What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl today?

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What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl today?

"Regular difficulty" is too hard
84
18%
Established editors of hard tournaments leaving the game
37
8%
College quizbowl is not demographically representative enough
50
11%
Lack of professionalism
41
9%
Too insular
100
22%
Payment for tournaments is too complex
3
1%
Lack of novice tournaments
29
6%
Questions are too long
10
2%
Clubs don't have enough money (i.e. can't go to local tournaments or nationals)
32
7%
Lack of outreach to new clubs and HS players entering college
75
16%
Other (please post)
4
1%
 
Total votes: 465

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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Amiable Vitriol » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:28 pm

Couch's Kingbird wrote: I’m one of those high schoolers who want to make a change, but with that perception and the insularity it’s hard to see how I can get more involved and truly make a difference. I’ve seen the many positive sides of college quiz bowl and appreciate the love of the game quiz bowlers share, but I’ve also been dismayed by the insularity and sometimes disorganization of the circuit (for instance, of the high school level tournaments I’ve been to, many of the worst run have been by college teams). From the view of an outsider: College players, especially the established ones, need to be more open to what “outsiders” like high schoolers/college freshmen notice about the community, as well as be more willing to allow those players to become more involved at every level of the community- even if they’re new or not necessarily the strongest player on their team.
It's not terribly surprising that a thread dominated by college students would largely reflect the qualms college students have with high schoolers' contributions to the community, but everything Julia says in her post rings true for me and many others. Asking a freshman, adjusting to living alone and new college schoolwork expectations and Adulting, to spend the time and resources it takes to start a team from scratch is *a lot*. Not more than others have done for quizbowl in the past, but still a lot, and more than most other clubs would demand (debate and newspaper and dance squads already exist at most schools!). Quizbowl needs to earn that level of effort, and if insularity and lack of diversity isn't addressed, it's going to lose many of those potential contributors.

If I go to a school that doesn't already have a quizbowl team, I probably won't start one. That's not because I hate this game or I'm lazy (I hope!). It's because, when given the choice to A) single handedly run a club and be forced to fight for the support of my university and beg teammates to come along to tournaments while in a community that's like all men or B) chill under the wing of a senior editor and write for a reasonably gender balanced and already established and respected school paper, I'm going to choose B everytime. And I think many of you guys would too, in my shoes.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by High Dependency Unit » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:30 pm

Something the newer members of my team commented about to me at SMT Saturday was how "intense" they found most of the other teams to be. It seems to me that college quiz bowl could do a better job of getting newer teams opportunities against weaker opponents, rather than very experienced collegiate and high school teams (especially chimera teams). Teams should be having fun at tournaments, and thankfully everyone on my team did, but hearing people make angry comments about the schedule and getting murdered by MIT A and groups of high schoolers doesn't seem very fun to me.
change stephen eltinge's wrote:
theMoMA wrote:The thing to keep in mind about quizbowl is that, despite its undeniable social insularity, there are few barriers to making your presence known through your work. Writing, editing, and organizing quizbowl tournaments is, for the most part, not even developed enough to be called a meritocracy, because there's more work than there are people who want to do it. Just showing up with a willingness to contribute is enough to get your name on people's minds.
I have to admit I've been a little shocked recently to see some people questioning whether they'd be welcomed as a volunteer organizer or writer. For anyone who's in that boat: how can the quizbowl community do a better job of communicating that we desperately need as many competent and interested people as possible on board doing "behind-the-scenes" things?
For one, there could be advertised opportunities for newer writers to contribute to college sets (like PADAWAN). In general, though, there needs to be more collaboration (and for larger teams, that means looking for collaboration) in both organizing and writing.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by nsb2 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:36 pm

For me, what has made it difficult to adapt to college quizbowl is the aggressive nature of discourse in the community, both on the forums and elsewhere. From my (limited) time on the collegiate circuit, it seems that very good college players treat those who are less experienced in the exact same way they might treat, say, Eric Mukherjee.

Naturally, less experienced players sometimes have opinions that differ from those of more established competitors, and the sort of criticism I've noticed on a regular basis in certain threads can make new players feel isolated and less involved in the community. This, in turn, leads to decreased participation in all aspects of collegiate quizbowl, from playing to staffing to writing. (The same issue can sometimes occur in practices, although I've generally felt welcomed in Berkeley quizbowl even by the most experienced players.)

Overall, I think that reaching out more to freshmen who played quizbowl in high school, in addition to new players, would result in a a less insular collegiate community.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Thiccasso's Guernthicca » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:15 pm

change stephen eltinge's wrote:I have to admit I've been a little shocked recently to see some people questioning whether they'd be welcomed as a volunteer organizer or writer. For anyone who's in that boat: how can the quizbowl community do a better job of communicating that we desperately need as many competent and interested people as possible on board doing "behind-the-scenes" things?
I think this issue goes hand-in-hand with what Julia mentioned: the widespread perception of high schoolers not being able to handle the organizational heavy-lifting at the collegiate level. When there are so many nay-sayers, even if one is an influential figure in their high school circuit, it isn't difficult to start questioning one's own ability to contribute.

In any case, I 100% agree with Julia and Doug. I participate in a small and very decentralized circuit (most of the tournaments in my circuit are run by high schoolers, although there are a few exceptions: the MIT folks, despite always seeming to choose controversial housewrites by sheer luck, host two well-run tournaments per year, and HFT, in spite of the unfortunate hiccups this year, was very enjoyable as well), so my real-life interactions with college students in quizbowl are few and far between. When the opportunity to interact with college students in a real-life quizbowl setting comes by, I do often find that the culture is a little insular and intimidating. Although I've had good experiences with college players and moderators (particularly at BHSAT, where every moderator I had was kind and open to discussion/comments about the set), I too was there for the incident that Julia mentioned (my first college tournament as well) and I can definitely speak for myself as well as my friends I was there with when I say that it was jarring to see what was quite frankly a very sophomoric exchange among adults. I get that this is not at all the standard in collegiate quizbowl, but I'm also willing to bet that it's not the first time that it's happened.

As far as online interactions go, although I don't wade into the Discord that often, I am (as some probably know) very active on the meme page, where I have not had particularly negative interactions with any college players. The other moderators on the page have been nothing but kind and welcoming to me, and I felt especially included when members of the UChicago quizbowl team personally reached out to me to welcome me after they had heard I had been accepted through the meme page (this especially stuck out to me as a positive thing, considering that I am not a particularly outstanding player). Small things like this go a long way – before I got the sense that I was even remotely acknowledged as an existing player, I was originally on the fence about dedicating myself to college quizbowl due to what I had originally perceived as an impenetrably intimidating community. Unfortunately, as Doug said, experiences like these are not the norm.

I'm a fairly new player to quizbowl. I played my first tournament a year ago, and didn't even get actively involved with quizbowl, my circuit, or any online forum until November. I do not purport to know how to solve any of these problems, nor do I mean to discount the work of anyone who has worked to ameliorate these issues. I just wanted to chime in and give my two cents as one of the less experienced players.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Protean » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:20 pm

CPiGuy wrote:I think the biggest reason is just that in high school it's a lot easier to do a lot more things -- for example in high school I played three sports and did debate, math team, chess, and science bowl. I'm doing exactly one of those things in college (if you count science bowl -> quiz bowl). So, if you have someone who say ran cross-country and did QB in college, they might decide that XC is more important to them. To some extent, this is a problem faced by literally every activity that you can do at both HS and college levels.
I think this point is very important and is true across the board - college/university students seem to simply engage in fewer extracurriculars than do high school students. Your workload increases, your social world expands, your priorities change. In each of the activities I did in high school, I only know of maybe one or two people continued it into university longer than the first year.

In addition to that, I believe that growth of an activity depends on the middle non-elite members, and quizbowl is actually very difficult to do casually. This kind of ties into regular difficulty perhaps being too hard and people in general committing less time to extracurriculars. Unlike a lot of other activities, quizbowl requires a not-insignificant amount of time and effort to even be a factor - just going to practice once or twice a week isn't enough. This is true for complete newbies who won't have heard of most of the things asked about but probably also for high school players experiencing an expanded canon for the first time. Actually "competing" requires hours of travel and an entire day of play. Quizbowl also doesn't particularly segregate out skill levels unless you want to just play novice tournaments - if you're in even a "regular" tournament, you are in with essentially the best in the country. This is a lot of commitment if you just want to have fun and aren't aiming to be a Nationals-level player. And this is just wanting to play with an established club, let alone starting a new one from scratch!

Compare this to wanting to continue casually playing a sport, where one can just go play pickup or sign up for the lowest level of intramurals rather than playing in an all-day tournament featuring Div I NCAA players. Or playing with a community band/orchestra where if you have basic musical training (e.g. having played through high school) you can get by with just showing up for rehearsal on campus and giving a concert once a term. I don't think this can really be "solved" in that it's just the nature of the game, especially since quizbowl has so few participants comparatively, but if I was a HS player (especially if I was just "decent" or "good") and could only spare the time to do one or two extracurriculars, quizbowl's entry barrier would be much too high for me unless I really loved the game more than my other activities.

That said, (disclaimer: speaking as a Canadian who doesn't have deep knowledge of the circuit) there do clubs that seem to be able to continue having high recruitment rates and retain deep, strong clubs. Maybe it is worth looking at what the difference between how a Chicago or UC Berkeley manages it compared to an average school that may flounder a bit?
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by cchiego » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:26 am

Maybe it is worth looking at what the difference between how a Chicago or UC Berkeley manages it compared to an average school that may flounder a bit?
It's really hard to compare two universities that tend to get massive bumper crops of high school players each year to other schools that don't. But it does highlight one issue in college quizbowl--there's a lot of funneling of talent into the top few programs every year that can compound the difficulty of spreading the game to new places.
I think this issue goes hand-in-hand with what Julia mentioned: the widespread perception of high schoolers not being able to handle the organizational heavy-lifting at the collegiate level. When there are so many nay-sayers, even if one is an influential figure in their high school circuit, it isn't difficult to start questioning one's own ability to contribute.
I don't quite understand what this perception is. If the perception is that high schoolers should NOT be running tournaments, write for tournaments, helping read at other tournaments, taking a lead in regional organizations, etc. at both the HS and then the college level, then that's a misperception; I don't think anyone is advocating for that. But the point I think some people have been trying to make is that student-organized teams in HS tend not to last for very long unless there's some kind of institutional support in the form of a coach or at least an involved community member to keep a team--and often a circuit--going. A few schools can survive without an involved, supportive coach for extended periods of time, but those tend to be in a few places with a tradition of quizbowl success and perhaps things like a legendary middle school coach at the feeder middle. This problem is even more exacerbated at the college level for many similar reasons. [Also, novice writers and TDs often need some kind of guidance and mentorship given the complicated nuances of successfully performing both of those activities; many experienced writers and TDs could use a refresher on these as well too!]
that we are unwilling to push ourselves to play harder questions or take steps to be more involved in the community.
I'm pretty sure that the original reference Eric D. was making is to the surprisingly large number of players from a number of established, strongly coach-led quizbowl programs, who for whatever reason, don't usually play much in college. This phenomenon has been recognized and remarked on for quite some time and is part of the puzzle of why some high schools see more retention to college while others see almost none.
I’ve felt that it can be difficult to get involved in the community.
The lack of clear institutions at the college level for quizbowl can contribute to this perception (if not reality) of insularity. There isn't a common portal for applying to write, applying for editorships, for finding opportunities to volunteer, for mentorship, etc. These things tend to happen ad hoc in Gchats or casual conversation at tournaments or among teams. That's part of the decentralized nature of the game at this point. If people want to change that, I think that would be great (though see what happened in the tournament scheduling committee thread). A good middle ground here might be to develop more regional organizations that are less imposing and more connected to the local circuit and people in it to help build up more clear pathways for involvement.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by CPiGuy » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:20 am

jacke wrote:(I also would like to point out that NHBB events held at Princeton's campus are in no way organized and/or run by the team-- at least, this year's wasn't, anyway. We just reserve the rooms on behalf of NHBB.)
Have you considered not reserving rooms on behalf of NHBB if they continue to run bad tournaments? It seems like they are reflecting badly on your club, even if you aren't associated with them.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:51 am

Protean wrote:That said, (disclaimer: speaking as a Canadian who doesn't have deep knowledge of the circuit) there do clubs that seem to be able to continue having high recruitment rates and retain deep, strong clubs. Maybe it is worth looking at what the difference between how a Chicago or UC Berkeley manages it compared to an average school that may flounder a bit?
We have the same thing happening with Toronto and McGill and it's really easy for us to just be like, hey did you enjoy Reach in high school? Join the club! and get 50 possible recruits and 4-5 of them stay, which is a pretty good annual haul. For other schools this is harder to do, but it still can be done through better recruiting. However, an even better way to increase the number of participating university teams would be to greatly expand the high school quiz bowl circuit so more people know of QB as A Thing and not "kinda like Reach". There are only so many schools in Ontario that surely a couple of people heavily involved in HS can join together and start a team.
Protean wrote:In addition to that, I believe that growth of an activity depends on the middle non-elite members, and quizbowl is actually very difficult to do casually. This kind of ties into regular difficulty perhaps being too hard and people in general committing less time to extracurriculars. Unlike a lot of other activities, quizbowl requires a not-insignificant amount of time and effort to even be a factor - just going to practice once or twice a week isn't enough. This is true for complete newbies who won't have heard of most of the things asked about but probably also for high school players experiencing an expanded canon for the first time. Actually "competing" requires hours of travel and an entire day of play. Quizbowl also doesn't particularly segregate out skill levels unless you want to just play novice tournaments - if you're in even a "regular" tournament, you are in with essentially the best in the country. This is a lot of commitment if you just want to have fun and aren't aiming to be a Nationals-level player. And this is just wanting to play with an established club, let alone starting a new one from scratch!
QB is quite unique in this way. There could be a way to have evening scrimmages/intramural stuff among local teams to sort of bridge practice and Saturday tournament.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Protean » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:25 am

cchiego wrote:It's really hard to compare two universities that tend to get massive bumper crops of high school players each year to other schools that don't. But it does highlight one issue in college quizbowl--there's a lot of funneling of talent into the top few programs every year that can compound the difficulty of spreading the game to new places.
But why is it that this funneling seems to happen? I find it a bit hard to believe that people choose their universities based on which schools have a quizbowl dynasty.
Benin Rebirth Party wrote:We have the same thing happening with Toronto and McGill and it's really easy for us to just be like, hey did you enjoy Reach in high school? Join the club! and get 50 possible recruits and 4-5 of them stay, which is a pretty good annual haul. For other schools this is harder to do, but it still can be done through better recruiting.
Right, but while Toronto has a much undergraduate population, McGill is similar in size to McMaster or Waterloo. And from what I can tell, McMaster's initial recruitment isn't that much worse off than Toronto's. We would get triple digit sign-ups at Clubsfest, maybe 30-40 new people show up for the first week, and there would maybe be one or two that stick around. I guess the question is how does this better recruiting happen? What is it that puts people off quizbowl after the initial meetings and how can it be addressed? What is the difference between McGill and similarly sized schools like McMaster?
Benin Rebirth Party wrote:QB is quite unique in this way. There could be a way to have evening scrimmages/intramural stuff among local teams to sort of bridge practice and Saturday tournament.
For small clubs this isn't really possible if you're somewhat struggling to even get two full teams in practice. I think intramurals is an interesting proposal even within one club if you have enough people to do it. E.g. You could have consistent teams that play each other once or twice a week in a game that "counts" toward a running win-loss tally and have some sort of small prize/recognition at the end of the term. You would have to balance the teams and this probably works better for junior members, but it would make at least one hour a week seem more "real" and "competitive" while maintaining a smaller commitment than actually going to a tournament.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by DogeofVenice » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:08 am

jacke wrote: To respond to this tangent (and perhaps address some other issues being discussed in this thread), I can personally vouch that, at a minimum, Princeton is well aware of our inconsistent and low-quality tournaments in the past (and is aware of the hiccups at PHSAT this year), and, though I can't speak for everyone or the club itself, I can attest that we will take steps to improve the tournament experience for HSers. Next year, we're going to take steps to increase the outreach we do and better our tournament quality and polish. Steps like this will hopefully address some of the points raised in this thread and encourage continued participation at college. I certainly think that a more professional appearance of collegiate quiz bowl (rather than jerry-rigged tournament planning by a group of clueless college kids) will make it more appealing, especially for those who aren't as embedded in the community.

(I also would like to point out that NHBB events held at Princeton's campus are in no way organized and/or run by the team-- at least, this year's wasn't, anyway. We just reserve the rooms on behalf of NHBB.)
Ok, thank you so much for the response. I would first like to apologize for seeming to try to pin the blame of the shitty NHBB A set tournament on you guys. I just heard that Princeton students were involved in running it and I assuming that the Princeton club was involved as well, so my bad. I also appreciate that it finally that you're actually listening to us and trying to fix stuff that is going wrong. It might seem weird, but in my experience, I've never had a college student or organization apologize to us for slip ups and promise improvements at any event, whether a high school or college qb tournament or even NHBB stuff. In any event, I really enjoyed PHSAT my sophomore and junior year and even for all the slip ups this year, PHSAT was still one of the better tournaments I attended and I really appreciate you guys running such a large high school tournament that early in the year and I hope PHSAT can remain great in the future.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Couch's Kingbird » Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:14 am

cchiego wrote: I don't quite understand what this perception is. If the perception is that high schoolers should NOT be running tournaments, write for tournaments, helping read at other tournaments, taking a lead in regional organizations, etc. at both the HS and then the college level, then that's a misperception
I was mostly referring to Eric's point that:
Ethnic history of the Vilnius region wrote: Quizbowl at the high school level today is good at producing really good high school quizbowl players. No doubt the number of quality of high school quizbowl players and teams has expanded a lot over the years. However, although the number of great players seems to increase as time goes by, the number of leaders produced by high school quizbowl doesn't seem to grow at the same rate.
It's the assumption that high schoolers are not "leaders"- which I think is tied into the perception that high schoolers have a coach who does everything for them, and don't take initiative to become "leaders" and take an active role in the community.

Chris, you do raise an interesting point about the role of a coach in high school quiz bowl. I agree that often coaches are the bedrock of a program; they form a sort of "link" that ensures a program can survive. (Many student-motivated programs without a coach that fail to attract younger members do die once seniors graduate). But beyond that, there are many coaches that prefer to leave the actual running of the club to the students- in Darien for instance, our coach is very busy and as such students are responsible for registering for tourneys, running housewrites, organizing tourney logistics, etc. Many programs in my experience- High Tech and Hunter come to mind- similarly have advisers that are not as involved in actually running the club. In this sense, a club can still have a coach and be student run and produce "leaders"; having a coach does not necessarily mean that players are not actively involved in the running of the team.
jacke wrote: Princeton is well aware of our inconsistent and low-quality tournaments in the past (and is aware of the hiccups at PHSAT this year), and, though I can't speak for everyone or the club itself, I can attest that we will take steps to improve the tournament experience for HSers.
Jack, thanks for the response- much appreciated after what I felt was a debacle at Princeton this season. Too many teams, unnecessary split divisions, and the mess at the end of the day when no one knew what was going on with finals (in the Standard division at least)- hopefully in the future you'll resolve those issues (perhaps by setting a lower field cap and not running two divisions).

In general, to follow up on Doug's tangent, I feel that some colleges do not prioritize high school tournaments- I'm not saying that it should be a college team's first priority, but there needs to be a minimum standard met in terms of organization. The Columbia Cup tournaments this year, unfortunately, are a prime example of this- for Columbia Spring in particular there was never a tournament announcement posted, we weren't sure the tournament was going to run until the week of, and it took 3 weeks (and many messages that were not replied to) to have stats posted (and there still are no combined stats). If this occurred at a college tournament for college teams, my feeling is that it would not be tolerated- why is this acceptable for high school-level tournaments?

One of our advisers, who is not very involved in quiz bowl (he mostly just comes to tournaments because the school requires us to have a teacher with us), was dismayed by the poor organization of Columbia's tournaments- specifically Columbia Spring. I'd say he definitely lost respect for the Columbia team as well as Columbia tournaments as a whole. I think it's important for colleges who'd like to host high school tournaments note that high school tournaments at colleges have a wide reach- and bad experiences, lack of communication, and clear disorganization can definitely turn potential players away from the college circuit.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by AGoodMan » Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:36 am

Protean wrote:
cchiego wrote:It's really hard to compare two universities that tend to get massive bumper crops of high school players each year to other schools that don't. But it does highlight one issue in college quizbowl--there's a lot of funneling of talent into the top few programs every year that can compound the difficulty of spreading the game to new places.
But why is it that this funneling seems to happen? I find it a bit hard to believe that people choose their universities based on which schools have a quizbowl dynasty.
I think it's just in general that high-caliber universities also have good quiz bowl teams. High achieving students matriculate to schools like Yale, UC Berkeley, UChicago, Columbia, Stanford, etc. which also happen to have established quiz bowl programs.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:04 pm

AGoodMan wrote: I think it's just in general that high-caliber universities also have good quiz bowl teams. High achieving students matriculate to schools like Yale, UC Berkeley, UChicago, Columbia, Stanford, etc. which also happen to have established quiz bowl programs.
As an old person, I can assure you that this isn't always true. Lots of high-caliber universities have gone through prolonged periods of having no team or not a very good/active team, and further there are a ton of high-caliber universities that have never had a good quizbowl team. At the same time, we can all name schools that are not generally considered high-caliber in terms of their applicant's average SAT scores or GPA, but are now or have been quizbowl powerhouses at some time.

Lots of people have proven that one very determined good player can create a quizbowl program out of nothing.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by jacke » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:19 pm

CPiGuy wrote:Have you considered not reserving rooms on behalf of NHBB if they continue to run bad tournaments? It seems like they are reflecting badly on your club, even if you aren't associated with them.
Basically, NHBB could reserve rooms anyway without us helping (and since David Madden is an alum '00 of Princeton, I would think they'd have no trouble), and we can just make it easier for them. In return, NHBB gives us some amount of money for our assistance. So given the two options where either results in NHBB running an event on campus, it just makes sense for us (especially this year where we are pretty much spending all the money we have) to do so. That's what I've been told, at least.

EDIT: also, given that it is reflecting poorly on the club (despite no direct logistical or operational involvement on tournament day), this is perhaps an internal issue that some officers will need to take care of if it ends up hurting our tournament attendance. I'm not qualified to speak on behalf of our club, this is just what I know.
DogeofVenice wrote:I just heard that Princeton students were involved in running it and I assuming that the Princeton club was involved as well, so my bad.
Yeah, not sure why anyone said that. I guess that makes sense given that it's taking place on our campus lol. But I think it speaks to a larger point that college clubs, when addressing the trend of professionalism of their HS tournaments, should be cognizant of any and all of the ways the team is portrayed, whether that be NHBB, social media, conduct of players at tournaments, etc.

I think there is a trend of elite institutions hosting tournaments inadequately and "getting away with it" because they're an Ivy League School, etc.. This is definitely not particular to quiz bowl. If any of you ever did those Model Congress events in high school that are hosted by elite universities, you've probably seen similar aspects of mediocrity that they "get away with" because of the brand name. (This isn't to say those people don't work hard on their tournaments, too-- quiz bowl or otherwise! but certainly there are issues that, in my estimation, are often passed aside by high schools attending them because of the name brand). I think we have to realize that, even though our tournaments might always have a name draw to them, we shouldn't use that as cover for overlooking mistakes for next year. Otherwise, it will perpetuate a bad image of college quiz bowl and diminish the retention rate of graduating high school seniors.
Last edited by jacke on Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by cchiego » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:59 pm

But beyond that, there are many coaches that prefer to leave the actual running of the club to the students- in Darien for instance, our coach is very busy and as such students are responsible for registering for tourneys, running housewrites, organizing tourney logistics, etc. Many programs in my experience- High Tech and Hunter come to mind- similarly have advisers that are not as involved in actually running the club. In this sense, a club can still have a coach and be student run and produce "leaders"; having a coach does not necessarily mean that players are not actively involved in the running of the team.
It is great that this model works for y'all at this point although I'd also note that Darien is a young program, relatively speaking, and I'd love to see it thriving 10 years out. Hunter and High Tech (I'd also add programs like TJ, Blair, etc.) also happen to be some of the best public schools in the entire world, drawing from some of the wealthiest, highest-educated, most-talented student bodies out there. They can survive a down year or two or some disorganization because of the strong legacy of quizbowl at them and the fact they can find new amazing players much easier than most other schools. But even then those kinds of schools are hit-or-miss--contrast Hunter's national success with Stuyvesant's relative lack for instance or IMSA in Illinois with AMSA in Arkansas (which has a comparatively weak quizbowl program even in AR for a school that's a statewide magnet).

I would love to see more HS teams do more of the work and let coaches chill (coaches deserve a break!), but the reality is that it's very rare to find a Goldilocks situation where you have self-motivated students aware and willing to take on the task of running a team (again, this is where having a good middle school experience with a dedicated coach can help; think why Darien HS has a team, but Greenwich HS or similar ones do not, though that may hopefully change in the near future), a coach who supports pyramidal quizbowl but is also willing to delegate, and an admin supportive of a more student-run club. That said, such a situation definitely seems more conducive to producing players who want to continue being involved in various ways at the college level than one in which students are subject to more coach-driven drilling and direction (and often then more subject to burnout). It would be great if more HS programs and circuits sought to give students more meaningful leadership opportunities that could translate into more college-level leadership too. But impressive coaching also shouldn't be looked down upon either--the vast majority of quizbowlers would never have heard of Dorman HS for instance without the incredible dedication of Dorman's legendary coaching lineage. Yet there has historically been a curious absence of most Dorman alumni (many very talented players) from the college circuit outside of a few exceptions.

This really is similar to the Berkeley/UChicago discussion at the college level. UChicago seems to particularly attract quizbowl players, has a huge budget dedicated to quizbowl that frees the players from having to do any sort of HS tournament or outreach, often gets good graduate students who stay involved, and has a long legacy of success in quizbowl that makes being part of a top award-winning team seem like the norm. Berkeley nearly methodologically vacuums up the top in-state California players from both NorCal and SoCal and then adds solid grad students and out-of-staters (though in Berkeley's case I'd also note that the presence of people like Jeff Hoppes and Ankit as well as other Bay Area quizbowl alums seems to be helpful as well). Most universities don't have this and it doesn't quite make sense to say "look to those schools!" as a model to follow without being able to duplicate the structural advantages of them. And as we've seen in this thread as well, just because you can assemble a lot of players into a club doesn't mean that club will run everything well.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by jasongg17 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:39 pm

jacke wrote:
CPiGuy wrote:Have you considered not reserving rooms on behalf of NHBB if they continue to run bad tournaments? It seems like they are reflecting badly on your club, even if you aren't associated with them.
Basically, NHBB could reserve rooms anyway without us helping (and since David Madden is an alum '00 of Princeton, I would think they'd have no trouble), and we can just make it easier for them. In return, NHBB gives us some amount of money for our assistance. So given the two options where either results in NHBB running an event on campus, it just makes sense for us (especially this year where we are pretty much spending all the money we have) to do so. That's what I've been told, at least.

EDIT: also, given that it is reflecting poorly on the club (despite no direct logistical or operational involvement on tournament day), this is perhaps an internal issue that some officers will need to take care of if it ends up hurting our tournament attendance. I'm not qualified to speak on behalf of our club, this is just what I know.
DogeofVenice wrote:I just heard that Princeton students were involved in running it and I assuming that the Princeton club was involved as well, so my bad.
Yeah, not sure why anyone said that. I guess that makes sense given that it's taking place on our campus lol. But I think it speaks to a larger point that college clubs, when addressing the trend of professionalism of their HS tournaments, should be cognizant of any and all of the ways the team is portrayed, whether that be NHBB, social media, conduct of players at tournaments, etc.

I think there is a trend of elite institutions hosting tournaments inadequately and "getting away with it" because they're an Ivy League School, etc.. This is definitely not particular to quiz bowl. If any of you ever did those Model Congress events in high school that are hosted by elite universities, you've probably seen similar aspects of mediocrity that they "get away with" because of the brand name. (This isn't to say those people don't work hard on their tournaments, too-- quiz bowl or otherwise! but certainly there are issues that, in my estimation, are often passed aside by high schools attending them because of the name brand). I think we have to realize that, even though our tournaments might always have a name draw to them, we shouldn't use that as cover for overlooking mistakes for next year. Otherwise, it will perpetuate a bad image of college quiz bowl and diminish the retention rate of graduating high school seniors.
I feel that I should probably comment on this general sub-thread of this thread. I would also like to apologize to Doug and other people involved in New Jersey quiz bowl (including the Princeton club as well as the Rutgers club) for not doing more to establish a more of a tournament-running and organizational infrastructure there after I stepped down from the logistical side of things circa the end of my junior year there. I definitely deserve a degree of at very least indirect blame for anything that has not been up to snuff in terms of outreach (as Chris Chiego could definitely tell you) or organization.

As for NHBB, it was largely under my tenure that hosting at least one NHBB tournament at Princeton a year became a consistent (or at least more consistent) pattern, so I should definitely have been the first to comment on that arrangement. It was explicitly established that the Princeton club would reserve rooms but the event would be run entirely by and under the aegis of NHBB. I cannot comment on developments this year, however, as I am just the worst at keeping in touch with even my closest friends (e.g. much of the Princeton club's current officer corps).

Now, for what I can contribute to this thread, I definitely think that institutional continuity poses a major issue for college quiz bowl in most cases. I'm nevertheless unconditionally proud of the difference between what the Princeton club looks like now and what the Princeton club looked like before I took over and I have the utmost confidence in my (significantly more competent, all things considered) successors, but it still represents a bit of a case in point of the difficulty of institutional continuity, albeit confounded by my personal negligence in developing it (largely attributable to but not in any way excused by the fact that my involvement with the logistical side of the Princeton club was decidedly reluctant from day one, but that's a story for another time and context).

EDIT: It is worth pointing out that I did not vote for "institutional continuity" under "other" in the poll because, being a dingus, I forgot that I considered that one of the top issues in college quiz bowl until Doug's post.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by jacke » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:59 pm

jasongg17 wrote:Now, for what I can contribute to this thread, I definitely think that institutional continuity poses a major issue for college quiz bowl in most cases. I'm nevertheless unconditionally proud of the difference between what the Princeton club looks like now and what the Princeton club looked like before I took over and I have the utmost confidence in my (significantly more competent, all things considered) successors, but it still represents a bit of a case in point of the difficulty of institutional continuity, albeit confounded by my personal negligence in developing it (largely attributable to but not in any way excused by the fact that my involvement with the logistical side of the Princeton club was decidedly reluctant from day one, but that's a story for another time and context).
For what it's worth, the current club officers basically flat-out told us earlier in the year that Jason's work in "getting our act together" was a turning point for the club in recent memory, (including establishing leadership continuity, among other things). Just serves as a lesson for collegiate quiz bowlers out there that effort you put in to the club can have success far after the time you leave. Little things you do to improve your club can have a big impact.
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:45 pm

I have a lot of responding and clarifying regarding Julia’s thoughtful post, so pardon the length.
Couch's Kingbird wrote: For the sake of brevity I’ll address two of the points Eric made. Firstly, I’ve personally never heard that “college quiz bowl is too hard” be a reason for “good,” involved players to quit. To scale and play well at Nationals, we (as in good high school players) practice on hard questions. Simple as that- there’s no way else we can scale. The players I know practice on questions ranging from sets ranging from ACF Fall to EFT to MUT.


I’ve definitely seen elite high school players leave the game because they don’t want to scale up to “regular level” college quizbowl. I’ve seen it with my own team. I don’t think it’s a secret that there are a lot of good high school quizbowlers who would like to continue playing on regular minus and high school level questions forever. In the 20 years I’ve been involved in college quizbowl, I’ve seen countless players dominate on DII questions for their first few years and the decide to leave the game because they don’t want to go any further. Many more don’t even go that far.

Is it the biggest reason good high school players leave the game? Probably not, but it’s a reason. I’m not saying this is a character flaw or something. Regular difficulty isn’t for everyone. And I’m open to reexamining difficulty levels (and I’m definitely for more control on question length). But it’s also not necessarily the college game’s fault if someone decides they want to quit because ACF Fall/NAQT DII is as far as they want to go in terms of difficulty.
Couch's Kingbird wrote: Secondly, this is a perception I’ve gradually noticed while lurking around- that high schoolers have a coach which do everything for them, and high schoolers are somehow not as capable of running their team. The vast majority of teams I know are very student oriented out of necessity- coaches often don’t have the time to devote to “take care of red tape” and logistics or the like. On Darien for instance, the players often are the ones to fill in trip paperwork, make sure all of the players fill in permission slips and the like, register for tournaments, organize transportation to tournaments, etc.- our adviser does help with logistics (stuff like booking hotel rooms and flights), but is mainly there because our school requires a teacher to attend tournaments with the team. In short: yes, high schoolers do know how to run a team and often do run teams independently (for all extents and purposes), and the perception that high schoolers lack the ability to manage a team logistically is counterproductive at best.


I definitely didn’t say high schoolers/college freshmen inherently lack the ability to manage a team, so I’d like to make that clear. What I am saying is that the high school game doesn’t necessarily develop the leadership skills needed to run a college quizbowl team. Those skills can be learned from scratch (I know I did), but it is a barrier to entry to be sure.

I know that there are many, many high schoolers who do a ton of work for their teams on the logistics side. I think it’s awesome that you all do that kind of work for your team. Dealing with red tape and logistics is a major life skill. It’s one of the most valuable things I learned in college quizbowl. Believe me, I’ve seen tons of high school quizbowlers who accomplish things that boggle my mind on the logistics end of things.

But it definitely goes the other way too, in which the coaches do almost all of the logistical work. Nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s nice not having to worry about the red tape. But when some of these players get to college, they don’t have any experience with those kind of logistical/leadership skills. For instance, I’ve had to explain how to book a hotel to new college players before. It sounds trivial, but it can be daunting! I almost quit college quizbowl when all of the logistical work suddenly fell on my shoulders due to attrition.
Couch's Kingbird wrote: The biggest reason I’ve heard cited for quitting before college, however, is the insular and even toxic nature of the college quiz bowl circuit. I experienced this first hand at my first college tournament, when someone interrupted the opening meeting to ask a question (a fair point but rudely brought up) and was promptly called a “douche” by other moderators.


That’s pretty crappy and not acceptable behavior. I don’t remember seeing anything that outrageous recently at tournaments I’ve been to. I personally try to be welcoming to new players and teams. I don’t really see as big an insularity problem in the Southeast. Maybe it’s me with rose-colored glasses, but the teams in our region seem to be pretty friendly, open to new players and teams, and, well, not too insular. Of course, I remember lots of people making fun of our circuit for not being as competitive as the Ivy Leagues and whatnot, so I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of the insularity thing too.
Couch's Kingbird wrote: I’m all for this, but I’ve felt that it can be difficult to get involved in the community. A big part of my own high school quiz bowl experience was trying to “break into” the circuit- early on I noticed that respect and the ability to become an influential figure came from becoming a good/great player, from being a “threat” on the local circuit, etc; the best players are the most well-known and command respect, but as a result it was difficult to get involved and connected with others. The college community seems similar, if not worse; there’s a circle of very, very established players that tend to do a lot in terms of running tournaments, writing sets, etc. This goes hand in hand with the insularity the poll mentions.

I think you make some great points here, but I’d like to know more. Like, I certainly think that anyone who takes on the challenge of college quizbowl deserves respect. This includes being welcome at events, being treated with dignity and politeness, being listened to on quizbowl issues, and being allowed the opportunity to become more involved in the circuit if they want. And sometimes I think younger players make points on forums that get dismissed with too much prejudice.

But respect is also earned. People who “do a lot in terms of running tournaments, writing sets, etc.” have earned more of a say in quizbowl than an incoming freshman who hasn’t yet done these things. It’s the way of the world. So, for example, although I don’t dismiss points freshmen make regarding college question distribution or how to run a tournament, I’m going to pay more heed to Andrew Hart and Mike Bentley regarding these things because they’ve earned a ton of clout through years of work and experience. Doesn’t mean the younger folk are always wrong, doesn’t mean the more experienced folks are always right.

My experience has never been that key circuit members are difficult to get to know or work with. Of course, I started at a different time, but most members of the circuit these days seem willing to chat with those who have questions. But I’ve felt cliquishness too, so I hear you. I mean, I’ve been in quizbowl for as long as about anyone, and I often feel like an outsider.
Couch's Kingbird wrote: From the perspective of a high schooler: once we enter college we are once again the bottom of the pecking ladder. After all, we’re freshmen. We’re less acquainted with the mechanisms of the college circuit. And we’re likely (understandably) less trusted with stuff like running tournaments, writing questions, editing, etc.

But at the same time, there’s this perception of high schoolers that Eric’s post (even if unintentionally) highlights- that somehow high schoolers are not “leaders.” That somehow we are disconnected from the community, that we don’t learn or care about how to run a team or a tournament, that we are unwilling to push ourselves to play harder questions or take steps to be more involved in the community.

I probably was a little too blunt originally. I didn’t mean to say that, if you quit quizbowl because you don’t feel like starting a team at your college that you aren’t a “leader.” Like I said, I almost near quit college quizbowl when the onus of leadership of South Carolina’s program suddenly shifted to me. Nothing wrong with that. But, at the same time, had I quit at that time, it would not have been the fault of college quizbowl. It would have been due to my conscious decision that I didn’t feel like doing the work necessary to keep a team going.
Couch's Kingbird wrote:I’m one of those high schoolers who want to make a change, but with that perception and the insularity it’s hard to see how I can get more involved and truly make a difference. I’ve seen the many positive sides of college quiz bowl and appreciate the love of the game quiz bowlers share, but I’ve also been dismayed by the insularity and sometimes disorganization of the circuit (for instance, of the high school level tournaments I’ve been to, many of the worst run have been by college teams). From the view of an outsider: College players, especially the established ones, need to be more open to what “outsiders” like high schoolers/college freshmen notice about the community, as well as be more willing to allow those players to become more involved at every level of the community- even if they’re new or not necessarily the strongest player on their team.

I hope you do decide to stick around and make positive changes to the circuit. Indeed, the very problem you describe looks like a potential opportunity for you to make a difference. I agree that shoddily run tournaments are a turnoff. You can make a difference by putting together a well-run tournament. You can make a difference by telling folks who run shoddy tournaments what they can do to improve. And you don’t need to be a great player to do any of these things. Like Bruce said, one person’s positive contributions can be a huge boon for an entire region.

One thing: is college quizbowl actively preventing or discouraging people from becoming involved? This would be news to me. What examples are there of this happening?
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Re: What is the most pressing concern in college quizbowl to

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:16 pm

Starting a team is a difficult task indeed. We do have some resources available here for new teams who manage to find us, but I think we could expand on them. Most of the help we've tried to provide our younger comrades tends to deal with trying to recruit teammates, going to tournaments, getting better, and writing questions - these are all important parts of the game, but they are not necessarily as important to leading a team. I think we could stand to help people more with some of the "real world" skills involved in running a team that high schoolers may not have had reason to learn yet.

For context, here's where I'm coming from: I went to Maggie Walker, which at the time had a long-tenured coach and a strong tradition of student-run tournaments. I ran tournaments there for 2.5 seasons, and towards the end of my career I took on some of the work of finding events for us to go to, since Dr. B was nearing retirement and didn't have the time or energy to find us something to play almost every weekend (I hope at the time we appreciated enough the work he did to make sure all those tournaments got paid for; we probably didn't). So, we were in a pretty good position where we had a decent budget and a coach who was around to make sure we got to things and things were paid for but largely let us do what we wanted, provided we were being reasonable.

In the fall of 2011, Matt Bollinger and I started at UVA. I'm not sure what the UVA team would look like today if one or the other of us had chosen a different college, or if I'd decided to pursue theater, or if he'd pursued any of his other interests. We had some huge advantages that would have disappeared had the next class had to revive the team. When Matt and I got there, the club was being kept alive by a former high school teammate of mine. He had a handful of teammates, but there was no one for whom quizbowl was their main thing (which is fine! I'm all for people living their best lives and pursuing their interests, but unfortunately it's hard to keep a team alive if that's your whole team). He was graduating that year. The team stayed pretty small - besides Will, Matt, and I, our other main member was law student David Seal, who was typically too busy with law school things to do logistics legwork. Will drove us to things (UVA first years could not have cars at school; not sure if that's still the case because I'm old as dirt) and managed the club's money. Matt and I were able to step into leadership roles and take over the club's bank account, which I think is key. If Will had graduated in 2010 and Matt and I had arrived with no institutional memory instead of one veteran holding down the fort, it might've been a different story. But, we went from a 4 person club to sometimes fielding 4 teams, so maybe our experience is useful. Here are some things we had to learn:
-how to deal with a bank (this includes things like knowing your Social Security number, understanding how to use online banking, understanding how to run a checking account, etc)
-how to reserve hotel rooms (if I didn't have a credit card as a freshman, we might not have gone to 2011 ACF Nats)
-how to book plane tickets
-how to write an invoice that looks acceptable to a school district office
-how to rent a car/use ZipCar

Some things that contributed to our success:
-Matt's playing skill drew in recruits who'd played in high school
-my TDing experience from high school gave us a comfortable starting point to jump in and host events
-Matt and I were both fairly high-profile high school players with connections in the college game willing to help
-Matt and I used those connections to introduce our younger teammates to our friends in the community and try to expand their networks and involvement

A lot of new or small teams will not have those advantages, but I think all of them can benefit from learning those skills. Our advantages helped a lot, but without developing those real world skills, we would only have gotten so far.

So, my fellow old folks, what can we do to help? I think having information on those real world skills in the New Collegiate Teams forum would be nice; I'm probably not the best person to write it up, as I'm out of date (what's a Venmo? you mean you don't have to worry about bringing cash in case your team can't split the check at a post-tournament dinner? Wow!).

We can also just be friendly. As Andrew mentioned, us old folks have friends, and it's easy to just hang out with those friends. Goodness knows I do when I get to travel to something these days and see folks I only see once a year at best. But, when I was an active player, I would always bounce around and talk to people - I made the rounds at high school tournaments when I was at Maggie Walker and made friends from TJ, State College, Hunter, and all kinds of other teams that played in our area. In college, I would introduce my younger teammates to my friends and meet their younger teammates. When I was at a Maryland tournament with VCU and Hernan was there as the only player from American, we insisted he have lunch with us.

I think I may have lost track of my point since I spent all day in a stockroom rubber-banding cosmetics to prep for inventory and my brain has melted, but hopefully some of this rambling is of use to someone. Go forth and make friends, young ones.
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