Protesting against your own team

This forum is for discussing tournament formats, question styles, strategy, and such.
Post Reply
Kevin
Wakka
Posts: 150
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2003 8:13 pm
Location: Metairie, Louisiana

Protesting against your own team

Post by Kevin » Sun Oct 11, 2015 4:10 pm

I came across one thread from years ago that briefly mentioned this issue, but I didn't notice anything else and wanted to know what the general consensus was.

One of my players gave an answer that was ruled correct by the moderator (a college student and presumably former high school player moderating her first tournament). I immediately knew that the answer contained an extra word and should have been ruled incorrect, so I told the moderator that I didn't think she should accept the answer and explained why. After double-checking the answer line, she agreed with me. I should also add that we were playing an new-to-high-school-quiz-bowl, undermanned, very young team with a probably inexperienced coach, and we had already jumped out to a big lead after five questions or so.

In the interests of fairness, sportsmanship, and trying to support a new program, it immediately seemed like the right thing to do. One of my players grumbled about it after the game, but I still felt no qualms about it.

I'll admit, however, that in a close game I might not have been so generous. During another game in the same tournament, I thought I heard my captain mispronounce a geographic name on a bonus part, but I wasn't 100% sure and didn't press the issue. The other team didn't protest.

To what extent as a coach or player do you feel it is necessary to speak up against your own team? Would your answer be different if you're playing a new team with a coach who doesn't know anything versus being in a national tournament against a good team with a very experienced coach?
Kevin Marshall
Coach, Mount Carmel Academy, New Orleans, LA (2014-present)
Coach, Chapelle HS, Metairie, LA (2011-2014)
player and/or secretary and/or captain, Tulane Quiz Bowl (2007-2009)
Managing Director, Louisiana Quiz Bowl Alliance (http://www.louisianaquizbowl.org/)

alexdz
Rikku
Posts: 381
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:29 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by alexdz » Sun Oct 11, 2015 4:35 pm

Kevin wrote:During another game in the same tournament, I thought I heard my captain mispronounce a geographic name on a bonus part, but I wasn't 100% sure and didn't press the issue. The other team didn't protest.
On this second situation: As someone who has been officiating track and quizbowl for many years, I can tell you that one of the best things I was ever told was "If you aren't sure you saw it, then you didn't see it." I like that philosophy because it forces me to be paying attention as an official and prevents me from "guessing" whether any infraction had really been committed.

Given that you were confident your player had answered incorrectly in the first case, I think you did the right, sportsmanlike thing. I understand the pressure to "let the other team handle it," and, to be honest, there's not much anyone can codify in any rule forcing you to take any action, but it certainly seems ethical to proceed as you did. Kudos to you for coaching more than just the game itself, but also the skills of sportsmanship.
Alex Dzurick
====
Owner/Editor, SAGES Quizbowl Questions
Coach, Harcum College (PA)
====
Former midwesterner (South Callaway - Mizzou - UIUC) coping with life on the east coast.

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6497
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Cheynem » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:34 pm

I'm not a coach, but I would say I think it is appropriate if you know 100% a wrong answer was given to say something. I do think the incident where you "thought you weren't sure" is less pressing; after all, as a coach, you don't want to make it seem like you're nitpicking your own team to death (just as it isn't always appropriate to protest all of the other team's possible answers too). There have been times as a player when I wasn't sure of a title and said something and been ruled right (and later found I was wrong). I wouldn't expect a player to say "Am I right? Check on that," but I might expect a player to say "Oh no, I said Midsummers Nights Dream" or something like that.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
jonpin
Forums Staff: Moderator
Posts: 2026
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:45 pm
Location: BCA NJ / WUSTL MO / Hackensack NJ

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by jonpin » Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:08 pm

If you're fairly confident a mistake was made, it's not a bad thing to try to clarify what was said and what the answer was. One of the issues that can come up in games between teams of widely differing skill levels, especially on tossups, is that the better team says something which is not exactly the answer line, but either equivalent or (by mistake or flawed knowledge) not equivalent. It's very important that a moderator, if accepting an answer that's not exactly what's on the page, says what is on the page, because otherwise the other team may never know if an error was made. Also, that's a way to make sure the second team clearly hears the answer so they can grow as a team.
Jon Pinyan
Coach, Bergen County Academies (NJ); former player for BCA (2000-03) and WUSTL (2003-07)
HSQB forum mod, PACE member
Stat director for: NSC '13-'15, '17; ACF '14, '17, '19; NHBB '13-'15; NASAT '11

"A [...] wizard who controls the weather" - Jerry Vinokurov

romeokar
Lulu
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:28 am

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by romeokar » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:33 am

Interesting topic...

As someone who coached high school softball, I approach this the same way I would approach a blown call by an umpire. If it's a call against my team, I would protest. If it's a call in favor of my team, I would likely keep my mouth shut. I don't see it as my responsibility to protest on behalf of the other team; that's their coaches' job. However, If my team is up by a lot and the outcome of the game is not in doubt, and the other team does not have an experienced coach with them, I will (as I have in the past) say something.

All of that said, if it is clear to me that my team is in the wrong, and the other team protests, I will give my honest testimony of what happened, even if it means it costs us a win.
Ken Romeo
Middlesex Middle School
Darien, CT

Joshua Rutsky
Tidus
Posts: 588
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:59 am
Location: Hoover, AL

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:20 pm

This is not something that should ever be in question. If you hear your player give what you know to be an incorrect answer, as the coach, you MUST recognize that and say something. Anything else is undermining the very basis of the game we are playing. Even if you want to make some sort of argument that the other coach should be paying attention to these things, it doesn't take away from your responsibility as the coach to do more than just win. You are there to teach how to play the game properly. There shouldn't ever be a question in the mind of your players that you would prefer to lose every game than win by fraud.

This summer, I had a young man tell me, with PRIDE, that his team had been coached for years to mumble answers they weren't 100% sure of and to pretend they didn't misspeak when called out on a question. He happily recounted a match that his team won because his teammate had given an incorrect answer and the moderator hadn't caught it. I was so angry I had to leave the room. This is NOT what this game is about. There is no room for that in quizbowl, and anyone who plays that sort of "strategy" is a fraud and an example of poor sportsmanship at its worst.

There are certainly times you are unsure about what your player says, and if you aren't sure, you aren't sure. If you have a doubt, however, you should ask your player what they said. If you've done your job correctly as the coach, you really shouldn't even have to do that. They will acknowledge that they gave a wrong answer without the prompting OR the question from the moderator. When they do, you will be proud of them, because they understand what it means to play the game correctly.
Joshua Rutsky
Coach, Hoover High School, Hoover, AL
Member of the Qwiz Team!

mriggle
Lulu
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:20 pm

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by mriggle » Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:58 pm

Joshua Rutsky wrote:This is not something that should ever be in question. If you hear your player give what you know to be an incorrect answer, as the coach, you MUST recognize that and say something. Anything else is undermining the very basis of the game we are playing. Even if you want to make some sort of argument that the other coach should be paying attention to these things, it doesn't take away from your responsibility as the coach to do more than just win. You are there to teach how to play the game properly. There shouldn't ever be a question in the mind of your players that you would prefer to lose every game than win by fraud.

This summer, I had a young man tell me, with PRIDE, that his team had been coached for years to mumble answers they weren't 100% sure of and to pretend they didn't misspeak when called out on a question. He happily recounted a match that his team won because his teammate had given an incorrect answer and the moderator hadn't caught it. I was so angry I had to leave the room. This is NOT what this game is about. There is no room for that in quizbowl, and anyone who plays that sort of "strategy" is a fraud and an example of poor sportsmanship at its worst.

There are certainly times you are unsure about what your player says, and if you aren't sure, you aren't sure. If you have a doubt, however, you should ask your player what they said. If you've done your job correctly as the coach, you really shouldn't even have to do that. They will acknowledge that they gave a wrong answer without the prompting OR the question from the moderator. When they do, you will be proud of them, because they understand what it means to play the game correctly.
I agree 100% with Coach Rutsky here. Even as someone who will make every attempt within the rules to take advantage of gamesmanship and strategy, using flat-out deception is crossing the line.

For instance, as a player, if I were to answer a question asking for the painter of "Luncheon on the Grass" with "Monet", and the moderator (perhaps an inexperienced one who is unfamiliar with French art) were to respond "correct, Manet", then I feel that it is absolutely my responsibility to point out the error right away. Otherwise, there is the risk of spreading misinformation to everyone else in the room. Perhaps the opposing team is fairly new, and doesn't realize that there are two distinct artists "Monet" and "Manet", and the erroneous knowledge that they have just learned about "Luncheon on the Grass" could cost them in a future game.

I understand the temptation (if you aren't sure whether Monet or Manet is correct) to try to "pull a fast one" and say "M[uh]net", where the [uh] is an indecipherable schwa sound, and hope that the moderator won't call you on it and ask you to enunciate, but that's not the way this game should be played.
Matthew Riggle
Pope John Paul II Catholic High School (Huntsville, Alabama): 2008-2012
Western Kentucky University: 2012-present

User avatar
quizbowllee
Auron
Posts: 2151
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2004 2:12 am
Location: Alabama

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by quizbowllee » Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:39 am

I tend to agree with Coach Rutsky. However, I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for a moment.

Here is an analogy that I have heard made from former players, parents, and even other coaches:

Would a football player who "scored a touchdown" but knew that his knee was down on the 1 yard line tell the referee that he - in fact - did NOT score? Of course not.

Would a basketball player refuse free-throws because he told the ref he wasn't actually fouled? Not on your life.

What would happen to players who did this? Can you imagine a coach's reaction to losing "The Big Game" due to an overly-honest athlete?

My question is this: What's the difference?


And, before I get berated, please let me say again that I'm merely playing Devil's Advocate. There was a time when I would've been ruthless. But, I've changed. I've aggravated my team more than once by telling moderators to award points to the other team and by telling them my players were wrong. I'm hoping to instill honesty and sportsmanship. However, I do struggle in answering the above questions.

What IS the difference?
Lee Henry
AP English Teacher
Quiz Bowl Coach
West Point High School
Cullman, AL

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6497
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Cheynem » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:03 pm

I feel like some of those things are "judgment calls" more than anything, with the expectation on both sides that the refs will occasionally be subjective or miss calls, which is part of the game. This is particularly true for stuff like balls and strikes in baseball and fouls in basketball.

Quizbowl is ideally supposed to be less about judgment calls and more about objective facts. An example of something similar to the judgment call thing in quizbowl would be a moderator giving a player more than 5 seconds to answer; I wouldn't really expect a coach to argue this against his own team, unless it was insanely blatant.

To use sports analogies, I think letting a player get away with a (clearly) wrong answer is slightly different than the examples you listed, although I can see the similarities. A better analogy might be a baseball player received a 3 pitch walk due to an umpire getting confused; I think a coach, even if it was your own player, might say "no, ump, you got the count wrong," and not let it go.

I also think there's something to be said about the different types of officials being used as well. At many local quizbowl tournaments, moderators and scorekeepers are volunteers, who might be teachers, parents, or people with only marginal knowledge of the game. Obviously, at local sporting events, officials are also teachers or parents, but I think their general level of knowledge and preparation is (hopefully) better. Thus, it seems worse to "try to put one over" on a quizbowl official.

Finally, I think we should applaud honesty among high school coaches and competitors in all activities. Protesting judgment calls is one thing, but the example Coach Rutsky points out, is poor sportsmanship (deliberately mumbling answers). This would be like a basketball coach telling his team to (blatantly) flop or otherwise unsportsmanlike behaviors.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
Dominator
Tidus
Posts: 544
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:16 pm

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Dominator » Tue Oct 13, 2015 2:35 pm

I think there is a key distinction between the two original scenarios: moderator discretion. The moderator must rule on what is heard (or not). If you thought you heard one thing and the moderator heard another, you have to rely on the moderator's judgment. (It's not like you can go back to the film.) In my understanding, the moderator in the first situation heard something correctly but made the wrong ruling. In that case, you can explain to the moderator why he or she should have ruled differently. In the second scenario, you have to trust what the moderator heard, and to step in could be seen as undermining the moderator.

Don't be afraid to ask the moderator why he or she made a particular decision. I have asked moderators a number of times "What did you rule was our answer and what was the answer on the page?" It is perfectly okay to ask that question for clarity and to help you understand how to coach in the future, and the moderator should not feel threatened to be asked.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

Image

mithokie
Rikku
Posts: 313
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:39 pm
Location: Blacksburg, VA

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by mithokie » Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:59 pm

I liken the difference between the sports analogy and what we are talking about with quizbowl to the difference between many of our popular team sports and golf.

Golf is a game of honor. The player is responsible for assessing penalties to her own card and to counting her own strokes and signing the card to verify that her score is accurate. I think that, at its best, quizbowl should be treated like golf where teams accept -5 penalties gracefully and are willing to admit when they really know something and when they really don't know something.

I think this is much more difficult for less experienced teams to do as they truly may not be aware of the difference between Invisible Man and The Invisible Man or some other sticky point that more experienced quizbowlers are aware of. In situations where the moderator and your opponent are less experienced, I think it is perfectly acceptable to speak up and protest against your own team. This should, of course, be done with the spirit of helping the less experienced learn something about the right way to play the game.

The problem is that even experienced players will not necessarily agree on what constitutes the right way to play the game in all situations.
Matt Beeken
Blacksburg High School
Math and Physics Teacher
(2012-??)ACE Coach, Blacksburg HS
(2010-12) ACE CO-Coach, Blacksburg HS
(2011-12) Science MACC Coach, Blacksburg HS
Volunteer Assistant (2009-2010) ACE Coach, Blacksburg HS
mbeeken AT mcps DOT org

User avatar
Skepticism and Animal Feed
Auron
Posts: 3170
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 11:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:13 pm

If I were a player and this happened to my team, my reaction would be "well, the coach was acting within his rights, and probably did the right thing in some larger moral sense, but I'm annoyed that he acted against the immediate self-interest of the team he leads and represents".

An analogous situation is scorechecks. I once came very close to winning a game because the scorekeeper had given my team 20 extra points on bonuses, and the other team hadn't noticed this. But my teammate noticed it, and alerted the moderator. I was a bit ticked off, but knew I had the moral equivalent of the Union low ground at Fredericksburg so I didn't press it too hard.
Bruce
Harvard '10 / UChicago '07 / Roycemore School '04
ACF Member emeritus
My guide to using Wikipedia as a question source

Kevin
Wakka
Posts: 150
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2003 8:13 pm
Location: Metairie, Louisiana

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Kevin » Tue Oct 13, 2015 6:33 pm

Cheynem wrote:I feel like some of those things are "judgment calls" more than anything, with the expectation on both sides that the refs will occasionally be subjective or miss calls, which is part of the game. This is particularly true for stuff like balls and strikes in baseball and fouls in basketball.

Quizbowl is ideally supposed to be less about judgment calls and more about objective facts. An example of something similar to the judgment call thing in quizbowl would be a moderator giving a player more than 5 seconds to answer; I wouldn't really expect a coach to argue this against his own team, unless it was insanely blatant.

To use sports analogies, I think letting a player get away with a (clearly) wrong answer is slightly different than the examples you listed, although I can see the similarities. A better analogy might be a baseball player received a 3 pitch walk due to an umpire getting confused; I think a coach, even if it was your own player, might say "no, ump, you got the count wrong," and not let it go.

I also think there's something to be said about the different types of officials being used as well. At many local quizbowl tournaments, moderators and scorekeepers are volunteers, who might be teachers, parents, or people with only marginal knowledge of the game. Obviously, at local sporting events, officials are also teachers or parents, but I think their general level of knowledge and preparation is (hopefully) better. Thus, it seems worse to "try to put one over" on a quizbowl official.
I think this sums thing up pretty well. I coach and play soccer (and play a number of other sports as well). If a ball bounces off me and goes over the touchline but the ref doesn't see it hit me, I'm willing to point it out--in theory, that's an "objective" decision whether the ref missed it or not. If the ball hits my arm or I kick another player, I'm not going to point it out--those are judgment calls. The ref may very well have seen the ball hit my arm and decided not to call a foul. I also play cricket, a sport (much like golf) with a tradition of sportsmanship, and I've walked when the ball nicked my glove, even if the umpire didn't see it. The standard varies somewhat from sport to sport. In golf, you're expected to call penalties on yourself. In the NFL, I don't think you'd ever see a player or coach try to call a penalty on themselves that the ref didn't notice.

I also agree that a quiz bowl moderator is quite often inexperienced and is typically volunteering, while a high school ref at a sporting event is probably making $40-50 or more a game and is required to pass various tests, meet certain requirements, etc. The better the moderator, the more likely it is that he or she will catch the sort of errors that might lead a coach to protest against his own team.

This is also less likely to be an issue at higher levels of competition. Against a team with an experienced coach or strong players, they probably would've noticed the same error I noticed and protested themselves.
Kevin Marshall
Coach, Mount Carmel Academy, New Orleans, LA (2014-present)
Coach, Chapelle HS, Metairie, LA (2011-2014)
player and/or secretary and/or captain, Tulane Quiz Bowl (2007-2009)
Managing Director, Louisiana Quiz Bowl Alliance (http://www.louisianaquizbowl.org/)

Joshua Rutsky
Tidus
Posts: 588
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:59 am
Location: Hoover, AL

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:03 pm

Very true. Additionally, however, I think the reason I would point to that the analogies don't hold is that we don't have the right value system in those situations, Lee. Sadly, a coach in high school is hired or fired based on wins, not on what they do or don't do correctly. We saw that in Hoover for years with a football coach who had a "win at all costs" mindset, skirted rules and put players in bad positions, then acted in a morally bankrupt manner. Now we have a different coach, and while his mandate is to win, and he knows that he's not going to coach if he doesn't win, he still is dead set on winning the right way. If that means he benches stars or kicks them off the team, he does it. I don't know that he'd tell a ref he saw a penalty the ref didn't, but i think he is at least setting a good example for his team.

That's what makes the situation different to me-I'm not just supposed to win. I'm supposed to be a coach, a teacher, and a leader. As a player, Bruce would be right to be annoyed if I gave away points. That's what I expect from players in the heat of competition. My role, however, is to try to be the person who shows an impressionable teen that sometimes, when something important is on the line or the competition is fierce, winning the right way is more important than winning at any costs. Players are going to get plenty of examples of that cutthroat, break rules if you need to approach in the next few years of their life. How many times will they see someone really take a stand for being honorable in a loss or holding values above trophies? I don't know if it is overly idealistic to think that matters, but I believe it's pretty important.
Joshua Rutsky
Coach, Hoover High School, Hoover, AL
Member of the Qwiz Team!

romeokar
Lulu
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:28 am

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by romeokar » Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:50 am

I think that you all have made an excellent distinction between judgement calls and enforcing the rules. So if the moderator forgets to ask the third part of a bonus to the other team, or awards an incorrect number of points on a bonus to the other team, or ends the match short of the 20th tossup/bonus with your team ahead by fewer than 50 points, every self-respecting coach should say something. Also, if a question were looking for the capital of Florida and my team's answer of Miami is marked correct, I would also say something.

My original stance deals more with something like if the other team gave an answer that I would think merited a prompt, but the moderator did not prompt, I would likely not say anything.. assuming we are playing an experienced team with a coach and the moderator is experienced as well.

And if I ever see my team conferring on a tossup, I would call them out in a heartbeat! They should know better!!
Ken Romeo
Middlesex Middle School
Darien, CT

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6497
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Protesting against your own team

Post by Cheynem » Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:26 am

I don't think it's that egregious to note that the other team deserved a prompt, particularly if it is something blatant (sometimes teams claim anything deserves a prompt). Regardless of the skill of the team, I think if a team is negged for saying "Henry" for "Henry VIII" by an inexperienced moderator, they should get that pointed out, no matter which team. I do think any experienced team or coach would point that out, though, and I'm glad you clarified that you would speak up for inexperienced teams, as in my experience, many of them tend to take moderating decisions, even if they are faulty, in stride (many of them are used to formats that are meant to trick teams, not actually reward knowledge, I think).
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

Post Reply