ACF Fall "Gentlemen's Agreements"

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High Dependency Unit
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ACF Fall "Gentlemen's Agreements"

Post by High Dependency Unit »

Note: This is unrelated to my comments related to packet submission and pricing in the 2019 ACF Fall thread.

I got a nice suggestion from someone today to "play EFT, but not Fall," to which I replied something along the lines of "that's exactly what I've been planning on doing." I'm making this post because more people should be receiving this advice from friends/mentors/the larger community, and since it's not explicitly clear who Fall is and isn't for.

ACF Fall, for all intents and purposes, is a semi-introductory tournament for quiz bowl teams. The questions aren't going to challenge top players and teams, and there will be a significant number of teams and players who either don't regularly attend regionals-level tournaments or are relatively new to collegiate quiz bowl. It is not, for example, EFT, which is meant to be an accessible version of a regular-difficulty tournament. In fact, Fall might be as close as some newer teams get to a novice tournament in the first half of the year (DII SCT is arguable easier). Thus, while I don't believe Fall has any strict eligibility requirements (beyond being a collegiate player), a lot of players and teams do choose to sit out, but it's worth discussing how we can do more of just that.

Despite the general consensus that good teams/players should not be competing at Fall, last year's competitors included the cores (or, in at least one instance, the full roster) of top-25 teams, past nationals champions, and people who could pull 20 ppb (or close to it) playing solo. The existence of these players at Fall prevents the tournament from fully being any sort of introductory tournament, as teams who get smacked around at EFT once again get smacked around at Fall. In fact, our B team scored FEWER points per game during prelims of Fall than in prelims of EFT, despite a ppb that was 50% better that time around! Of course, even if you pull out all players listed above, some teams are still going to lose a lot and lose by a lot, but Fall will be more fun to play and a better developmental experience for newer or less talented teams, particularly after they face tougher competition at EFT.

While I understand how it can be nice to not have specific eligibility restrictions, and ACF's likely reluctance in restricting access for Fall, I think the community and hosts of individual sites have a responsibility to discourage overqualified teams from competing at Fall. I'm interested in hearing other ideas about Fall "gentlemen's agreements," because while this is not something we're doing poorly, we could be doing better.
Michael Borecki
Middlesex Middle '13,
Darien (co-captain) '17,
Bowdoin College (club president) '21
NHBB Regional Coordinator
www.ctquizbowl.org

bradleykirksey
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Re: ACF Fall "Gentlemen's Agreements"

Post by bradleykirksey »

I don't really know about that.

1) I think that if your circuit wants to have a "gentleman's agreement" rule and the Midwest wants to knock each others' brains out on easy questions, why do you care what they do? That might sound a little bit snarky, but I mean it as a genuine question. Is there any compelling reason why my circuit should care if they do that? It's not a qualifier and I don't have to play it. It seems like you should be more interested in getting your circuit onto the same page, rather than making this a national thing.

2) Gentlemen's Agreements about eligibility don't really work. All it takes is one person to say "oh, I'm not that good" and the whole thing is broken. I've seen it happen a lot by really well-meaning people. You either need a strong TD to say "no don't do that" or you need rules in place.

3) I'm not really sure that I see where you get this from: "Despite the general consensus that good teams/players should not be competing at Fall." In the next sentence you also say "last year's competitors included the cores ... of top-25 teams [and] past nationals champions." It kind of seems to me like there's no consensus about anything at all.

I hope I'm not being a pest, but I'm not sure that I get where you're coming from or if it's really a national issue. Maybe it would be best to talk to local clubs and programs about getting a designated novice tournament together. Or maybe it might be worth having some sort of meaningful prize for winning in the bottom bracket. These seem, to me, like more meaningful solutions, in my opinion.
Bradley Kirksey
Mayor of quiz bowl at the University of Central Florida (2010-2015)
The club at Reformed Theology Seminary Orlando (2017 - 2055??)

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Re: ACF Fall "Gentlemen's Agreements"

Post by High Dependency Unit »

bradleykirksey wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:31 pm
I don't really know about that.

1) I think that if your circuit wants to have a "gentleman's agreement" rule and the Midwest wants to knock each others' brains out on easy questions, why do you care what they do? That might sound a little bit snarky, but I mean it as a genuine question. Is there any compelling reason why my circuit should care if they do that? It's not a qualifier and I don't have to play it. It seems like you should be more interested in getting your circuit onto the same page, rather than making this a national thing.

2) Gentlemen's Agreements about eligibility don't really work. All it takes is one person to say "oh, I'm not that good" and the whole thing is broken. I've seen it happen a lot by really well-meaning people. You either need a strong TD to say "no don't do that" or you need rules in place.

3) I'm not really sure that I see where you get this from: "Despite the general consensus that good teams/players should not be competing at Fall." In the next sentence you also say "last year's competitors included the cores ... of top-25 teams [and] past nationals champions." It kind of seems to me like there's no consensus about anything at all.

I hope I'm not being a pest, but I'm not sure that I get where you're coming from or if it's really a national issue. Maybe it would be best to talk to local clubs and programs about getting a designated novice tournament together. Or maybe it might be worth having some sort of meaningful prize for winning in the bottom bracket. These seem, to me, like more meaningful solutions, in my opinion.
1) Sure, it doesn't really matter to me what happens in the Midwest, and if Illinois A, Chicago A, etc. all decide to register for Fall I'd leave the "hey maybe don't do this" to my Midwestern peers. However, it's also worth noting that there aren't a lot of people from smaller, less prestigious programs on here (maybe someone like Lauren Onel or Alex Damisch would have something to say), so maybe people in other circuits do care but don't speak up/get heard.

2) People are generally pretty amenable to suggestions from peers, but yes a lot of this comes down to the TDs. That being said, if only one good team plays Fall the circuit will be the better for it. This isn't something where everything depends on everyone staying in line.

3) The general consensus is there, it's just people aren't sure how far it applies. As far as I'm aware, the cores of 2 top-25 teams (there was no poll, so this is all approximate) and one full borderline top-25 team played Fall. I'm actually wrong about the past national champions part, but a player on a recent runner-up Nationals team did play 2018 Fall. It's pretty clear that those people probably shouldn't have competed (and players/teams like them should be discouraged from competing in the future), but I'm wondering if we can figure out the gray area past that.

Yes, this is certainly a regional issue, but I've also heard opinions from people in several regions that suggests more of a national desire to have more of a conversation about playing Fall. And just because we can do one of the things mentioned at the end of your post doesn't mean we can't also do something about playing Fall -- why implement only some of the good measures we can take when it's possible for us to do them all?
Michael Borecki
Middlesex Middle '13,
Darien (co-captain) '17,
Bowdoin College (club president) '21
NHBB Regional Coordinator
www.ctquizbowl.org

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Re: ACF Fall "Gentlemen's Agreements"

Post by Votre Kickstarter Est Nul »

bradleykirksey wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:31 pm
I don't really know about that.

1) I think that if your circuit wants to have a "gentleman's agreement" rule and the Midwest wants to knock each others' brains out on easy questions, why do you care what they do? That might sound a little bit snarky, but I mean it as a genuine question. Is there any compelling reason why my circuit should care if they do that? It's not a qualifier and I don't have to play it. It seems like you should be more interested in getting your circuit onto the same page, rather than making this a national thing.
I'm sort of skeptical that any circuit exists where this is a good way to approach Fall. Maybe that's Northeast bias talking, but I think it's in the interest of anyone, no matter where they go to school, for the overall QB ecosystem to grow and gain new members, and I don't think any region deciding that Fall is where all the best Qbers go to kill it on a set not made for them is good. (I should make it clear I don't think this is presently an issue in in any whole circuit and tends to be reserved to individual team decisions, regardless of circuit)
Emmett Laurie
East Brunswick '16
Rutgers University '20

Evan Lynch
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Re: ACF Fall "Gentlemen's Agreements"

Post by Evan Lynch »

The UK circuit has historically maintained a gentleman's agreement regarding who plays ACF Fall, and while it hasn't always worked perfectly it's generally been pretty successful. Our aim has always been to give a somewhat-sanitised environment for newer players to find their feet in, without overly discouraging competition at the top end of the field. It's not really for me to say whether your team of 4 should play or not (since it depends on the field strength as to whether it's worthwhile, really), but I do want to push back on another pattern which I've seen happen a few times over the past few years, namely, teams of solo players or doubles who put up insane PPG/PPB numbers and crush a series of newer teams by 400+ point margins. I don't want to call anyone out specifically, but go look through the stats, it's all there.

I'm sympathetic to the fact that there still seems to be two visions of what ACF Fall should be for, but I really firmly believe it's not for stroking the ego of solo players who enjoy playing easy questions and humbling newer teams. Please don't be that guy. It shouldn't have to be down to a TD or eligibility requirements to tell you that this doesn't really benefit anyone, and I'm glad Michael started this thread because my observations over the last couple years is that some people still don't get the point.
Evan Lynch

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Re: ACF Fall "Gentlemen's Agreements"

Post by 1.82 »

bradleykirksey wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:31 pm
I don't really know about that.

1) I think that if your circuit wants to have a "gentleman's agreement" rule and the Midwest wants to knock each others' brains out on easy questions, why do you care what they do? That might sound a little bit snarky, but I mean it as a genuine question. Is there any compelling reason why my circuit should care if they do that? It's not a qualifier and I don't have to play it. It seems like you should be more interested in getting your circuit onto the same page, rather than making this a national thing.
The answer to this question is pretty simple, and it's that everything that occurs in quizbowl is everyone's business, regardless of where it takes place. That's a rule of this forum and it's a good guiding principle for quizbowl discussion.
Naveed Chowdhury
Maryland '16
Georgia Tech '17

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