players come to their first practice.

But more important, most people drop QB after HS for the same reason they drop band, drama, student government, etc. They focus on school, they make new friends, they re-make themselves, as has been noted above. Why wring our hands over this? What percentage of HS band kids (another group that can be stereotyped based on looks and such) join the band at their college?

Erik suggested:
"I think in general division 2 decreases long-term retention. A lot of teams will do reasonably well at D2 or even just qualify for the ICT and think they have something going, but when they get to D1 and finish way in the bottom bracket or don't qualify at all, they just drop off the face of the earth. Instead of essentially telling them they can as good as ride their HS success through D2 with minimal additional effort, I think we should make it clear from the get-go that yeah, you have to work to win."

He went on to say we shouldn't "sequester our young players." This is related to the point about elimination of D2 above. The implicit idea behind this is that getting new players to play on the toughest questions and survive the beat-downs for the best players will enlighten them to what they're in for and either get them more interested in getting hardcore immediately or driving them away, thinning the herd of the weak. This seems improbable to me. And this attitude smacks of a type of disdain for anyone who's not going to be as hardcore about the game as the top players in the country--I don't think that attitude helps grow the game. If you're motivated, getting stomped on tough questions will make you go study, write questions and get better; if you're unsure whether this game is for you, it's going to make you find better things to do. Letting good HS players have a year (or two!) in college to get better while playing in competitive matches in which they have a chance to win on questions the answers to which they've mostly heard of is ONLY A GOOD THING. I really can't see anything negative about it.

Zeke is right to argue that one need not have "no life" to be great at this game, but greatness does indeed take more time than most will commit. That's as it should be. After all, think about what would happen if literally every player in the college game were as hardcore and serious as the folks I named above: soon we'd have nine-line toss-ups on Corkan the One-Eyed, the fun-loving drunkard of The Bridge on the Drina. Keeping the game balanced between the hardcore and the dilettantish is a good thing. Summer masters tournaments can still provide a forum for the hardcore to pound on each other.

Edit: got rid of html quote tags b/c I'm a tard and can't seem to use them properly.

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Post by Bender Bending Fernandez » Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:15 am

ValenciaQBowl wrote: soon we'd have nine-line toss-ups on Corkan the One-Eyed, the fun-loving drunkard of The Bridge on the Drina.
Somebody read their Benet's this morning.

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Post by First Chairman » Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:51 am

I think a lot of what Chris B is saying about having a welcoming attitude is also important on recruiting more women and underrepresented groups to a club. I don't think we espouse hazing rituals in qb (at least not to the extent of the Northwestern women's soccer team so far as I know), but treating people with respect without patronizing them is very important. Not all high school kids know how to do that, and in the absence of an adult figure -- as it is the case with most student groups -- not all college kids know how to do that properly either. What goes as fun behavior in high school may not be so construed in college.
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Post by Chris Frankel » Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:08 pm

Well, this post is just to reply to Chris' interest in seeing some sort of D2 stats, as I got bored and did something to that effect.

I looked at all the ICT's that had been hosted since my freshman year, took the top 5 teams from D2, and compared them to my general memory of seeing their names around either in the circuit or recent regional/national tournament results. It's somewhat spotty, but I do try to read as many results as possible, and it's not hard for someone in the relatively small college circuit to have a grip on which names keep appearing.

I used two different standards in determining "active" players. For 2002-2003, my standard was seeing whether a player had maintained an active college playing career for ~3 years. I define active as playing in a few local tournaments and preferably at least one of the nationals; while I admit not doing any crosschecking for the amount of time it would take, I think most of the names I gleaned as active/inactive would check out with the posters here. Note that for older nationals, I didn't factor in whether someone was currently active; for example, a junior who played D2 in 2003 and retired shortly afterward would fit my criteria.

For 2004-2005, I just did the same rough gleaning and listed the names of players that seemed to be active this season. In these more recent cases, I think there's also different degrees of activity that I chose to err on the generous side of. In that I mean one can clearly see how rigorously players like Will and Dave of Michigan devote themselves to going to every national and masters tournament, whereas you can, say, read Jon Pinyan's blog for his unhappy write up of ACF Regionals 06 and make the educated guess that WUSTL probably won't ever attend any future ACF Regs/Nats or masters tournaments. Needless to say, since the names keep coming up, I did post both groups as active.

Here are the results from my brief examination. Consider that if all the top 5 teams had their full rosters maintain extended circuit activity, 20 players would be listed for each year, yet only in the most recent year does even half that number come up. I also listed teams that had basically disappeared from the circuit by the time its members would have been 3rd year players (e.g. Wisconsin's 2002 ICT team).

2002

1. Robert Beard, Yale
2. Matt Lafer, Michigan
3. Leo Wolpert, Michigan
4. Chris Frankel, Princeton

Wisconsin
Texas A&M


2003

1. Jerry Vinokurov, Berkeley
2. Brandon Shapiro, Berkeley
3. Amy Harvey, Valencia (I don't know the Valencia players well, Chris can correct me if I'm wrong on any others)
4. Charles Meigs, UCLA
5. Matthew Sherman, UCLA

Michigan
Stanford


2004

1. Dwight Wynne, UCLA (obviously I've mentioned his teammates above)
2. Kelly Tourdot, Illinois
3. Eric Nielsen, Harvard
4. Jared Sagoff, Chicago
5. Ray Sun, Chicago
6. Patrick Hope, Carleton
7. Jack Rousseau, Carleton


2005

1. Bruce Arthur, Chicago
2. Kannan Mahadevan, Chicago
3. Seth Samelson, Chicago
4. Will Turner, Michigan
5. Dave Rappaport, Michigan
6. Jason Loy, Harding
7. Jay Turetzky, WUSTL
8. Jon Pinyan, WUSTL
9. Andrew Brantley, WUSTL
10. Zach Thomas, Williams


Finally, two last notes. First, observe that the majority of these players come from traditional power schools with active programs and elite circuit veterans running the show (Michigan, Chicago, Berkeley, Illinois). This tendency is also true to a lesser degree with schools like Valencia and Carleton, which have dedicated coaches behind the scenes (fortunately these tend to be the type of "I'll sit back and encourage you so you can be good on your own terms" coaches, and not the obnoxious "read lists, cram, and drill 3 times a day so I can show off my trophy in the faculty lounge" high school breed of coaches). It seems that having that presence of an established guard in the background is a huge factor.

Also, consider that teams that win and do well tend to be more prone to keeping its players around, because people like to win and feel better about playing when they do well. In that sense, my selection of top 5 represents the highest percentage of D2->D1 retention. For an idea of how things get when you take the whole field into account, look at my "active" list for the whole 2002 ICT D2 field. Remember, my only criteria for activity was having an established ~3 year period of regular circuit activity, so even long gone players who don't go to anything now could make this list.

Active players from 2002 ICT D2 from outside of the top 5 teams:

Erik Nielsen
Sudheer Potru
Colby Burnett
Jordan Boyd-Graber
Saurabh Vishnubhakat
Matt Cvijoanovich
Sandeep Vaheesan
Kevin Clair
Ezra Lyon
Brad Houston
John Kilby


I think you can probably guess the implications of my post, but perhaps I'll discuss it more sometime in the near future.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."

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Post by First Chairman » Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:29 pm

So one of the interesting questions I need to ask Dwight Kidder if he can reply: how many people off the Freshman Contact List play qb after one year? after four? Do we know whether those freshmen actually use the list?
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Post by NotBhan » Fri Jun 09, 2006 3:01 pm

Bender Bending Fernandez wrote:
ValenciaQBowl wrote: soon we'd have nine-line toss-ups on Corkan the One-Eyed, the fun-loving drunkard of The Bridge on the Drina.
Somebody read their Benet's this morning.
Believe it or not, I think he's actually read it. And FWIW, I agree in full with C-Borg's commentary and compliment his use of the word "ossified."

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Post by MikeWormdog » Sat Jun 10, 2006 3:14 am

I just wanted to add a couple of names to Chris's list from 2002 DII nationals. In addition to the stellar Robert Beard, both Kyrill Kunakhovich and Bill Schmedlin were both active players on Yale's teams for the past few years and were on subsequent NAQT nationals teams. I believe both of them also played in an ACF nationals a couple of years back. The fourth member of that team, Nate Meyvis, also played for a while, including a couple nationals, and still does some work with NAQT. Also, it should be noted Yale's last DII team in 2005 (though it didn't quite make the top five) also is keeping with it (and 3 of them were on Yale's DI team this year).

Maybe Yale is a bit of an anomaly, but when we do have a nationals-caliber DII team, our players tend to stick with it. Granted, we don't always get to a ton of tournaments, but having division II hasn't hurt our numbers. We have a much tougher time keeping people after their first few (or fewer) practices than we do after their first year playing.

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Post by ValenciaQBowl » Sat Jun 10, 2006 8:16 am

I look forward to Chris F's analysis of the list he provided above and appreciate his going to the trouble of making it. The one analysis he did make seems true: retention is going to be best for D2 players in programs with continuity. It's easier to continue your HS playing career at a place like Illinois or Michigan where you're going to be with people who will take you seriously if you want to play and get better.

Also, I've not had much luck moving my Valencia players into the four-year game. Amy Harvey plays a little for UF, but other great players like Jim Baker and Elissa Caffery have mostly given up the game, again due to getting involved in different stuff. The reason they give is that they haven't found quite the same sense of family and fun they had at Valencia. This is no knock on UF or USF, both of which have many players whom we like and play against a lot; we are just fortunate at Valencia to do some stuff some can't (seven hours a week of practice, weekend get-togethers, pub trivia outings, etc.). But that's another way to keep people into it.

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Post by Rothlover » Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:05 am

I did the D2 thing, it didn't drive me away from taking on competition even though I was about a 10 ppg supplimental player who got 2 tus (one of which was Daria,) at his first ACF regional. Initially I really disliked ACF, to be honest, but then I started learning things on my own, and grew fond of it, and I became drawn to the ability to play a game on things I learned (now, I still like NAQT for a few of the things it brings to the table, but as I've said before, I always felt like it could use improvements, but I've also been of the belief that ACF could use powers, so whatever.) Even though the best friends I had made from qb through brandeis done graduated by my sophmore year, I still felt the pull towards the game, and the drive to show that to others from the school, with varying degrees of success (our number 2 player gave up qb after freshman year because "it wasn't a practical way to spend his time" among some of the things he said about a format,) but I also kept a lot of people involved who didn't get much in the way of points, but still keep coming to practice and staffing etc for some reason.

We would get maybe 40 people at our first practice, and I a bunch of approaches and we'd still maybe retain 5 a year as active/semi-active. I learned not to take it personally, since there was little that could keep them coming if they didn't find it worthwhile (short of free blow.) Getting them to study would be something else entirely, as these were already kids doing 3-4 other activities, in addition to generally being either pre-meds, or herb enthusiasts, so the most I could hope for would be that they would read over some archive packets and listen to my occasional tips on "butt clues." I learned to take what I could get I guess.

I still haven't figured out what has led to the high retention rate I'd seen with debate, at least at 'Deis, where about 40% of club members would go to at least one tournament a year (despite it usually being a 4-5 hour drive), and getting about 100 students to volunteer to staff/judge the on campus tournament. Do you think the weekly parties and retreats helped with regard to that? If so, I never got why people don't just do stuff for the sake of doing stuff.

I guess I'm saying be passionate without being off-putting, go to everything you can, and hope some people get motivated by that. I am not sure that its the best way, but my alma mater still looks to have a program with a bunch of people. I sure as hell haven't figured out the whole "personal game improvement" thing though.

Does Ken Jennings have any thoughts? Odds Jerry beat him with his doorknob-laden sack/bed?
Dan Passner Brandeis '06 JTS/Columbia '11-'12 Ben Gurion University of the Negev/Columbia '12?

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Post by miamiqb » Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:17 pm

I am not as qualified as some of the people in this thread to comment (having played only 3 collegiate events, 2 on IS questions (:-P) and 1 at NAQT SCT D2). But I think as a player who played for a laidback HS coach on a laidback team in a laidback circuit but still gets hooked on ACF Regionals packets I can offer a unique perspective.

Obviously the jump from HS to college difficulty is tremendous; reading Stanford Archive packets in AP Comp Sci with my teammates made that clear. But the principles of the game are still the same; like in high school, there is a set canon in which the same topics are repeated over and over again, and experience leads to improvement. And topics in class come up in questions, allowing everyone to get a piece of the action.

But I think a major factor that keeps good high school players from continuing in college is the lack of solid quizbowl traditions at most schools. Chicago, Michigan, and UI, just to name a few, run organized weekly practices using quality questions, have elder statesmen who serve as standards for newcomers, and (most importantly) attend numerous quality tournaments. Anyone, no matter how much high school experience he or she has, can join such a team and with time and dedication can become a solid player.

However, most schools do not have those valuable resources. One could argue that new programs must then be started...but staring something is infinitely harder than continuing a set program (as I learned this year at UM). There is a ton of bureaucratic paperwork, quality people get discouraged and leave, and meetings and practices wind up with 2-3 people. Moreoever, without the tradition of excellence, there is a greater chance people will choose other activities (intramural sports, drinking, actually doing work or research) to quizbowl. Finally, it becomes impossible for a player like me (I consider myself an above-average undergrad player) to practice, as people are reduced to watching me buzz, even when they know the answer. The result is that you get disillusioned and consider quitting altogether, as I am contemplating right now, with med school approaching and no major events within 5-6 hours.

The fact is I think I could have been a very good college player at a school with proven players, and I am sure that there are other high school quizbowlers who face a similar situation. Reading packets on a computer and writing questions are fine, but there is no replacement for actually playing with quality players. Just from playing a couple of rounds with Charles Meigs, Chris Frankel, Jordan Boyd-Graber and others I have improved my buzzer speed and reaction time and had a blast.

The solution? Perhaps there is none. Every once in a while new programs emerge (e.g. Caltech this year with Noah at the helm) but old programs are also dying out at a comparable rate. Maybe the game has reached a state of dynamic equilibrium and there will never be more than a handful of dedicated teams. I will try to think about it and repost later.
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Post by QuizbowlPostmodernist » Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:56 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:Also, I've not had much luck moving my Valencia players into the four-year game. Amy Harvey plays a little for UF, but other great players like Jim Baker and Elissa Caffery have mostly given up the game, again due to getting involved in different stuff. The reason they give is that they haven't found quite the same sense of family and fun they had at Valencia. This is no knock on UF or USF, both of which have many players whom we like and play against a lot; we are just fortunate at Valencia to do some stuff some can't (seven hours a week of practice, weekend get-togethers, pub trivia outings, etc.). But that's another way to keep people into it.
The team that drinks together, stays together. Has there every been a team that lasted where players generally don't see each other outside of practice and tournaments (and classes they might share)? Have seemingly promising teams that fell apart suffered from this lack of non-quizbowl socializing with each other? Is it the presence of an established guard or the presence of an established social context of which the actually playing of questions is just one part?

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Post by FCqb » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:16 pm

I actually ventured into the realm of college bowl for some advice on the very topic at hand. I'm attending a small liberal arts college next year but simply can't quit quiz (Ah it's like heroine). I am, however faced with the daunting task of A. Making the jump with no guidance and B. Starting and keeping a team together. I understand the amount of work involved, but it's be worth it to me. Any advice on Questions to practice, running a team, a few tourney's in the michigan area good for baby teams would be welcome.
I stumbled onto the quizteam (literally) freshmen year and wasted alot of time. Even the JV to Varsity jump was difficult but far more exhilarating, but we got good eventually (2006 state champs in ohio in NAQT and a respectable state format.) It killed me that we couldn't compete on a national level, though. The idea of a fresh start, if challenging, is still worth it just because i know what i'm getting into and i know what I can do. One reason for kids not going into college bowl is probably an ego slap. They were at the top of the food chain and it's not worth it to start over again while fewer people care. Me? i just need to hear some questions man, gimme a fix, maybe i'll see you guys around next year.
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HS - College Transition

Post by WestBerkeleyFlats » Sat Jul 29, 2006 9:56 pm

This is an interesting thread. I haven't read each thread in its entirety, but a couple of interesting themes appear repeatedly.

One is that the jump from high school competition to college competition is rather large. The jump from much high school competition to the highest levels of college competion is immense. I think that in many formats high school students can score a good number of points in subjects such as literature by knowing the names of many titles and works and even more by knowing basic plot summaries. This knowledge will not be as effective in college play. Some students respond to this challenge and even appreciate the opportunity to perhaps develop a greater depth of knowledge. Many others find other pursuits, such as classes and other extracurriculars, more appealing. Some players will continue to play for a time and perhaps plateau at a certain level of competition and difficulty.

Another point is that the team environment can really affect levels of motivation. Students who don't experience rewards in terms of personal achievement or social experience will probably be less likely to continue to play. Things such as Junior Bird Tournaments, D-2, or even CBI can perhaps encourage new players to stick around until they learn how to become more knowledgeable and thus better in more challenging settings.

One thing that perhaps could motivate more players to play would be perhaps a more forgiving environment in terms of personal ability and motivation. Some of the largest contributions to competition have probably been made by individuals who were probably not the highest scorers in any format but added to the game through gifts of organization, editing, erudition, marketing, or personality. And although I tend to value academic knowledge, I think that anticipation and mental agility have some place as well, at least in certain settings.

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Post by tj b boy » Tue Aug 22, 2006 10:21 pm

Seems like this is akin to asking why there aren't as many major league baseball players as there are minor league baseball players. As the difficulty of the questions increases, the number of people who have fun playing on them decreases. Since we've all rejected the idea of maintaining a hard ceiling for question difficulty, it seems like we might as well accept that we'll shed a whole shitload of high schoolers as they hit that transition point.

The same principle applies within the collegiate quiz bowl community, of course. A lot of you will do, or do do, masters tournaments and quiz bowl in grad school and are competing for national tournaments; I (a bit player on Wolpert's UVA team) will probably top out at being a 20 ppg secondary guy, because that's just where my inclinations lead me to consider the trouble of staying competitive greater than the reward. Others play D2 questions, then look at D1 questions and shake their heads. Some like NAQT Nats questions and refuse to play ACF. A few of you pass through ACF and Masters and everything else and still aren't satisfied, it would seem.

The biggest and most noticeable gap is between high school and college, true, but for all the reasons already outlined that's perfectly rational, and it's no different in kind from gradations within the college (or high school) community. I suppose you guys have all implicitly understood what I'm saying, but to summarize I just don't think that any of the social, resume-padding, or other arguments are at the crux of the matter; they're superficial. The basic fact is that as things get harder less people are willing and/or able to do them.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:07 pm

Seems like this is akin to asking why there aren't as many major league baseball players as there are minor league baseball players.
No; an absolutely crappy quizbowl player can attend all of the college-level tournaments he wants (well, maybe not CBI after 6 years). An absolutely crappy baseball player cannot stay in the major leagues, except perhaps if he is a left-handed reliever or somebody's personal catcher.
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