Teams Should Play Equal Number of Games Whenever Possible

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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Kid In Green Shirt
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Teams Should Play Equal Number of Games Whenever Possible

Post by Kid In Green Shirt »

Alright, I promised it, so I’ll awaken my long dormant forum account to discuss this topic. I’m also writing this on my phone, so typos may sneak in.

First of all, I’d like to apologize to the Harvard team, my teammates, and anyone off put by my disruptiveness during the morning meeting. What I did was definitely not the best way to handle the situation, and I think the fact that this is probably my last tournament may have affected me emotionally, but that’s not an excuse. I should’ve made the comments/suggestions personally rather than raising my hand, putting the TD and staff on the spot and calling out. Also, please do not put this on my teammates; the decision to bring the subject up and continue to push it was mine alone.

I’d like to thank Harvard for hosting SMT and generally doing a pretty good job. I do not want this to become a dispute over what could have been done differently, since that is water under the bridge. Rather, I’d like to discuss what can be done in situations like this in the future to meet the needs of both hosts and guests. This is why I am posting in the discussion forum, rather than on the tournament thread.

I think we can all agree that teams want to “get their money’s worth” at tournaments and tournament hosts should seek to achieve that. We are all paying the same base rate and many of us travel long distances to play, so feeling shortchanged can hopefully be understandable when things don’t seem fair to all teams. I understand that coming from a Penn player that may seem hypocritical, since Penn Bowl has often had issues and not all our tournaments are run to the highest standards, but I hope that does not color the rest of this. The reaction of the room this morning, while not to appeal to the masses, seems to indicate people felt similarly to me and several players spoke with me personally to express that was so.

Getting to the topic at hand, teams should play the same number of games whenever possible. This is part of “getting your money’s worth” and I think we all agree teams should be treated equally and fairly regardless of skill level, history, etc.

To lay the stage for those not present at the tournament and provide an anecdote for further discussion to be based on, there were 18 outside teams and 2 house teams listed on the forum post. The logistics email noted that there were 20 teams, and that we would likely be splitting into two round robins. When we arrived this morning, we were split into 1 bracket of 10 and 1 of 9, meaning 19 teams were present. Obviously, the 9 team section needs a bye, so any team within it loses a competition round of quiz bowl. This got me thinking about how this might be avoided, and I noticed the house team present (in the 9 team bracket which is commendable at least). During the meeting I asked about this team and whether it had a full roster. When informed it did, I suggested splitting it and reallocating teams so that the brackets would both be full. It should be noted, I understand late drops for staff, and other related concerns could have caused the termination of the second house team and that rescheduling quickly is not always easy. However, there were 6 rooms doubled on staff (likely due to staffers getting used to electronic scoring), so it seems like it would be possible to split the four member team to 2 and 2 to form two House teams and split a doubled up room to accommodate another playing room, pending reservation of that room. Additionally, while non-optimal, since the number of games for the other bracket would decrease, the house team could have been dropped to even out the number of games for both halves and bolster the staff.

In my opinion, the goal of a house team should be to fill out brackets when needed, especially for sub-Regular difficulty events, so a host should be willing to sacrifice their playing time to accommodate the guest teams. That way, you can also potentially maximize staffing skill and expand the field. I know from experience of hosting and playing MUT that the undergrad tournament is really fun and disappointing to have to staff, too, so I can understand resistance to breaking up a team. I also understand that sometimes staffing, host team size and field size may not allow equal numbers of games for all teams, but this seemed not to be the case in this instance.

So, in an effort to avoid situations like this in the future, I would like the floor to be open to tournament directors and teams to discuss what can be done. I am not very experienced beyond the moderator level of staffing, but I’m sure it can be tough to resolve problems. I had some ideas for today, but they won’t be applicable in all situations.

Again, please DON’T put this on Harvard. I put them on the spot unfairly this morning and they are not the only team hosting a tournament to have been in this situation. Hopefully we can discuss in this thread how to avoid this for teams on both perspectives in the future!

And once again, thanks to Harvard for hosting! Props for giving out The Art of the Deal too.
Max Smiley
Horace Greeley '14
Penn '18
UC Berkeley '23+
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Re: Teams Should Play Equal Number of Games Whenever Possibl

Post by CPiGuy »

Assuming this is accurate, you should totally be putting this on Harvard. Hosts need to guarantee a reasonable format if possible, even if that means manipulating house teams. In particular, I recall playing a tournament at Ohio State in which they fielded three teams with a total of six players between them in order to make the schedule work. I, uh, don't really see how it's justified for Harvard (or any host in this situation) to not split their house teams, which creates a markedly worse experience for at least half of the teams that actually paid them to play the tournament. The way to avoid this situation is for hosts to field an appropriate number of house teams to make the schedule work, even if that means not everyone can play or that they'll have to have shorthanded teams (and personally I prefer the latter, as it lets everyone play, but that's up to teams themselves).
Conor Thompson (he/him)
Bangor High School '16
University of Michigan '20
Iowa State University '25
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Re: Teams Should Play Equal Number of Games Whenever Possibl

Post by AGoodMan »

I thought about this all day, and as the TD of the SMT mirror at Harvard, I want to officially apologize to everyone, and especially to the nine teams who played fewer games. Max and Conor have raised very salient and reasonable points. From my perspective, originally, I planned on having one house team (composed of graduating seniors) for a field of 20. Due to last-minute drops and staffing changes, I then planned two undermanned house teams, which was finally reduced to one 4-man house team. The motive was (admittedly) a bit selfish (who likes to see an undermanned house team, or two, get beat up?). Such issues will never occur again as long as I direct more tournaments.

Max, glad you enjoyed the tournament on the whole!

*edited because I can't spell
Jon Suh
Wheaton Warrenville South High School '16
Harvard '20
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