Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

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Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by osbornrj »

Thought I'd go ahead and initiate a new thread for the 2020-2021 Alabama quiz bowl season.

To kick things off, I'm hoping more Alabama middle school teams will sign up for this online tournament to be held on Saturday, Aug. 22:

viewtopic.php?f=46&t=24302

So far, the Alabama teams participating are Monrovia, West Point, and Arab. It would be great to see other Alabama middle school teams join in on this. Please note, however, that the questions will be high school level difficulty. This tournament is probably most appropriate for A teams.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by eshan pokhrel »

Hello,

I am excited to announce the first Alabama Scholars Bowl Open Tournament (ASBOT)!

ASBOT will be using the TAILS question set, a middle school/easy high school set.

This tournament will be hosted on December 5, 2020, and is open to all Middle Schools within the state of Alabama. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hosting the tournament on Discord. Players will need to make/use individual Discord accounts in order to avoid confusion regarding statistics.

ASBOT is currently capped at 24 teams at present, but if there is a high volume of waitlisted teams we will expand the field.

Teams will be allowed a maximum of 6 players per team, with 4 competing at once. Substitutions will be permitted immediately after the 10th question.

We are charging $60 a team, and any subsequent teams will be at $45. Payment details will be included in an email sent to coaches

Please register your teams at the following link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing

If that link does not work, please email me at [email protected] to register your teams.

We hope to hear from you and stay safe everyone!



Note: Unfortunately, we decided to move away from a housewritten set for ASBOT. The dual-purpose questions we were writing are now only being used at the Madison County Middle School tournament.
Last edited by eshan pokhrel on Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:19 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

We at West Point usually host our "Winter High School Invitational" on either the first or second weekend of December. Since both of those dates have been taken by ASBOT and Arab, we will be adjusting. I would like to reserve Saturday, Nov. 14 for our tournament. I will contact NAQT about the set. That is the first weekend that they are allowing in-person competitions. If something happens and they push that date, we will reschedule for Saturday, Jan. 9.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by eshan pokhrel »

Thank you, and we look forward to the West Point tournament ourselves.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by entropy »

eshan pokhrel wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:48 pm ASBOT is a house-written set by the Sparkman High School Varsity Team:
(Sparkman High School is not affiliated with this tournament, it is independently run by us 4)
Andrew Goetz
Caleb Ethridge
Eshan Pokhrel
Rebecca Jensen
Why has ASBOT chosen to write a new set for this tournament? The market for sets is already saturated [as Arthur Delot-Vilain said in his excellent post], and I highly doubt four people can put out a quality set in three and a half months. Unless there is some part of the situation I am missing, I strongly suggest that you instead mirror a preexisting set.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by eshan pokhrel »

Karan, you are a little misinformed on the situation.

1) We have been working on these questions since July, as we are using some of the sets from the Madison County tournament at ASBOT (Which is why MadCo SS teams are not permitted to enter at this time). 2) The article you reference pertains to high school sets, not middle school ones.

I believe the competitors at ASBOT (and the Madison County Tournament) will have an exciting yet challenging competition that will benefit everyone.
Last edited by eshan pokhrel on Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

entropy wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:05 pm
eshan pokhrel wrote: Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:48 pm ASBOT is a house-written set by the Sparkman High School Varsity Team:
(Sparkman High School is not affiliated with this tournament, it is independently run by us 4)
Andrew Goetz
Caleb Ethridge
Eshan Pokhrel
Rebecca Jensen
Why has ASBOT chosen to write a new set for this tournament? The market for sets is already saturated [as Arthur Delot-Vilain said in his excellent post], and I highly doubt four people can put out a quality set in three and a half months. Unless there is some part of the situation I am missing, I strongly suggest that you instead mirror a preexisting set.
I disagree. We are having a terrible time finding enough sets to do everything we need to do. I'm glad they are writing this set and, knowing these kids, they will do an admirable job.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by osbornrj »

Eshan can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the key here is the set Sparkman High School is writing is middle school level difficulty. The link the previous poster (Karan) shared was complaining about too many sets that are high school level difficulty. Are there too many middle school difficulty sets as well? I've not seen any posts to that effect.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by buffaloz1331 »

With all due respect, there are indeed a great number of sets being produced for this season [upwards of 30, 17 of them being standard "housewrites"]. These range in difficulty from high school novice to high school nationals difficulty, meaning that whatever difficulty level you need should be available. Unless there is some reason [format, etc] that these sets would be well-suited to this purpose, I would also recommend some of these sets. Of course, it's ultimately your choice whether you decide to go forward with this set [consider also by when you need this set to be done, and how long it may take four people to write enough questions to use in this set], but I would be happy to point you to people who can provide sets for this purpose, if you would like.

Best,
Arthur
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

buffaloz1331 wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:57 am With all due respect, there are indeed a great number of sets being produced for this season [upwards of 30, 17 of them being standard "housewrites"]. These range in difficulty from high school novice to high school nationals difficulty, meaning that whatever difficulty level you need should be available. Unless there is some reason [format, etc] that these sets would be well-suited to this purpose, I would also recommend some of these sets. Of course, it's ultimately your choice whether you decide to go forward with this set [consider also by when you need this set to be done, and how long it may take four people to write enough questions to use in this set], but I would be happy to point you to people who can provide sets for this purpose, if you would like.

Best,
Arthur
I am sending you a private message. Maybe I'm overlooking some things and you can help.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Vixor »

Good day,

Eshan Pokhrel and I are hosting an IQBT Rookie Mirror for Middle Schoolers. While this tournament is targeted towards Alabama schools, but any school is allowed to compete. However, Alabama schools will be given preference on the waitlist.

The tournament will be hosted online at Discord on October 10, 2020. Each round will contain 20 tossups, with no bonuses. There will be powers (+5) and negs (-5) within each tossup. We are hosting a 24-team field as of now, and we will update this post if anything changes.

There will be a $60 fee for each team entering. Payment details will be announced at a later date.

For now, we're limiting entry to 2 teams per school, and registration can be done at this link below:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... e76d#gid=0

Thank you for your interest and we look forward to seeing you compete!
Last edited by Vixor on Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by eshan pokhrel »

I'd like to clarify that ASBOT is separate from SOMSAT.

You can find the ASBOT registration at this link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing
You can find the SOMSAT registration here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing

I, however, will be co-directing both tournaments. I look forward to seeing y'all there.
Last edited by eshan pokhrel on Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by entropy »

osbornrj wrote: Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:16 am the set Sparkman High School is writing is middle school level difficulty
Thank you for your clarification, I wasn't sure what difficulty ASBOT was aiming for. I'd like to suggest you mirror either ERIS or TAILS, both of which are middle school difficulty. I wish ASBOT the best of luck!
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by osbornrj »

Monrovia Middle School is playing in the online tournament listed below. It will use Zoom and Buzzin.live. Other Alabama teams are welcome to register.

Lockout Affair Requiring Grade Eight Seven Six Entrants (LARGESSE)
Date: Saturday, January 9, 2021
Sponsor: Minnesota Quiz Bowl Alliance (Bloomington, MN)
Packet Set: MS-36
https://www.naqt.com/registration/field ... t_id=12026
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Vixor »

What sets will the Alabama High School state championships be running on? I received word that NAQT will be abandoned in favor of another set provider, as an in-person championship would be preferable to an online one according to ASCA.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by eshan pokhrel »

Adding to Vishal's question, would we be competing in district tournaments as well, or would the "state championship" run the way an invitational tournament would run, with signups rather than qualification.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by bdavery »

To (partly) answer the most recent 2 questions here: I was told that ASCA picked the same company (not mine, nor NAQT, I guess) for all 3 levels (MS, JV, HS). The request for proposals said 15 rounds per level, which is the same as past years, so my guess is, ASCA is planning to run it as close to normally as they can.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by osbornrj »

For those Alabama middle school and high school students who still want to play NAQT sets within our region, I'm working with a non-profit professional organization in hopes of offering the following:

— An online middle school tournament using NAQT's MS-37. If there's enough interest from schools, and enough volunteers, there's the potential to offer two divisions: Elementary (grades 5 & 6) and Middle School (grades 7 & 8).

— An online high school tournament using NAQT's IS-200A. Again, if there's enough interest, we could offer two divisions: Junior Varsity (grades 9 & 10) and Varsity (grades 11 & 12).

These tournaments would only be open to the Alabama-Mississippi region.

I'm targeting mid to late February, but there's a chance the tournaments could get pushed into March. If that happens I'll be sure to avoid the dates for the ASCA districts.

I've been trying to determine the best platform on which to run these tournaments. Right now I'm leaning very heavily toward using either Zoom or Google Meet, with Buzzin.live as the buzzer system. Please note that NAQT requires video and audio to be turned on for all players, and players must speak their answers.

All of this is still up in the air and will depend heavily upon the number of volunteers I can gather to support this effort. I should know a lot more by mid-January.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

Rescheduled dates for ASCA District and State Tournaments are available on the ASCA website: www.alquizbowl.org

We have pushed all tournaments into March/April.

Our question provider this year is Academic Hallmarks.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

quizbowllee wrote: Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:18 am Rescheduled dates for ASCA District and State Tournaments are available on the ASCA website: www.alquizbowl.org

We have pushed all tournaments into March/April.

Our question provider this year is Academic Hallmarks.
Why has ASCA abandoned using NAQT and chosen to use this company instead?
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

1992 in spaceflight wrote: Tue Jan 05, 2021 11:13 am
quizbowllee wrote: Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:18 am Rescheduled dates for ASCA District and State Tournaments are available on the ASCA website: www.alquizbowl.org

We have pushed all tournaments into March/April.

Our question provider this year is Academic Hallmarks.
Why has ASCA abandoned using NAQT and chosen to use this company instead?
After many long discussions among our 15-member Board of Directors, the majority agreed that hosting our events online would not work. There are too many schools and areas with little or no internet coverage. Our District Tournaments have over 100 teams across roughly a dozen sites. The logistics of trying to pull that off online was more than we thought we could handle. And, many of our members indicated that they were not interested in competing online this year. So, we voted as a board and agreed that we would either do our tournaments in-person, or not at all. Unfortunately, NAQT would not allow us to use their questions in any in-person competitions. In order to hold our events, we must begin in March at the latest. Schools in Alabama are done for the year by mid-to-late May. We are working with our hosting partners (primarily local colleges), to see what can be done.

Speaking for myself alone, and not for the ASCA Board as a whole, I hope that this is a one-year only detour away from NAQT. I am but one vote, though. We will definitely be revisiting this for next year.

This was not a decision that was made lightly or one that we wanted to have to make.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Cheynem »

The die has already been cast here, but I fear that this will be replicated elsewhere.

I'm extremely sympathetic to schools or players that face challenges playing online. Until very recently, I had extremely slow broadband Internet at home that was unreliable. There are many schools in my rural community that do not have consistent Internet for all of their students. However, we remain in a global pandemic that continues to sweep the U.S.--I maintain that NAQT's online-only policy for now makes the most sense from a public health and responsible business standpoint. Thus, what we need is:

-more outreach into how to do online quizbowl
-a normalization of online quizbowl for the moment
-strategies for players or schools that face challenges playing online

If we do not see these at a greater level, I think this will happen in other states.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by cchiego »

If we do not see these at a greater level, I think this will happen in other states.
Arkansas chose to go entirely online this year for their state quizbowl events. They have many rural schools. Colorado also seems to be set to go entirely online for their state Knowledge Bowl events. Again, they have many rural schools as well. Neither of them use NAQT questions.

There are plenty of creative options that could be done here without using perhaps the worst quizbowl question provider for in-person events with multiple schools while COVID cases and hospitalizations are as high as they have ever been in Alabama.

Students assembling at their school while socially distanced and supervised by a coach seems like it would be a natural compromise. Are there schools in Alabama where using even just one computer with videoconferencing abilities is simply not possible? Could said teams assemble at nearby schools with better internet access while being socially distanced? What about using an asynchronous platform like QBlitz?

At the very least, if you're going to risk the health of players, coaches, and parents, why subject them to the abominable AUK rather than use coach-written questions that might at least be somewhat fair to the players?
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

I really don't want to get into all this again. This wasn't a unilateral decision and it wasn't an easy one. We have an elected 15 member Board. We talked multiple times for hours. It was often heated. We disagreed. We hashed things out. Then we voted. It's done. I won't be airing that internal laundry in a public forum, and I sincerely hope my fellow board members also will not. It was (and is) our decision to make. It's been made.

Normally, we would have our first District tournaments (JV) next week. We have pushed everything into March in the hopes that the COVID situation will subside somewhat by then. We have made draconian rule changes to keep everyone safe. Many of us are still teaching in-person every day. Most of our events are on Fridays. I feel like my students will be safer playing in an ASCA event under our strict guidelines than they would be going to their regular classes on a Friday. Obviously, if we don't feel like we can do this safely, then we will cancel. But, we're not going to cancel months in advance.

We also had to listen to our membership. The overwhelming majority wants to play as normal. Many teams have no interest in competing if it is online. Teams who want to compete online have many opportunities to do so. However, that is not something that ASCA is going to do. We discussed many reasons for this. There were concerns about equity in internet access and quality. Latency issues, dishonesty and accountability, etc... the list goes on. Any team that feels unsafe competing certainly does not have to do so. And, like I said, there are plenty of opportunities for teams to play online if they wish to do so.

Arab Jr. High School hosted an in-person invitational with 20+ teams on Dec. 12. They used the ASCA's approved rules and regulations. It went very well. It was much safer than a typical day at school.

As for what other states are doing, that's great. They made that decision. It was theirs to make. We've made ours.

As for question providers - we solicited bids and samples from every provider we could think of. There was a painstaking process there. The sample we received from Academic Hallmarks was workable. We made several requests and also have editing rights. Some of our non-coaching and retired board members have agreed to "fix" any issues with the questions. We hope that there won't be many. If there are, though, we have people on our board who can fix them.

Again - I'm not here to debate and argue. I'm simply giving the information that was requested. I wish it hadn't come to this. Our board voted. It is done.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Halinaxus »

cchiego wrote: Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:59 pm Arkansas chose to go entirely online this year for their state quizbowl events. They have many rural schools. Colorado also seems to be set to go entirely online for their state Knowledge Bowl events. Again, they have many rural schools as well. Neither of them use NAQT questions.
On the subject of rural schools playing online, Minnesota's Knowledge Bowl season, which has a large number of rural schools, has been moved online (to Discord and buzzin.live) fairly smoothly, although I've only played Twin Cities-area teams so far and I suppose it's possible the outstate regions are having more trouble. Minnesota Knowledge Bowl is, of course, far from high-quality quiz bowl, but it has a somewhat similar format as far as moving it online is concerned.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by cchiego »

We also had to listen to our membership. The overwhelming majority wants to play as normal. Many teams have no interest in competing if it is online. Teams who want to compete online have many opportunities to do so. However, that is not something that ASCA is going to do. We discussed many reasons for this. There were concerns about equity in internet access and quality. Latency issues, dishonesty and accountability, etc... the list goes on.
So there weren't even tests conducted to see if there were issues in internet access and quality severe enough to affect matches played online? That seems odd. I understand these concerns, but it does appear from evidence elsewhere in similar states that such issues are not overwhelming in practice.
Any team that feels unsafe competing certainly does not have to do so. And, like I said, there are plenty of opportunities for teams to play online if they wish to do so.
Having the option to play online or in-person is very different from the official state series requiring teams to play in person. If individual schools and teams want to risk it and play in person, that's one thing. But the official state organization only offering in-person competitions is very different from individual tournaments doing this. I would hope at the very least that there would have been some kind of parallel online option.
Arab Jr. High School hosted an in-person invitational with 20+ teams on Dec. 12. They used the ASCA's approved rules and regulations. It went very well. It was much safer than a typical day at school.
Simply because one risky event didn't seem to result in terrible things doesn't mean holding many more risky events should then be done--especially by a statewide organization that will be hosting many of them.
As for question providers - we solicited bids and samples from every provider we could think of. There was a painstaking process there. The sample we received from Academic Hallmarks was workable. We made several requests and also have editing rights. Some of our non-coaching and retired board members have agreed to "fix" any issues with the questions. We hope that there won't be many. If there are, though, we have people on our board who can fix them.
Based on my experiences with Academic Hallmarks since 2003, many of their questions appear to be near-verbatim (if not exact verbatim in at least some cases) repeats of the same questions over and over again. Even the supposed "pristine" questions that get used appear to be quite similar to those older ones. Speaking of equity concerns, that's a huge advantage then for teams with access to the expensive Academic Hallmarks database and/or other older questions used by them that additional editing--which seems like it would have to be considerable to make these kinds of questions workable in the first place--can't fix.
Again - I'm not here to debate and argue. I'm simply giving the information that was requested. I wish it hadn't come to this. Our board voted. It is done.
I totally understand that this may not represent your own personal feelings. But I do hope that Alabama teams and coaches who might be reading this understand that there are other options out there that would be much less risky and provide a more fair competition for all teams.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

Of course we looked at everything. We discussed for HOURS. You're not giving us any new information or suggesting anything we didn't think of.

A significant number of our board members do not believe in the efficacy of online competitions. Even if we DID hold an online event, we would not call it a "state championship." That was made apparently clear very early in our discussions.

Again, it's done. We voted. We won't be re-voting. That's not how this works. We have bylaws. We MAY decide to postpone further, but I doubt that's possible. We may decide to cancel outright. At this point, those are the ONLY options. We have signed an agreement with Academic Hallmarks. We cannot undo that. We made stipulations about the questions. If those stipulations aren't met, we may have options. But, as of right now, this is all done.

Is everyone happy? No.

I can say with confidence that more member schools are happy with this decision than would be if we had chosen to hold our events online, though.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

Also, the sample packets we received from Academic Hallmarks were nothing like that. They were at least somewhat pyramidal in nature.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Cheynem »

I don't intend to further argue over Alabama's decision per se...what's done is done, I guess.

But I do want to address some of these points. I realize that Lee may not have been the one saying them and that probably no one else who was making the decision will ever see this post, but perhaps other states or other people may.

1. "Online quizbowl doesn't work for areas that do not have good Internet."
As I have said several times, this is a real concern. A lot of schools and teams and individuals do not have good Internet, especially in rural areas. But surely there are compromises and solutions we can try before we throw up our hands and say "let us resume in person quizbowl." What about a hybrid time format, in which an entire team gathers at their school where Internet is possibly better in one classroom or multiple classrooms to face other schools online? That would minimize the problem of individual students who do not have good Internet.

2. "Online quizbowl is not legitimate--there is too much cheating."
Indeed, we have seen this battle play out in college and high school quizbowl in 2020. I would say that while this remains a problem, we have learned so much more about how to run online tournaments in the last year. We know about the importance of things like greater vigilance and honor codes and even cameras being on. We have seen many wonderful and as far as I know completely legitimate online tournaments in both high school and college. NSC and NASAT, two national tournaments run by two organizations with good reputations for legitimate quizbowl, are going to be run online. Even Academic Hallmarks trumpets itself on its website its successful online tournaments. This idea that nobody regards online quizbowl as legitimate is a canard.

Is online quizbowl ideal? No. But I would hate to have misinformation and fear about trying new forms of quizbowl result in a scenario that could ultimately result in bad public health consequences. I say this as someone who lost two family members in 2020 and had more friends/family become infected by COVID...all while people were screaming across our state to resume normal lives.

As you have said, this is too late for Alabama. But it might not be too late for other states, and I hope they reconsider any premature moves.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by quizbowllee »

I want to clarify something:

ASCA has postponed our events. That's all that has happened at this time. We are well aware that we may have to cancel them. Personally, I think there is a very strong chance we will have to cancel.

I spoke to several board members today. We all agreed that, if our tournaments were scheduled for this weekend or next, we would cancel them. We have pushed them to the spring. Even NAQT hasn't outright cancelled their spring events yet.

We hope we can have them. We are planning with the hopes that we can. If things aren't considerably better by then, we won't.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Cjh0024 »

I am a board member in Alabama. I also directed the tournament in December that was in person.

1) The decision for ASCA to do in person tournaments was done by board members representing the entire state populous. We felt it was in the best interest for Alabama quiz bowl. You may disagree, but that is ok. The decision does not impact people who are not from Alabama and posting.

2) The tournament I hosted was 25 teams with strict guidelines put into place. Contact tracing showed that no teams were impacted by COVID as a result of our procedures. The ASCA tournament procedures for this year was proven adequate and acceptable for providing a safe and competitive Quiz Bowl environment.

In summary, while it makes me happy that people are so impacted by Alabama Quiz Bowl that they lurk on our forum thread, I am only concerned with the opinions and needs of Alabama stakeholders.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Whiter Hydra »

Cjh0024 wrote: Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:13 pm The decision does not impact people who are not from Alabama and posting.
If an in-person Quizbowl event in Alabama causes COVID to be spread to other people, then yes, it does affect all of us. Pandemics do not respect state lines.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Hu_Ham »

Harry is entirely correct. My mind is completely boggled that in this period, with literally thousands of daily deaths in this country, this debate could possibly occur. Any coaches who participate in this are not only recklessly endangering their charges, but also their own families, the families of the players, and surrounding communities. Perhaps NAQT not allowing you to use their questions in in-person tournaments should give you pause? This is unfortunately all of our business, not just that of the "populous" of Alabama.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Cheynem »

I attempted to acknowledge in my posts that Alabama has made a decision. I do not expect that Alabama will change the decision or listen to these posts. What's done is done.

However, as I also acknowledged, I expect Alabama's concerns are shared by other states who might be considering similar decisions. I thus was hoping to perhaps reassure those other states that the concerns can be worked around, especially during a dangerous pandemic.

As someone who has both a professional and general interest in ensuring that good quizbowl is spread across the country (including NAQT, even though I do not speak for them here, even though I am an employee), this does concern me, both in Alabama and in other states. Alabama can make whatever decision as a state it wishes to, but in a public forum, others can respond, especially if it appears like its decision may represent or influence others. This is in addition to the public health concerns Harry has outlined above.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Cjh0024 »

Please, that is a stretch... An Alabama Quiz Bowl tournament having a significant impact outside of the immediate connecting states at this point of the pandemic? That is like saying you are drinking Pharaoh Tuts urine when you bath in the Nile in 2020. If Alabama decisions are impacting other State decisions in Quiz Bowl, that is on their legislation. Look, I get it. I have two grandparents dying from COVID in the ER currently, and I haven’t left my house except for school. But, complaining and arguing about an event scheduled for March and April is premature. It might be in the best interest to cancel it or move to online, but that is something that can wait. Let’s see how the vaccinations and Christmas spike are handled first. I would suggest spending your energy and efforts elsewhere, like trying to get the NFL to cancel the Super Bowl, or the NCAA National Championship for football. As an Auburn Alum, I wouldn’t mind seeing that.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by touchpack »

Look, the way the pandemic has been mishandled in this country is like the Sorites paradox. Is any individual bad decision responsible for the 370,000 Americans and counting that are now dead? No, certainly not, it's the composite sum of thousands of bad decisions that have done it. But that doesn't make the decision to hold an in-person event mixing people from tons of different households during a raging pandemic not a wildly irresponsible idea. Fact is, you guys had your priorities in the wrong order--the decision shouldn't have been "do we host in-person or cancel?", it should've been "do we host online or cancel?" Since hosting in-person is not viable, and will not be viable for a while, considering the slow rate of initial vaccine rollout.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Cjh0024 »

Online quiz bowl, when we attempted to play it earlier this year, was horrendous. The lag was evident. The rounds lasted 3 times as long. Audio issues made hearing the questions near impossible. I’d rather have my students play HQ Trivia then attempt online Quiz Bowl. Playing Quiz Bowl online and pretending that it is a viable solution is an embarrassment to the sport. The facts are that we held an in person event, and it was safe. All teams and students that attended raved at how it was handled, and guess what: COVID was not spread between teams! What is the difference in having students attend school in person, which the majority of schools in Alabama are doing, and playing an in person event. I’m proud Alabama has made the decisions to do what is best for the students in our great state. I for one am looking forward to competing in person later this spring both at our scheduled invitationals and ASCA events. If the pandemic does not get better by that time, we will obviously cancel or adjust procedures to do what is best and safe for out students and local communities. To make a decision for an April event in the beginning of January, makes about as much sense as not wearing a mask in Target.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by touchpack »

Look, I don't like online quizbowl either. I think if you guys hate it that much, then cancelling would be a defensible decision. However, it's absolute fantasy to pretend that it will be safe to have in-person events in April. Some basic facts here:

-It's not safe to have a gathering with so many people from different households without vaccination of participants
-It takes 28 days from the administration of the initial dose for the vaccine to actually be effective. Notably, the Pfizer vaccine is only ~52% effective after the first dose--it then jumps to 95% after the second dose (21 days later, but it takes a week to kick in).
-High school students in the general population are gonna be one of the last groups getting the vaccine. They're not gonna get it until the entire country has it.

All of this together suggests that an in-person tournament in April is only going to be viable if the entire country has been vaccinated by March. So let's do some math here:

-From December 11 (FDA issues EUA of Pfizer vaccine) to January 9, the CDC reported 6.7 million vaccine doses administered
-Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that 70% of Americans will consent to receiving the vaccine. That makes 230 million people to vaccinate.
-Because of the 28-day period I mentioned, an April 30th state championship is only feasible if everyone is vaccinated by the end of March, in ~3 months.

This requires the vaccine to be distributed at a rate of 74 million doses per month for the next 3 months, over 10 times as high as the rate of rollout in the first month! It's simply fantasyland to pretend that any in-person quizbowl event in April will be feasible, and cancellation or moving online are your only responsible options from a public health standpoint.
Last edited by touchpack on Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by meebles127 »

Cjh0024 wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:08 pmPlaying Quiz Bowl online and pretending that it is a viable solution is an embarrassment to the sport.
It is in fact you who is an embarrassment to this sport.

Having hosted several online tournaments since the beginning of the pandemic, I do agree that there are downsides but many of these can be mitigated with proper planning. Internet lag issues can be alleviated by hardwiring into a school network, which is oftentimes significantly more reliable than rural home networks. If you can have school in-person every day, surely you can get a group of 4 kids in a classroom together on a Saturday morning.
Cjh0024 wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:08 pmCOVID was not spread between teams!
You and everyone else at that tournament are extremely lucky no one was symptomatic after your tournament. Unless every person at your tournament was tested, there really is no way to know if there was COVID transmission. There's nothing to say that future events will not result in transmission and symptomatic cases.

COVID deaths are at the highest they have ever been during the pandemic, and as Billy rightly points out, it is extremely unlikely that vaccine rollout will reach appropriate levels by the time your scheduled events roll around for it to not be a public health hazard.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Cjh0024 »

That’s assuming the whole country wants to get vaccinated, which I doubt would happen. We are not going to have 100% immunity to the virus, but we can begin in person events when the numbers reach an acceptable level, which hopefully will be in the March to April timeframe.

Quiz bowl is a sport that means just as much to our kids as it does to the kids that are playing basketball and wrestling in our state right now. To take away this opportunity from them would be terrible, unless we have to cancel due to safety concerns.

I’m signing off for a while, but the fact is, nobody has given a strong reason for not hosting in tournament events that Alabama has not considered and applied procedures for. I’m sorry that you disagree, but at the end of the day, that state of Alabama wants to do in person events, and we are going to do what we can to provide that.

Good luck to your teams this new year. I pray for safety and blessing on your team :)
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by meebles127 »

Cjh0024 wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:54 pm nobody has given a strong reason for not hosting in tournament events that Alabama has not considered and applied procedures for
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by touchpack »

Cjh0024 wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:54 pm That’s assuming the whole country wants to get vaccinated, which I doubt would happen.
Read my post again. I accounted for that.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by physicsnerd »

Cjh0024 wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:54 pm Quiz bowl is a sport that means just as much to our kids as it does to the kids that are playing basketball and wrestling in our state right now. To take away this opportunity from them would be terrible, unless we have to cancel due to safety concerns.
Guess what else means a lot to kids? Their lives.

Yeah, covid sucks. I'm a senior who hasn't gone to an in-person tournament in around a year, has been going to school online the whole year, probably won't get an in-person graduation, &c. But I would significantly rather not get sick, and not get the people around me sick, then uphold whatever strange standards you feel like the Sport Of Quiz Bowl:tm: needs.

Just run an online tournament. There's extensive threads on this forum detailing strategies, and many people who would be willing to help you make such an event as good as it can be. I guarantee you you will have sickness and even deaths on your hands otherwise. [Am I being dramatic? The 3,895 people who died yesterday due to covid, and the 111 of those people from Alabama, say otherwise.]
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by eshan pokhrel »

I really don't want to get into the fray here but I suppose I have now so oh well.

It's kind of crazy that so many coaches/players from other states are as interested in our proceedings as they are. But to understand the state you need to live in the state.I for one live in the state, and I can tell these coaches and players (as a current player in Alabama) firsthand why the only way to keep quiz bowl alive in a state that has 69 rural school districts is to play it in-person.

Allow me to explain what I believe will happen if our tournament went online:

Before I begin, let me explain to all the unfamiliar that ASCA has 2 high school state tournaments, a DI and DII. I'm not exactly sure of the exact reasoning behind designations but I've come to think of it in athletic terms: D1 is comprised of schools from the Alabama High School Athletic Association's 4A-7A (the bigger schools) as well as private schools and DII is 1A-3A (the smallest, and in most cases, the most rural schools). The best thing about this system is that the smaller schools have chances to compete for state titles in a division that is likely a better competitive balance for their limited talent pools. Although I do have a couple reservations about the DI format currently, now is not the time.

In any case, the DII schools, being typically rural and smaller, pose a problem for ASCA. The main ones being that it means that 1) their farm systems are very fragile, and 2) more often than not they don't have the resources/ability to play online tournaments. Not playing an in-person tournament affects these DII schools much more than it would affect a larger DI school. A break from tournaments for as little as a year for many of these schools can cause their programs to become extinct. And considering their lack of ability to compete online, they wouldn't be able to return the next season because, well, they don't have a program.

Let's look at the other side now, the DI side of the state. I speak more of this because I'm within the DI side of the state and have more firsthand knowledge.

These schools have massive pipelines of talent that won't be too disrupted from a break of one season. My school, Sparkman High, is a great example of this. We have two feeder middle schools that both have active quiz bowl programs. One (Monrovia) is incredibly active, and is T5 for most tournament wins for middle schools in the nation (NAQT). The other (Sparkman Middle) does not compete as much as Monrovia, but in the past has consistently attended state tournaments/qualifiers and competes in the annual county tournament.
Schools like Sparkman would not be affected by missing out on a year of state championships because they were online. Look at James Clemens, their feeder school, Liberty Middle, has won 2 straight state championships (2019, 2020) and placed 4th at MSNCT19. Hoover, who has perhaps one of the most consistent teams in the nation year in and year out, has feeder schools in Bumpus and Simmons, both perennial state championship competitors. LAMP's feeder school, Baldwin Arts & Academics, also won a recent state championship (2017). I could maybe list 3-4 more of these examples, but my knowledge gets thin after that, which is the problem. These high schools could skip 2 or 3 state tournaments in succession, yet still come back and probably be among the favorites to win the tournament in their return.

I've played in state tournaments with Monrovia from 6th-8th grade. Since the middle school tournament isn't divided into divisions, I've played teams from the most rural areas of the state. Looking back at it, I remember that most of these teams only had 4 players on their team, sometimes less. I didn't think much of it at the time because we consistently had an A, B, and C team at Monrovia, and frankly there wasn't any reason for me to think about. Now, however, as this criticism comes at ASCA, I see why ASCA is desparate to preserve some semblance of a normal season. Rural schools in other states, such as Minnesota, as user Halinaxus said, have had online tournaments. That's great, but as Mr. Henry and Mr. Harris have repeatedly said, Alabama isn't Minnesota. Minnesota is 24th in connectivity in the nation, Alabama is 37th. Alabama's least connected-county only has .28% of residents with access to 25+ mbps. Conversely, Minnesota's least-connected county sees 50.1% of residents have access to 25+ mbps. Blame Governor Ivey if you want, but ASCA still needs to work with what our state has and our rural areas seem to be worse connectivity-wise than many states' rural areas, making online quiz bowl almost impossible to do on a widespread basis in the state.

Another thing is, I, along with some teammates, actually hosted the only online Alabama-exclusive tournament of the season (so far) in December. We began advertising for this event in August, and sent multiple email blasts to the ASCA email list, and it had a grand total of 7 teams from 4 schools. 3 of those schools? Monrovia, Liberty, Baldwin, who were all mentioned above with uber-active programs and high schools. In any event, our tournament went to show how tough it is to run a full-sized tournament in a state as rural as Alabama. I have the actual experience to refute claims that an online tournament is in the best interests (strictly quiz-bowl speaking) of our state.

Finally, I'd like to say I'm not fully supportive of the in-person tournament personally. I 100% agree it needs to be done to continue to see the substantial participation we see year in and year out, but I'm not a fan of the usage of Academic Hallmarks as the question source. Of course, this is partly NAQT's issue as they decided to not allow questions for in-person use through April, considering they made the decision in early December. Additionally, I'm not an ASCA apologist or anything, I believe we could do a lot of things that would increase participation throughout the state at every level, but for this to happen we first need to continue to have the strong core of participation us players have come to expect in the last 5-6 years.

The bottom line is: ASCA knows the risks of having an in-person tournament. I'm sure they understand the turnout of districts around the state will be lower than what we usually see. I'm already hearing from friends that their teams are considering not competing, which is fine because they have a choice. Why people are acting like the players themselves would have no input in whether they go or not is beyond me. However, the fact is that if ASCA doesn't host their state tournaments in-person, we can face the very real possibility that the "tournaments" becomes "tournament" in the matter of a year.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

eshan pokhrel wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:39 pmBut to understand the state you need to live in the state.
No, I don't.

The hospital I staff has received patients airlifted from Alabama because your ICU beds are near capacity. Even last month, your state had only 7% of its ICU beds available, which amounts to about 120 beds. And these aren't just for COVID - they're for COPD exacerbations, heart failure, lupus flares, the whole lot. Put another way, your state is at its capacity to care for its citizens, so much so that it has to airlift them out like goddamn refugees!

You seem very attuned to the urban-rural quizbowl divide in your state, but that divide affects more than just a relatively trivial game (and I've dedicated a significant portion of my life to said game, so I use trivial only in a relative sense). As the pandemic continues, rural areas are being hit the hardest. A lot of these communities are the ones with the fewest hospital beds available, and the ones with the least mask-wearing compliance - a mini-outbreak would be an absolute disaster. Imagine if some QB player asymptomatically carries the virus to their small town - and we know this is common, because younger people are often asymptomatic. Imagine them visiting their older and sicker relatives. Do you really want to be responsible for the consequences? Do you really think any of these students at rural schools should pick a quizbowl tournament over those consequences?

You paint a very compelling picture of haves and have-nots, of rural schools with no internet whose teams would go extinct if they're not allowed to play in-person tournaments. I sympathize, and from first-hand experience I know how much outreach work has to go into sustaining circuits like this. Even granting your premise that these teams would all fall apart, it doesn't matter. Outreach work can be repeated, quizbowl teams can be rebuilt, and when everyone gets the vaccine these schools can have sustainable teams again. But quizbowl is not more important than lives, by any stretch of the imagination.

This pandemic has destroyed and disrupted a lot of our lives - businesses, livelihoods, families, education, and yes, quizbowl. Several of my coworkers and I have been pulled to staff the COVID ICU at VUMC, and since we all got the second dose of the vaccine yesterday, we're all writhing in fever today so that we can keep ourselves (and you) safer. Not to mention all the mental health consequences - my co-worker just staffed the COVID ICU for a week, and over half of her patients died. I guarantee you, you want no part in this.

There's a wealth of information, expertise, and labor out there for hosting online tournaments - I ask that you suffer the relatively minor inconvenience of slightly longer rounds and a clunky interface to keep your students safer.

PS. Billy, Em, and others have tried to explain why your premises are wrong, so I won't repeat it (it doesn't seem to be working, so I'm trying to appeal to pathos instead). But let me add that I have no idea what kind of contact tracing a quizbowl organization (?) has implemented, but even with gold-star CDC-style contact tracing, you cannot possibly account for all of a single person's contacts, and multiply that by the tens to hundreds of players and coaches, there is NO way you can make the claim that your in-person tournament didn't result in any spread.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by meebles127 »

Sima Guang Hater wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 11:24 pm
You paint a very compelling picture of haves and have-nots, of rural schools with no internet whose teams would go extinct if they're not allowed to play in-person tournaments. I sympathize, and from first-hand experience, I know how much outreach work has to go into sustaining circuits like this. Even granting your premise that these teams would all fall apart, it doesn't matter. Outreach work can be repeated, quizbowl teams can be rebuilt, and when everyone gets the vaccine these schools can have sustainable teams again. But quizbowl is not more important than lives, by any stretch of the imagination.
This is the most important part of Eric's post and I seriously hope you listen. Everyone is missing out on something right now, and I know how gut-wrenching it can be to lose out on those opportunities. Last year, I spent 400 hours building a robot that will never see a field and I'm losing my senior season. It sucks, but you get over it. The pandemic is raging right now and I would rather stay home and protect those around me than risk the lives of the people I care about by going out. There will always be future tournaments, there will always be future seasons, but when someone is gone, they're gone forever. We know that there are things we can do to prevent deaths, and I would like to think that we as a community can accept these restrictions for the time being out of the interest of those around us.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Dominator »

eshan pokhrel wrote:But to understand the state you need to live in the state.
I want to make sure this point gets challenged. I do agree that people trying to understand Alabama and its needs is crucial. But I reject that non-Alabamans simply cannot do that. Your description of your state sounded a lot like that of my home state. Your challenges are my challenges. No one here is saying that they think Alabama should consider an online option because there wouldn't be tough choices and things to figure out, they're advocating it because it's the only safe and responsible decision. And as much as we love quizbowl, our schools need to consider the safety of its students first.

I also question why you think 25+ mbps is the benchmark. That's higher than the recommendations I've seen for Zoom, and it's way higher than what would be needed for, say, Qblitz (which is currently running a state championship for your neighbors in Georgia).

I'm glad you're getting involved in the discussion, Eshan, and I hope you'll continue to be involved. Everyone here wants Alabama quizbowl to succeed. Nobody is attacking Alabama - we are criticizing a decision that we feel, based on loads of evidence, is unsafe for the players and their communities.
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by eshan pokhrel »

Responding to Dr. Mukherjee. I do want to say thank you for all that yourself and your colleagues are doing right now, and I'm not disputing that COVID can be very problematic and even deadly for many individuals.

I'm not within the ASCA hierarchy or anything, and I said before that the one Alabama-only online tournament that has been hosted had a limited amount of participation with a large amount of advertising. If that tournament had went better, with even 10 or 12 teams from 7-8 schools participating, I'd probably be agreeing with an online tournament being the best option. But it didn't, and while ASCA probably didn't look at that tournament as a potential model for online tournaments in the state, I don't think they'd be too enthused by the lack of excitement and participation. Couple that with the lack of adequate wireless connection in many areas across the state, the reasoning behind hosting in-person is understandable.

I think it came down to this. We're playing high school sports in Alabama right now. Football teams had their whole season, our team at Sparkman actually finished the season with no positive cases throughout the entirety of their season. Basketball is happening right now, and I'm personally preparing for our soccer season during the week with practices and conditionings. What I'd assume (again, I have no inside knowledge or anything) is that ASCA looked at the AHSAA, saw how they've been able to play their seasons out with relative success, and decided, we can do this as well. Teams that play in this tournament understand the risks and they have the choice to play or not play. The lack of high-speed connectivity probably made the decision easier, but ultimately attendance will be a decision made by each particular school and team, who have the right to choose if they want to take the risk and play or not.
Eshan Pokhrel
Monrovia Middle '18, Sparkman High '22
State Champion x1, All-State x2
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meebles127
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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by meebles127 »

Perhaps I'll eventually stop engaging with this thread but I have a few more things to say.
eshan pokhrel wrote: Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:29 am If that tournament had went better, with even 10 or 12 teams from 7-8 schools participating, I'd probably be agreeing with an online tournament being the best option. But it didn't, and while ASCA probably didn't look at that tournament as a potential model for online tournaments in the state, I don't think they'd be too enthused by the lack of excitement and participation. Couple that with the lack of adequate wireless connection in many areas across the state, the reasoning behind hosting in-person is understandable.
I'm not entirely sure why your online tournament did not get the number of teams you were originally anticipating, but it's very possible that if it was an ASCA sponsored event, with support from them, that another event could have significantly higher attendance. I'm also not entirely sure what you think is "adequate" wireless access, but if a school network is capable of handling dozens or hundreds of devices during a normal school day, they can almost certainly handle a few computers in a Zoom call on a Saturday. If students do not have access to good internet in their homes, then it would be very simple to meet in a classroom to play together, it's still an in-person meeting, but 4 kids sitting in the four corners classroom is significantly better than 125 people from different towns roaming about an entire school for a day.
eshan pokhrel wrote: Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:29 am I think it came down to this. We're playing high school sports in Alabama right now. Football teams had their whole season, our team at Sparkman actually finished the season with no positive cases throughout the entirety of their season. Basketball is happening right now, and I'm personally preparing for our soccer season during the week with practices and conditionings. What I'd assume (again, I have no inside knowledge or anything) is that ASCA looked at the AHSAA, saw how they've been able to play their seasons out with relative success, and decided, we can do this as well.
Just because your state athletic association thinks it is appropriate to sanction in-person sporting events given the state of the pandemic does not mean that quizbowl should mirror that model.
eshan pokhrel wrote: Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:29 am Teams that play in this tournament understand the risks and they have the choice to play or not play. The lack of high-speed connectivity probably made the decision easier, but ultimately attendance will be a decision made by each particular school and team, who have the right to choose if they want to take the risk and play or not.
The decision to host these tournaments in-person is not only wrong, but it is also dangerous. By choosing to participate in an in-person tournament right now, you're not only putting yourselves at risk but your families and your communities as well. You're further straining a healthcare system that is, as Eric points out above, is already nearly at its breaking point.

If you're thinking "well, football happened and that went well, why can't I play quizbowl?" I ask that you think about the people who are dying of COVID. Think about people with serious health issues that are suffering at home because they are too scared to go to the hospital. Think about the people who are dying at home from treatable conditions because they are too scared to go to the hospital. Think about every single family who ate breakfast this morning with a newly empty chair. Eric, Billy, and I have already pointed out why large gatherings are problematic so I ask that you apply those concepts to this context.

Students can lose a season or two of our athletic and academic extracurriculars — we have the rest of our lives in front of us to do fun things, but when people die, their lives are over. Others have been hesitant in saying this, but frankly, I think it is incredibly selfish to participate in any sort of large gathering like this at this time, whether that is a quizbowl tournament or a football game. Please consider making the choice that we know reduces spread if only to protect those in your family or community.
E. Gunter

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Re: Alabama 2020-2021 Discussion Thread

Post by Vixor »

Given how horrific the Academic Hallmarks questions are, there might as well not be a state championship at all.
Vishal Rameshbabu
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Muhammad bin Tughluq, upon his ascent to the throne of Delhi, conducted a massacre at Kannauj. He moved the capital of Delhi to Daulatabad in Maharashtra for centralization after his conquest of Warangal Fort in Telangana. Tughluq defended India in the north against the Chagatai Khanate, and was later defeated by Prithvi Chand II in in Kangara. Tughluq standardized brass and copper coinage, taking away from the market value of gold.
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