On HS Teams Without Coaches

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On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by nsb2 »

Ben Dillon wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:09 am Thinking about the above, no more teams should be allowed to attend a tournament rogue. I have noticed that there have been teams allowed to compete at national tournaments that are not under the aegis of their high schools, e.g. "Rogers Academy" at NSC two years ago. I realize there may have been an adult coach, probably even a parent, but if we're saying that there should be a teacher, especially one with inclusiveness training, at best a parent should be the second chaperone. If a student contacts a TD asking to enter a tournament, the TD should consider the entry rogue until they are confirmed by the teacher/coach.
I don't wish to distract from the very important points in this thread (to which I am listening attentively, despite having left quizbowl a year ago now.) However, removing "rogue" teams could discourage newer teams whose schools and teachers are unwilling to sanction going to larger tournaments, making it impossible for them to be incorporated into their local tournament circuit. For instance, two top high school players in Illinois in recent times were forced to attend several tournaments under pseudonyms or with a team member's parent as a chaperone, as their school would not allow them to attend.

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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by RexSueciae »

I am not sure that regulating "rogue" or unofficial teams is the most effective way to constrain student misbehavior. While adults may have the opportunity to attain greater maturity, it is to nobody's surprise that adults, even coaches, are more than capable of committing misconduct as well. I don't think I need to give examples. Adults are also more than capable of allowing or condoning misconduct: Basil Sousounis, from reports given on the Discord, appears to have acted in a brash and bullying manner even at tournaments where his team was accompanied by an adult chaperone. (Not the official coach, evidently, but a family member or relative.)

I concur with the observation that requiring confirmation from a teacher or coach may be stifling to schools with backwards regulations on what games a team may attend. Prohibiting "rogue" or independent teams will have the effect of discouraging quizbowl in many regions of the country, possibly in areas where the status of bad quizbowl / good quizbowl is in transition, possibly in underprivileged areas whose schools cannot spare the same resources as a more affluent area.

I have played against teams who were appearing independently, and who proceeded to act like a bunch of asses. I have also played against teams who were appearing under a coach, and who acted like a bunch of asses -- in fact, sometimes it was the coach who was encouraging their behavior!

If a tournament director receives reports that members of a team are behaving inappropriately, they should take disciplinary action, up to and including contacting the school afterwards -- even if appearing unofficially or "rogue," their school or coach should be informed. I definitely worry about taking pre-emptive action against a team for any reason less than "one of their players is confirmed to have committed misconduct in the recent past," especially if (like in this situation) there is the likelihood for inadvertent discrimination.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by cchiego »

I get the concerns here about the limitations that such restrictions would impose. School admins and coaches refusing to facilitate their schools' attendance at quizbowl tournaments is one of the many baffling things about the state of education in America and it's absolutely unfair for the students stuck with such people. I had to deal with this myself in high school and know very well how dispiriting it is to have a coach totally uninterested in going to tournaments.

That said, after talking with some people about the recent misconduct issues, I'm more convinced that there needs to be a clear chain of responsibility for participants in quizbowl tournaments and quizbowl more generally. It's good for professionalization of the game (would any athletics team *not* have a coach present at matches?) and for making sure there's a front-line person to go to for misconduct as well as other things that might happen at tournaments. A coach--defined here as either an official employee of the school or someone else designated by the school as having responsibility (potentially as a volunteer coach/assistant coach/temporary coach/etc., whatever you want to call that position) for the team--provides a key role as the "adult in the room" and being part of that chain of responsibility. (Note: I think each school needs at least one official coach, but that each team does not necessarily need that so long as there's an official coach on-site; something like NAQT's HSNCT procedures for chaperones might be a good policy to use).

I know that this would be a pain and that the procedures for a non-employee to become an official volunteer at many schools get more onerous and more costly seemingly every year. But on the whole it's not *that* bad and such clearances usually last for some years. There's an excellent article from Illinois about steps teams can do to "get official" here, though I'm sure as usual procedures will vary by district. I also think that shifting the expectation in quizbowl to every school having a coach would be an argument in favor of helping to convince admins on the whole to take quizbowl a bit more seriously and potentially get more easily recognized by their school.

A coach is not a panacea; the presence of problematic/toxic coaches is definitely an issue at some places (that could probably deserve a whole thread to itself). But that's a problem that at least has some institutional chain of responsibility whereas individuals showing up to quizbowl events on their own or without a clearly defined responsible person introduces a host of other issues. More supervisory adults at quizbowl events and involved in the quizbowl community is likely a net good on the whole. As an added bonus, getting official school support for a quizbowl team and/or an active coach makes it much more likely that the team will survive and continue to be active once the current team members graduate.
Prohibiting "rogue" or independent teams will have the effect of discouraging quizbowl in many regions of the country, possibly in areas where the status of bad quizbowl / good quizbowl is in transition, possibly in underprivileged areas whose schools cannot spare the same resources as a more affluent area.
I'm not so sure about this. From what I've seen, the schools most likely to send unsupervised or unaffiliated teams are wealthier suburban/suburban-ish schools. Almost every underprivileged school that I've worked with has had no qualms about having a teacher be present at events--it's just kind of expected. In cases where admins are being stubborn and refusing to recognize a quizbowl team or a coach refuses to take teams to events, there are still levers that can be pulled, potentially with the help of the quizbowl community--meeting with admin, speaking at school board meetings, writing to superintendents, and mobilizing parents are all standard tactics for getting changes in education. It's a bit ridiculous that it might take that to get a quizbowl team recognized or a coach to take teams to tournaments or parents deputized as official volunteer coaches, but that may be what it takes.

I also don't know of many cases (and very few recently) where a "bad quizbowl" school's team had to play "good quizbowl" under a pseudonym without a coach also being present, but I'd love to hear if there are current cases where a team is currently forced to do this. If you're going to make long-term inroads in outreach in a region, you're going to have to convince the admins/coaches anyways.

I really do hate the idea that any individual student would be denied the opportunity to play quizbowl because of their coach/admin, but in the long run I think requiring a coach for each school at a tournament would be a good long-term step forward for quizbowl as a community.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by alexdz »

I completely agree that having some kind of adult whose presence is sanctioned by the school, be they an official coach or a volunteer school-sponsored chaperone, ought to be a requirement. As others have said, it turns a nebulous situation into one of more clarity -- should one witness a student doing something inappropriate, said adult could be notified on site, and that adult's supervisor at the school contacted should the situation necessitate it.

Since most quizbowl tournaments are hosted at schools, I'm certain that the host school's administration would not always be thrilled to know that a team of unsupervised high school students have come to attend a school-sanctioned event and compete without any adult supervision whatsoever. Should any situation ever arise that is serious enough to involve authorities above the TD, I cannot imagine walking up to my principal or superintendent and saying "Hey, I need to contact someone at XYZ School about one of their student's conduct at my tournament, and oh, yeah, by the way they didn't have a coach for me to talk to on site." I imagine I'd be grilled as to why I allowed these unsupervised students to attend my event.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Kouign Amann »

My high school quizbowl team had a coach but went to a couple of events here and there without her. There were plenty of teams in our circuit that were more consistently unchaperoned. As a tournament director in high school and college, I regularly welcomed unchaperoned teams to events I was running.

I am now a high school teacher and consider the previous three sentences completely insane.

Quizbowlers like to tell ourselves that our activity is different and special in various ways. That's true! Ours is a very different and special activity, and we ought to treasure that. But, good lord, it should not be different and special in this particular way.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ben Dillon »

:::booting potentially bad sports analogy:::

There is high school basketball, high school soccer, and high school volleyball. There is also club basketball, club soccer, and club volleyball. Clubs can recruit from anywhere, and they have their own seasons/tournaments/championships. Sometimes high schoolers will play in both organizational systems.

Which one is quiz bowl? We have operated as the former for eternity. But a rogue team that hasn't even been vetted to all be enrolled at the same high school is closer to the latter.

I get that high schools, especially those starting a program, will be underresourced (stipend for teacher, transportation, budget for buzzers and entry fees). But a rogue team needs to verify in advance that they are sanctioned, have an adult onsite, and provide a contact back at the school who can be reached in the case of player misconduct, even if it's after the fact.

If we don't have a system that allows (forces?) some oversight from the high school, then we may as well move to the club model. And then get ready to play against SuperTeams.

Am I wrong in thinking that the "wild west" atmosphere we have now is contributing to bad behavior? Am I wrong in thinking that addressing rogue teams could be a piece to the solution to the puzzle?
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by eygotem »

Though I agree that requiring a school-sanctioned adult would make it easier to deal with misconduct on the part of the players, I also believe there should be exceptions for teams whose state organizations have oppressive regulations concerning the playing of quizbowl. For example, I know that Kansas's KHSHAA notoriously bars teams from playing for most of the year and from participating any tournament more than a few hundred miles from the state border (i.e. every nationals); other states like Missouri also have similar, if less stringent, requirements.

Since school administrations clearly wouldn't want to face the consequences of breaking state rules, requiring teams from those states to have a school-sanctioned adult would make it virtually impossible for them to skirt oppressive state rules by attending tournaments pseudonymously. This has the potential to affect the spread of good quizbowl in more backwards (quizbowl-wise) states like Kansas, which should definitely be taken into account when dealing with teams from those states.

As for teams from states who don't have these sorts of restrictions, or in situations where those restrictions don't interfere with participation (e.g. in-state tournaments during the state's official season), I fully agree that requiring an official school-approved adult would discourage misconduct while boosting quizbowl's legitimacy.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ben Dillon »

eygotem wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:10 pm Though I agree that requiring a school-sanctioned adult would make it easier to deal with misconduct on the part of the players, I also believe there should be exceptions for teams whose state organizations have oppressive regulations concerning the playing of quizbowl. For example, I know that Kansas's KHSHAA notoriously bars teams from playing for most of the year and from participating any tournament more than a few hundred miles from the state border (i.e. every nationals); other states like Missouri also have similar, if less stringent, requirements.
To me, this is when a national organization such as PACE or NAQT should exercise some muscle to get such policies overturned!
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World »

It seems to me there are three reasons why mandating a “coach” (be that a teacher or some other person designated by the school otherwise) would be beneficial to high school quizbowl:

1) Professionalization- It is a bad look to have a bunch of unregulated players at events in terms of outreach. It looks awful to schools who have bad quizbowl teams and expect a certain professionalism to see teams without coaches. They do not and will not take us seriously. If we want to expand the game to more schools, we need to look the part of a legitimate extracurricular and play by the world's standard expectations, not ours.

2) Having someone concrete to point to in cases of misconduct- As has been mentioned, a coach isn’t a guarantee against incidents of harassment or inappropriate behavior, but making it mandatory to have one ensures there is someone that is either a) a point person for incidents committed by students, or b) a discrete party to reference if the coach commits misconduct or if the coach fails to maintain misconduct when contacting administrations or sharing information around the quizbowl community.

3) Maintaining institutional continuity and a healthy club - I don’t just mean “how to study” here. Student led clubs are highly volatile can more easily be derailed by a few bad eggs. While once again a coach is in itself not a guarantee of preventing toxic club culture, it is far more likely that clubs will be stable and not captured by a few individuals racism, sexism, etc.

I encourage people to consider the net good to the community that would come from having coaches/adult supervision be mandatory at the high school level. Yes, there are specific cases where this may increase the burden to play on some teams. In the long run, however, adult supervision of all teams that attend tournaments, national down to local, is a must to move this game beyond the ad hoc, small-time fields it has today in the grand scheme of things. Coach Dillon’s “wild west” analogy is highly appropriate. We want to do better, we want to be more professional. This is part of it.
Last edited by Everything in the Whole Wide World on Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ben Dillon »

Everything in the Whole Wide World wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:15 pm It seems to me there are three reasons why mandating a “coach” (be that a teacher or some other person designated by the school otherwise) would be beneficial to high school quizbowl:
Add a fourth reason... to have a liaison to the school to sing the praises of the activity in general and their team in particular.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Atlashill »

alexdz wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:25 pm I completely agree that having some kind of adult whose presence is sanctioned by the school, be they an official coach or a volunteer school-sponsored chaperone, ought to be a requirement. As others have said, it turns a nebulous situation into one of more clarity -- should one witness a student doing something inappropriate, said adult could be notified on site, and that adult's supervisor at the school contacted should the situation necessitate it.

Since most quizbowl tournaments are hosted at schools, I'm certain that the host school's administration would not always be thrilled to know that a team of unsupervised high school students have come to attend a school-sanctioned event and compete without any adult supervision whatsoever. Should any situation ever arise that is serious enough to involve authorities above the TD, I cannot imagine walking up to my principal or superintendent and saying "Hey, I need to contact someone at XYZ School about one of their student's conduct at my tournament, and oh, yeah, by the way they didn't have a coach for me to talk to on site." I imagine I'd be grilled as to why I allowed these unsupervised students to attend my event.
Agreed. By virtue of MSHSAA's relatively active involvement in our activity, each school attending a tournament in Missouri is required to have an approved faculty sponsor or administrator present. This goes one step further by requiring the coach to be affiliated directly with the school and not just the district; technically, Columbia's Hickman and Rock Bridge are only allowed to have the same coach if that person is teaching at both schools, even though both are in the same school district. Further, the coach has to complete an annual rules review online prior to their team's first contest, and starting this year must also take an online course every other year concerning student mental health and suicide prevention. (That video and others are available through the NFHS at NFHSLearns.com.) Provisions are in place to allow non-faculty to become a coach if they receive their board's approval, complete a state-mandated background check, and have either a four-year degree or complete two years of assistant coaching. (Pertinent MSHSAA by-laws: 1.3.1; 4.1.2.a)

Misconduct issues could be better resolved, and potentially problematic behaviors addressed, with a formal chain of responsibility that starts with a team's coach/sponsor. Any issues that arise would likely involve them reporting to their school administration and potentially their school board. Also, misconduct or negligence by a coach in a state with an activities association could incur said association's intervention if a complaint is filed. Additionally, I would speculate that addressing troublesome behaviors at the middle and high school level could lead to fewer problems at the collegiate level and in the general public.
Last edited by Atlashill on Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by cchiego »

eygotem wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:10 pm Though I agree that requiring a school-sanctioned adult would make it easier to deal with misconduct on the part of the players, I also believe there should be exceptions for teams whose state organizations have oppressive regulations concerning the playing of quizbowl. For example, I know that Kansas's KHSHAA notoriously bars teams from playing for most of the year and from participating any tournament more than a few hundred miles from the state border (i.e. every nationals); other states like Missouri also have similar, if less stringent, requirements.
From what I understand about the Kansas situation, they can (and do) attend tournaments outside of Kansas with their coach during the year (at least within the sanctioned competition months--gotta make sure quizbowlers aren't practicing in the hot summer heat!). There are also few restrictions on using pyramidal questions for invitationals in Kansas and introducing more schools to good quizbowl that way is probably a better outreach tactic at the moment.

The nationals problem is of course a major issue (and apparently applies to all ECs from Kansas like debate), but it seems possible that arrangements could be made under absolutely exceptional circumstances in which a coach accompanies the team even if not officially playing for the school. Given that the Kansas coaches recently spent years getting through the increase of allowed competitions per year from 8 to 9 and it was major news event, I'm not optimistic even the strongest national letter-writing campaign would have any effect on KHSHAA's bureaucrats.

Probably the broadest issue involved with coaching requirements will be with schools who have teams but whose administrations and/or coaches only want them to compete in one or two competitions throughout the year. In this case, I think this is again where pushing to change the norm is the best strategy as well as thinking of ways to make the quizbowl experience better for coaches so that they're more likely to not mind giving up more of their times for quizbowl (again, professionalization of organizations, better-run tournaments, etc. is key here).
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by jinah »

Full offense, but frankly, I do not care about whether measures taken to curb misconduct, harassment, and assault in quizbowl partially set back the pushes to replace "bad quizbowl" with "good quizbowl." If the ability for people to play pyramidal quizbowl in opposition to "oppressive school regimes" feels like something that is important enough that you should raise it as a major caveat in a discussion about whether or not this is an appropriate or beneficial step in tackling the serious problems that the community has been discussing, you should step back and figure out where your priorities are.

If the quizbowl community as a whole had matched the kind of effort that they put into "getting schools that don't play quizbowl / that play CHIP bowl or certamen or whatever to play pyramidal quizbowl" and focused it on "addressing pervasive cultural and systemic barriers that discourage women and non-Asian POC from playing and sticking with quizbowl," we might not be having this conversation.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

I would like to push back gently against the dominant current of this thread (and the coaches' discussion in the other thread).

I acknowledge that high school teams should have a chaperone and that it's helpful for outreach to have connections to coaches and the administration. Good coaches can also be very helpful in creating a healthy team culture, providing guidance, and dealing with abuse.

However, it's not a coincidence that the very worst cases of sexual abuse in our community have been perpetrated by coaches. Without naming names, I've known two quizbowl coaches who turned out to be abusers on a personal level, and I've had extended interactions with at least two others. In all those cases I was horrified, because I didn't see it coming at all. I've also known of several coaches in other activities who abused their power similarly, over multiple students. My experience in general has been that, while most coaches are good, sexual abuse by coaches is a distressingly common occurrence.

The coach-player dynamic is a unique power imbalance in our game. For that reason, I think some of the suggestions that have been made - such as, that coaches should stay involved even in discussions among their players that involve sexuality - are potentially harmful. For the students' safety, I think it's essential that coaches adhere to strict professional norms around their players. I also think it's important that players keep their own, separate avenues of communication for their privacy.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vathreya »

I think a lot of the debate here rests on the ability (or lack thereof) of students to bring an official "coach" or advisor to a tournament. On one hand, teams may not be able to bring a coach to tournaments (which primarily seems to be due to excessive red tape on the part of school administration and/or a state organization, but can sometimes result from other reasons). On the other, bringing a coach to a tournament does add to a professional atmosphere, and adds legitimacy to the activity. There are merits to both approaches, but (forgive me if this has already been stated), there is probably a compromise that can occur.

Instead of mandating a designated "coach" arrive, why not just mandate a chaperone? The chaperone could be a parent, teacher, or a separate coach over 21 (maybe higher), and would be responsible for behavior of the contingent from the school. Additionally, the chaperone would be required to not staff or scorekeep, to ensure that they can fulfill their supervisory role as necessary. Perhaps a form similar to that of the HSNCT chaperone release form could be sent out to teams that register, so that they may be able to bring an adult chaperone to a tournament in cases where they may not be able to bring a coach who is affiliated with the school (as a teacher, dedicated coach, etc). Additionally, perhaps it would be prudent to require all chaperones and/or coaches (along with students) to sign statements specifically indicating acceptance of their responsibilites and their promise not to engage in misconduct? I don't know about the legal specifics here, but maybe by signing a document we may better identify and prosecute cases of misconduct.

Most of the pseudonymous teams (in which a school has refused sponsorship or sponsorship is not possible due to red tape) I have encountered do have some sort of dedicated parent(s) or outside adult(s), so I think this would be one way of maintaining professionalization while not penalizing students for uncooperative administrations.

I think the increased professionalization is certainly a good idea, however, for a grassroots activity such as ours, we must also balance this with maintaining a relatively low barrier to entry. Again, apologies if this has been stated before, but I think this might be a decent solution.
Last edited by vathreya on Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by cchiego »

jinah wrote:If the quizbowl community as a whole had matched the kind of effort that they put into "getting schools that don't play quizbowl / that play CHIP bowl or certamen or whatever to play pyramidal quizbowl" and focused it on "addressing pervasive cultural and systemic barriers that discourage women and non-Asian POC from playing and sticking with quizbowl," we might not be having this conversation.
I don't see how these two goals are necessarily at odds; given that one barrier to participating in quizbowl is simply whether or not one's school has a team, it makes sense to reach out to schools where a majority of students are non-Asian POC to help improve the overall pipeline of players from a variety of backgrounds. Same thing in terms of expansion of quizbowl to other places around the country and within regions. I've also noticed that when creating a circuit or a team "from scratch" you often get more diverse team membership (possibly due to some kind of founder effect/feedback cycle). It's not sufficient by itself of course, but it's certainly a complement to other efforts to make quizbowl better.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Carlos Be »

I don't see how mandating teams to provide a coach will have any impact on misconduct. There are countless cases of adults performing misconduct at college tournaments, just as there are countless cases of high schoolers performing misconduct under adult supervision. Furthermore, mandating that schools require a school-sanctioned chaperone could lead teams to bring along whatever school-affiliated adult they can find, even if they cannot know that they're trustworthy. An untrustworthy or irresponsible chaperone is far worse than no chaperone. And what is this adult for, anyway? To discipline the perpetrator? To blame when a student commits misconduct? In either case, this seems like just another hurdle to leap through before any substantive consequence can be handed down.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

cchiego wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:04 pm
jinah wrote:If the quizbowl community as a whole had matched the kind of effort that they put into "getting schools that don't play quizbowl / that play CHIP bowl or certamen or whatever to play pyramidal quizbowl" and focused it on "addressing pervasive cultural and systemic barriers that discourage women and non-Asian POC from playing and sticking with quizbowl," we might not be having this conversation.
I don't see how these two goals are necessarily at odds; given that one barrier to participating in quizbowl is simply whether or not one's school has a team, it makes sense to reach out to schools where a majority of students are non-Asian POC to help improve the overall pipeline of players from a variety of backgrounds. Same thing in terms of expansion of quizbowl to other places around the country and within regions. I've also noticed that when creating a circuit "from scratch" you often get more diverse team membership. It's not sufficient by itself of course, but it's certainly a complement to other efforts to make quizbowl better.
The goals aren't at odds, and my anecdotal evidence suggests you're right about the circuit building from scratch, but the willingness of the men in this community to engage in the former utterly dwarfs that of the latter, and that's a huge problem. This thread's existence is siphoning away people's attention from the other issues that are urgently at hand. (I reported Pranav's post to the moderators with a suggestion to thread split; it turns out that's a double-edged sword!) This isn't the first time that something shiny has distracted a bunch of people from more important and pressing matters, and it surely won't be the last time, but it's worth calling out every time it happens, and JinAh shouldn't be the only one doing it.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ben Dillon »

vathreya wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:04 pm Instead of mandating a designated "coach" arrive, why not just mandate a chaperone? The chaperone could be a parent, teacher, or a separate coach over 21 (maybe higher), and would be responsible for behavior of the contingent from the school.
I'd be fine with a chaperone attending, as long as there was still a contact at the school who had authority to mete out negative consequences. Otherwise, as I was saying earlier, this is a club quiz bowl, not high school quiz bowl.

I'd like to make a new point: Some of the most serious stuff the community is dealing with is at the college level, and addressing rogue high school teams doesn't seem to connect to that. But I'd like to mention that college students are products of their high school experience, and so maybe we can help improve the atmosphere at the higher level by improving the atmosphere at the lower level.

Meanwhile, on the subject of abusive coaches... I can't even fathom.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

There are countless cases of adults performing misconduct at college tournaments, just as there are countless cases of high schoolers performing misconduct under adult supervision.
"Adults in the college quizbowl community" is decidedly not the population from which all high school coaches should be taken. The fact that a ton of people in this community are bad candidates to be high school coaches does not mean that increasing the number of high school coaches is a bad idea.

The population from which high school coaches should be taken starts with high school educators and progresses to reasonable authority figures in the high school community - parents and community members that go through the same level of vetting that educators go through to be hired.
An untrustworthy or irresponsible chaperone is far worse than no chaperone.
This is false because an irresponsible chaperone can be punished or fired for displaying irresponsibility. Misconduct events are challenges of accountability. With no chaperone or a bad chaperone, misconduct goes unnoticed, unreported, and ignored more frequently. But if chaperones are required, bad chaperones can get fired and replaced with good chaperones. With no chaperones, the problem remains. This isn't easy or quick, but it's necessary work.
And what is this adult for, anyway? To discipline the perpetrator? To blame when a student commits misconduct?
To make sure that there is an authority figure available to whom misconduct can be reported. If it's a light issue, the coach disciplines them within the team; if it's more serious, the coach escalates things to include school administration. If a rogue team plays unsupervised and misbehaves, you have no immediate ability to report their misconduct to their school; that's the extra hurdle for the TD.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by alexdz »

Carlos Be wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:13 pm And what is this adult for, anyway? To discipline the perpetrator? To blame when a student commits misconduct?
To create a very clear chain of command for reporting and meting out discipline for any issues that may arise. Have a problem with a student on Team X? As soon as possible, speak with Team X's coach/chaperone. If the coach/chaperone does nothing to correct or discipline the student on-site and the behavior continues, you can then go to the school admin and state clearly that you reported the issue to the team's designated supervisor.

As I said above, this goes way beyond just misconduct issues. What would you imagine a principal/AD/sup't would think if a student came to my tournament and was, say, seriously injured but didn't have a responsible adult on site to care for them? If I were the TD for that event, I'm sure I'd be in a ton of hot water for allowing unsupervised minors to participate in my school sponsored event.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vathreya »

Ben Dillon wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:29 pm I'd be fine with a chaperone attending, as long as there was still a contact at the school who had authority to mete out negative consequences. Otherwise, as I was saying earlier, this is a club quiz bowl, not high school quiz bowl.
From personal experience, this may not necessarily be a good idea. When I was in high school, in order to get school sponsorship we had to have a teacher present at tournaments, which meant that even if we could potentially get approval from the administration with regards to a parent chaperone, we would still be unable to go since we could not bring a teacher. Additionally, my high school was not very supportive of student activities in general, as most activities outside of Debate, DECA, Science Bowl, Ocean Science Bowl, and Science Olympiad, did not have dedicated advisors or coaches. Additionally, the only reason the above activities had teacher advisors/coaches was because of high demand (in the case of Debate and Science Olympiad), low maintenance (Science Bowl and Ocean Science Bowl, which usually only had 1-2 tournaments a year), or a teacher was an alumnus of the school and participated in the activity while in high school (the case of DECA). Therefore, in order for us to find a viable advisor, we would have either have to have had a large club (at least 50 people interested in attending tournaments), an advisor who had done quiz bowl before, or just foregone numerous tournaments (so that we could take our advisor to the few we'd attend).

Additionally, my high school was completely oversaturated with clubs, which meant that it would be extremely difficult for newer clubs to find advisors (even our relatively established program had trouble with continuity). Newer clubs would not stand a chance at making it past the competition, much less go through the administrative red tape to attend tournaments. Additionally, merely having a club wasn't usually sufficient to become fully school sponsored. Both the robotics teams and quiz bowl teams of my high school had "clubs" as part of the school, but were functionally independent of the school (due to red tape). My senior year, a nice teacher finally came with us to a couple of tournaments (independent of advising, etc), but it was untenable for us to bring him to every tournament, as well. There was also little we could do in terms of persuading our school board (the issues of my hs and school district are a separate topic), and there was very little "lobbying" we could do without a significant volume of discontent from parents (far beyond our usual membership).

Additionally, there are numerous other programs I have encountered where the red tape required to become school sanctioned is significantly more than just "school approval from an administrator." For example, one school mandated that, in order to receive school approval for attendance at a tournament, the team would have to treat the tournament as a field trip, and consequently have to sign driver authorizations, notify the school nurse/health administration weeks in advance, and bring a teacher along with them, while simultaneously gaining approval from their athletic director. Another high school mandated that their advisors go through bus driving training (or something of the sort) along with a host of other issues.

Given the grassroots nature of quiz bowl, it is almost unreasonable to expect newer teams to go through the entirety of this red tape. Quiz Bowl is a relatively recent activity, and in areas where there isn't an established state organization, it can be extremely difficult for such teams to attend tournaments. Additionally, I think one of the precursors for increased professionalization in quiz bowl is a greater presence among schools, and by specifically mandating school approval to attend tournaments we would probably do more to hinder teams from participating than help.

Despite this, I still think greater professionalization is necessary. However, I don't think it should be done in a way that penalizes teams that may not have the means to gain school approval, as much as they would like to. The chaperone rule (probably) ensures that there is an adult who can take legal responsibility and supervise students, but at the same time doesn't penalize schools that aren't able to gain school approval (due to red tape). Anecdotally (and this may be a Bay Area thing), I've seen lots of activities where students compete without a "coach" or "school approval." Perhaps in the future, when quiz bowl has proliferated a lot more and is more of an established activity, we can consider having such restrictions, but for now, I think they would be untenable.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Vikshar, I hear you loud and clear, and when I was your age 12 years ago (and for a plenty long time thereafter) I agreed with pretty much everything you said.

The mindset that quizbowl is a grassroots community with no need for bureaucratic red tape like adult supervision and school approval shares a ton of Venn diagram overlap with the mindset that misconduct issues aren't a problem to be seriously dealt with. To be clear, I'm not claiming that you personally think that misconduct issues aren't a problem; I'm talking generally. This community isn't some startup company where being careful gets in the way of growth. (And, to digress, to hell with that mindset and all of the ensuing problems it has in the business world for treating women/BIPOC like garbage.) Quizbowl's been around for forty damn years; it's way past time we acted like it.

We need to treat the high school game seriously, and a big part of that is adult supervision. We as a community need to be more successful at convincing schools that this game is worth supporting. It sucks when a school won't meet you halfway on that. But the response to that shortcoming isn't "cut corners on adult supervision" when our community is so damn bad at inclusivity and discipline - two things that adult supervision can really help with. The correct response is to put more work in on outreach, marketing, and support.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ozymandias314 »

RexSueciae wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:12 am I am not sure that regulating "rogue" or unofficial teams is the most effective way to constrain student misbehavior. While adults may have the opportunity to attain greater maturity, it is to nobody's surprise that adults, even coaches, are more than capable of committing misconduct as well. I don't think I need to give examples. Adults are also more than capable of allowing or condoning misconduct: Basil Sousounis, from reports given on the Discord, appears to have acted in a brash and bullying manner even at tournaments where his team was accompanied by an adult chaperone. (Not the official coach, evidently, but a family member or relative.)
For what it's worth Basil's team also has an official adult coach.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ben Dillon »

Ozymandias314 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:56 pm For what it's worth Basil's team also has an official adult coach.
I guess it's worth asking: Has anyone ever filed a complaint with that person?
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by meebles127 »

Ben Dillon wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:06 pm
Ozymandias314 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:56 pm For what it's worth Basil's team also has an official adult coach.
I guess it's worth asking: Has anyone ever filed a complaint with that person?
It's also worth noting that the official coach was not involved at most tournaments they attended.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by sadieb328 »

meebles127 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:17 pm
Ben Dillon wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:06 pm
Ozymandias314 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:56 pm For what it's worth Basil's team also has an official adult coach.
I guess it's worth asking: Has anyone ever filed a complaint with that person?
It's also worth noting that the official coach was not involved at most tournaments they attended.
Also, if I'm not mistaken, Basil's also graduated from high school and is starting college in the fall. I know Conor informed Michigan of his conduct, but any information or reports made to his high school team's coach now aren't going to do anything.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by The Hands Resist Him »

I guess I'll just clarify Vincent's post: Basil's team does have an adult coach, but the only time I really saw her was at the tournament that Acton-Boxborough hosted. Emily is right: at most tournaments, the team was either accompanied by Basil's parents, or were unaccompanied (I'm not sure how common that is in other circuits, but in the Massachusetts circuit many teams, including mine, don't have a chaperone or formal coach)

Also:
Ben Dillon wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:06 pm I guess it's worth asking: Has anyone ever filed a complaint with that person?
As far as I'm aware, nobody has done anything of the sort (other New England people, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong); just speaking for myself, it never occured to me that that was a thing that we could do, since the coach wasn't at most tournaments, and I didn't have a lot of confidence that she would be able to do much about the situation even if she wanted to.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by mhayes »

The Hands Resist Him wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:52 pm As far as I'm aware, nobody has done anything of the sort (other New England people, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong); just speaking for myself, it never occured to me that that was a thing that we could do, since the coach wasn't at most tournaments, and I didn't have a lot of confidence that she would be able to do much about the situation even if she wanted to.
I’m not sure of the mechanics with respect to high school teachers, but as college faculty, we’re required to act on sexual misconduct allegations, whether they were witnessed or not. When we hear of it, we are rightfully required to report it. I suspect that the coach would have taken the complaint seriously and (hopefully) acted on it. I’m less confident in parent chaperones since they are presumably not school employees.

My potentially unpopular opinion: if she signed up as the quiz bowl coach, she bears responsibility for her students, whether she attended the events or not. Disengagement is not an acceptable excuse for knowing nothing about student misconduct.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by TylerV »

I wish to offer my 2 cents as someone who went to many tournaments unaffiliated, including a national competition.

My high school was rural and had a good mix of economic disparity. My coach wore many hats including, but not limited to, the following:

Taught 5 classes
Led the fencing club which he also personally funded
Co-led the Outdoor Club
Led the Teachers' Union during a particularly bad year
Husband
Father
Mentor

Needless to say, he didn't have the time to take us to as many tournaments as we would have wanted, so we went without him, something that was allowed in Illinois at the time.

When the IHSA decided that 4-on-4 "quizbowl" was now "scholastic bowl" and now subject to IHSA regulations, including not pseudonyms, I rallied against it. It was important to me that the activity grow. It was important to me that people in my situation have the same chance I had. Based on my experiences, it was something I was incredibly passionate about and could not be persuaded to change my mind.

Now look at how many times I referred to myself in that paragraph. I thought I was advocating for the community as a whole, but I wasn't. I was advocating for people like me: white men who had never experenced discrimination.

At the heart of creating a better community is true empathy. Something that is incredibly hard for the majority of people to fully accept. It's one thing to listen to what people are saying and be outraged about it, it's another thing entirely to completely internalize that and all the emotions that entails.

My time spent playing unaffiliated in quizbowl bolstered my love for the activity; it likely earned me an invitation to SCOP, it made me lifelong friends, it gave me a sense of purpose in an important period of my life, it gave me a career that I enjoy and that pays well, and it helped me grow as a person I meant people from all walks of life who shared their experiences with me. And I would throw that all away if it meant just one person avoided an incident of even moderate misconduct.

The impact negative interactions have on privileged individuals is often understated, now imagine how that affects vulnerable groups like the young and minorities, let alone young minorities.

It is folly to think that requiring coaches will get rid of misconduct, but it will absolutely reduce it. The world, and especially quizbowl, has far more participants who are young and ignorant rather than who are actively malicious and that's what the majority of coaches will prevent.

What JinAh has said should be carefully read by anyone who, regardless of how much they care about the activity, cares for their fellow humans.

In closing, I would like to quote something Lauren Onel said two years ago in regards to NAQT and Matt Bruce that has stuck with me ever since. If quizbowl values anything over the safety and inclusion of its players "burn it the hell down. It's built on rot."
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World »

In case it was unclear, I in no way meant my earlier "point #1" to in any way suggest that the expansion side of things is more important than creating a safe and healthy community in quizbowl. If the wording of my post came off as callous, I deeply regret this and I apologize. Making coaches or otherwise mandatory approved chaperones a standard part of the game has many benefits, but the most important one is to be a potential way to prevent misconduct or at least have someone in a formal role for handling these situations, as many other posters have pointed out.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by nsb2 »

Since my original comment on this subject was rather terse, I wanted to add that I do believe teams should have some sort of chaperone - just that, due to school restrictions and bureaucracy, it may not always be possible for a teacher or school staff member to serve this role.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by RexSueciae »

Let me clarify that I am not viewing this situation as a binary choice or balancing act between "make things convenient for some teams" and "prevent player misconduct and misogyny" because obviously, given the two situations, one should choose the latter. What I doubt is that requiring a coach (instead of merely an adult chaperone) will make much of a difference.

One of the most outrageous teams that I played against in high school was evidently attending without their coach, but in retrospect it seems more shocking that the moderator of that room didn't more forcefully tell them to cut the shit. Would a coach have been able to reign them in, or at least have been an on-site point of contact to report misbehavior? Maybe. But in my mind the former thing is already the responsibility of the tournament staff -- if a player or players is using abusive language or committing harassment, that is already against the rules and they should be penalized. It was mentioned in another thread that men should begin using their social capital to call out misogyny when they see it: this is the place to start. As for the issue of notifying someone to begin the academic discipline process, would that detail not already be covered by retaining the school's phone / email contact (presumably obtained during registration) so that any misconduct might be reported?

I don't know. I had the good fortune to have coaches who (I hope) would never have put up with someone being malicious. If there is a movement to standardize having official school-employed coaches present at all tournaments for the sake of professionalism, well and good. I still feel that this sidesteps the main issue, which is that people in positions of authority need to be vigilant in dealing with misconduct. How will this issue be addressed at Discord tournaments in the post-COVID era? Who will enforce this principle? Or is this more like a professional standard, to be interpreted by tournament directors as they implement it for each situation?

Want of sleep is making my words get mixed up and I'm not sure how to put this, but it worries me a bit that men of quizbowl were specifically asked, "how are you going to contribute to fixing [misconduct and misogyny in quizbowl]" and it's this thread that gets the lion's share of the comments. Honestly, the innocent answer is that there are probably many people (like me) who are busy with other responsibilities and are basically retired from the community, and thus feel unqualified to comment on the main topic, but the necessity of coach supervision? Why, that's something everyone remembers and has an opinion on. I don't know. I hope the words came out right.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by jessbowen »

I think this topic is worth a much deeper dive.

I am a HS coach. I never played QB as a student (didn't even know it existed) and I have found this an extremely difficult world to break into. There are very few resources for coaches and there is largely an assumption that coaches know the game, the people, the organizations, the lingo, the strategy, the communication methods, etc. I can assure you, I knew NONE of this. I'm guessing this is a fairly common situation for new coaches. After doing it 10 years, I've sort of got the hang of it, but it's a steep learning curve and I think we can do a much better job growing, mentoring and supporting coaches.

There is a wild west culture in QB - it's run often by players and former players. I definitely thinks this contributes to the systemic problems in quiz bowl - like bullying, misogyny, etc. Even when there are adults in the room, they don't have the tools they need to act as professionals and so this vacuum leads to players running the show.

It also means that a lot of ways that QB is run is happening without us. This means I cannot monitor my kids all the time. I'm not there when they're on discord (I don't even know what it is), protobowl, or forums. I'm shocked and embarrassed to see the name of a player from my circuit turning up here in many spots as one of the problem players. I'm fairly certain that student was acting without the knowledge of his official coach. (I've sent her a message, but this illustrates some of these serious communication gaps.)

I would love to see a stronger coaching culture in HS qb. This can be a valuable resource for making programs more stable, more professional, and more guided. Kids need adults to show them the way - it's clearly not happening in many ways and that's largely because much of the activity happens outside adult supervision, condoned by the activity as a whole. This is not just a problem for individual tournaments - it's far broader. I'm sure the player-leader model works in college; I'm quite sure it rarely does in high school.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by CaseyB »

For what it's worth, PACE has a page on its website about quizbowl basics that does include some resources for new coaches, which I'm linking here in the hope that it might help other new coaches who find themselves in the position you were in. http://www.pace-nsc.org/quizbowl-101/ However, I recognize that these resources may not fully address concerns that new coaches have, and it can be easy for someone who has been involved in the game for a long time to overlook basic information or take it for granted as common knowledge. From a coach's perspective, what information should be included in any introduction to the game? What more can be done to help new coaches? I'm sure there are many coaches who aren't aware that these forums exist. What can be done to extend resources to those coaches?
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vathreya »

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:00 pm Vikshar, I hear you loud and clear, and when I was your age 12 years ago (and for a plenty long time thereafter) I agreed with pretty much everything you said.

The mindset that quizbowl is a grassroots community with no need for bureaucratic red tape like adult supervision and school approval shares a ton of Venn diagram overlap with the mindset that misconduct issues aren't a problem to be seriously dealt with. To be clear, I'm not claiming that you personally think that misconduct issues aren't a problem; I'm talking generally. This community isn't some startup company where being careful gets in the way of growth. (And, to digress, to hell with that mindset and all of the ensuing problems it has in the business world for treating women/BIPOC like garbage.) Quizbowl's been around for forty damn years; it's way past time we acted like it.

We need to treat the high school game seriously, and a big part of that is adult supervision. We as a community need to be more successful at convincing schools that this game is worth supporting. It sucks when a school won't meet you halfway on that. But the response to that shortcoming isn't "cut corners on adult supervision" when our community is so damn bad at inclusivity and discipline - two things that adult supervision can really help with. The correct response is to put more work in on outreach, marketing, and support.
I apologize if my post came across as claiming that misconduct issues weren't a problem. I guess my point in all this was that if you had a rule of "school approval," that may kill some circuits and reduce others to a fraction of their original size. It may be true that quiz bowl has been around for forty years, but that is probably not true of many regions (especially in the West). Most quiz bowl teams, at least in the Bay Area, are fairly recent. Additionally, the bigger factor here isn't time; it's size - the simple fact of the matter is that quiz bowl is a fairly small and niche activity compared to large and popular ones.

In any case, I think the main issue here is that such rules actively penalize responsible students and parents solely for having uncooperative school administrations. There are cases where even merely informing a school about tournament attendance could jeopardize a team's existence (such as my own high school, as well as other schools that I have interacted with). My proposal was never to get rid of "adult supervision" requirements completely; rather, I proposed that students from schools with uncooperative administrations could opt to bring a non-school affiliated adult supervisor (21+, perhaps this rule could be more stringent and mandate that it be a parent/guardian of one of the players), provided the players on the team (and their parents/guardians) sign a release of sorts.

I'm curious as to why "school approval" would be a necessary precursor for attendance; I can imagine that while such a policy has potential for abuse by rogue teams, I'd also be inclined to give teams some leniency if they can elaborate upon legitimate circumstances as to why they cannot gain school approval, and then approve the teams on a tournament-by-tournament basis (cross-checking with school policies. This is somewhat similar to the NAQT policy (as far as I'm aware of), but with the addition of a required chaperone. This might not be enough to "professionalize" quiz bowl enough, but I think it's the best we can do without major impacts on tournament attendance and without significantly penalizing schools with uncooperative administrations.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by alexdz »

Coaching resources a big topic of discussion for us at the Missouri Quizbowl Alliance at our meeting this weekend. We'd really like to offer some training sessions for coaches (of all levels of experience) that would be accessible virtually. Local circuits are probably going to be more tied in to coaches who don't particularly care much about nationals, and I think while national resources like PACE are great, local orgs are in a great position to answer the more specific questions about rules, events, and policies that most new coaches are in need of knowing. So I'd encourage other local organizations to make sure that they offer localized coaches resources and not just link to stuff from NAQT/PACE/etc. (which are great, just not as specific as many coaches will want/need).

(Edited to be less vague about the topic at hand.)
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ben Dillon »

RexSueciae wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:08 am Want of sleep is making my words get mixed up and I'm not sure how to put this, but it worries me a bit that men of quizbowl were specifically asked, "how are you going to contribute to fixing [misconduct and misogyny in quizbowl]" and it's this thread that gets the lion's share of the comments.
As the person who started this thread (albeit not directly, since it was split from the other), I never really meant this to be a flashpoint. Whether or not rogue teams are banned/vetted better/whatever is not that important to the larger issue. But I think it could be part of the mosaic.

There seems to be some agreement anyway, so perhaps we should close this thread out.
  • Players deserve to compete in a harassment-free atmosphere. This means that players should police other players when possible, especially male players policing other male players.
  • Coaches should not tolerate harassment in their practices, much less competitions. If a coach cannot attend a competition, they should be designating a chaperone to attend. If there is no coach/chaperone, any team should still be designating a school contact to whom problems can be escalated.
  • Moderators should stop harassment when it occurs. If they have to stop a clock to do that, then that's what they do. If it's outside a match situation, they should still be intervening.
  • Tournament directors should make it clear to all participants that harassment will not be tolerated. That means intervening with any or all of the participants (the player, their coach/chaperone, the school official, the moderator).
As I reread the above, I realize my points spill over into other threads.

So, with respect to rogue teams... Teams should be informing a TD that they are rogue, and the TD absolutely should feel comfortable asking for a school contact and then absolutely feel comfortable escalating misconduct to that official after a tournament. Either directly or indirectly, the rogue team is representing their school.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by alexdz »

vathreya wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:36 am I'm curious as to why "school approval" would be a necessary precursor for attendance...
I've brought this up before in this thread, but for tournaments hosted at K-12 schools, I would have a hard time believing that the host school's administration would be OK with a group of students from another school competing in a school-based competition without supervision by a person approved from the school. I've worked in public and private schools, and I can't imagine my principals, ADs, or superintendents being fine with this knowingly happening on their campuses.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by FJOIII »

It is a bad idea that will barely help anyone, and has the potential to hurt more people than it helps to make it mandatory for coaches/advisors/chaperones to go with every team or school to every tournament. It is a good idea to make it mandatory for teams who register for tournaments to provide an advisors email to contact in case there are complaints of misconduct or microaggressions. It is a good idea to incorporate into tournament announcements and stat reports a form to file a complaint against a player/team. Here is why:

A lot of this conversation is idealized and I'm not seeing any sort of realistic plans for implementation. Most activities that I or my classmates compete in (Mock Trial, Model United Nations, Science Olympiad, Speech and Debate, among others) have rules that require a teacher to be present at the main competition event. Most of these rules are wholly ignored ("our advisor is running late/in the bathroom/grabbing a snack/sick/with someone else" we will say). Most of those activities (with the exception of Mock Trial, which is led by a strong and wonderful female attorney coach, and had a 12-4 female-male ratio last year) are overwhelmingly dominated by males (at least at my school, which is where I can speak of club demographics with a high degree of certainty). Most of these activities are led by a strong central body and organization. Quizbowl is not. I don't see why this measure would work in quizbowl when it hasn't worked with these other activities. This is to say nothing of male sports, which are utterly consumed by misogyny, despite strong coach presence (where do you think "locker room talk" comes from?). I see no evidence that adult presence diminishes misogyny or microaggressions in other environments, yet this conversation so far has taken for granted that it would somehow have that effect in quizbowl.

If you think that having a coach guilted and pleaded to follow along with a team to every tournament will do anything on most teams other than make them attend less tournaments, you're too disconnected from a regular, modern high school quizbowl tournament. The teams that bring coaches to every tournament that I know of (Olympian, University City, and Francis Parker in my region) are as male-dominated as any of the other "rogue" teams (Scripps Ranch, Westview, Arcadia, Del Norte, La Jolla, CCA, etc.) and certainly do not behave particularly better (or worse) at tournaments in any discernible way. In fact, two of the coach-led teams are 100% male (UC & FP). Mandating that a coach be physically present for a tournament will do effectively nothing but destroy quizbowl as an activity in many circuits and severely shrink others—that is just a fact. Many people are aware of this fact and say that it's a sacrifice that's worth it to decrease the misogyny that plagues the activity. I think they may be right, except that this measure will not decrease the misogyny and misconduct levels in high school quizbowl discernibly, and may in fact be counter-productive on that front.

In the thread that this one was born from, Lauren Onel shared how having a teacher physically present did effectively nothing in both her quizbowl and swim teams, because they were there out of obligation rather than a genuine interest in policing the microaggressions of a bunch of teenagers for 8 hours on a Saturday for no additional pay. Further, an argument some have made here is that teachers are somehow "trained" to deal with this sort of harassment. That is false; they are "trained" to avoid Title IX suits. Any teacher who uses their training will simply determine that the best way to avoid a suit is to not allow a team to go to a quizbowl tournament: easy. That is not the goal and does not really address the issue.

Even worse is the fact that in your attempt to avoid power positions that promote microaggressions and misconduct, your proposal lends itself to an environment that promotes predators. You force kids to be alone or close to alone with a coach (solo teams are already common, and are more so in NHBB who already have a vaguely similar rule, so I foresee them being common in this brave new quizbowl world in question). You make that coach the sole contact for reporting misconduct to the school. You put them together for a whole day multiple times a year for up to 4 years in an environment that is otherwise unsupervised, particularly at lunch. In the overwhelming majority of cases, nothing unbecoming happens, other than a little awkwardness. However, you'd be naive to believe that nothing unbecoming would ever happen in any such case though. Nowhere. In the nation. Not once. Everyone here knows better than that. If this proposal were to come to pass, and a few years down the line a story like that comes out, don't act shocked like you never saw it coming. There are already known instances of adult coaches dating underage high school students.

So what do we get with this proposal, even assuming it were magically universally implemented? A national scene with much less quizbowl, higher barriers to entry, only *very* marginally lower rates of harassment and microaggression (a lot advisors I know wouldn't know or care to call out microaggressions vigilantly), and an environment that lends itself to predation. And that's when these practically unenforceable rules are followed. Come on guys, we can come up with something better than this.

I don't want to be the guy who just bashes an idea and leaves having added nothing to the conversation, so I propose the two ideas that I mentioned at the top and that I've seen floated around in other places as well. Namely: making it mandatory for teams who register for tournaments to provide an advisors email to contact in case there are complaints of misconduct or microaggressions, and incorporate into tournament announcements and stat reports a form to file a complaint against a player/team. The latter should be promoted in the "morning meeting" when schedules and logistics are announced, and should be announced at the last round before lunch too.

The providing of a contact of an advisor is just common sense, and it's part of the proposal that is being floated that I wholeheartedly agree with. It would be equally effective at stopping future misconduct if the teacher reprimands/teaches the belligerent team or student at school or at the tournament itself, as far as I am aware, and has none of the drawbacks of a predatory environment or blocking new and continuing schools from playing quizbowl ever.

So before lunch moderators would tell teams: "Ok, so be back for round 6 by 1:30 at the latest, and as a reminder, if you have any complaints about the conduct of a player, team, or coach, make sure that you inform the Tournament Director in room 906!"
On the stats report: "Host location: Del Norte High School, Address: 16601 Nighthawk Ln, San Diego, California 92127, Question Set: 2019 BLAST, Field cap: 32 teams, Varsity division: BLAST 2019, JV division: IS-191A, Form for reporting misconduct: [insert link to form here]."
On the forum post: "QUESTION SET:...
DATE/TIME:...
LOCATION:...
REGISTRATION:...
PRICING:...
DISCOUNTS:...
TOURNAMENT FORMAT:...
FOOD:...
REPORTING MISCONDUCT/BAD BEHAVIOR: If any player experiences any aggression, bad behavior, misconduct, or anything that made them uncomfortable, please fill out this: [link] form."

Let me know what you think of my proposals, and I'm sorry if I came down really hard on your idea, again any idea is better than no idea, which is what most people have pitched so far. I really don't mean to be rude to anyone. Let me know if my ideas are actually not very good, which seems entirely possible, but I figured I'd bring a perspective that may be lacking to this discourse, which I hope soon yields productive action to mitigate quizbowls largest issue (misconduct and misogyny). Thanks for reading/skimming!
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by RexSueciae »

I agree fully with your assessment of mandatory coaches (thanks for showing up with data) and those are all solid ideas for keeping teams accountable -- hopefully the misconduct forms / contact lines become a community standard, because that actually sounds like it will do some good.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Dominator »

Hi Frederic! I live in Scripps Ranch now.

In my former life, I was a quizbowl coach in Illinois, where every team had a coach. When my son started playing quizbowl this year, I was horrified to find that there were teams attending an MS tournament, run by HSers no less, with no adult supervision. As a parent, I cannot let my son continue to play on this circuit, at least in its current form.

The good news is that I still love quizbowl and am capable of running tournaments myself. I’m hoping to work with the local quizbowl leadership to put on high quality events for MS and HS as soon as doing so is safe. And in the name of safety, having a physically present coach or adult sponsor will absolutely be a requirement for every team.

I know what a healthy HS circuit looks like, and SoCal simply doesn’t have one. It has a lot of enthusiastic young quizbowlers, but it takes more than that to make a strong community.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vrohan »

Dominator wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:55 pm When my son started playing quizbowl this year, I was horrified to find that there were teams attending an MS tournament, run by HSers no less, with no adult supervision. As a parent, I cannot let my son continue to play on this circuit, at least in its current form.
Every high school in SoCal running tournaments has and will continue to have an adult supervisor who is a district employee on site at all times. Usually it is the club advisors who take on this role, they are often sitting in their classrooms, but they are always there and ready to help. I know for a fact that we would never run tournaments without our advisor there, so it seems that you're misinformed about this.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Captain Sinico »

I think there are some reasonable points being made here. In particular, I think our discussion so far has pointed out some important issues. How effective should we expect coaches to be in dealing with these problems and why? What costs might we pay in requiring coaches and how practical would such a requirement be? Dr. Prince's recent post has me thinking: How do parents, players, and other involved people feel about the current state of supervision/coaching in different parts of the game, and what might follow from that? (On this latter question, I suspect many informed adults people share my reaction: they look at some of these situations and say "Where are the adults?")

That said, there is one thing I sense here that I'd like to push back on. That is the notion that coaches are not likely to be useful in preventing and dealing with the some of the problems we are discussing here. Perhaps I've had the privilege of knowing some extraordinary coaches – in fact, certainly I have – but I can't recognize the picture of merely lawsuit-averse or uncaring (or worse!) figures that I see in sketch here. These strike me as chimeras, made of some of the worst parts of the worst exemplars we can think of.

There are some facts to be dealt with. It is a fact that teachers undergo training to manage students, including preventing problems and dealing with misbehavior, harassment, etc. It is a fact that a faculty coach is accountable to the school for what their players do, in a way that the players themselves or even their parents simply can't be. Is is a fact that teachers are have criminal liability for reporting and otherwise dealing properly with certain forms of abuse.

Despite saying that and being a coach myself, I wouldn't claim that any coach's management, training, or accountability is perfect – they're simply not. For one thing, they are mediated through coaches who are themselves neither perfect nor perfect solutions to the issues we confront here. I'd go further: I'd guess I can point as readily as anyone to some truly awful coaches.

That said, something needn't be perfect to be part of the solution. The suggestion that having a responsible adult in the room will do nothing for things like abuse by players seems very unlikely to me. I can imagine a coach who condones, perhaps passively, or even encourages, actively, bad sportsmanship or worse in players, but such people are exceedingly rare, in my experience, and subject to correction in ways that players on their own simply are not.

In summary: it is fair to say that we should be careful in what we expect involving or requiring more coaches might do, and what it might cost to get it. To say that this effect is "nothing" or "worse than nothing" strikes me as not reasonable.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Ciorwrong »

I've moderated many times both Michigan and Southern California. The times where I felt most uncomfortable as a moderator were with teams with no adult supervision who would say rude or inappropriate things. Frankly, sometimes I would call out misogynistic things but there were times I failed to control the room as well I should of because it's hard to control a room full of random high schoolers without sounding like a total asshole. I will do better in the future. Some teams, such as La Jolla as was pointed out, act very mature but you are being incredibly naive if you think that a team of four 14-year-old boys (many JV and C teams throughout the country for example) is going to act the same with or without a teacher in the room.

I TDed a tournament at MSU where there was a physical altercation between players for some reason. Thankfully for the sake of the tournament, this happened outside of the tournament game rooms and there was a coach or responsible adult who was able to inform me that they handled the situation internally when I asked what was going on. This team, who I will not name, has a reputation of acting rude and undisciplined when they are unsupervised. I was not made aware of any incidents of misconduct (of course, this doesn't mean they didn't occur) but I think the benefits are strongly titled towards mandating a chaperone or teacher at serious tournaments. When I was in high school, this was a rule my district had in place. For a lot of tournaments we had teacher chaperones who knew absolutely nothing about quizbowl and deferred to me on things like protests and rules. That said, an adult presence is valuable especially for when things go wrong.

I'm glad there are some precocious teenagers in the community, but their existence should not prevent us from trying to improve the safety and atmosphere at our tournaments. I've only been a "coach" or chaperone at one tournament: NASAT 2019 and I hope that I was able to be an effective resource for the players before, during and after the tournament. I am glad that IQBT mandated chaperones at this specific tournament and all the teams I saw at NASAT were respectful and gracious. Frankly, they were much more respectful than the typical unaccompanied SoCal team.

EDIT: word choice
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Dominator »

vrohan wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:51 am
Dominator wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:55 pm When my son started playing quizbowl this year, I was horrified to find that there were teams attending an MS tournament, run by HSers no less, with no adult supervision. As a parent, I cannot let my son continue to play on this circuit, at least in its current form.
Every high school in SoCal running tournaments has and will continue to have an adult supervisor who is a district employee on site at all times. Usually it is the club advisors who take on this role, they are often sitting in their classrooms, but they are always there and ready to help. I know for a fact that we would never run tournaments without our advisor there, so it seems that you're misinformed about this.
No, Rohan, I am not mistaken or misinformed. I was personally there, and got my information directly from the TD: you. I changed my plans to stick around with my son's team that whole day because they deserved to have a supervisor with them when their nominal coach, also you, left them alone. Having a single adult sponsor be present in the physical sense only is not enough to ensure the safety of 24-30 MS teams.

Do you remember the lunch break at that tournament when students were told directly to walk several blocks down a not-unbusy road to get food? A good number of those teams were unsupervised at that point. Let alone what could have happened during that lunch break, was there anyone at the tournament making sure those kids got back okay? (If you need someone to refresh your memory, no, there was not.) And do you remember at a different time canceling practice the day of with no warning because you had homework to do, and I found out when I came to pick my son up at the normal time only to find out he had been waiting for me outside for OVER AN HOUR because he didn't have a phone to call me? Dude, HE WAS 11.

I am not exaggerating in saying that if I had made such poor decisions with student safety when I was a teacher, I would have rightfully lost my job. If this is what SoCal quizbowl is, it deserves to not exist.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Dominator wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:01 am
vrohan wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:51 am
Dominator wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:55 pm When my son started playing quizbowl this year, I was horrified to find that there were teams attending an MS tournament, run by HSers no less, with no adult supervision. As a parent, I cannot let my son continue to play on this circuit, at least in its current form.
Every high school in SoCal running tournaments has and will continue to have an adult supervisor who is a district employee on site at all times. Usually it is the club advisors who take on this role, they are often sitting in their classrooms, but they are always there and ready to help. I know for a fact that we would never run tournaments without our advisor there, so it seems that you're misinformed about this.
No, Rohan, I am not mistaken or misinformed. I was personally there, and got my information directly from the TD: you. I changed my plans to stick around with my son's team that whole day because they deserved to have a supervisor with them when their nominal coach, also you, left them alone. Having a single adult sponsor be present in the physical sense only is not enough to ensure the safety of 24-30 MS teams.

Do you remember the lunch break at that tournament when students were told directly to walk several blocks down a not-unbusy road to get food? A good number of those teams were unsupervised at that point. Let alone what could have happened during that lunch break, was there anyone at the tournament making sure those kids got back okay? (If you need someone to refresh your memory, no, there was not.) And do you remember at a different time canceling practice the day of with no warning because you had homework to do, and I found out when I came to pick my son up at the normal time only to find out he had been waiting for me outside for OVER AN HOUR because he didn't have a phone to call me? Dude, HE WAS 11.

I am not exaggerating in saying that if I had made such poor decisions with student safety when I was a teacher, I would have rightfully lost my job. If this is what SoCal quizbowl is, it deserves to not exist.
As someone who might be moving his 10 year old quizbowl-interested son to San Diego in the near future, reading this made me sick.

There is a vast difference between how things appear to be to a high school student or undergrad and how things actually are. You - and I'm speaking to Rohan and any other high schooler reading this - you simply have not experienced enough yet to understand the breadth of what we're talking about when we advocate for adult supervision and authority figure leadership. I know that you don't understand it because when I was your age, I made versions of every mistaken argument you are making now, and the only thing that changed my mind was years and years and years of listening to other people share their experiences with me. The first several years were wasted by fighting back against them, exactly as you are now.

This isn't some hackneyed "you'll stop being so progressive when you're older" bit. Trust me when I say this: listen to the adults here. We're trying to help build this community. Do you really think we'd recommend killing it?
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by alexdz »

Yeah, one adult supervisor hiding in a classroom is nowhere near the appropriate level of adult supervision for that many middle schoolers. That's horrifying to me, both as an educator and as a reasonable adult person. I don't know what your school experience was like, Rohan, but I've been a teacher for 8 years now, and *every single day* I have more than one mini-crisis to handle at once, and that's when I'm actively engaged with about 20 students or less, let alone an entire crowd whose safety would rest completely on my shoulders (and my liability as an educator!).
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by CPiGuy »

I think there's a distinction to be made here between "coaches" and "adult supervision".

It should probably be the case that all HS and MS teams attending tournaments be required to have some adult supervision (NAQT's chaperone policies at NCTs are a good model for this). However, I think it's pretty unreasonable to impose standards for the degree of the relationship that this adult has with the team outside of the tournament -- doing so will stop a lot of kids from competing for in my opinion not a lot of benefit.

Basically I think in most cases it's fine if the chaperone is a parent, or a teacher who doesn't actually help run the club in any way. As long as there's an adult who is responsible for the kids and is made aware of this responsibility.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World »

I want to once again stress my point of the *net good* for the circuit that transitioning to a coach involved model would have as justification for it. If a clear chain of command where there are adults in every room costs a few teams the chance to play a few tournaments, that's tough. It's far better to reduce risk of incident- not just of misconduct, but as Dr. Prince and Alex Dzurick point out, of an unaccompanied minor getting into an accident or medical emergency. I have staffed multiple events where students have fallen ill or in one case got into a somewhat serious accident, enough they had to leave. In these cases, there were coaches, and they helped get the student the aid they needed. I loathe to think how some 14 year olds would handle one of their peers in serious trouble.

If it makes some of the high school and middle school teams deal with bureaucracy, so be it. Quizbowl teaches many skills beyond just academic knowledge, and learning how to deal with red tape is a very important skill they will use time and again in college and as adults. I'm fine with the idea of it not being a coach or school employee, but chaperones definitely need to be sanctioned by the school sending a team.
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