Where have all the bids gone

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setht
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Where have all the bids gone

Post by setht »

My impression is that NAQT had trouble getting hosts to bid on SCTs. ACF also had trouble getting hosts for Regionals--I believe I had to solicit hosting interest for 3 of the 6 regions, and there was only one region with more than one bid (and that region had a whopping 2 bids).

My vague impression is that several years ago this used not to be the case, that there were multiple viable bids from every region (perhaps someone with a better memory can correct me if I'm wrong). I understand that many clubs are moving away from CBI, so there are fewer clocks floating around out there, and that this may contribute to the small number of bids for SCT, but I doubt that's the whole story, and it doesn't explain anything about ACF.

My vague impression is that there also used to be more sizable clubs (say, with more than 10 active members), and this seems a more likely explanation for the decline in bids. When I first started playing quizbowl back in Berkeley, I think USC, UCLA, Caltech, UC Irvine, Stanford and Berkeley all could (and did) host competently-staffed tournaments, and I'm pretty sure several of these clubs bid on SCT each year.

So, are bids declining because clubs are getting smaller? Are bids declining because clubs are getting lazier, or because we're demanding more from hosts, or rewarding them less?

If clubs are getting smaller, I don't think there's much that can be done, except to encourage people to put more effort into recruiting. If clubs are getting lazier, they should stop it, right now.

I tend to think that hosting a tournament isn't super-hard work, but perhaps the barrier to entry for inexperienced clubs is higher than I realize. There are useful guides out there (e.g., this one), and I'd imagine any inexperienced TD could get advice from more experienced people from other clubs just by asking--after all, as long as the TD doesn't discuss the contents of the packets, there's nothing wrong with having people on other teams, including teams that are coming to the tournament, help the TD out with setting up reasonable schedules, give reminders of the various things the TD needs to do, etc.

One thought I had (sadly, after Regionals) for increasing the reward of hosting is to offer hosts a sliding percentage of the entry fees based on how many teams they draw. For Regionals, we offered hosts $40 out of each visiting team's entry fee, minus any travel/buzzer/moderator/multiple team discounts the host chose to offer. I don't know what next year's editors will do, but I know I would have been fine with offering more than this to hosts that did a good job of pulling in lots of teams. I think this might increase the incentive to host, and to put in some effort trying to draw more teams. It's up to the editors to produce a set that will make teams want to come back for more, but it can't be up to the editors to encourage all the teams in each region to attend.

Any thoughts? If there are any people from teams that have recently hosted a tournament for the first time in a while, or any people from teams that consciously decided not to bid on a tournament, it'd be very interesting to hear from you.

-Seth
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Post by Susan »

This is obviously not a problem for Regionals, but a major problem with hosting the SCT is that a lot of schools that have enough staff to run an SCT have enough talented players that it's not in their best interest (in terms of bids for the ICT) to host. When I ran an SCT (2003), I believe that NAQT was asking for something like 20 competent staffers. It would have been very difficult for us to have run the tournament to those standards if we had also wanted to qualify multiple Division 1 teams. I'm sure this is less of an issue for Regionals because untimed tournaments require fewer people to run them (and because there's no qualification requirement for ACF Nats).

The idea of sliding-scale fees for Regionals is interesting; so would you give $40/team to sites that pulled, say, fewer than ten teams, then 10-13 teams got you $45, 13-16 $50, and so on (or something on those terms)? Perhaps an additional reward for pulling in teams that didn't play last year?

I wonder if it's possible to sell hosting tournaments a bit more strongly to new teams (who are probably more in need of the $$$ that hosting requires, and of tournaments in their backyard to send a house team or two to). Maybe they could get a little organizational help from experienced players at other schools (and some experienced volunteer moderators)--I think written-up guidelines would help some, but having a live contact might be a bit more reassuring for people who are scared of screwing something up.
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Post by theMoMA »

Is your nats packet done, Seth?

:P :P
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Post by setht »

theMoMA wrote:Is your nats packet done, Seth?
Probably not, but my part of it is.
myamphigory wrote:This is obviously not a problem for Regionals, but a major problem with hosting the SCT is that a lot of schools that have enough staff to run an SCT have enough talented players that it's not in their best interest (in terms of bids for the ICT) to host. When I ran an SCT (2003), I believe that NAQT was asking for something like 20 competent staffers. It would have been very difficult for us to have run the tournament to those standards if we had also wanted to qualify multiple Division 1 teams. I'm sure this is less of an issue for Regionals because untimed tournaments require fewer people to run them (and because there's no qualification requirement for ACF Nats).

The idea of sliding-scale fees for Regionals is interesting; so would you give $40/team to sites that pulled, say, fewer than ten teams, then 10-13 teams got you $45, 13-16 $50, and so on (or something on those terms)? Perhaps an additional reward for pulling in teams that didn't play last year?

I wonder if it's possible to sell hosting tournaments a bit more strongly to new teams (who are probably more in need of the $$$ that hosting requires, and of tournaments in their backyard to send a house team or two to). Maybe they could get a little organizational help from experienced players at other schools (and some experienced volunteer moderators)--I think written-up guidelines would help some, but having a live contact might be a bit more reassuring for people who are scared of screwing something up.
I think Susan's point about SCT bids is a good one. I assume there are clubs out there that have found themselves in a situation where they can host an SCT and earn one bid, or send several teams and reasonably expect to earn 2 or more bids. I don't know if NAQT should give hosts more autobids or otherwise try to make hosting more attractive, but if this is part of the reason why they had so much trouble getting hosts for SCT this year perhaps they should consider it.

Susan's summary of the sliding scale idea is pretty much what I had in mind (perhaps with even larger incentives, and starting at maybe 8 teams, given the poor attendance at Regionals in most parts of the country), and I like the idea of an extra reward for pulling in teams that didn't play last year.

I assume Susan means that new teams are presumably more in need of the $$$ that hosting tournaments provides. I'm sure many of the grizzled veterans on this board would be happy to run down a checklist or give advice to a prospective TD from a new club, so don't be afraid to bid, and don't be afraid to ask for advice.

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Post by nobthehobbit »

myamphigory wrote:This is obviously not a problem for Regionals, but a major problem with hosting the SCT is that a lot of schools that have enough staff to run an SCT have enough talented players that it's not in their best interest (in terms of bids for the ICT) to host. When I ran an SCT (2003), I believe that NAQT was asking for something like 20 competent staffers. It would have been very difficult for us to have run the tournament to those standards if we had also wanted to qualify multiple Division 1 teams. I'm sure this is less of an issue for Regionals because untimed tournaments require fewer people to run them (and because there's no qualification requirement for ACF Nats).
I think part of the problem with finding hosts is related to this problem of finding moderators; that is, given the choice, I think most active players would rather play a tournament than moderate it. NAQT does give hosts an automatic bid to the ICT, but if you're not one of the players likely to go to ICT on that bid, and your school is hosting a large Sectional, you may end up moderating or scorekeeping all of Sectionals without the recompense of later getting to play ICT. With ACF I think it's at least as large a problem, in that ACF players (rightly) want more knowledgeable moderators, so there are fewer truly qualified ones to begin with, and while if a school gets an ICT bid there's a good chance they'll go, there's no such "guarantee" that a Regionals host school will attend ACF Nationals. I grant that some of this is offset by moderator discounts, but much of the staffing burden still falls upon the host school, and regardless of whether that school thinks it could qualify 2 (or more) D1 teams by playing hosting, for many players, means forgoing playing and instead staffing.
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Post by ezubaric »

setht wrote: I think Susan's point about SCT bids is a good one. I assume there are clubs out there that have found themselves in a situation where they can host an SCT and earn one bid, or send several teams and reasonably expect to earn 2 or more bids.
This was the case with Princeton. We originally wanted to host sectionals, but then found we had too many Div I players who wanted to go to nationals.
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Post by Kyle »

Multiple Division I teams aren't the only problem. Let's not forget that any team big enough to host an SCT will probably have to have a Division II team playing in that tournament. At Harvard, where 80% of our team is Div. II-eligible, that required us to field only one Div. II team. I had to run good old-fashioned try-outs in order to pick the team, with the consolation prize for those who didn't make it that they were expected to keep score for those who did. We pulled it off, but I feel bad about it. There was one evening where I kept telling people they couldn't play — I told two schools they had to bring a moderator in order to field teams (as per my original announcement that we could only staff eight rooms) and then cut a few freshmen who would have liked to have played. I've spent plenty of time encouraging people — Harvard freshmen in particular — to come play quiz bowl and it was a horrible feeling to be basically telling people they couldn't. On the one hand, I really enjoy playing timed games. On the other, if these games weren't timed and thus only required one staff person per room, then our tournament might have been really big.
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Post by BuzzerZen »

Is there anything stopping a high school from running an SCT or ACF? There are certainly high schools with successful tournament-running traditions and experienced readers out in the world, and if their alumni encouraged them to bid on these things, it would prevent current college players from being stuck reading. It certainly would be feasible in the DC area. Minimally, colleges located near active high school areas have coaches and players as a recruiting pool if they know where to look. I was one of at least two high school players who read at the GMU SCT, along with at least one high school coach (I'm not sure who was there). Again, I have no idea how many high schoolers other than me and Ted Gioia want to spend a Saturday reading quiz bowl questions to high schoolers, but two of us means two freshmen get to play instead.
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Post by vandyhawk »

BuzzerZen wrote:Is there anything stopping a high school from running an SCT or ACF?
One of the main reasons for hosting these is to earn money for your club, and I highly doubt a high school would get a bid over a college team for that reason. It'd basically be like taking money out of the college circuit instead of spreading it around. As for our club hosting, we wouldn't be able to staff a SCT, but we can do ACF events no problem. We hosted fall this year, and are fairly likely to host a regionals next year I think. It's just hard to get the necessary number of competent officials needed for NAQT.
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Post by NoahMinkCHS »

Our reasons for not hosting this year are similar to others, and have been outlined well above. There is honestly not much that NAQT could have done to change our minds. We hosted SCT last year, and probably will again, but we had a ton of new (read: D2 eligible) people this year and the team decided we'd rather play and try to qualify what we could than host and earn money to spend on -- well, sending our one auto-bid team and maybe one more to Nationals. Our club has gotten a lot bigger than it used to be, but then the situation is like it was with Harvard, do you want to be the one to tell the freshmen you just brought in they can't play?

I wish I knew what the answer was. People just want to play, especially in big important tournaments, and as long as you can (mostly) afford it, it's hard to argue otherwise.
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Post by vig180 »

One of the main reasons for hosting these is to earn money for your club, and I highly doubt a high school would get a bid over a college team for that reason. It'd basically be like taking money out of the college circuit instead of spreading it around.
Eh, I dunno about that. If there aren't any college teams who have the staff and the willingness to host, why not open it up to competent, well-organized HS programs? I can name at least 3 nearby high schools I would have no problem attending an SCT or ACF event at since I could trust that their teams and coaches would do a good job organizing. Though not all of them might want to host, there's a good financial incentive to do so. After all, college teams get a good bit of $$ off of high school tournaments so I see no harm in letting a willing and capable high school host an SCT. I'd be curious to see what any HS coaches thought about this idea.

An added benefit of this would be that at least some high schoolers would get exposed to more difficult questions earlier on, so they would see what's coming in the college circuit. The only hangup would be the mods wouldn't be able to rule as easily on factual contentions, but since those are relatively rare and not all college mods could rule on those either, it wouldn't be that big a deal.

On another note, we did make a bid for ACF Regs. since we thought that would be a good way to introduce our younger players to the difficultly level, but happened to be unlucky enough to be in the one region that had two bids. I do really like the idea of a sliding scale of incentives since that would definitely get schools to recruit harder; only problem is some regions would automatically have more teams than others, so perhaps give an extra $5 per team for every two teams that didn't attend last year that you bring in? Also, why not waive the host school's entry fee for ACF Nats or the ICT? A few extra perks for a cash-strapped program might help tip the balance and give them more incentive to host.
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Post by First Chairman »

BuzzerZen wrote:Is there anything stopping a high school from running an SCT or ACF? There are certainly high schools with successful tournament-running traditions and experienced readers out in the world, and if their alumni encouraged them to bid on these things, it would prevent current college players from being stuck reading. It certainly would be feasible in the DC area. Minimally, colleges located near active high school areas have coaches and players as a recruiting pool if they know where to look. I was one of at least two high school players who read at the GMU SCT, along with at least one high school coach (I'm not sure who was there). Again, I have no idea how many high schoolers other than me and Ted Gioia want to spend a Saturday reading quiz bowl questions to high schoolers, but two of us means two freshmen get to play instead.
I think the DC area is the exception to the rule in terms of having a pool of competent staffers and moderators among the high school, college, and post-college worlds. I think there is something to be said about running a tournament at a college campus compared to a high school campus (which is the feeling from teams I get about running NSC on a high school vs. a college campus from high school teams... I'm guessing I know the response about running it on a high school campus).

I do think the staff issue is a serious problem in other parts of the country except for perhaps Chicagoland.

The other issue is getting permission from high school administrators to run an event AND to get competent staff to agree to the stipulations of getting results to NAQT. Not too many high school teams even teach their students to keep score during a game, much less how to keep individual statistics. Training students on these skills, especially in areas where TIMED tossup/bonus are not common, would take time, but the execution may be suboptimal for a nationally-qualifying event.

Financially, we're probably not at this point, but perhaps a financial incentive may be the only way to entice teams to run a sectional. And I mean serious "cash-money" (waive registration fee PLUS some housing subsidy?). I don't know if NAQT has the ability financially to do this.
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Post by bsmith »

E.T. Chuck wrote: Financially, we're probably not at this point, but perhaps a financial incentive may be the only way to entice teams to run a sectional. And I mean serious "cash-money" (waive registration fee PLUS some housing subsidy?). I don't know if NAQT has the ability financially to do this.
That's going a little too far. For example, in Canada, where there's relatively little problem in finding hosts (ahem... UBC and SFU taking turns), this system could further encourage our schools to show up at the ICT and clog the bottom bracket...

I'd suggest offering a host bid for every X (8? 10? 12?) teams in the SCT field.
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Post by nobthehobbit »

bsmith wrote:That's going a little too far. For example, in Canada, where there's relatively little problem in finding hosts (ahem... UBC and SFU taking turns), this system could further encourage our schools to show up at the ICT and clog the bottom bracket...
We have our share of hosting troubles; as far as I know (disclaimer: I did not attend the 2005 PNW SCT) Sectionals out here has been understaffed for the last three years, and definitely understaffed for the last two. (This is generally done by mutual consent of all players and staff.) We're always just at the point where providing sufficient staff for the number of teams in the field (after it's filled out by house teams) would mean that we couldn't field as many teams any more, so we then don't need as many staff, so we field more teams, etc.
bsmith wrote:I'd suggest offering a host bid for every X (8? 10? 12?) teams in the SCT field.
That's fine (and if it were, say, 8, I'm sure Andy would love 3 host bids), but I have a feeling that if NAQT were to put such a policy in place they'd round up, so we'd get a host bid anyway. I think one bid for hosting is fair: either you go somewhere else, pay an entry fee and have a chance at qualifying multiple teams, or you stay home, collect entry fees and get a guaranteed bid. I think the main problems with hosting are finding enough competent staff and telling new players that they can't play in what may be the most important tournament to date, or, for that matter, the ICT, since many hosts take D1 bids.

As for the idea of financial assistance, I realize ACF may not be in any sort of position to do this, but it strikes me that offering financial assistance to ACF Regionals hosts to attend ACF Nationals might help get hosts for Regionals.
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Post by First Chairman »

bsmith wrote: That's going a little too far. For example, in Canada, where there's relatively little problem in finding hosts (ahem... UBC and SFU taking turns), this system could further encourage our schools to show up at the ICT and clog the bottom bracket...

I'd suggest offering a host bid for every X (8? 10? 12?) teams in the SCT field.
Well, the next thought is to actually pay people to be TD's, but that would really be taking things too far. :wink:
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Post by barnacles »

There are very few programs big enough and with enough resources to effectively host a large SCT. I think there needs to be more measures in place to get more experienced moderators from around a region to come, perhaps more sizable discounts or something else.

Of course, if/when we get this automated computer system that could read for you and there only needed to be one official per room to keep score, things would be much more manageable in terms of rounding up moderators for something like a SCT and this probably wouldn't be a problem anymore.
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Post by First Chairman »

I guess we can get NAQT to purchase the Jeopardy "Brain Bus" and take it on tour across the country, with the various tour stops coinciding with Regionals. That sounds like fun for a month, eh?
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