On HS Teams Without Coaches

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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vrohan »

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.
If you looked around, there were numerous parents accompanying their kids to watch matches. Regarding this, when I started Quizbowl in 7th grade, my parents stayed with me at the entire first tournament. However, they decided after the first half of the second tournament I attended that these tournaments are routinely very safe and thus have not attended a tournament since. I know numerous other parents who believe the same way. The tournaments are safe to the point where there is no need to require parent supervision when there are so many parents present.
Dominator wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:55 pm 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.)
Many of the kids realize that it is indeed safe to walk alone to get lunch near the Westview area, and their parents realize that as well, which is why they are even allowed to do so in the first place. No parent is stupid enough to let their kid walk with no adults without knowing if the area is safe, so please don't insinuate that either. If you still don't think the area is safe, you are more than welcome to continue staying with your son at every tournament he goes to.
Dominator wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:55 pm 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.
Regarding this, we had sent out an email that morning saying practice was cancelled to both you and your son. I didn't have a phone when I was in middle school, but I could go to the office and call from there, which I did multiple times, and he could have easily done the same.

Also, I really hate the idea of having a public argument like this, especially when you have the habit of personally attacking me instead of sticking to the subject of this thread, so I will probably stop after this post.

Thanks for your concern though :)
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Dominator »

Rohan, I'm not attacking you, but I am attacking poor decisions you've made. The fact that you don't think student safety is a big deal is, in fact, a big deal. You're not alone in feeling the way you do, and you're not the only one who has made bad judgments, and that's what makes the SoCal quizbowl circuit so terrifying. Instead of trying to be right here, try to focus on doing right.

You do not need to tell me about the adults who were there at that tournament, because, as I'll remind you, I was there, too. Instead of telling me of all the parents who don't think safety is an issue, think about all the parents who are driven away from quizbowl because they see that tournaments are not prioritizing the safety of their children. How many participants at the tournament were uncomfortable with the lack of adult supervision? Were there any issues at lunch where one of these 12-year-olds was made uncomfortable, either by a teammate or a competitor or a stranger on the street? How many of those players won't want to come to another tournament? Did you ever stop to ask?

And pointing out that my son could have made different decisions to handle the practice cancellation situation better is ENTIRELY MY POINT. He didn't handle the situation perfectly. BECAUSE HE WAS 11. Thankfully, he was safe, and his mother and I took the opportunity as a teachable moment. What have YOU learned from your involvement in it?

I thank you wholeheartedly for your posts, Rohan. You're proving my points far better than I could. I hope now people can see what we're dealing with in SoCal so we can start to build a better, safer, more inclusive circuit.

If you're in SoCal and you're on board with what I'm saying, please email me. I'd love to work together.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by warum »

Rohan, if you don't think that 11-year-old kids should have an adult along with them while walking by a busy road as part of an official school activity, I don't know what to tell you. First of all, kids that age are not mature enough to manage a situation if one of them gets lost or has a medical emergency. Second, not all kids who will be at a tournament know that stretch of road as well as you do. It is unrealistic to assume they all feel as safe on it as you do, but by not requiring adult supervision for all, you are sending a signal to all teams that adult supervision is not needed. It's not sufficient to rely on individual teams' judgement of whether they require adult supervision.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by CPiGuy »

The idea that middle school teams are attending tournaments without adult supervision is kind of horrifying. I worked as a counselor at a month-long residential math camp for 11-14 year old kids the last three summers. These kids are brilliant and wonderful and almost universally should not be trusted to handle themselves without any adult supervision at a day-long quizbowl tournament.

I mentioned NAQT's chaperone policy at nationals; I think every quizbowl tournament should adopt something similar to this:
At [the middle school level], every team (not just every school) must have a chaperone who is at least 18 years old. The chaperone must always be near the team.

At [the high school level], every school must have a chaperone who is at least 18 years old (and it’s okay for the same chaperone to be responsible for multiple teams from the same school, though having a chaperone for each team is better). The chaperone must always be able to reach the team (physically) within ten minutes.
I would add that I, personally, would be comfortable allowing an 18-year-old student to serve as the "chaperone" for their high school team. Other TDs may feel differently.

These guidelines are not particularly onerous; in particular they do not require that teams have formal support from their school (something many people in this thread have proposed, and which I generally oppose, if only because it should not be incumbent on TDs to verify the status of every team that signs up for their tournaments with often-unresponsive school administrations). This seems to me to be a reasonable minimum requirement to keep kids safe at tournaments (both from others and, as I think is much more frequently a concern, from themselves!).
Last edited by CPiGuy on Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vrohan »

warum wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:33 pm Rohan, if you don't think that 11-year-old kids should have an adult along with them while walking by a busy road as part of an official school activity, I don't know what to tell you. First of all, kids that age are not mature enough to manage a situation if one of them gets lost or has a medical emergency. Second, not all kids who will be at a tournament know that stretch of road as well as you do. It is unrealistic to assume they all feel as safe on it as you do, but by not requiring adult supervision for all, you are sending a signal to all teams that adult supervision is not needed. It's not sufficient to rely on individual teams' judgement of whether they require adult supervision.
Ok one last thing: although he wasn't an adult, the other Meadowbrook coach (a high school student) routinely accompanied them for food. The reason he didn't do it at the Westview tournament was because Dr. Prince went with them. Although there are points to be made about whether high school is different from adult in this case, we were far from negligent.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Captain Sinico »

It is good that we're thinking about who is responsible as a chaperone, who needs one, and to what extent. As with the character of coaches, however, it's essential that we do our best to keep our focus off of exceptional cases or classes*. I suspect we've all known young people who were, to all appearances, very mature for their age in many ways – indeed this may be the case for the bulk of quizbowlers, albeit certainly not all. Further, it's very possible that some of us here are or were those precociously mature people, though I'd caution you (from my own experience with myself, if from nowhere else!) that a lot more people think they're this sort of person and demand to be treated accordingly than truly are.

Therefore, in order to cut across our – understandable, human – tendency to think of such exceptions first, it's useful to consider two things about potential chaperones. First, what is that person's level of accountability? Second, how aligned with the good of the game and its players are that person's material objectives likely to be?

Nobody is perfect in either of these regards, but, particularly in consideration of the first criterion, school faculty acting as official coaches or chaperones seem clearly best. Parents or other adults trusted by the school are likely to rate highly as well, and a well-run organization will put such people to good use. One thing that might make sense for us to do as quizbowl, then, is to demand a more formal relationship between team and chaperone. This may cause/allow organizations and well-meaning people to rise to meet our expectations.

*At the same time, I think it's reasonable to say "How would we deal with those exceptional cases? What would we propose to do about a negligent or even abusive coach? How do we provide an appropriate environment for a mature student?" Those are certainly important issues that would rightly have the focus in due time, and have some consideration here. For instance, I would strongly oppose anything tantamount to "All coaches are 100% trustworthy; you don't need to check them".
Last edited by Captain Sinico on Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Subotai the Valiant, Final Dog of War »

CPiGuy wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:06 pm 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.
Strong agree with Conor. If we were required to have a dedicated coach who did anything more than get school permission for our club to exist, Hunter's club would have both disintegrated at least once in the past six years, if not more times. This is not a problem isolated to a few marginal schools; Hunter has an extremely established program in the quiz bowl world running for over a decade, yet we too would have been destroyed by this policy.

Yes, certainly require an adult chaperone for each school; every school that I know of requires this at least in name, and for reasons of liability, safety, and manageability, this is a reasonable requirement. No, definitely don't require a team to have a true coach who knows stuff about quiz bowl, and definitely don't require a coach to be present at every tournament a team is present at, which is somewhat implied by some of the arguments being offered as to why a coach is good. Requiring every team to have their coach, or even a designated teacher, physically with them at the tournaments they play would probably at least halve the tournaments playable by many teams for virtually no gain compared to just having a one-time adult chaperone.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Captain Sinico »

Here's a bit of a spinoff from my previous post. It's worthwhile to consider that how we handle requirements for chaperones and supervision can form a de facto demand for precocious maturity as prerequisite to play the game safely. We should be concerned that too lax requirements for adult involvement present a barrier against students and teams as real as a coach presence requirement, albeit an unwritten one. We should be very concerned that those who generally pay the cost when our unwritten expectation for prodigious maturity isn't met are the students themselves.

Having coached where I have for the past 8 years, I've certainly known players who, without adult and peer support, would stand a big chance of failing these sorts of maturity/socialization tests and doing harm of various kinds to self and others. Consider that in just my time, our team has been built of students from a wide variety of cultural and language backgrounds; those with physical and neuropsychological disabilities/differences, including ones likely to impact both interpersonal relations and gameplay; students experiencing very deprived life circumstances/SES, including precarious housing situations; students aged 13-19; etc. It would be unreasonable and unfair to expect all these very different young people to already know how to treat everyone right, much less to routinely achieve mastery of this skill unsupported in a sometimes tense and competitive environment that makes heavy performance demands.

In summary: we'd better be prepared to support a wide variety of students to meet our maturity requirements, or we are excluding people.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vathreya »

I think the argument being made here for actual teacher advisors/coaches to accompany teams vs. parents is less about "ensuring safety" and more about maintaining professionalism. Anecdotally, however, I am familiar with multiple school activities my high school engaged in that had no teacher accompaniment - our chess club (competing as a school) went to tournaments without teachers, robotics teams, and even our school Bollywood dance team (yes that was a thing). This might be something unique to MSJ/the MSJ area, but most teachers were aware of the fact that students engaged in multiple extracurriculars/attended "school-based" events without teachers accompanying them, but didn't care enough to enforce rules or make the effort to go to such events to "legitimize" the school's attendance.

In fact, I believe when my brother (who attends MSJ) went to ask the principal about hosting a tournament at MSJ, the principal told them they could book some wing of the school and then essentially do whatever they needed to. It was never stated, implicitly or explicitly, that a teacher was required. Now, having a teacher may well have been a requirement, but the fact that it was never brought up when discussing the plans for the tournament suggest that the administration may not have cared enough to enforce it. Indeed, for some events other than qb at MSJ, there have been no teacher advisors present.

Again, this may be unique to MSJ, because MSJ's highly motivated student body and highly underfunded teaching staff inevitably lead to students engaging in a plethora of "school-based" extracurriculars without teacher accompaniment, and teachers/principals/administrators not caring enough to enforce such a rule, if it existed. Basically, even if an activity didn't explicitly exist as a school-sanctioned activity at MSJ, parents and/or students would find some way or another to participate.

However, I understand that this is not the case in many places. The point of this somewhat tangential post was more to highlight the fact that not all schools care about "professionalism" uniformly, and that requiring a teacher advisor may not necessarily provide any significant benefit (in terms of school-based outreach).
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Captain Sinico »

There's one more thing I'd like to make sure we consider here. We've heard a great deal in this thread that more stringent coaching/chaperone/sponsorship requirements would serve to kill off teams. This seems reasonable on its face, for two reasons. First, many teams now don't have such close involvement of coach-type adults. Second, for those that do, we can get out of people what we can, and demanding more would reasonably cause some to walk away.

However, this is only a partial analysis. Some consideration is due to the counterclaim that people and teams will tend to rise to meet expectations, such that it's not necessarily reasonable to hold team structure and composition constant if we're imagining a pervasive change to expectations for teams. Some un-coached teams will surely find coaches to match their need. Some coaches and other adults whose current M.O. meets the current (low) standards would surely adapt their practice to a new (higher) standard.

This connects back to our central point in an important way. A game that sees players treated better – in addition to being just qualitatively a much better game, of course! – would likely attract even more people and offset any teams that go away. This is not to say that this rosy picture is certain given any ratcheting up of expectations, nor to deny claims of knowledgable people about teams that aren't likely to make a new cut. The only point is: "This team currently doesn't meet what you're describing, so it will cease to be if that's implemented" is much too glib.

I can think of two examples that may serve to adduce what I'm saying. The first is the partial resolution to the long wars over longer, pyramidal questions. Key arguments of the "anti-" side have generally included the same kind of "This would destroy a lot of teams" rhetoric: many teams aren't used to these questions, don't like them, don't know how to prepare for them/would see their old preparation debased, won't be able to find moderators to read them, etc. However, even in the face of those objections, some of which valid, pyramidal quizbowl goes on growing, because it's better and fairer and teams rise to meet the new standard.

A second example is made by pointing out that areas with the most teams/highest density of teams also tend to make the most stringent demands of coaches. Quizbowl under various names is a formal state competition in Virginia and Illinois, to name two. I'll acknowledge there's some tail-wagging-dog possible here, in as much as it's reasonable to think that these areas have so many teams and so many coaches meeting (to whatever degree) the demands on them because the competition is official, and not the other way around. However, that leads to the question: why was the competition made official in these states, and what can be done about others? If things like robotics and video gaming teams can mushroom at schools and in states and demand things of their coaches, why not us? To what extent are we allowing ourselves to be sold short by having low expectations?
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Captain Sinico »

vathreya wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:39 pmI think the argument being made here for actual teacher advisors/coaches to accompany teams vs. parents is less about "ensuring safety" and more about maintaining professionalism.
I think you're right to a point, but the heart of your statement is a false dichotomy. Meeting standards of practice necessary to ensure safety and good conduct to the extent possible is the most important part of professionalism for a coach or educator. Any professionalism that doesn't have that at its heart is not worthy of the name.

I wonder if by "professionalism", you mean something different from what I have in mind – maybe something more like "being seen to do things that people expect".
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vathreya »

Captain Sinico wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:50 pm I think you're right to a point, but the heart of your statement is a false dichotomy. Meeting standards of practice necessary to ensure safety and good conduct to the extent possible is the most important part of professionalism for a coach or educator. Any professionalism that doesn't have that at its heart is not worthy of the name.

I wonder if by "professionalism", you mean something different from what I have in mind – maybe something more like "being seen to do things that people expect".
By safety, I meant that there probably isn't any reasonable difference between what a coach or a chaperone could do on the site of tournament/event to ensure safety than, say, a parent or other trusted adult. There is an argument to be made that coaches and teachers are answerable to their school (and are given training wrt misconduct and harassment), ensuring that they may provide an extra level of safety, but I'm not sure if that's worth mandating a teacher advisor when many teams, perhaps entire circuits, cannot meet that requirement.

I don't really know how to provide an explicit definition for how I defined professionalism, but I'll attempt to describe it here. Professionalism is the sense that an activity (in this case, a qb tournament) is not just a gathering of students doing stuff together, but a formal school-based activity with rules/regulations as such.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vathreya »

Captain Sinico wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:43 pm If things like robotics and video gaming teams can mushroom at schools and in states and demand things of their coaches, why not us? To what extent are we allowing ourselves to be sold short by having low expectations?
I have a theory for why this is the case. I'm not sure if it holds true everywhere (or even at all), but this is just from what I've noticed.

Quizbowl has too many tournaments. Competitions like robotics and DECA are able to use teacher advisors a lot more because most teams competing in them only attend 1-3 events/year (a regional tournament, states, and maybe a national tournament). For quizbowl, it's common for teams to attend >5 tournaments/competition year excluding nationals, which significantly increases the burden on teams and their teacher advisors (who aren't "coaches") to go through administrative hoops, get trips approved, etc.

The closest extracurricular I can think of to quiz bowl in this regard is debate, which also has numerous tournaments per year. However, debate also has advantages in terms of a large alumni network, relatively high popularity, and an earlier establishment. An earlier establishment lends itself to a larger alumni network, which, coupled with a higher demand, means that it is easier for many schools to find and establish a dedicated debate coach (who would then accompany the team to tournaments without caring much for the time commitment). Additionally, the larger number of rich and/or famous debate alumni means that it is easier for programs to receive funding and support to start. This is also a catch-22, because by having debate coaches become the norm, schools that start debate programs will also start searching for coaches. Quiz bowl does not have as robust an alumni network, nor does it have many rich/famous alumni (the closest people I can think of to rich and famous qb alumni are people like Ken Jennings). While it is true that quiz bowl is by no means a niche activity, it is still relatively new, relatively small (in terms of both demand and popularity) compared to activities with a similarly busy competition schedule. In addition, the existence of many teams without dedicated coaches (probably) makes it less likely that teams and/or schools will search for one. That, coupled with the relatively demanding competition schedule, is what hinders quiz bowl's proliferation relative to competitions such as robotics and debate.

This is just my theory, and I'd like to hear others' opinions regarding this. I think one thing we can do to combat this is to engage in simultaneous "top-down" (administration to students) and "bottom-up" (students to administration) outreach. By simultaneously creating demand among the student body while convincing administrators to invest resources into the activity, we can do more to help with proliferating quiz bowl.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by alexdz »

For as many downsides as there can often be to having quizbowl be an official activity for some statewide organization (EDIT: like a state activities association, not just a quizbowl group), one of its biggest benefits is that it is more likely that coaches (at least head coaches) are paid, which makes it more likely that they'll be willing to attend more frequent events. In Missouri, for example, since Scholar Bowl is just as much a MSHSAA activity as basketball is, schools generally pay some kind of stipend to the head quizbowl coach. It's usually nowhere near what the sports coaches get paid, but it's something. My assistant track coach contract was an additional 3% stipend of my salary, which amounted to a less than a thousand bucks for the season, but it at least made the commitment feel important and real.

I'm in the camp of requiring some kind of school-affiliated adult chaperone, even if that person is simply a parent approved by the school. I do think that requiring an official faculty coach in all circumstances might not be necessary, but I do think some kind of vetting process through the school ought to be taken to ensure a clear procedure for dealing with any emergency or misconduct that may arise.
Last edited by alexdz on Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by bkmcavoybickford »

In at least some cases, teams that attend tournaments without a coach/advisor have made attempts to find a teacher who is willing to advise them in some capacity.

This is an abbreviated version of longer happenings, but in my school's case, a few times, our normal advisor was not able to do various things, including provide a room for practice and advise us when we were planning to host a tournament (that did not happen but was planned). In the case of trying to find an advisor for the tournament, we talked to over 10 teachers before eventually finding 2 teachers who each could advise us for part of the tournament. Our normal advisor doesn't accompany us to tournaments, so we would have to either find a new advisor who is willing to do that (I believe our school gives nothing to club advisors, but I'm not sure quite what would happen if we were to have to take a teacher to tournaments). My school has some advantages- our school is in a fairly wealthy region and our quiz bowl program is established- which puts us in a lot better a position than many other teams, but yet we found it very hard to get an advisor for 1 tournament. We made some errors in trying to find a teacher who could help out with that one tournament, but it's still a large undertaking to try to persuade teachers to give up their free time to supervise students. Other people from CHCCS schools may have had different experiences- feel free to chime in.

In our case, adult chaperones have presented much less of a problem- our school district requires them and we have never had any problem that I know of getting a parent chaperone to an HS tournament. However, at least in the form that our school district has, parent chaperones do require school approval a ways in advance- I'm not sure if that would be the same if it were tournaments requiring it.

What would having an "adult chaperone" look like on an online tournament? Would they have to be able to view the Discord independently of asking a player to show them it?
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Captain Sinico »

vathreya wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:01 pmI don't really know how to provide an explicit definition for how I defined professionalism, but I'll attempt to describe it here. Professionalism is the sense that an activity (in this case, a qb tournament) is not just a gathering of students doing stuff together, but a formal school-based activity with rules/regulations as such.
I understand. Why do we think people want this kind of appearance?

For me, the important reason is that the feeling that safety and good conduct are taken seriously is a necessary part of that "this isn't just some fly-by-night gathering of kids" feeling you describe, for at least a lot of people.
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by the return of AHAN »

vathreya wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 5:41 pm
Captain Sinico wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:43 pm If things like robotics and video gaming teams can mushroom at schools and in states and demand things of their coaches, why not us? To what extent are we allowing ourselves to be sold short by having low expectations?
[SNIP] While it is true that quiz bowl is by no means a niche activity, it is still relatively new, relatively small (in terms of both demand and popularity) compared to activities with a similarly busy competition schedule. In addition, the existence of many teams without dedicated coaches (probably) makes it less likely that teams and/or schools will search for one. That, coupled with the relatively demanding competition schedule, is what hinders quiz bowl's proliferation relative to competitions such as robotics and debate.
[/SNIP]
I was kind of passively perusing the debate in this thread, without much to add other than reiterate things Mr. Sorice has said, but I saw this, sat up, and decide to share my story of how I got to this spot.
I started the scholastic bowl program (though now defunct) at Wirth Middle School in Cahokia, IL in 1997, having read about it as an offering on the IESA (iesa.org) website, since my school was involved in other IESA activities, namely sports. I dove in head first and was passionate about trying to build something the school could be proud of. Cahokia is adjacent to East St. Louis and shares some characteristics of being high-poverty, high-minority, though perhaps not to the extent of E. St Louis District 187 proper. Anyway, my efforts and enthusiasm were recognized by the IESA (athletics & activities org that runs a middle school scholastic bowl state series in Illinois) in the form of an invitation to serve on the Advisory Board. There I met the late Mr. Floyd Rogers, of Barrington's Station Middle School. We got to know each other and I even invited him (however stupidly, LOL) to bring his team to the tournament I had been running the previous two seasons, in spring 2001 (yeah, yeah, Barrington Station torched the field, including my now-regionally dominant Wirth team, pretty soundly). Long story short, during our pre-tournament phone conversations, when I made an off-hand suggestion about coming to Barrington to help with the HS program, which wasn't as successful as he felt it should be, he turned serious, "Would you really consider coming to Barrington?"
The rest is history. Obviously, Barrington hired me to teach an open middle school math position over a number of other qualified candidates, due in no small part to the fact Mr. Rogers wanted me to replace HIM as Station's scholastic bowl coach since he was retiring in spring, 2001. He was coming off of a string of four straight appearances in the finals, and the Station principal valued bringing on someone who'd want to achieve that same sort of success.
I will say it was really cool when, this past winter, that now-retired principal met a number of Station teachers for an early-morning breakfast in town before school, and, as we recounted our most recent successes, he simply beamed and said, "I regard you as the greatest hiring decisions I ever made." :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:
At the risk of appearing self-aggrandizing, I told you this story to point out that, there really is something to be said for professionalizing the coaching ranks with the idea that quizbowl is something that is worth being a part of. It's worth being passionate about. The number of incredible people I've come to know, even if they were just adolescents at the time, is something I'll always treasure. I'd love to see quizbowl become an activity where coaches take pride in their teams' efforts and do what they can to impart their own expertise and present opportunities to grow, and not a place that's simply, "Oh,hey, new guy, can you be the sponsor of this club for a few years until we can dump it on another new teacher?"
Put another way, I retire in 7 years. Do you think I'll let Barrington quizbowl descend into mediocrity when I depart this chapter of my life? Not if I can help it! I'll be spending my final years watching for that person, ideally a math teacher like me, who can be lured to Barrington, plugged into my position, and hit the ground running in the fall of 2027.
Jeff Price
Barrington High School Coach
Barrington Station Middle School Coach (2013 MSNCT Champions, 2013 & 2017 Illinois Class AA State Champions)
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vathreya
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by vathreya »

the return of AHAN wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:19 pm At the risk of appearing self-aggrandizing, I told you this story to point out that, there really is something to be said for professionalizing the coaching ranks with the idea that quizbowl is something that is worth being a part of. It's worth being passionate about. The number of incredible people I've come to know, even if they were just adolescents at the time, is something I'll always treasure. I'd love to see quizbowl become an activity where coaches take pride in their teams' efforts and do what they can to impart their own expertise and present opportunities to grow, and not a place that's simply, "Oh,hey, new guy, can you be the sponsor of this club for a few years until we can dump it on another new teacher?"
Put another way, I retire in 7 years. Do you think I'll let Barrington quizbowl descend into mediocrity when I depart this chapter of my life? Not if I can help it! I'll be spending my final years watching for that person, ideally a math teacher like me, who can be lured to Barrington, plugged into my position, and hit the ground running in the fall of 2027.
I think it's awesome that you're so passionate and engaged in coaching, and I think your dedication to the game is commendable. That said, I think your situation is different, because there was a state organization that could have helped with organization and with school bureaucracies (rather, the bureaucracy would have incorporated quiz bowl). There are many states and regions for which this is not true. California, for example, has no state quiz bowl organization (good or bad). This means that instead of an organized network of coaches and resources for starting teams, coaches have to tirelessly work from scratch, building up teams. Additionally, the lack of a state organization means that many principals, administrators, etc, will not have heard of quiz bowl, and consequently will not care much about putting resources into it apart from what they normally would into extracurriculars, perhaps even less.

I think the logical next step in terms of outreach is to convert organizations (such as "X Region Quiz Bowl Alliance") into bona fide regional/state organizations. I'm not sure exactly how to do this, but I think if we're going to increase professionalization in quiz bowl, something of this sort has to happen. This organization can then set rules and normalize coaches/non-"rogue" teams, as well as providing an easier way to deal with administrators (by having an official state organization, perhaps tied to the state athletic organization, we can make it more likely that schools invest in this activity). I don't know exactly how to do this, and if people have tips on how to start and grow quiz bowl organizations into state-organized enterprises, I'd be happy to hear about them.
Vikshar Athreya
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Re: On HS Teams Without Coaches

Post by Dominator »

I think there's a lot of truth in what you're saying, Vikshar, but I think there's a difference in perspective between, say, Illinois and California.

It sounds to me like you're saying that because Illinois has a state organization, it's easier to build a network of coaches and other adults who can be the leadership of the circuit, but since California doesn't have that, it can't. What is missed, though, is that Illinois has a state organization for quizbowl because coaches and other adults created a circuit that the state then legitimized with an IHSA championship. Scholastic bowl in Illinois goes back at least as far as the 70s, but the IHSA didn't run its tournament until 1986.* Those coaches worked tirelessly to recruit players, write and host tournaments, build their own buzzer systems (!), and grow the game into neighboring districts. A relatively strong adult-led circuit was already in place before the IHSA stepped in. Having passionate dedicated leadership causes legitimacy, not the other way around.

*For more on the history of quizbowl in Illinois, I'd recommend the first episode of the Tossup 21 podcast with David Reinstein.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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