The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

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kayli
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The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by kayli »

While procrastinating on my late bio labs, I started reading some threads on here. A lot of regions within the country and within states seem to have a history of bad quizbowl (such as using bad question providers like Questions Galore, Avery Questions, et al.). Although change is coming to quizbowl (with a trend towards better question), my question is: How do we transition between bad quizbowl to good quizbowl?

I think a big reason why bad quizbowl is still chosen is because bad quizbowl companies tend to have a better way of getting to new teams. QG and Avery questions seem to have a way of getting to newer schools, and they seem to be able to keep their customers (whether it is because of habit or incentives). NAQT seems to be doing a good job of getting to schools to use their questions, but their efforts do not seem to be as widespread. HSAPQ (correct me if I'm wrong) seems to be less fruitful in their efforts to spread the good quizbowl deliciousness. Additionally, some of the best house written tournaments are only mirrored at high schools and colleges where good quizbowl is already prevalent. This makes me think that a better infrastructure with contacting coaches and teams would lead a prevalence of better quizbowl. Also, I think that making contact with coaches and players is another way of bringing change towards better quizbowl. A lot of us who have had extremely bad dealings with some providers are apt to start throwing acid at anyone who uses those questions and deem TDs who choose those providers to be terrible people. I think that criticism to an extent is okay; but I believe that, if we make an effort to speak with players and coaches respectfully and logically, they would be more apt to try to bring teams to better tournaments and host tournaments on better questions.

Traditions and ties with bad quizbowl are hard to change. I'm just wondering how everyone think we should go about bringing turning bad quizbowl into good quizbowl philosophically.
Kay, Chicago.

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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

Speaking for my league here in Northeast Ohio, we made the switch in the 2007 season to NAQT. We use an A-set and IS-set to cover our league and tournament. I tried to convince the coaches -- who were all familiar and comfortable with the Ohio format -- that tossup/bonus was the right way to go forward with the game. This frontal assault failed to convert many. The coaches of the winning teams didn't want to give up what they had become successful with, and the bottom team's coaches weren't confident enough that they could win with a new format. The way we got the change to go through was due to finances.

The provider we wanted to use for Ohio format questions was going to charge $50/round. To cover everything we do in our competition, including tiebreak games, we needed 27 rounds. (total -- $1350). With only 14 full members paying $100 entry fee and 1 associate member paying $50, that left not enough money to cover my stipend, awards, etc. So, when I presented the powers-that-be at the educational service center -- who collects the entry fees of the member schools and orders the questions -- with the prices NAQT was offering at the time, it was rubber stamped and sent along without even so much as a vote of the coaches. It just made sense, financially, for them.

Keeping the coaches and players on-side was really as much a battle of wills more than anything. I didn't back down once the change had been made, and after the first year, the complaints really died down. Now, the Class of 2010 here will have played nothing but tossup/bonus in the League for their entire careers.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Cheynem »

Money actually is a good convincing argument. Look at how much Chip Beall charges for a national tournament and for how few games you are guaranteed, as compared to NAQT or PACE. You don't need Howie Long to tell you that's a good deal.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by CometCoach72 »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: Also, I think that making contact with coaches and players is another way of bringing change towards better quizbowl. A lot of us who have had extremely bad dealings with some providers are apt to start throwing acid at anyone who uses those questions and deem TDs who choose those providers to be terrible people. I think that criticism to an extent is okay; but I believe that, if we make an effort to speak with players and coaches respectfully and logically, they would be more apt to try to bring teams to better tournaments and host tournaments on better questions.

Traditions and ties with bad quizbowl are hard to change. I'm just wondering how everyone think we should go about bringing turning bad quizbowl into good quizbowl philosophically.

In my brief experience, high school quiz bowl coaching is 90% sales. You sell kids on the idea of playing; you sell kids on the idea of good practice and game habits; you sell them on going on long bus rides on Saturdays to tournaments in far flung places; you sell kids on all sorts of things to get them to build a program.

Then, you learn some more and discover that you need to be sold on better questions as a coach, and then you have to start selling others on the idea. And, that's where I am right now.

If coaches' associations would support their membership and each other, then healthy discussions can be had. Those that want change have to be willing to listen to the points of those who oppose it, and then work on the arguments without becoming too emotional. Organizations who put on Quiz Bowl can vote with their dollars on the quality of questions.

The respectfully and logically part will get more people on your side than anything else.
Jay Winter
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by DadofTwins »

As a second-year coach of a second-year team, the challenge I'm facing is not in question quality so much as answer-line accessibility. The kids I coach simply don't know enough answers to make the game fun. "Good quizbowl" is for good teams. We, simply put, aren't. We recently played an NAQT A-packet goldfish-style, and 15 kids combined to get 6 tossups right. I'm finding myself having to write 50 questions a week just to keep the kids playing. And as a writer, I'm not that good.

But if faced with the choice between "bad quizbowl" that kids will actually play and no quizbowl at all, for me the choice is easy. But if "good quizbowl" could be played by the bad teams, too, the choice would be that much easier.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

DadofTwins wrote:As a second-year coach of a second-year team, the challenge I'm facing is not in question quality so much as answer-line accessibility. The kids I coach simply don't know enough answers to make the game fun. "Good quizbowl" is for good teams. We, simply put, aren't. We recently played an NAQT A-packet goldfish-style, and 15 kids combined to get 6 tossups right. I'm finding myself having to write 50 questions a week just to keep the kids playing. And as a writer, I'm not that good.

But if faced with the choice between "bad quizbowl" that kids will actually play and no quizbowl at all, for me the choice is easy. But if "good quizbowl" could be played by the bad teams, too, the choice would be that much easier.
Keep going. Your efforts will pay off. Four years ago, this is where my team was, and we've come a long way. Once they realize how fun it is to show off what they know, they'll learn even more.
Mr. Andrew Chrzanowski
Caesar Rodney High School
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by cvdwightw »

DadofTwins wrote:"Good quizbowl" is for good teams.
This is an extremely common misconception and one that I think really needs to be addressed in any argument.

"Good quizbowl" does not have a set difficulty level. At the high school level, there are "nationals sets" that challenge the top teams, "regular sets" that should challenge a typical high school team, and "novice sets" intended for newer players. Depending on the structure of the questions, any of these tournaments can be considered "good quizbowl." Good quizbowl most basically involves two philosophies:

1. The team that knows more should almost always win the game
2. Both teams should be stimulated to learn something after playing the game

Neither one of these philosophies inherently states anything about difficulty level (neither does it say anything about the academic content of the tournament, because that's under the separate heading "academic." You can have a "bad quizbowl" tournament that's entirely academic, and you can have a "good quizbowl" tournament that's entirely non-academic.). One of the consequences of these philosophies is that a game between the top two teams in the tournament should be just as contested as a game between the bottom two teams in the tournament, except that while the top teams are battling it out by powering tossups and fighting to grab thirty on bonuses, the bottom teams are battling to answer tossups at the end and grab the easy part on a bonus. "Bad quizbowl," with its one-liners and widely-variable bonus difficulty, almost has to pick a target audience - their games are going to be frustrating for either the top teams or the bottom teams or both. "Good quizbowl," on the other hand, should provide a competitive game at all skill levels, even if that means it's decided by which team gets 5 tossups and which team gets 3.

Do you get blank stares when you read the answers to the questions, or is it more of an issue of their confidence in knowing the answer? Sometimes kids have extreme buzzer shyness - they're afraid to get questions wrong, so they don't buzz in on questions even if they know the answer. If it's the latter, that's a problem that can hopefully correct itself as they start realizing that they know stuff and that it's okay to get things wrong. If it's the former, the best thing you can do is keep reading packets - one of the benefits of the "canon" is that the same answer choices and clues will repeatedly come up, and eventually these kids will start remembering some of the things that came up in previous practices. If you're not sure or it's a mixture of both, you might try reading the remaining bonuses (these can function like one-line tossups) and see if they're any better at those if they're allowed to discuss the answer with each other.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

cvdwightw wrote:If you're not sure or it's a mixture of both, you might try reading the remaining bonuses (these can function like one-line tossups) and see if they're any better at those if they're allowed to discuss the answer with each other.
I still do this all the time, especially with the younger players. It helps immensely. Just getting those easy parts makes them feel great, then when they get a 20 here and there there are high-fives all over the place. You gotta make it a fun atmosphere and give tons of positive encouragement for what they do know. You be surprised what will then start sticking in their minds for next time.
Mr. Andrew Chrzanowski
Caesar Rodney High School
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill »

Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote:
cvdwightw wrote:If you're not sure or it's a mixture of both, you might try reading the remaining bonuses (these can function like one-line tossups) and see if they're any better at those if they're allowed to discuss the answer with each other.
I still do this all the time, especially with the younger players. It helps immensely. Just getting those easy parts makes them feel great, then when they get a 20 here and there there are high-fives all over the place. You gotta make it a fun atmosphere and give tons of positive encouragement for what they do know. You be surprised what will then start sticking in their minds for next time.
We also do this, even for the A-team with the bonuses that remain. It's great for buzzer speed and anticipation for the better players and nice little nuggets of questions for the newer, less experienced players.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by AKKOLADE »

DadofTwins wrote:As a second-year coach of a second-year team, the challenge I'm facing is not in question quality so much as answer-line accessibility. The kids I coach simply don't know enough answers to make the game fun. "Good quizbowl" is for good teams. We, simply put, aren't. We recently played an NAQT A-packet goldfish-style, and 15 kids combined to get 6 tossups right. I'm finding myself having to write 50 questions a week just to keep the kids playing. And as a writer, I'm not that good.

But if faced with the choice between "bad quizbowl" that kids will actually play and no quizbowl at all, for me the choice is easy. But if "good quizbowl" could be played by the bad teams, too, the choice would be that much easier.
What state are you located in, Ben?
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

FredMorlan wrote:
DadofTwins wrote:As a second-year coach of a second-year team, the challenge I'm facing is not in question quality so much as answer-line accessibility. The kids I coach simply don't know enough answers to make the game fun. "Good quizbowl" is for good teams. We, simply put, aren't. We recently played an NAQT A-packet goldfish-style, and 15 kids combined to get 6 tossups right. I'm finding myself having to write 50 questions a week just to keep the kids playing. And as a writer, I'm not that good.

But if faced with the choice between "bad quizbowl" that kids will actually play and no quizbowl at all, for me the choice is easy. But if "good quizbowl" could be played by the bad teams, too, the choice would be that much easier.
What state are you located in, Ben?
He's in Kentucky, about 30-40 minutes away from Bowling Green.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Scott »

Ben, if you wanted to get your kids some exposure to good quizbowl, we would be more than happy to do some sort of scrimmage with them.
We have tons of NAQT and other questions, and would be glad to try to help out.
I think it is important to the quizbowl oriented teams in the state to help expose others to the high quality formats.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by mrgsmath »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:I think a big reason why bad quizbowl is still chosen is because bad quizbowl companies tend to have a better way of getting to new teams. QG and Avery questions seem to have a way of getting to newer schools, and they seem to be able to keep their customers (whether it is because of habit or incentives).
I mentioned last week on another thread, but I am sure it got lost in the flare-up, that at least with respect to QG, they have a virtual stranglehold on Illinois Jr. High (middle school) competition. While I can't speak for Chicago, I can say everywhere else (90% at least) either QG or QG clones rule the day. IESA uses QG exclusively for their State Series and so if you are going to compete you pretty much are tied to that game. If you think H.S. questions are bad, I'll send you a Jr. High set. It makes a high school set look like a Mensa test. " Name the tool used for hitting nails. Answer: hammer" If they wrote questions for 2nd grade Quiz Bowl this would still be a buzzer beater. (couple this with the rule that if you said was claw hammer you would be considered wrong.
As a result QG and others have both the resources and established contacts to be an influence in High School Quiz Bowl.
Couple this with an even an more rigid set of rules concerning blurts, apppeals and format, when we talk of transitions we may be asking too much for a system to change from this style to a form more in line with College competitions over a four year period. Also to consider is that most F/S programs are a reflection of the Varsity so in reality we are to make the transition in one step.

Not intending to do anything but present an observation, be it anacdotal, it appears that the schools most successful in attaining this level of success are the larger schools, who have more students from which to gleen the 5-10 committed players willing to make the transition, or smaller schools in close proximity to Urban areas where QG has less an influence and "good quizbowl" is readily available and encouraged. I am asking you not to take pity on small schools, but asking perhaps to offer possible solutions to this problem. I took over the Jr. High program 3 years ago, because I was tired of dragging freshman students kicking and screaming (metaporically) into a pyramidal question style. we practice with pyramidal-lite and I palce less emphasis on IESA success and more on future rewards. I would like to host a round-robin tournament in April for Jr. High teams but will be forced to write in house question (2-3 tier pyramidal) unless you know of someone who provides better questions at this level. I don't mind writing the questions, my High School team will do most ofthe writing I'll jst edit, but most other programs will not, and so the result will most likely be complaints from the participants.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Stephen Colbert »

mrgsmath wrote:I mentioned last week on another thread, but I am sure it got lost in the flare-up, that at least with respect to QG, they have a virtual stranglehold on Illinois Jr. High (middle school) competition. While I can't speak for Chicago, I can say everywhere else (90% at least) either QG or QG clones rule the day. IESA uses QG exclusively for their State Series and so if you are going to compete you pretty much are tied to that game. If you think H.S. questions are bad, I'll send you a Jr. High set. It makes a high school set look like a Mensa test. " Name the tool used for hitting nails. Answer: hammer" If they wrote questions for 2nd grade Quiz Bowl this would still be a buzzer beater. (couple this with the rule that if you said was claw hammer you would be considered wrong.
As a result QG and others have both the resources and established contacts to be an influence in High School Quiz Bowl.
Couple this with an even an more rigid set of rules concerning blurts, apppeals and format, when we talk of transitions we may be asking too much for a system to change from this style to a form more in line with College competitions over a four year period. Also to consider is that most F/S programs are a reflection of the Varsity so in reality we are to make the transition in one step.

Not intending to do anything but present an observation, be it anacdotal, it appears that the schools most successful in attaining this level of success are the larger schools, who have more students from which to gleen the 5-10 committed players willing to make the transition, or smaller schools in close proximity to Urban areas where QG has less an influence and "good quizbowl" is readily available and encouraged. I am asking you not to take pity on small schools, but asking perhaps to offer possible solutions to this problem. I took over the Jr. High program 3 years ago, because I was tired of dragging freshman students kicking and screaming (metaporically) into a pyramidal question style. we practice with pyramidal-lite and I palce less emphasis on IESA success and more on future rewards. I would like to host a round-robin tournament in April for Jr. High teams but will be forced to write in house question (2-3 tier pyramidal) unless you know of someone who provides better questions at this level. I don't mind writing the questions, my High School team will do most ofthe writing I'll jst edit, but most other programs will not, and so the result will most likely be complaints from the participants.
PORTA Jr. High School is certainly invited to attend the Albus Dumbledore Memorial scholastic bowl tournament on Saturday, April 17th, 2010 at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Illinois. This tournament is a mirror of the 2010 Middle School Collaborative Tournament. You should receive an invitation in the mail within the next week or so. You can e-mail me for more information.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by mrgsmath »

Stephen Colbert wrote:PORTA Jr. High School is certainly invited to attend the Albus Dumbledore Memorial scholastic bowl tournament on Saturday, April 17th, 2010 at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Illinois. This tournament is a mirror of the 2010 Middle School Collaborative Tournament. You should receive an invitation in the mail within the next week or so. You can e-mail me for more information.
Excellent, my old stomping grounds. I attended High School at Putnam County and spend 20 years in LaSalle County after getting married. (In fact I attended IVCC when it was called Plywood Tech due to the temporary :lol: buildings that were used while the main campus was being built) I will need to check the school calendar and transportation, but that is a trip (2 - hours) that I can justify. (the humor is that 35 years later some of the temporary buildings are still being used.)
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by penforprez »

I've been promoting NAQT questions in Missouri high school play since 2005, and it's a hard sell at times. A lot of coaches are more conservative and don't trust a newer format "because that's not how the state tournament does it." The argument I make against that is that the Missouri state tournament has used the exact same fundamental format since the mid-1990's, dating back even before MSHSAA had oversight. I don't want to argue the ethical and moral turpitude of MSHSAA; that's clear to almost everyone. But they know nothing about the dynamics of quizbowl and care less.

I've been active throughout the state since I started playing in '94, and over that time, I built a lot of friendships and acquaintances with coaches of good teams. When I started promoting NAQT, a good friend who is a legendary Missouri coach (now retired and shall remain nameless) really gave me a lot of encouragement and made a point of coming to tournaments that I could persuade to use NAQT questions (which wasn't many). That influence started drawing people, but it was really too much for me, as one person, to do on my own. But I continued building friends and influence, and it's really paying off now. That is the most effective way of getting people to try something new--just talking to them. Building a friendship, being helpful, being informed, being polite, not being condescending. I actively help several teams with special issues (especially nationals prep) and that really makes a difference.

Some people are strongly against any new format, and there's no way to convert zealots like that. Basically, you have to bypass them. It's incredibly easy to defuse the arguments they make, and I have a few that I believe are effective. My personal favorite is that if the Missouri format is so good, why does no credible national tournament use it? There's a reason for that. A common argument we use in MOQBA is that the Missouri format is so outdated (which it is) that no credible question writer writes that format anymore (which they don't), and therefore the questions for District and State will always be substandard.

I actually go one further. I have a theory that playing good tournaments on pyramidal questions actually makes you better for buzzer-beater tournaments than if you didn't. The whole idea of pyramidal questions is depth of knowledge--if you know more about a particular subject, you'll likely get the question first. Buzzer-beater formats are almost exclusively not written that way. They just throw facts at the proverbial wall without structure or reason. But if you play tournaments with more depth of knowledge, that will help you navigate the minefield of non-pyramidal buzzer beaters better because you will have more knowledge than somebody who doesn't play good questions. This theory have never been scientifically tested per se, but I'm anxious to see how some of the teams that MOQBA members have taken under their wing will fare in the next season or two with the District and State tournaments.

Greg mentioned how he uses an A-set, and I did the same thing when I started in Missouri. A-sets are a fantastic way to start because the questions are shorter (which in Missouri is sadly an asset) and marginally easier than a level 2 set. I have never agreed with the argument that good formats are harder because most of the material in NAQT or HSAPQ sets is also found in formats like QG, etc (at least from my view). The questions are longer and you can practice them and get good at them, the same as anything else.

I don't know if this helped, but I hope it did. :grin:
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by BayRays »

What do you propose for a team in which the players want to play better quizbowl formats but the coach likes non-pyramidal formats too much to change

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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Well in what ways have you tried to talk to the coach to explain why pyramidal questions are better?
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Golran »

I had this situation while in high school. Are your parents (or a teammate's parents) on board with the involvement in quizbowl? If so, most tournaments will let you attend without a coach, but with a responsible adult (i.e. a parent). You may have to play under pseudonyms so the group doesn't get in trouble with the local Board of Ed, but most tournaments will be happy to have you. It would help to know what region you are from so we can direct you to available resources.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by DadofTwins »

Checking back in to thank everybody for their helpful suggestions and encouragement.

I'm finding that with this group there's a really good TRASH team hiding somewhere under all the blank stares on the academic material. Even the easiest novice material nets a Goldfish score under 150, while they regularly 30 the bonuses on music, comic books, sports, and the like.

They're still a fun group to work with, but it's proving to be a lot of work. We're nowhere near tournament-ready this year (or probably next year either), but we have some potential down the road; our best player is a seventh-grader. We'll see, I guess.

Anyway, thanks again everybody.
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Re: The Transition from Bad Quizbowl to Better Quizbowl

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

The more packets you read, the more familiar with the material they become. One easy way to begin is poetry--there are a lot of poems or poets that regularly come up at the high school level; they don't take long to read, and then you know the author, a title, a bunch of clues... and then they have a taste of how to improve at academic quizbowl. Spend a day learning which peace treaties ended which wars, and which dudes ruled which countries during those wars. Keep to the easy stuff.
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