Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

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Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby bsmith » Thu Oct 23, 2014 2:53 pm

There are no scheduled high school tournaments in southwest Ontario this year. Waterloo had to cancel the novice tournament when only one school was willing to go and another had a conflict. Provincials probably would have been selected to be in southwest Ontario, but no one outside of eastern Ontario made a bid to host it. Meanwhile, Ottawa is doing almost everything, including two History Bowl events.

Ontario is more than just Ottawa. In fact, in any other field, Ottawa is an afterthought in Ontario. If a city of about 40 high schools can survive in quizbowl, surely Toronto, a city of 200, can make it.

Toronto is by far the biggest city in Ontario, even before including its greater metropolitan area. It’s bigger than Chicago, it has cities like Hamilton, Guelph, Oshawa, and Barrie within an hour’s drive, and it’s the hub for pretty much all “SchoolReach” activity. Toronto would be an appealing destination for some US teams to visit. But it’s a quizbowl desert. Not one Toronto team has played or shown interest in a tournament since 2012, and even when Chris held successful tournaments at U of T in the past, only about a third of the schools were actually from Toronto.

There are many possible reasons why quizbowl isn’t working in Toronto (and to a lesser extent, the rest of southwest Ontario). In no particular order:

Publicity. Each September since 2011, I have sent introductory letters to teams across the province, followed up with emails to known addresses. This was how that Niagara tournament came to be, and a few SW teams respond and go to a provincials. In fact, I know that coaches are getting these letters- conversations with teams at SchoolReach tournaments confirm that. Nevertheless, hundreds of dollars of postage goes unconverted, so I’d argue that my mailing strategy isn’t working.

Credibility. The ONQBA is a hodgepodge group that essentially boils down to whatever Joe or I need to get done. A lot of events are run by university or high school students, not educators. Tournaments are relatively informal, despite my efforts to make provincials presentable. On top of that, with questions and nationals from the US, it isn’t “made-in-Canada” product. Also, despite me promoting a “tenth year of quizbowl” theme in letters, quizbowl is still not considered “established”.

Ottawa centricity and/or dominance. Quizbowl began quite small in Ottawa, but players graduated to university, passed along the “culture” to future students, and grew a positive word-of-mouth reputation amongst local teams. As a consequence, Ottawa teams became “good” at quizbowl (even though “SchoolReach” skills should be transferrable to quizbowl). Every tournament with at least one Ottawa team has been won by an Ottawa team, most notably at last year’s provincials where the only 3 Ottawa teams took all the trophies. With Ottawa having a case of the rich getting richer, the rest of the province can fall into a “why bother” trap. The “why bother” element is compounded when the other format is traditionally dominated by Toronto teams- why bother with the one you’re not good at?

Difficulty. This is the number one complaint amongst teams that actually show up to tournaments. In the past, I have given numbers to show that question conversion is better in quizbowl than “SchoolReach”, but opening tossup lines and third bonus parts leave a lingering impression compared to the rush to a new question if a one-liner goes dead in Reach. I know the actual difficulty is not the problem, but the perception is probably what causes team to not be retained for future events. The perception then spreads to other schools, leading them to conclude that “quizbowl is hard” before even trying it.

Dates. Quizbowl does most of its activity before “SchoolReach” leagues kick off in February. As such, there can be a bunch of schools that don’t even have their club started up when November quizbowl tournaments arise. Unfortunately, I think this is something we have to accept- even finding one provincials date can be difficult when considering spring breaks, Family Day, Easter, and varying local league dates. I have a feeling this could be what hurt the Waterloo novice; teams from Waterloo and Guelph could be rallied to come to a March tournament last year.

Job action aftermath. The 2012-13 job action stopped all extracurriculars in Ontario. Even though the action ended in March 2013, a lot of activities didn’t restart. Some clubs didn’t even return to Reach. The resolution didn’t give too many benefits to teachers, but it appears that the union secured some concessions on extracurriculars. Since the action, pretty much all sports, arts performances, and clubs occur during school hours. With quizbowl occurring almost exclusively on weekends, this is a deterrent for teacher supervision. This is a problem even in Ottawa- weekday Reach has all the teachers; weekend quizbowl is just the students (with the exception of the dedicated Lisgar coach). A pre-existing circuit can survive with student commitment, but getting a new city off the ground needs the initial teacher support.

Myself. I know that I have a welcoming demeanour and garner respect amongst existing quizbowl teams, but for the purposes of introducing new teams, I’m a nobody. I’m not an educator and don’t have connections to the education sector, I don’t have a marketing, publicity, or events management background, and I’m not on the ground in other cities. I’m not the person for Toronto- a circuit would need someone based there who is known to the various coaches beyond being a name on an address label.

I’d be curious to see how many of these factors would be overcome by History Bowl (credibility, dates, etc). I am, of course, helping History Bowl where I can, but my September publicities obviously didn’t work, and I conceded that they’ll have to make their own independent promotion (like in other provinces).

So my question becomes: What do we do with Toronto (and southwest Ontario)? The population, resources, and even university clubs are all there, but something’s not clicking. There are some possibilities:

Abandon it. Of course, any teams in the area would be welcome to go to Detroit, Buffalo, or Ottawa, but publicity and efforts for the area would cease and re-directed to bolstering eastern Ontario further.

Split Ontario. Similar to how California or New York is separated, we divide northeastern and southwestern Ontario roughly along the Trent-Severn Waterway (Reach for the Top did this in the CBC era). SW Ontario teams would not be marketed from Ottawa people at Ottawa addresses, and they can have a separated “provincial” championship. There would also be separate quizbowl associations, if enough people in SW Ontario are interested. Teams can still travel across the split for tournaments, though; there wouldn't be a wall at Trenton.

Find a way to continue. Obviously, there is more clout if Ontario is united and includes more major cities. At the very least, we would need a “VP-Toronto” in the ONQBA, and a way to crack the indifference from teams and coaches in the area. I’m very much open to suggestions.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Theodore » Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:46 pm

bsmith wrote:Publicity.


I've only been to one Reach provincials, but I talked to teams and they all know that 1) Quizbowl exists and what it is/how it works, and 2) The shortcomings of Reach. Therefore this publicity isn't the major problem.

bsmith wrote:Credibility. The ONQBA is a hodgepodge group that essentially boils down to whatever Joe or I need to get done. A lot of events are run by university or high school students, not educators. Tournaments are relatively informal, despite my efforts to make provincials presentable. On top of that, with questions and nationals from the US, it isn’t “made-in-Canada” product.

To me, this is biggest problem. Almost all Quizbowl advocates are students (high school or university), with no teachers/educators etc.
I'm not sure how big of a factor it is, but hopefully the "Canadianification" of an IS-A set this year will help alleviate this.

bsmith wrote:Dates. Quizbowl does most of its activity before “SchoolReach” leagues kick off in February. As such, there can be a bunch of schools that don’t even have their club started up when November quizbowl tournaments arise. Unfortunately, I think this is something we have to accept- even finding one provincials date can be difficult when considering spring breaks, Family Day, Easter, and varying local league dates. I have a feeling this could be what hurt the Waterloo novice; teams from Waterloo and Guelph could be rallied to come to a March tournament last year.

I feel the Reach season not really starting until March-ish can be in fact beneficial, as teams are looking for tournament experience before that time.

bsmith wrote:Job action aftermath. The 2012-13 job action stopped all extracurriculars in Ontario. Even though the action ended in March 2013, a lot of activities didn’t restart. Some clubs didn’t even return to Reach. The resolution didn’t give too many benefits to teachers, but it appears that the union secured some concessions on extracurriculars. Since the action, pretty much all sports, arts performances, and clubs occur during school hours. With quizbowl occurring almost exclusively on weekends, this is a deterrent for teacher supervision. This is a problem even in Ottawa- weekday Reach has all the teachers; weekend quizbowl is just the students (with the exception of the dedicated Lisgar coach). A pre-existing circuit can survive with student commitment, but getting a new city off the ground needs the initial teacher support.

If credibility is the #1 problem in my opinion, this has to be #2. There now seems to be a lot more red tape/administrative complications for extracurriculars on weekends, and even without this, most teachers are simply not willing to voluntarily give up their weekend. Saturdays are also often a problem for students; many younger members of my team have language school or other commitments Saturday mornings.
However, I'm not sure if weekday tournaments are the answer. These also require a lot of administration hassles, such as securing substitute teachers.

bsmith wrote:Abandon it. Of course, any teams in the area would be welcome to go to Detroit, Buffalo, or Ottawa, but publicity and efforts for the area would cease and re-directed to bolstering eastern Ontario further.

Ottawa still has significant room for improvement, and we often overlook this. There are still many Reach-only schools (and possibly, History Bowl-only schools could arise this year). However, I don't think this means we should give up on Toronto to focus on Ottawa. That being said, I think a further strengthening of the Ottawa circuit would increase our legitimacy.

bsmith wrote:Find a way to continue. Obviously, there is more clout if Ontario is united and includes more major cities. At the very least, we would need a “VP-Toronto” in the ONQBA, and a way to crack the indifference from teams and coaches in the area. I’m very much open to suggestions.


Of course, the #1 thing that will fix our problem is the support of more teachers/educators/school board officials.

I think simple steps towards formality would be great. Staffers wearing dress shirts, non-ridiculous names (this applies to tournament writers too!), something like "Regional Tournament" in the name, and awarding at the very least certificates (Your certificates are very nice and professional Ben, while remaining inexpensive), ideally trophies or plaques or something to show school administrators. I am a huge advocate for reading and I love love love book prizes, but official prizes are a small way to help Quizbowl appear more legitimate to the public. It's really awkward telling your principal that you won a tournament but all you have to show for it is a used book (even though I love used books).

Another issue is simply what has been discussed many, many times on the forums and remains a very important issue to address: publicity/media. There are barely any pictures of Quizbowl on the Internet. If I want a video of a sample pyramidal game, I can't easily find one that doesn't have 10-line tossups (ACF Nationals). Quizbowl doesn't get press/popularity within a school.
Sufficiently-staffed tournaments can have like simply a photographer. Games can be videotaped/recorded if they are the last mirror, if question security is a concern (I don't know how good personal cameras/camcorders are. Although high-quality video and audio can be very expensive, some schools have such equipment). Get hype for your team simply through social media, school announcements, etc.

I also think there needs to be a more formal system of tournament announcements and databases outside just forums. These forums are great, but there is no true formal database of information of say, all the basics of Quizbowl, rules, tournament announcements, etc. There is no real simple one-stop go-to resource to learn about Quizbowl. PACE's Quizbowl 101, QBWiki, and the ONQBA website all to some extent are or have attempted to create something like this, but in the end it's still confusing for a coach trying to find information on Quizbowl. I'm not saying there isn't an abundance of information online (thanks to the many contributors to the community), but it doesn't seem sufficiently-centralized; it's kinda all over the place. Obviously, this is almost entirely due to the nature of Quizbowl; there is no 1 organization that IS Quizbowl; Quizbowl is an activity with many contributing companies and organizations, leading to less centralization. I suppose this is rather foreign to a very centralized system like Reach, where questions are produced and tournaments are run entirely by a sole provider. (Perhaps this has something to do with our accustomed mentality due to Canada's economy and the USA's more competitive market? Anyways, I digress.)
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Senator_Jay » Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:01 pm

These are some astute observations and good questions. I've been trying to figure out why more teams don't want to do Quizbowl in this area too...I can get my team to go, but I don't even work at that school. They could not go without me and at least one other actual teacher, and for some reason, most of the Reach coaches I know have no interest in trying Quizbowl and going to tournaments. The closest we have ever gotten to multiple teams out of Hamilton was having my Westmount kids and a solo team representing Westdale, 3 years ago. Despite my best efforts as Reach coordinator for Hamilton, starting up Quizbowl just isn't happening.

At least as far as my experience with Hamilton is concerned, here is what I have identified as the issues:

1. Volatility in the board regarding staffing and schools: As more schools get shuttered in Hamilton, teachers (including Reach coaches) are being shuffled around and/or encouraged to retire. Westdale's Reach team has ceased to exist because the coach for the last 20 years retired without setting up a succession plan, and despite numerous emails to the staff and administration there, there seems to be no interest in reviving that institution. Other schools which expressed interest in expanding their programs have been closed (Highland), coaches moved (Ancaster, Westmount, Highland, etc.), or have had the program dropped due to needing to focus on other things. If there are no coaches, students cannot officially meet for practices or attend tournaments, and in our board, may be reprimanded for attempting to do so.

2. Lingering response to previous job action: Apparently a lot of teachers still have a sour taste in their mouths from the legislation issues of a couple years ago. That means that very few teachers in this area are willing to take on more responsibility than is absolutely necessary, for whatever reason. I have Reach coaches who insist that tournaments must take place during the school day, and be done by 2 so that they can return to school and leave at the prescribed finish time. Any tournaments that are outside, or not considered to be "official school participatory events", like sports and apparently Reach, are therefore out of reach for the students. Coaches need to be willing to put the effort into supporting their teams, and many have a hard enough time dealing with Reach (despite it costing much more). Complicating this, and contributing to the issue, is that many staff are distrustful of their administrators, and since admin get shuffled around frequently too, people don't want to rock the boat too much.

3. Funding for trips: Apparently it's easier to sell registering for Reach at the beginning of the year to administration, because they know what it is, and many schools have long-standing programs (although few in our region ever make it beyond regionals). For Quizbowl trips that take place on weekends, there are transportation costs, potentially insurance, and extra fees that are apparently hard to generate. In a board like Hamilton, I understand; for others, not so much. Some of my students cannot honestly afford a $20 entry fee, and though there are resources available to support them, you need to know the right people to talk to. In order to cover our attendance at Reach Provincials last year, we had to get the trustee involved, and that took a lot of work, which many coaches and schools are unwilling to do.

4. General apathy towards more academic trivia: No matter how I've tried to sell it; sending appropriately-targeted packets to schools, describing it to individual teams, trying to read Quizbowl packets at Reach tournaments, etc., there seems to be little to no interest outside of my school. My students will do Quizbowl because they enjoy it, having played tournaments, and heard me talk at length about how much I enjoy it. However, this message isn't getting across to the other schools. Coaches express interest, and then back out. Apparently everyone is very busy, and studying is hard. Because a lot of schools in this region are weak at Reach, Quizbowl is beyond their skill level, even at the HS stage. It is hard to pontificate on the joys of academic trivia when some teams around here struggle to compete at Reach to even get a combined score of 100pts between two of them. Although there are good players, many of them are concerned with IB, AP, band, Glee, and whatever other clubs they are involved with, and see Quizbowl as somewhat of a side project. This would suggest that Quizbowl should be a separate club at schools, but the members would largely be the same, and apparently it's tricky enough just to keep Reach teams going as it is.

5. Apparent opposition to Quizbowl in the region, and a lack of supporters in contact with the high schools: The Guelph region was able to field some teams for Quizbowl over the past few years, largely due to the efforts of people like Chris Greenwood. Ottawa has been thriving due to Ben Smith. I have been trying, with extremely limited to no success in Hamilton for a few years now. Has anyone been trying in Niagara? Toronto? Other parts of this region? There seems to be very limited outreach from university teams to the high schools from which they tend to attract new players. Many schools have Reach, but apparently there are also many schools with Reach coaches who, for whatever reason, are opposed to Quizbowl. Some of the most influential Reach coaches (like UTS's Fraser Simpson) disagree with the format, and will tend to focus almost exclusively on Reach. Toronto and the surrounding region is home to a large number of schools with great potential for teams, but there seems to be more opposition and unnecessary obstacles than the few of us working at this can surmount, for whatever reason. I could tell my Reach coaches in Hamilton to abandon Reach in favour of Quizbowl, but that would alienate almost all of them, since they are just barely comfortable reading a Reach pack for students.

6. If the students are to be successful, we need to have more supportive and better coaches: Unfortunately coaches are volunteers, and at the same time, many of them are defensive of their clubs, and are not actually competent readers or even scorekeepers. I can run Reach and Quizbowl at Westmount despite any pushback, because the students and staff know me, and trust me based off of my track record. I can also run practices and deal with the issues that may arise during a Quizbowl game. However, another teacher is officially in charge, and will not do Quizbowl at all if I am not around to push it, due to not being comfortable with the format and content, and is too old to change. This leads me to believe that if teams had some sort of Quizbowl mentor, or co-coach affiliated with a pre-existing university Quizbowl program, then that may help things, but requires more initiative from players to go out into the community, and find time to volunteer that they may not even have.

This is a very complex issue, but hopefully some discussion about this can help move things in the right direction.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Matt Weiner » Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:48 pm

Let me take a crack at this. I will say that while I have been involved in many sorts of outreach projects, my home base in Virginia had multiple good high school events from before the time I started TDing, and our challenge has mostly been taking teams who already play one good event a year (VHSL Scholastic Bowl) or a few (that plus one of the larger invitationals such as GSAC or Cavalier Classic) and convincing them to become more active. Your situation seems very comparable to something like Missouri or Illinois, where there are many teams who play bad tournaments that you are trying to convince to play good tournaments instead or as well. I would like to hear what a veteran of the successful good-quizbowl-building projects in those states has to say about this.

bsmith wrote:There are no scheduled high school tournaments in southwest Ontario this year. Waterloo had to cancel the novice tournament when only one school was willing to go and another had a conflict. Provincials probably would have been selected to be in southwest Ontario, but no one outside of eastern Ontario made a bid to host it. Meanwhile, Ottawa is doing almost everything, including two History Bowl events.


As a preliminary point: Something I've learned from working with outreach in various aspects is that the above sort of hedging can often contribute to people taking the product (good quizbowl, in this case) less seriously. I think you should set dates, commit to them, and hold the tournament even if registration is low. All quizbowl involves people entering and exiting the field at the last minute. Your worst-case scenario here is that only 1 team shows up, so you spend a few hours reading them packets in practice mode, or you split their group up into two for scrimmages, and you end up with a team that has bought in to future good quizbowl endeavors. By doing that, you avoid the "reschedule this tournament because my #4 player has to take a test that day" dance and the feeling that quizbowl does not take itself seriously enough to stick to its announcements, while also maintaining the possibility of late registration from a few more schools making the tournament viable.

Ontario is more than just Ottawa. In fact, in any other field, Ottawa is an afterthought in Ontario. If a city of about 40 high schools can survive in quizbowl, surely Toronto, a city of 200, can make it.


This is true, though we should also keep in mind the lessons learned from the U.S. Some large metro areas such as Atlanta, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, were early adopters of quizbowl tournaments that were either good, or large, or both. Others, such as New York and Minneapolis, were basically off the map until the mid-00s, when other places had been going for 5 to 20 years before that. Another group, including Boston and Seattle, really only got moving since 2010 or so. There is still no appreciable presence in Denver, Portland, or many other American cities with lots of perfectly good high schools. So, the mere fact of being a large city may not predict much before we look at other factors.

Each September since 2011, I have sent introductory letters to teams across the province, followed up with emails to known addresses. This was how that Niagara tournament came to be, and a few SW teams respond and go to a provincials. In fact, I know that coaches are getting these letters- conversations with teams at SchoolReach tournaments confirm that. Nevertheless, hundreds of dollars of postage goes unconverted, so I’d argue that my mailing strategy isn’t working.


What is in these letters? One thing I have found is that just sending a letter saying "do quizbowl" isn't enough -- you should have several independent, full invitations to specific tournaments in the envelope, with all the pertinents such as date, question set, and contact information ready to go. This refers back to the point above -- it means you need to get several different tournaments to commit to running in the upcoming year early enough that they can deal with room reservations and the like and have all their information finalized in time for an August or September mailing campaign. This necessitates that when someone volunteers in July to host a tournament on the third Saturday in the next year's February, they be prepared to follow through on that commitment irrespective of bad tournaments poaching the date, some team having a non-quizbowl conflict, or low initial registration.

The letters can also contain a diplomatic explanation of the "good quizbowl" concept -- talk about the educational value of pyramidal questions and a liberal-arts curriculum as opposed to buzzer-beaters and trivia, and explain that the entire good quizbowl universe (NAQT, HSAPQ, History Bowl, and PACE-certified independent tournaments) offers a full program from which teams can choose the tournaments that are right for them, rather than either being sparse compared to the Reach circuit or a monolith that must be accepted wholesale.

The ONQBA is a hodgepodge group that essentially boils down to whatever Joe or I need to get done. A lot of events are run by university or high school students, not educators. Tournaments are relatively informal, despite my efforts to make provincials presentable. On top of that, with questions and nationals from the US, it isn’t “made-in-Canada” product. Also, despite me promoting a “tenth year of quizbowl” theme in letters, quizbowl is still not considered “established”.


Ultimately, it may pay off to focus on putting the appropriate amount of Canadian content into 3 or 4 sets a year for now, rather than trying to run everything. Alternatively, have you thought about short-circuiting the American content problem by simply internationalizing the sets -- take out the U.S.-specific questions but don't replace them with anything? There doesn't seem like any reason why Russian literature should be any more foreign to Canadians than Americans.

Quizbowl began quite small in Ottawa, but players graduated to university, passed along the “culture” to future students, and grew a positive word-of-mouth reputation amongst local teams. As a consequence, Ottawa teams became “good” at quizbowl (even though “SchoolReach” skills should be transferrable to quizbowl). Every tournament with at least one Ottawa team has been won by an Ottawa team, most notably at last year’s provincials where the only 3 Ottawa teams took all the trophies. With Ottawa having a case of the rich getting richer, the rest of the province can fall into a “why bother” trap. The “why bother” element is compounded when the other format is traditionally dominated by Toronto teams- why bother with the one you’re not good at?


I think the fact that a tournament specifically targeted at Toronto novices didn't excite people shows that this is probably not the issue. With that said, it's probably related to the general issues of good quizbowl buy-in and difficulty perception I address below.

This is the number one complaint amongst teams that actually show up to tournaments. In the past, I have given numbers to show that question conversion is better in quizbowl than “SchoolReach”, but opening tossup lines and third bonus parts leave a lingering impression compared to the rush to a new question if a one-liner goes dead in Reach. I know the actual difficulty is not the problem, but the perception is probably what causes team to not be retained for future events. The perception then spreads to other schools, leading them to conclude that “quizbowl is hard” before even trying it.


The fact that good quizbowl is usually objectively easier than bad quizbowl is well-known, as is the uselessness of invoking that fact against people who just repeat the word "hard" or "obscure" like magic charms. I have found that surface "difficulty" objections boil down to three fundamental real issues:

1) What you identify as the fact that questions contain multiple parts and people tend to evaluate them non-holistically. A "hard" leadin clue or bonus third part sticks in the memory even if the tossup is answered or the bonus 20ed. Compare to formats where questions are intended as discrete units that are either answered or not. The fact that, invariably, a huge number of the units are in fact in that "not answered" box doesn't seem to bother the same people who find good quizbowl "hard." This is a psychological phenomenon that is basically rooted in the fact that bad quizbowl blitzes a lot of short questions at people, often on a clock, and there's no time to make remarks about how impossible something was because you're already on to the next thing; in ACF style, even if only 1 tossup goes dead in the whole game, it takes 20 seconds to read and then hangs there until time is called, then people comment on it. On a similar note, bad quizbowl is generally an innate skill -- you either have spent a lifetime reading "trivia" books and have a fast buzzer reflex, or you don't. Most people do not become any better or worse at bad quizbowl over time. Good quizbowl is geared towards the intellectually curious being able to make drastic improvements in a relatively short period, and people aren't necessarily supposed to be great at it right away. Are you explaining this difference to people before they make judgments about difficulty?

2) General sidestepping of other complaints -- sometimes "we find good quizbowl tournaments too hard" really means something like "we prefer short questions" or "we prefer being able to win right away at IHSA as opposed to having to put in two years of work to contend at Illinois NAQT" or "my team doesn't know anything about academic topics and wants to answer trivia." Because most bad quizbowl people are not stupid, they know that actually articulating any of those three things would bring some mixture of scorn and further diplomatic attempts to change their mind, so they short-circuit it with appeals to how you're just pummeling their poor innocent players with "hard" material to explain why they don't participate and end the conversation.

3) Most importantly -- The academic nature of good quizbowl arising different feelings about self-esteem in players and coaches. When you're playing in a game-showy, trivia environment, the fact that the tournament doesn't matter in any sense outside of itself could not be more clear. No one's self-worth is wrapped up in answering an audio tossup on "blenders" while a delusional man in a green blazer does soap ads to a TV camera that only he can see. But good quizbowl sells itself as being intimately tied to a well-rounded liberal arts educational ideal and having external value beyond simply being an avenue for those who find it fun. When people fail to win or to answer every question in that environment, it can make them feel dumb or academically fraudulent. It's extremely important for coaches and TDs to explain to their players -- many of whom are Type A get-100-on-everything-for-my-whole-academic-career students -- a few important things about adjusting expectations. First is that quizbowl is designed to go well beyond the classroom, and that it doesn't mean you are a bad high school student if you don't know all the material. Nearly everyone in quizbowl is a very good high school student, and we pitch it at a level that can distinguish within that group, not merely sort it out from the bad. The whole point is to challenge people who are already fulfilling their school curriculum to do more. Second is the explanation of what a competition is -- the point is to know 1 more thing than the other team as a group of 4, not for every player to know everything. A team of 4 players who each reliably know 3 things per game is going to get 12 tossups to their opponent's 8 and win all the time; a team of 4 players who each reliably know 2 things is going to win a lot. For the individual player, it's about knowing 2 things, not knowing 20. I always explain this in letters to new schools, as well as to new recruits in VCU's college program, and I think that the failure of some other TDs/coaches to make this point explicit is what causes a lot of people to erroneously feel they "aren't smart enough for quizbowl" and not return.

Quizbowl does most of its activity before “SchoolReach” leagues kick off in February. As such, there can be a bunch of schools that don’t even have their club started up when November quizbowl tournaments arise. Unfortunately, I think this is something we have to accept- even finding one provincials date can be difficult when considering spring breaks, Family Day, Easter, and varying local league dates. I have a feeling this could be what hurt the Waterloo novice; teams from Waterloo and Guelph could be rallied to come to a March tournament last year.


This can be solved with long-term planning. If budgets and schedules are set by the start of the school year with the expectation that Reach leagues are happening in a defined February-May window, then you are facing a tremendous uphill battle to get that to change. Instead, market next year's events this spring and try to avoid that expectation being entrenched when it's time for the planning to take place.

The 2012-13 job action stopped all extracurriculars in Ontario. Even though the action ended in March 2013, a lot of activities didn’t restart. Some clubs didn’t even return to Reach. The resolution didn’t give too many benefits to teachers, but it appears that the union secured some concessions on extracurriculars. Since the action, pretty much all sports, arts performances, and clubs occur during school hours. With quizbowl occurring almost exclusively on weekends, this is a deterrent for teacher supervision. This is a problem even in Ottawa- weekday Reach has all the teachers; weekend quizbowl is just the students (with the exception of the dedicated Lisgar coach). A pre-existing circuit can survive with student commitment, but getting a new city off the ground needs the initial teacher support.


If, as your paragraph seems to indicate, there's no overriding legal reason why you can't invite students to attend on their own or maybe with a volunteer parent chaperone, then you should target doing so. I absolutely agree that having teacher support will make your task easier, but if you don't have it, you should work around that problem for the time being. I also think that finding some teacher buy-in will be easier if you are willing to have some face-to-face meetings or hold a few tournaments that only have 2 or 4 teams for now, because you can form a strong connection to the people involved that you sometimes can't when you have a healthier field size.

I know that I have a welcoming demeanour and garner respect amongst existing quizbowl teams, but for the purposes of introducing new teams, I’m a nobody. I’m not an educator and don’t have connections to the education sector, I don’t have a marketing, publicity, or events management background, and I’m not on the ground in other cities. I’m not the person for Toronto- a circuit would need someone based there who is known to the various coaches beyond being a name on an address label.


Having some of the pitch come from teachers in the Ottawa scene could help with this. With that said, I think there is an elephant in the room about the topic of you doing the outreach, which is that you are also very involved in the Reach circuit. I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many of the "good quizbowl" people in Ontario continue to lend their support to a bad quizbowl program. It's not going to be made somehow more moderate by your involvement, or gradually move towards good quizbowl. If you believe this, then you are engaging in the same delusion that everyone who has tried a similar approach with bad quizbowl formats in the U.S. has fallen victim to and then regretted. Your message of "good quizbowl is better than bad quizbowl and you should participate in it" is totally undermined when people go to bad quizbowl and see you and other people from ONQBA there. I know it can be hard to let go of phantoms like "civility" or "cordiality" or "not judging things and letting everyone do whatever they find fun," even before the stereotype about Canadian politeness comes into play, but I think a major lesson that the people on this forum have learned the hard way over the past 15 years is that none of that matters. Good quizbowl can only exist by making a persuasive case for abandoning bad quizbowl, period, and you can't make the case to abandon something if you are writing, staffing, or organizing it.

I’d be curious to see how many of these factors would be overcome by History Bowl (credibility, dates, etc). I am, of course, helping History Bowl where I can, but my September publicities obviously didn’t work, and I conceded that they’ll have to make their own independent promotion (like in other provinces).


The teams at History Bowl can certainly be told, honestly, that good quizbowl is nothing more than History Bowl style questions on all topics. That should overcome initial objections about questions being "too long" or "too difficult." You will get a lot of teams who are the target History Bowl audience of people interested in history and might not wish to branch out, but you will get some prospects and you may also get people who tell their friend at school who is into science or arts or whatever to try it.

Of course, any teams in the area would be welcome to go to Detroit, Buffalo, or Ottawa, but publicity and efforts for the area would cease and re-directed to bolstering eastern Ontario further.


If even 1 or 2 teams starts doing that regularly, then it will become easier to overcome a lot of the above problems, because then you have a local high school, presumably with a teacher coach, able to spread the word and organize tournaments. It shouldn't be written off.

Similar to how California or New York is separated, we divide northeastern and southwestern Ontario roughly along the Trent-Severn Waterway (Reach for the Top did this in the CBC era). SW Ontario teams would not be marketed from Ottawa people at Ottawa addresses, and they can have a separated “provincial” championship. There would also be separate quizbowl associations, if enough people in SW Ontario are interested. Teams can still travel across the split for tournaments, though; there wouldn't be a wall at Trenton.


My view, as borne out by the way I've tried to set up the HSAPQ state championships in the U.S., is that there is no point to running things like the "Southwestern Ontario provincial championship." Every other tournament already operates on the model of "any team willing to travel to the tournament site can play." The point of state/provincial championships has to be something more than another regular invitational with a weird name. Being the champion of a state/province has meaning to people outside quizbowl; being the champion of the nonexistent "province of southwestern Ontario" means nothing more than winning the "October Toronto invitational" in the first place.

Theodore wrote:I feel the Reach season not really starting until March-ish can be in fact beneficial, as teams are looking for tournament experience before that time.


Good quizbowl in the DC area got its start largely under the banner of "preparing for It's Academic" before finding its own way. You don't want to be too vociferous or explicit about this because ultimately you have to be honest with people, and if your goal is, as it should be, to supplant Reach programs with quizbowl programs, you should not lie about that fact. But you can make it clear that teams who play more events tend to do better.

Theodore wrote:If credibility is the #1 problem in my opinion, this has to be #2. There now seems to be a lot more red tape/administrative complications for extracurriculars on weekends, and even without this, most teachers are simply not willing to voluntarily give up their weekend. Saturdays are also often a problem for students; many younger members of my team have language school or other commitments Saturday mornings.


There was some discussion in the April It's Academic thread about a similar point. It can be very overwhelming to tell someone who has a full-time job and a family as a teacher and signed up for a Reach commitment that might have represented 2 weekends a year, that suddenly they "have to" go to 15 things and spend much more time on after-school practice in order to be a legitimate quizbowl coach. It's very, very important to communicate that this is not necessary at all. Chaperoning, practice-running, and other duties can be delegated and a coach can transition into good quizbowl without putting in more hours than they are comfortable with; furthermore, teams can go to 1-2 events per semester rather than everything if they want. Make sure this point is being made clear so it doesn't seem like an all-or-nothing prospect.

Theodore wrote:I think simple steps towards formality would be great. Staffers wearing dress shirts, non-ridiculous names (this applies to tournament writers too!), something like "Regional Tournament" in the name, and awarding at the very least certificates (Your certificates are very nice and professional Ben, while remaining inexpensive), ideally trophies or plaques or something to show school administrators. I am a huge advocate for reading and I love love love book prizes, but official prizes are a small way to help Quizbowl appear more legitimate to the public. It's really awkward telling your principal that you won a tournament but all you have to show for it is a used book (even though I love used books).


I completely agree with this paragraph and I wish more people, even in the U.S., would consider it.

Theodore wrote:Another issue is simply what has been discussed many, many times on the forums and remains a very important issue to address: publicity/media. There are barely any pictures of Quizbowl on the Internet. If I want a video of a sample pyramidal game, I can't easily find one that doesn't have 10-line tossups (ACF Nationals). Quizbowl doesn't get press/popularity within a school.
Sufficiently-staffed tournaments can have like simply a photographer. Games can be videotaped/recorded if they are the last mirror, if question security is a concern (I don't know how good personal cameras/camcorders are. Although high-quality video and audio can be very expensive, some schools have such equipment). Get hype for your team simply through social media, school announcements, etc.


This certainly can't hurt and is something one person can be assigned to worry about during your next tournament for no real cost -- try it.

Theodore wrote:I also think there needs to be a more formal system of tournament announcements and databases outside just forums. These forums are great, but there is no true formal database of information of say, all the basics of Quizbowl, rules, tournament announcements, etc.


http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/

There is no real simple one-stop go-to resource to learn about Quizbowl. PACE's Quizbowl 101, QBWiki, and the ONQBA website all to some extent are or have attempted to create something like this, but in the end it's still confusing for a coach trying to find information on Quizbowl. I'm not saying there isn't an abundance of information online (thanks to the many contributors to the community), but it doesn't seem sufficiently-centralized; it's kinda all over the place. Obviously, this is almost entirely due to the nature of Quizbowl; there is no 1 organization that IS Quizbowl; Quizbowl is an activity with many contributing companies and organizations, leading to less centralization. I suppose this is rather foreign to a very centralized system like Reach, where questions are produced and tournaments are run entirely by a sole provider. (Perhaps this has something to do with our accustomed mentality due to Canada's economy and the USA's more competitive market? Anyways, I digress.)


You can (and some areas of the U.S. have) implement a top-down NAQT-only program if minimizing confusion is really that important. With that said, I think that most people involved in quizbowl are smart enough to understand the minor differences across rules and question styles within good quizbowl, and this ought not be the issue.

Senator_Jay wrote:1. Volatility in the board regarding staffing and schools: As more schools get shuttered in Hamilton, teachers (including Reach coaches) are being shuffled around and/or encouraged to retire. Westdale's Reach team has ceased to exist because the coach for the last 20 years retired without setting up a succession plan, and despite numerous emails to the staff and administration there, there seems to be no interest in reviving that institution. Other schools which expressed interest in expanding their programs have been closed (Highland), coaches moved (Ancaster, Westmount, Highland, etc.), or have had the program dropped due to needing to focus on other things. If there are no coaches, students cannot officially meet for practices or attend tournaments, and in our board, may be reprimanded for attempting to do so.


There's no question that these are obstacles. At the same time, many areas of the U.S. face similar issues, and have good quizbowl participation. Northeastern Ohio comes to mind -- they have a particularly volatile combination of a bad economy and a system by which the budget for the school district must be voted on by the entire district electorate on a frequent basis, with extracurriculars getting the axe first if a ballot question fails. Even despite those significant challenges, there are dozens and dozens of teams playing good tournaments in that area. It can be done by making just one or two people at a school care enough to see it through. The value proposition for quizbowl is significant -- what else can provide a worthwhile activity for four students that lasts all day, for $60? Don't be afraid to show that this can be a budget-saver compared to other programs.

Senator_Jay wrote:Apparently a lot of teachers still have a sour taste in their mouths from the legislation issues of a couple years ago. That means that very few teachers in this area are willing to take on more responsibility than is absolutely necessary, for whatever reason. I have Reach coaches who insist that tournaments must take place during the school day, and be done by 2 so that they can return to school and leave at the prescribed finish time. Any tournaments that are outside, or not considered to be "official school participatory events", like sports and apparently Reach, are therefore out of reach for the students. Coaches need to be willing to put the effort into supporting their teams, and many have a hard enough time dealing with Reach (despite it costing much more). Complicating this, and contributing to the issue, is that many staff are distrustful of their administrators, and since admin get shuffled around frequently too, people don't want to rock the boat too much.


I think that anyone addressing this problem must ask why this should affect Toronto but not Ottawa and move forward with the answer in hand.

Senator_Jay wrote:General apathy towards more academic trivia: No matter how I've tried to sell it; sending appropriately-targeted packets to schools, describing it to individual teams, trying to read Quizbowl packets at Reach tournaments, etc., there seems to be little to no interest outside of my school. My students will do Quizbowl because they enjoy it, having played tournaments, and heard me talk at length about how much I enjoy it. However, this message isn't getting across to the other schools. Coaches express interest, and then back out. Apparently everyone is very busy, and studying is hard. Because a lot of schools in this region are weak at Reach, Quizbowl is beyond their skill level, even at the HS stage. It is hard to pontificate on the joys of academic trivia when some teams around here struggle to compete at Reach to even get a combined score of 100pts between two of them. Although there are good players, many of them are concerned with IB, AP, band, Glee, and whatever other clubs they are involved with, and see Quizbowl as somewhat of a side project. This would suggest that Quizbowl should be a separate club at schools, but the members would largely be the same, and apparently it's tricky enough just to keep Reach teams going as it is.


Some schools fall into the trap of sending the same subgroup of students to every non-athletic extracurricular. I think that in some places this is explained by quizbowl getting a foot in the door through Science Bowl (which inevitably leads to it being viewed as mere "Science Bowl prep" and the atrocious SB tournaments eating up dates for a huge swath of the potential audience). Follow Matt Jackson's advice and boldly, confidently sell quizbowl on its own merits.

Senator_Jay wrote:Many schools have Reach, but apparently there are also many schools with Reach coaches who, for whatever reason, are opposed to Quizbowl. Some of the most influential Reach coaches (like UTS's Fraser Simpson) disagree with the format, and will tend to focus almost exclusively on Reach. Toronto and the surrounding region is home to a large number of schools with great potential for teams, but there seems to be more opposition and unnecessary obstacles than the few of us working at this can surmount, for whatever reason. I could tell my Reach coaches in Hamilton to abandon Reach in favour of Quizbowl, but that would alienate almost all of them, since they are just barely comfortable reading a Reach pack for students.


You will never succeed with this attitude. There is no compromise with bad quizbowl. I know people don't like to hear that and it gets people all anxious about "war analogies" and similar nonsense, but the choice is basically to listen to what people who have been through this have learned the very hard way, or continue banging your head against the wall for another 5 years before admitting it yourself. Learn from what those with experience are telling you -- you MUST withdraw even the appearance of sanctioning Reach participation and explicitly oppose it, or you can NEVER explain to people who are "satisified with Reach" why they should bother starting on an unfamiliar format that they are bad at. Declaring "good quizbowl is superior to Reach in every way and you should stop doing Reach" is your FIRST step here, not some far-off stretch goal.

Senator_Jay wrote: If the students are to be successful, we need to have more supportive and better coaches: Unfortunately coaches are volunteers, and at the same time, many of them are defensive of their clubs, and are not actually competent readers or even scorekeepers. I can run Reach and Quizbowl at Westmount despite any pushback, because the students and staff know me, and trust me based off of my track record. I can also run practices and deal with the issues that may arise during a Quizbowl game. However, another teacher is officially in charge, and will not do Quizbowl at all if I am not around to push it, due to not being comfortable with the format and content, and is too old to change. This leads me to believe that if teams had some sort of Quizbowl mentor, or co-coach affiliated with a pre-existing university Quizbowl program, then that may help things, but requires more initiative from players to go out into the community, and find time to volunteer that they may not even have.


This is where the para-quizbowl stuff comes in -- being more organized with tournament schedules, professionalism, all that. It makes you a viable option for older people with more conservative attitudes. At the same time, you should be seeing a generation of teachers coming in that are open to new ideas or maybe even participated in college quizbowl themselves. Go after both sides of the market.

This is a very complex issue, but hopefully some discussion about this can help move things in the right direction.


I reiterate my call for people who have directly and successfully dealt with similar situations in the U.S. to lend their expertise.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:50 pm

Matt Weiner wrote: I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many of the "good quizbowl" people in Ontario continue to lend their support to a bad quizbowl program.


I initially didn't agree with the support that people such as Jay and Ben gave to Reach, however, if they can turn Reach into something like the Minnesota format that R runs that is a bridge between real quizbowl and knowledge bowl, that can be a good comprimise.


Matt Weiner wrote:
Jay Misuk wrote: Apparently a lot of teachers still have a sour taste in their mouths from the legislation issues of a couple years ago. That means that very few teachers in this area are willing to take on more responsibility than is absolutely necessary, for whatever reason.
I think that anyone addressing this problem must ask why this should affect Toronto but not Ottawa and move forward with the answer in hand.


The only coach that ever shows up is the Lisgar coach, and that's only to tournaments Lisgar runs. I rarely see coaches attend quizbowl tournaments.

Jay Misuk wrote: Although there are good players, many of them are concerned with IB, AP, band, Glee, and whatever other clubs they are involved with, and see Quizbowl as somewhat of a side project.
It's our job to make Quizbowl a legit enough activity that "good students" can treat quizbowl as a legit thing to do. Even at the college level, I still feel kinda silly saying "I can't come to this pep band game because I'm going to Ottawa to direct the Collegiate Novice quizbowl tournament" because it just isn't well known.

As an aside, from anecdotal evidence, quizbowl seems to attract mostly "good students" who get honour rolls or whatnot, but rarely the "best" students who wins thousands of dollars in their high school grads or something.

Jay Misuk wrote: Many schools have Reach, but apparently there are also many schools with Reach coaches who, for whatever reason, are opposed to Quizbowl. Some of the most influential Reach coaches (like UTS's Fraser Simpson) disagree with the format, and will tend to focus almost exclusively on Reach. Toronto and the surrounding region is home to a large number of schools with great potential for teams, but there seems to be more opposition and unnecessary obstacles than the few of us working at this can surmount, for whatever reason. I could tell my Reach coaches in Hamilton to abandon Reach in favour of Quizbowl, but that would alienate almost all of them, since they are just barely comfortable reading a Reach pack for students.
I'm pretty sure A-sets without American content can see a score higher than that of 100 points combined. Mr. Simpson is the most involved coach in the Reach company, and I cannot confirm this but there have been rumors of him using quizbowl packets as "content based" practice material (as opposed to Reach-specific details, like birthdays). I cannot understand why an educator at a prestigious private school in Canada;s biggest city would support a bad format over one that's academic and rewards real knowledge. I have always suspected that he has a conflict of interest because he is so involved with Reach.

Matt Weiner wrote: You can (and some areas of the U.S. have) implement a top-down NAQT-only program if minimizing confusion is really that important. With that said, I think that most people involved in quizbowl are smart enough to understand the minor differences across rules and question styles within good quizbowl, and this ought not be the issue.

I think from now on, we should just say to our audience that we're doing a quizbowl tournament, with questions provided by - [Company] or [School]. I'm never using SILLYACRONYMS to tell schools about tournaments even ones like a GSAC mirror. I don't think only using NAQT will be needed.

Jay Misuk wrote: I could tell my Reach coaches in Hamilton to abandon Reach in favour of Quizbowl, but that would alienate almost all of them, since they are just barely comfortable reading a Reach pack for students.

This still is under the assumption that A-sets are somehow much much harder than Reach, which is totally untrue. This mentality must be removed.

Matt Weiner wrote: For the individual player, it's about knowing 2 things, not knowing 20.

This is true, but I feel as a high school students, one of the reason that Reach is still so popular is that you will know more than 10% of the questions because of buzzer races. 300-50 is a daunting score in a quizbowl game because between those same two schools, a Reach game might end 250-200 or something, and the students on the losing team would feel they have a better chance of winning. I think explaining to coaches clearly why the "Reach is better because it's more fair for both teams" argument is bad is something that we should do.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Matt Weiner » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:11 pm

The United States of America wrote:I initially didn't agree with the support that people such as Jay and Ben gave to Reach, however, if they can turn Reach into something like the Minnesota format that R runs that is a bridge between real quizbowl and knowledge bowl, that can be a good comprimise.


My understanding is that the only unusual thing being done in Minnesota is a weeknight "league" which plays what are basically IS-A sets. The notion that there can be "compromise" between real and fake quizbowl is ahistorical and will lead people to waste tremendous amounts of effort. Again, I implore people to learn from the mistakes and experiences of others rather than go through the motions of trying to insist loudly enough that something like Reach has any interest in being made better or serving as a "bridge" to anything; it will only lead to years and years of no progress until you, inevitably, arrive on your own at the conclusion I am trying to hand you right now. Repeating something loudly and frequently doesn't make it true, and the notion that we can or should "bridge" people to good quizbowl by lending legitimacy to bad quizbowl is not true.

I don't know if anything else being discussed here is going to make a difference until this point is comprehended.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby bmcke » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:47 pm

I feel comfortable saying that people's work with Reach is a result of having other priorities than promoting good quizbowl. I care lots about promoting good quizbowl, but I've staffed Reach a few times because friends asked me to, and I care about seeing friends and helping out friends. Presumably Jay cares about getting along with coworkers. I don't think this should be considered a poisonous attitude.

Three ideas I really like from this thread:
- more photos of events
- more Canadian content (or Matt's idea of internationalizing the questions)
- general professionalism (prizes, dressing nice, etc.)

My favourite pitch for quizbowl is that every local university and every prestigious university has a quizbowl team.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby bsmith » Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:03 pm

Some quick replies for now, I can give more substance tomorrow:

Re: why Waterloo canceled. The decision was made the Tuesday before the tournament with one team interested. I know who that team was- they are a returning team and are still being “kept in the loop” for a GTA tournament I would like to have in the winter.

Re: introductory letters. My season preparation consists of asking the Ontario universities to host in the prior May (including the provincials bid). Labour Day rolls around with only one or two tournaments proposed, so I make another call for hosts. That “nagging” period settles the Ottawa schedule, something in SW Ontario, and some provincials bids. From that information, I fill out tournament dates for the introductory letter. I’m attaching the most recent letter.

Re: UTS coach. I think you’re picking the wrong enemy here. The UTS team does practice with quizbowl questions, and the coach himself has played “quizbowl” (well, VETO, but I won’t go into that debate for now). Any quizbowl effort in Toronto would start with him: as a private school, he doesn’t have to deal with the teacher extracurricular drama. I suggested him as a “starting point” for IHBB trying to get into Toronto.

Re: my Reach conflict of interest. I offered to resign from the ONQBA at the time, but I was not challenged. I am still willing to step aside over that issue, but most Ontario quizbowlers aren’t interested in taking over. My work in the Ottawa league has given me access to more coaches, and makes me a trusted figure for dealing with other teachers. As for my propping up of SchoolReach itself, I’m doing it for the “good” teams that get screwed over by trivia. I don’t think I’m exaggerating too much when I say that my questions that were so readily lapped up by Reach are significantly deeper and fairer. I didn’t write one-liners on birthstones; I followed a quizbowl distribution and ignored any length limits.

Re: professionalism. I know the criticisms aren’t directed at me, but yes, I make sure to use “marketable” prizes like certificates and trophies in the events I run. There is also a large plaque with inscribed champions that the provincial winners get to keep for the year.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:19 am

I have some more comments about this. Remember I wasn't really involved in the community until 2011 and wasn't even a frequenter of these forums until last year, so I missed out on a lot of the Toronto stuff.

This is more of a question to Ben or people who know their history, Is there a difference in how we're supposed to approach this compared to what Matt W. discusses because Reach is significantly more "well known" and a cultural institution compared to that of :chip: ? I don't know if Canada's situation is unique among local formats.

Also, is there a concrete reason why the UTS coach doesn't run quizbowl or support its existence in Toronto?

bsmith wrote:Tournaments are relatively informal, despite my efforts to make provincials presentable.
Considering I'm pretty much the only other person to host tournaments in Ontario, I will say I've learned from my earlier mistakes of not being formal enough.

bsmith wrote:Dates. Quizbowl does most of its activity before “SchoolReach” leagues kick off in February. As such, there can be a bunch of schools that don’t even have their club started up when November quizbowl tournaments arise. Unfortunately, I think this is something we have to accept- even finding one provincials date can be difficult when considering spring breaks, Family Day, Easter, and varying local league dates. I have a feeling this could be what hurt the Waterloo novice; teams from Waterloo and Guelph could be rallied to come to a March tournament last year.


Ontario should definitely announce their dates before late September, preferably the spring before. We need to have better communication between university clubs and people who want to run high school tournaments. In fact, Ottawa Hybrid was initially planned on the same day as Ontario Quizbowl Provincials before I told them to make sure it's not March 7th.

Re: Chris Greenwood. What's changed since he left the quizbowl scene that has made recruiting in Southern Ontario so much harder? Toronto Winter used to have many teams. Why could Chris get over 20 teams for the first Ontario provincial tournament but years after that numbers dwindled significantly?

Re: GTA tournament. In 2015 you'll have to deal with, roughly in order: ACF Regionals, High School exams, SCT, Family Day, GTA History Bowl, before ONQBA provincials. After ONQBA provincials, you have Ottawa Hybrid/STIMPY weekend, March Break, ICT. I am afraid you won't be able to find many staffers who would rather stay back to staff High School than go to a College tournament. If January 31 is the date of your planned GTA winter tournament, this needs to be taken care of because GTA schools already know about Lisgar's Reach-style event. Feb 21 Quizbowl, Feb 28 CHBB, March 7th quizbowl provincials would also work.

Re: CHBB. I secured a date for Ottawa's regional tournament (on February 21st) because I like staffing tournaments and I knew that the Maddens would help us a lot with getting new teams. I've told the same to Southern Ontario - all they need is a date and a handful of staffers and the Maddens will do the rest.

My idea as to why Toronto had such a different outcome than Ottawa:
- Reach isn't a big deal in Ottawa. We have a round robin on one day, and then playoffs some other day. Toronto has a league and players are more heavily involved during the school year.
- Lisgar actually went to HSNCT. This made quizbowl seem way more serious to grade 9 me than just a small excursion outside Reach.
- One main quizbowl school has a super dedicated coach. She is extremely supportive in us hosting tournaments and does all the printing, all the dealing with school admin, most of the finances, and some of the recruiting, making our job easier, and also giving other schools the chance to play a lot of tournaments, spreading the word and passing down quizbowl. Imagine if Sinan or Will Nediger had all these tournaments at their fingertips in high school.
- We lack other organized extracurriculars that Toronto has. We don't have active science olympiad involvement except for math, no science fair or robotics or tech competitions, we don't have classics competitions, we don't have DECA business competitions. People choose to do these activities themselves, but it's not run on a school based level.

Now some stuff about Reach:

Matt Weiner wrote:My understanding is that the only unusual thing being done in Minnesota is a weeknight "league" which plays what are basically IS-A sets.


Matt Weiner wrote: Declaring "good quizbowl is superior to Reach in every way and you should stop doing Reach" is your FIRST step here, not some far-off stretch goal.

Why can't Reach just become Good Quizbowl?

A vision I have of the future of quizbowl in Ontario is one in which there is only good quizbowl being played, with the relics of Reach for the Top still intact. There should be a centralized question writing group which produces questions yearly for modification of sets to be mirrored, whether they are from NAQT, HSAPQ, housewrites, ACF, or whatever. Each province has a provincial tournament; the same idea as Reach Provincials. However, provincial tournaments will use NAQT or HSAPQ states and be formatted in a way that is acceptable and not what it is like today. To qualify for these provincial tournaments, you must finish in the top x percent of a regional tournament, which would also use good sets. There may or may not be a Canadian national tournament, and if there isn't one, there should be some Canadian award at HSNCT.

Reach is a cultural institution and Reach Nationals is something very presumed to be very prestigious you can win. What if the same cultural identity is kept and just everything that's bad about it (i.e basically everything) be changed but retain it's name and history?

Yes, Jay and Ben working for Reach is counter-intuitive, but if over the next 5 years or so, they can help turn Reach into a organization that plays good questions with good tournament formats, I don't see what's wrong with them being involved now. Current Reach traditions can be thrown out aggressively by a rival, or it can be demolished from its own members. What I mean by making a "bridge" between current Reach and Good quizbowl, is that these changes probably can't just happen overnight.

This is my idea, I'm sure there are plenty of people in Ontario would like to see Reach with the same "quicker" style and trashier distribution but with fairer questions and fairer tournament formats, and Good Quizbowl thriving alongside it, which I am not for at all.

Feel free to call me out on any of my points, I'm not saying "yes this is what I think needs to be done" and would like to hear members of the community, especially from the MOQBA people and similar success stories.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby bsmith » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:04 pm

There have been quizbowl tournaments at U of T in the past, from 2009 to 2012. 2009, the biggest one, had 18 teams, but only three schools (UTS, Woburn, Bishop Allen) from Toronto itself. UTS and Woburn’s teams were there without a coach; all the other teams had a teacher. Attendance at U of T decreased since then: their December 2011 event was done pretty much on their own without me or Chris (Kingston and St. Catharines were the startup cities I traveled to that season), and the last one, during the job action, had 2 teams.

Toronto is a failure under my watch. I think it’s clear that someone else needs to step forward for that area, because my coordination-by-distance doesn’t work. The university clubs in that area are reluctant to get involved, the teachers are non-responsive to me, and I’m not readily able to travel for “evangelism” purposes. I’m president because no one else (except Joe, who is based even further away in Montreal) is interested in tackling the high school scene.

It is indeed too late to get a whole new GTA quizbowl tournament publicized this year; History Bowl would probably be the “winter tournament”. Unless the Maddens miraculously find a teacher coordinator, U of T is the only possibility of host- I’m sending them another inquiry about a Feb 28 date. In a more general observation, it would be great to have a schedule sorted when I make my annual inquiries in May, but clubs don’t offer until September rolls around, if at all.

Regarding Ottawa’s success vs. Toronto: Even Ottawa is in a precarious position for teacher involvement. Lisgar’s coach has been there throughout, and Merivale’s coach comes along with the students, but after that, there are no teachers on Saturdays. Everyone else is a group of students. Interestingly, most of the SW Ontario teams at last year’s provincials had coaches in tow (though none were familiar with the format), which still suggests that something can happen around there if there’s a better date and a good on-the-ground effort.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Strongside » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:20 pm

I feel that Minnesota has some of the same issues as Ontario does.

1. Minnesota has far more teams participating in knowledge bowl than quiz bowl.

2. While the majority of Minnesotans live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the majority of teams participating in academic competition (quiz bowl and/or knowledge bowl) are from outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

3. The level of play in Minnesota has regressed over the past 3-5 years, and Minnesota teams are not as competitive as they could be.

I have talked about high school quiz bowl in Minnesota in some of my recent posts.

As for the Thursday Night League in Minnesota, it is run on modified A set questions.

Details and a sample packet are at the following link.

http://www.naqt.com/mqba/league/2014/announcement.html

The league has existed since the 1970s and used to use Questions Unlimited and Patrick's Press before switching to NAQT questions in 2006.

Knowledge Bowl basically exists as a separate entity.

Back in 2008 and 2009, there was a hybrid quiz bowl/knowledge bowl meet, where the questions were provided by NAQT, but it used the the knowledge bowl format and knowledge bowl strips.

I don't have any specific advice that has not been mentioned of what can be done to get more teams in Toronto and Southwestern Ontario to take quiz bowl more seriously.

This post viewtopic.php?f=20&t=6302&hilit=Is+high+school+quizbowl+in+Missouri+salvageable%3F from 2008 talks about how dire things were in Missouri, yet Ladue was able to have some incredible success in spite of it.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:21 pm

I think there are a few things that can be done to ameliorate the situation here, based on my experiences with MOQBA creating the pyramidal circuit that is currently flowering in Missouri despite the presence of an overbearing bad format that has government sponsorship.

The absolute first thing here is that multiple tournaments need to be hosted in Toronto at all costs. There is absolutely nothing else to discuss until this happens. I went to the University of Missouri in Columbia, which is in the center of the state and is not an especially large city. However, it is accessible to both major cities, and has probably hundreds of schools in easy driving range, and due to those features, the university has made it a city that is the preferred location for most state championships and prestigious academic contests like Science Olympiad. However, nearly all of the active teams were either apathetic or hostile to pyramidal quizbowl at the time. Our first tournament managed to pull 18 teams, simply because we decided to run it on the first possible competition date, and were able to draw a mix of local teams and serious teams from the major cities a couple hours away. Our next tournament dipped down to 12 teams, and that one didn't even have any of the teams from Columbia show up. Both tournaments received some very negative feedback from players and coaches. The next year we hosted three tournaments, and had dips in attendance to 16 for our fall tournament, and 8 teams for the winter tournament, which again attracted 0 teams from within Columbia. The new tournament only got 9 teams to show up (3 from one school, 2 from another). We also moved the location of NAQT State to MU and did not have the best teams in the state show up. By all measures this was not progress. However, I persevered, and the next year we got 18 teams back for our fall tournament, suddenly had an explosion of 30 teams showing up to our winter tournament, and got 18 to sign up for our spring tournament. NAQT state also attracted a stronger field, and I even hosted a small season-ending tournament on campus that managed to pull out of state teams. From that point on, Mizzou has consistently run between 3 and 5 tournaments every year, which almost always fill and get between 24 and 36 teams. Local Columbia teams and teams in the adjacent counties always show up and have begun to host their own tournaments that are top notch, not to mention we have managed to get some of the best teams in quizbowl to show up (Ladue and Hallsville have both won different national titles, but Columbia's public schools as well as nearby schools like Helias, Jefferson City, and more far flung schools like Hannibal and Clayton show up and hold their own). All this in a city that didn't have good quizbowl tournaments 6 years ago. The fact that MU was willing to host pyramidal tournaments without any compromises, no matter what kind of field emerged was absolutely integral to the emergence of the Columbia-area circuit, because it exposed so many teams to good quizbowl and, after some time spent marinating, all of a sudden lots of teams suddenly got it and became helpful allies in the pyramidal quizbowl campaign. When combined with the efforts that we got off the ground in St. Louis at the same time (a longstanding, large tournament at Wash U, multiple events we created at local high schools and universities), this provided the backbone of MOQBA's base of support. The effects are still being felt, as teams in the Mizzou drawing area have begun to host tournaments that are farther and farther outside of Mizzou and attract teams we aren't able to get (especially in rural areas).

Contrast that with Kansas City, the large city that is on the opposite side of Missouri from St. Louis. The KC area has many "active teams," but only a couple have ever been on board with pyramidality, and 0 college teams. The team at North Kansas City has been the only team to consistently host any tournaments. Other schools have sporadically hosted things, at our prodding, but it never exceeded more than a couple tournaments each year, and we had trouble getting them to agree to host again and build any institutional memory. As a result, KC has remained something of a backwater, with teams that aren't really hostile but which mostly don't care either. The few teams that care have learned to travel out of the area, and it's clear at this point that the only way to fix KC is to find ways to infuse more tournaments into the area.

As such, it's imperative that the University of Toronto be convinced to host tournaments (plural, not just one a year) at all costs if you want to regain your foothold in Toronto, since it seems you have limited options. You can't convince anybody that pyramidal quizbowl is superior unless you can show them in practice.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:58 pm

Here are some other components of the MOQBA strategy that worked wonders:

It is important is to be able to work around your detractors. There is only so much that you can do to convince somebody that pyramidal quizbowl is worthwhile. If people don't want to logically argue with you, and are making it clear they aren't convinced, all you can do is present your points and then spend your time doing other work. There are lots of coaches out there who aren't going to immediately hate your efforts, and who are intelligent, thoughtful, nice people who you will easily be able to strike up a conversation with. It is infinitely more useful to try and get them on board and build up the numbers on your side than to spend time shouting down people who don't like you. It can also be useful to figure out which students are showing up to tournaments and demonstrating promise, but who need some guidance to step their game up. I managed to find some of those players and give them pointers and prod them into becoming more active at quizbowl, and all of a sudden they were very competitive.

When you have figured out what coaches are worth working with, one avenue worth pursuing is trying to convince people to let you use their schools to run a tournaments staffed by outsiders. As alluded above, we did a LOT of this in St. Louis for a while. And it's not just high schools - I had a friend who I convinced to give me some rooms at St. Louis University once, then I ran a 12 team tournament there with some outside staff which was very well received by a lot of teams on the nascent St. Louis circuit. There are ways to make tournaments happen if you have the willpower and some creative thinking, and all of those events were vital to supplementing the club-run tournaments until we found teams ready and willing to host their own annual events.

Related to my first point, I went out of my way to try and help teams during their practices once in a while. My freshman year I and a teammate went to a couple Hallsville practices where we read good questions and gave some pointers on how to improve/tried to build a rapport with the coach. My sophomore year, I was sitting at home over winter break and on a lark I emailed the coach of Rock Bridge, a local team, and asked him if he was interested in me showing up to one of their practices to just give some pointers. I showed up, helped them a little, got along with the kids, the coach was cool, and it just sort of turned into me becoming their assistant coach for the next 3.5 years. I was able to help them become a very competitive team, convinced their coach to start taking them to more Mizzou tournaments, got them bids to nationals which their coach then signed up for, and was able to teach them how to run tournaments and advocate for good quizbowl. Without getting Rock Bridge totally on board, it would have been impossible to make our region as active and competitive as it is currently, and the more you can help teams learn how to be competitive, the more invested they will be in the circuit. Also, the more competitive teams there are, the more players out there will be inspired by seeing them, and the more you'll be able to silence the difficulty complaints, since they'll be on the losing end of 600-below 100 games against teams that actually care and there's not much else you can say to that.

Lastly, be sane. A lot of quizbowl organizers I know have been unable to figure out where the borderline is between helpful enthusiasm and going overboard/being creepy. You have to be able to explain your ideas directly, and you have to be able to figure out when it's appropriate to talk about quizbowl and when it's clear people are bored with you and either stop talking or find something else to discuss. Don't talk about lots of old stories and weird in-jokes, because those make you look crazy. Also, limit the amount of camaraderie you have with players you don't really know. Don't actively friend a bunch of players you met a couple times on Facebook, and don't post happy birthday on their walls if they have never talked to you. Things like that help you look professional and not like a creep.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Mon Oct 27, 2014 1:31 am

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:The absolute first thing here is that multiple tournaments need to be hosted in Toronto at all costs. There is absolutely nothing else to discuss until this happens... As such, it's imperative that the University of Toronto be convinced to host tournaments (plural, not just one a year) at all costs if you want to regain your foothold in Toronto, since it seems you have limited options. You can't convince anybody that pyramidal quizbowl is superior unless you can show them in practice.


Unfortunately neither Ben and I are anywhere close to Toronto. I will further persuade the Torontonians as much as I can. I think if their efforts were backed up and encouraged by NAQT or PACE, it would work out a lot better for them.

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote: Both tournaments received some very negative feedback from players and coaches.


Why? In Ottawa, we get the too boring/too hard/not enough trash answers. Are these the same arguments everywhere?

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote: The fact that MU was willing to host pyramidal tournaments without any compromises, no matter what kind of field emerged was absolutely integral to the emergence of the Columbia-area circuit, because it exposed so many teams to good quizbowl and, after some time spent marinating, all of a sudden lots of teams suddenly got it and became helpful allies in the pyramidal quizbowl campaign.


Yeah. Lisgar's consistent tournaments definitely made Colonel By interested enough, and now they're a top 25 team. So just hosting more and more does work, however a lot of teams are quite apathetic and will gladly do both good and bad quizbowl without much convincing and they won't do much to promote either.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Oct 27, 2014 4:34 am

Most of the complaints were about the questions and format, or related problems. One coach was very upset about the fact we didn't allow 5 second on rebounded bonus parts, because he hadn't realized that his players could collaborate while another team is answering something. Another coach was very offended by what he perceived to be timing inaccuracies due to the lack of a dedicated timer (which is a required MSHSAA job). I also had a couple tournaments that went slower than I wanted, so I'm sure that somebody said something about that. All you can really do about those things is try and decide if they are legitimate complaints, then fix them, or else find the way to explain yourself and try and get them to understand your directing choices.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Classical>>>Current » Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:04 pm

Hello everyone, I'm just going to give a brief summary of who I am and how my high school quizbowling career shape out (or lack of):

I grew up in a household where I was allowed to explore my interests, one of which was trivia. At middle school I became aware that the University of Toronto had hosted a tournament named Toronto Winter, at which many prominent high school teams were present, including my future high school Woburn. I entered high school knowing that there would be a place for me, a niche where I would be able to grow and apply my talents to answering questions on trivia.
Enter reach for the top, the hegemonic hippo that threatened to rear its hungry head (or bite) on the site of a local predator. Our school's first conflict during my years at Woburn was establishing a practice time for quizbowl. Reach practices were held three times a week, leaving little or no time to practice quizbowl. Our coach was also, and continues to be the district's coordinator. Settlements were made where the team would continue to practice with reach questions, but on select days and times we would be permitted to run a practice for quizbowl. My first tournament was 2011 NAQT provincials, won by Lisgar. Our school sent three teams that year, given geographical proximity and also having a bumper year in trivia attendance. In all I was very satisfied about how the quizbowl year had gone, but the years following was where it started to fall apart.

My second year was filled with hope and expectation that Woburn could become a top two high school in Canada (or Ontario as the Alberta circuit only started recently). As a sophomore, more clubs and organizations were willing to open their doors to executive membership, and I was also selected to join our school's premiere jazz band. Fresh off my experience as a freshman I felt strongly that I could join anything and be able to successfully juggle the added extracurriculars, school work and family responsibilities. I did just that, cutting down on reach/QB practices and found myself in what seemed to be a healthy balance in life. I even opted out of going to Reach for the Top provincials in 2012 for a music competition. Our lack of success at provincials that year was offset by the success at NAQT provincials. Our team had placed second, qualifying one of our teams to HSNCT that year. Woburn thus became the second ever Canadian high school to attend HSNCT, a proud accomplishment of ours. Unfortunately it was to be the last tournament attended by a Woburn team for the duration of my high school career.

The autumn following the year of HSNCT reports were starting to come in of the failure to open fruitful negotiations between the teacher's federation and the provincial Ontario government. Students across Ontario were beginning to dread what this could potentially mean to university admissions, scholarships and extracurriculars. The situation at Woburn in terms of work to rule was quite similar to other schools in the GTA. As it turned out, the agreement came just in time for Woburn to compete as a team for 2013 Reach for the Top Provincials. However the same cannot be said for quizbowl. We were not permitted to compete under the banner of Woburn Collegiate Institute. Shocked and in disbelief I approached the vice principal demanding answers. The simple fact of the matter was that the teachers were now apprehensive about spending time out on their weekends for trips and his hands were tied. Not wanting to start an argument with our coach about whether she should attend more tournaments with us, I approached the entire staff of Woburn at one point pleading them to staff a trip with us for NAQT provincials, to no avail. That was where quizbowl ended up dying at Woburn. On the tables of administration and the mountain of red tape destroyed my team from competing at future tournaments. We as a team felt there was nothing we could do and so my junior year was where an activity I enjoyed passionately went to die.

The belief that my junior year was just an aberration and would not be fraught with difficulty was soon quickly dispelled when I learned of the aftermath of the job action and how it crippled many school activities. Budget cuts were implemented, nearly paralyzing trivia at Woburn. As a senior and now the head of many clubs and organizations I neither had the time or ability to continue the fight to bring back quizbowl to Woburn at the very least. I was one of two players left who had any knowledge on the structure and format and I was not able to attend practices more than once a week to pass on my knowledge.

As a student who had quizbowl enter their life only to have it yanked out from under them, the question becomes what can that person do to not have others befall that same fate? I for one do not wish to see what would happen if trivia in general were to be gutted completely at my old high school. I should also be blaming myself for failing to grasp the potential long-term consequences of the work to rule action by the teacher’s union and also for not trying harder to push past the bureaucratic tape within my school’s own administration. I feel that quizbowl in Toronto at the very least could have survived, even thrived with better leadership at the helm of the Woburn team. If and when ONQBA is equipped to issue me some form of a directive regarding quizbowl in Toronto (and SW Ontario) I will gladly and without question see it to the end. Upon seeing this thread form, never before have I felt so angry at myself for failing so many of my fellow students, peers and comrades.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Oct 27, 2014 1:41 pm

Don't put that blame on yourself, it's not like you were an adult, and it's not like you can do anything about teacher's union negotiations. However, I'm curious if there is a way for you to organize any quizbowl tournaments at the University of Toronto. I can't repeat it enough - the only way to fix this problem is to host multiple tournaments at the university there, at all costs.

I also am curious if there is a way to host quizbowl during the week, since you are saying that a lot of teachers are unwilling to spend time on the weekends doing anything extracurricular. Minneapolis has the Wednesday night league. In Missouri, there are lots of tournaments where you show up and play round robins on different nights. These tournaments come in different forms - some take place during a single week, and you just have 4-6 different teams come in on Monday through Wednesday, then you invite back whoever placed highly from each of those nights to do a playoff round robin on Thursday. Small conferences also run tournaments that are usually a full round robin between 6-8 teams on a single night. As long as the questions and format are good, these sorts of events could be your foot in the door to then try and meet coaches and convince them to start coming back to Saturday tournaments.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Classical>>>Current » Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:17 pm

The way SchoolReach is structured in Scarborough is that it has turned into a drawn out round robin over the course of three months, after which it takes a further two weeks to determine the regional winner. These games are normally held on Mondays, and is similar to the format I wish for quizbowl in Toronto. Typically three rounds are played per night, and a running total is kept by the coordinator. As that leaves 4 days left during the school week of which one or two gets eaten by holding internal practices it could become possible to hold a Thursday night league. It can model the format already being used by SchoolReach, to make it more palatable to the coaches who decide on bringing their students to this new league. I can see if launching a pilot project solely for the district I was from is feasible, before moving onto to other districts. Question quality has always been a massive question mark in SchoolReach, and if coaches were told that their students would not be losing games over poorly worded or misleading questions they may just give it a shot.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Theodore » Mon Oct 27, 2014 6:36 pm

Charlie is definitely correct in that if we persistently host tournaments in the GTA, schools will eventually come, simply given just how many schools there are.

It's not that GTA and SW Ontario schools don't host Quizbowl tournaments; they host many collegiate tournaments each year, but seem uninterested in hosting high school tournaments.

I see why universities have more incentive to host university tournaments over high school tournaments: more fun for the hosts, as they welcome their peers, rather than dealing with high schoolers & their parents & their coaches. In addition, the field size is almost the same for high school and university tournaments in Canada. To me, the biggest factor appears to be profit. Any university tournament has a base fee of $120; a high school tournament in Canada has a base fee of about $40 to $60. Of course, this begs the question: why are high school tournament entry fees in Canada so low compared to their US counterparts? Not to point any fingers, but I think the belief that "lower prices attracts more teams" seems to be the business model of Lisgar, who have always hosted the vast majority of high school tournaments in Ontario. I don't know if having slightly higher fees repels any teams (I invite people to discuss this), but in addition from discouraging universities from hosting due to lower profits, it looks bad on other local tournaments hosted by other institutions whose fees are comparatively higher, but still affordable and cheap relative to HS tournaments elsewhere.

Then again, I don't know if raising entry fees will really incentivize universities to host a lot more; let's say if prices were increased to $80/team: the $120/team of collegiate tournaments is still much more appealing, and $20 per student per tournament out of pocket can add up quickly for the vast majority of schools that receive zero Quizbowl funding. From an organizer's perspective, there are still other reasons to host university tournaments instead of high school.

I hope heads/captains of university teams can provide firsthand reasons/thoughts on the various pros and cons of hosting high school vs hosting university tournaments.

I think the question here is: how can we incentivize university Quizbowl teams to host high school tournaments over universities tournaments? Obviously, the most evident example is that a vibrant high school circuit leads to stronger high school players attend local universities. I mean, what university doesn't want university freshman with 4 years of Quizbowl experience? An investment into the high school circuit truly is an investment for the future success of your university team.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby higi1024 » Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:49 pm

I am relatively new to quizbowl, but I've had some experience in reviving trivia at my former high school.

In my freshman year, there was a Trivia Club, and although it was more of an informal commitment, they did participate in both Reach and Quizbowl events. At the time, I was interested, but seeing as they were a rather tight-knit group of seniors, it was not exactly the most inviting atmosphere to join. I came to practices infrequently, but enjoyed the times that I did. However, after they all graduated, the teacher who was in charge of the Trivia club did not actively keep it alive (no judgement, they might have had their reasons for doing so). This resulting in a lack of any knowledge or even awareness of the Trivia scene in Ottawa, despite how active it was. It was only after I had been contacted by an enthusiastic member of the Colonel By team that I was exposed to quizbowl.

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote: Without getting Rock Bridge totally on board, it would have been impossible to make our region as active and competitive as it is currently, and the more you can help teams learn how to be competitive, the more invested they will be in the circuit.


I believe that this is one of the best tactics when it comes to encouraging good quizbowl in an area. Despite the efforts of universities, having students at the high school level that are enthusiastic and willing to contact peers in other high schools in an excellent way to foster the growth of quizbowl at other high schools.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:00 pm

$40 is on the low end, but in America $50-$70 is absolutely the norm for high school tournaments. Anything above that is probably going to start driving away teams, so I see no reason to change your prices (and a couple circuits that did have entry fees closer to $100 have had problems with attending teams running out of their budgets quickly). College hosting also has mirror fees that are about 3 times larger than an IS set. Also, there are numerically more high school teams than college teams - the most you can realistically max out at for a college invitational is 18 teams (and that is quite rare), whereas you should be able to reach 18 every single time you run an HS event in a normal circuit, with numbers going up to the 30s being attainable if you put in the work to build up a circuit, which translates to plenty of cash. There is also the long-term benefits that having more high schoolers who are good at quizbowl moving on to college, which need not be explained further.

Does Reach also do middle school quizbowl? If not, then that would also be an excellent market to develop - no preconceived notions of good or bad quizbowl, lots of schools out there, usually it's pretty easy to convince a gifted teacher to show up with their class, and the earlier you hook kids, the more upward pressure there will be to start forming real high school teams.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby bsmith » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:10 pm

After some gentle nudging, U of T is offering to host Toronto History Bowl. That's a start; I'll be rebooting some publicity to the area once the details get sorted out.

Theodore wrote:Obviously, the most evident example is that a vibrant high school circuit leads to stronger high school players attend local universities. I mean, what university doesn't want university freshman with 4 years of Quizbowl experience? An investment into the high school circuit truly is an investment for the future success of your university team.

This was my logic for hosting the first Ottawa tournament. We struggled to retain new people in our second year because they just wanted to play "university Reach", so I decided to attempt high school tournaments to get future freshmen who wouldn't need to be "converted". Interestingly, very few of those Ottawa HS players went on to U of O; they went to other university clubs...

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:Does Reach also do middle school quizbowl? If not, then that would also be an excellent market to develop - no preconceived notions of good or bad quizbowl, lots of schools out there, usually it's pretty easy to convince a gifted teacher to show up with their class, and the earlier you hook kids, the more upward pressure there will be to start forming real high school teams.

The only middle school Reach program is in Alberta. I haven't really ventured into middle school yet, mostly because I've had struggles just with the high school scene. That being said, with one possible team in Ottawa's grade 7/8 History Bowl division, I (and others) will now have to find some opponents for them!
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:04 pm

Theodore wrote:It's not that GTA and SW Ontario schools don't host Quizbowl tournaments; they host many collegiate tournaments each year, but seem uninterested in hosting high school tournaments.


*cough* McMaster

Theodore wrote: A high school tournament in Canada has a base fee of about $40 to $60. Of course, this begs the question: why are high school tournament entry fees in Canada so low compared to their US counterparts? Not to point any fingers, but I think the belief that "lower prices attracts more teams" seems to be the business model of Lisgar, who have always hosted the vast majority of high school tournaments in Ontario. I don't know if having slightly higher fees repels any teams (I invite people to discuss this), but in addition from discouraging universities from hosting due to lower profits, it looks bad on other local tournaments hosted by other institutions whose fees are comparatively higher, but still affordable and cheap relative to HS tournaments elsewhere.


I've historically charged very little for tournaments because we (as in Lisgar) were pretty well off financially and historically most players parent's were able to pay for their kids' HSNCT/NSC/Other out of town stuff fees. I don't know how attedance changes if we make is $15 a team.

Theodore wrote: I think the question here is: how can we incentivize university Quizbowl teams to host high school tournaments over universities tournaments? Obviously, the most evident example is that a vibrant high school circuit leads to stronger high school players attend local universities. I mean, what university doesn't want university freshman with 4 years of Quizbowl experience? An investment into the high school circuit truly is an investment for the future success of your university team.


Well I don't think it's good to recruit players specifically for quizbowl; you guys should still go to a school based on your academic needs, but a good high school circuit results in a good collegiate circuit later on. I don't particularly care where you or Cameron go next year, I care that in three years, you guys have established yourselves in the collegiate circuit and I can play games either with you or against you.

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:$40 is on the low end, but in America $50-$70 is absolutely the norm for high school tournaments. Anything above that is probably going to start driving away teams, so I see no reason to change your prices (and a couple circuits that did have entry fees closer to $100 have had problems with attending teams running out of their budgets quickly).


$40 is on the low end, but for a regular tournament with a $10 mirror fee with 10 teams brings in $30 a team for $300, take away a generous $50 for prizes, printing, refreshments, and I get $250 profit. Hosting a tournament is easy with some practice, and people shouldn't be afraid of it. $250, with all the money given to Lisgar, seems like a lot for the amount of work I put into doing such a tournament, so I'm good with that. We don't pay staffers lunches, and that hasn't driven away staff and I've been doing this tournament thing for 4 years now. Would increasing the price to $15 a player and more effort spent be enough to incentivize teams even with the higher price? Should we (as in Lisgar) change the mindset to do one key tournament every semester rather than trying to do two or three "less formal" ones? When I mean less formal, I mean all the basics are covered: the Lisgar Coach gives an introduction and a conclusion, book prizes, standard schedule for the number of teams, all rooms have working buzzers, most rooms are double staffed; all can finish in 30 minutes, live stats, etc. Would charging more and including "extras" like super fancy schedules, better books, a trophy, be enough to get more teams even each player has to pay more? (I should probably look at very well run high school tournamnents than CO as my guidelines for what

Also, UTS's annual housewritten Reach tournament charges $100 a team and only gives a six game minimum for teams, and they bring in a lot of teams! We had a Reach tournament which charged $10 a player and did a 12 team round robin. When UTS came, they were amazed at how cheap it was and how many games they got to play.

bsmith wrote:The only middle school Reach program is in Alberta. I haven't really ventured into middle school yet, mostly because I've had struggles just with the high school scene. That being said, with one possible team in Ottawa's grade 7/8 History Bowl division, I (and others) will now have to find some opponents for them!


I'm graduating halfway through next year. Depending on what happens with Grad School, we can spend all of Winter 2016 on middle school if we really needed. Unfortunately, there aren't many other people that would be willing to partake in a semester long recuritng spree.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:36 pm

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:I also am curious if there is a way to host quizbowl during the week, since you are saying that a lot of teachers are unwilling to spend time on the weekends doing anything extracurricular. Minneapolis has the Wednesday night league. In Missouri, there are lots of tournaments where you show up and play round robins on different nights. These tournaments come in different forms - some take place during a single week, and you just have 4-6 different teams come in on Monday through Wednesday, then you invite back whoever placed highly from each of those nights to do a playoff round robin on Thursday. Small conferences also run tournaments that are usually a full round robin between 6-8 teams on a single night. As long as the questions and format are good, these sorts of events could be your foot in the door to then try and meet coaches and convince them to start coming back to Saturday tournaments.


In high schools, we had reach exhibition games with other schools. In Colonel By's years pre-quizbowl, I remember going to Colonel By one afternoon in grade 9 and playing a three team round robin with two Lisgar teams and two Colonel By teams. A 5 team round robin starting at 3pm would last until 6 at the latest. Missing the last period of school to get to a tournament site wouldn't be too hard since sports coaches already do that all the time. If writers are okay with it, we could do a tournament a week on a different day, and just run a league, the same way Reach does it in Toronto. We would use up most high school sets, and leave "key" sets like NAQT IS-sets or housewrites deemed platinum by PACE as Saturday tournament sets. (This might also let us dip our feet into small 6 team high school mirrors of college stuff on select weeks?!?!?)

Classical>>>Current wrote:The way SchoolReach is structured in Scarborough is that it has turned into a drawn out round robin over the course of three months, after which it takes a further two weeks to determine the regional winner. These games are normally held on Mondays, and is similar to the format I wish for quizbowl in Toronto. Typically three rounds are played per night, and a running total is kept by the coordinator. As that leaves 4 days left during the school week of which one or two gets eaten by holding internal practices it could become possible to hold a Thursday night league. It can model the format already being used by SchoolReach, to make it more palatable to the coaches who decide on bringing their students to this new league. I can see if launching a pilot project solely for the district I was from is feasible, before moving onto to other districts. Question quality has always been a massive question mark in SchoolReach, and if coaches were told that their students would not be losing games over poorly worded or misleading questions they may just give it a shot.


A competiting "Thursday league" would be useful to get larger clubs on board. While it may be difficult for an indvidual to justify spending two nights a week on Quizbowl (I know with my sport and music commitments back in high school I certainly would not have been happy with having to play competitively twice a night), it could be a way for a large team to split up every week into "this group goes to QB" and "this group goes to Reach" so that everyone gets a chance to represent their team competitively. Alternatively, once Reach decides to use good questions (i.e. on good quizbowl packets), then there's no competition and weeknight leagues still work.

The problem I see with the current weeknight league in Toronto is that teams already play during the school week, and may not want to play more on Saturday. While in Ottawa, there's nothing currently on weekdays, so weekend tournaments have teams eager to get some playtime in.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Theodore » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:56 pm

bsmith wrote:This was my logic for hosting the first Ottawa tournament. We struggled to retain new people in our second year because they just wanted to play "university Reach", so I decided to attempt high school tournaments to get future freshmen who wouldn't need to be "converted". Interestingly, very few of those Ottawa HS players went on to U of O; they went to other university clubs...

Well, even if they don't go to uOttawa (although presently, a lot of them do, such as that former Earl of March team), most of them attend university in Ontario, strengthening the local circuit.

bsmith wrote:The only middle school Reach program is in Alberta. I haven't really ventured into middle school yet, mostly because I've had struggles just with the high school scene. That being said, with one possible team in Ottawa's grade 7/8 History Bowl division, I (and others) will now have to find some opponents for them!

Some pros about starting up middle school Quizbowl:
- Middle school IHBB is just starting up
- There are very few extracurriculars (especially academic extracurriculars) for middle schoolers
- There is no middle school Reach in Ontario
- in Ottawa, there are a lot of gifted programs you can target

The United States of America wrote:Well I don't think it's good to recruit players specifically for quizbowl; you guys should still go to a school based on your academic needs, but a good high school circuit results in a good collegiate circuit later on. I don't particularly care where you or Cameron go next year, I care that in three years, you guys have established yourselves in the collegiate circuit and I can play games either with you or against you.

I wasn't talking about recruiting specifically for Quizbowl, I was referring to that a stronger high school circuit will lead to a stronger university circuit in general in Ontario.

The United States of America wrote:In high schools, we had reach exhibition games with other schools. In Colonel By's years pre-quizbowl, I remember going to Colonel By one afternoon in grade 9 and playing a three team round robin with two Lisgar teams and two Colonel By teams. A 5 team round robin starting at 3pm would last until 6 at the latest. Missing the last period of school to get to a tournament site wouldn't be too hard since sports coaches already do that all the time. If writers are okay with it, we could do a tournament a week on a different day, and just run a league, the same way Reach does it in Toronto. We would use up most high school sets, and leave "key" sets like NAQT IS-sets or housewrites deemed platinum by PACE as Saturday tournament sets. (This might also let us dip our feet into small 6 team high school mirrors of college stuff on select weeks?!?!?)

I think this is a possibility worth trying in Toronto and SW Ontario.

I don't know about how many Saturday-accustomed teams here in Ottawa would be interested in that however. I just don't think it's necessary given that teams here are willing to go on Saturdays. I just think we in Ottawa just should focus on further expanding our Saturday circuit. If your goal is to play harder sets, people aren't going to be won over solely due to the factor of weekday play vs Saturday play. Basically, what are the major advantages of Ottawa weekday play other than getting more practice/experience?
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:41 pm

higi1024 wrote:I am relatively new to quizbowl, but I've had some experience in reviving trivia at my former high school.

In my freshman year, there was a Trivia Club, and although it was more of an informal commitment, they did participate in both Reach and Quizbowl events. At the time, I was interested, but seeing as they were a rather tight-knit group of seniors, it was not exactly the most inviting atmosphere to join. I came to practices infrequently, but enjoyed the times that I did. However, after they all graduated, the teacher who was in charge of the Trivia club did not actively keep it alive (no judgement, they might have had their reasons for doing so). This resulting in a lack of any knowledge or even awareness of the Trivia scene in Ottawa, despite how active it was. It was only after I had been contacted by an enthusiastic member of the Colonel By team that I was exposed to quizbowl.


I lost all contact with Bell as the younger members I did have contact with were not interested, neither was your coach. "After [people] graduated, nobody bothered keeping it alive" is a pretty big thing; this happened with Bell, UTS, Centennial, Gloucester, and the list goes on...

Kudos to Lisgar's coach on keeping the quizbowl tradition alive. We basically need to convince coaches that Quizbowl is the right direction to lead a Trivia club.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Great Bustard » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:07 am

bsmith wrote: It is indeed too late to get a whole new GTA quizbowl tournament publicized this year; History Bowl would probably be the “winter tournament”. Unless the Maddens miraculously find a teacher coordinator, U of T is the only possibility of host- I’m sending them another inquiry about a Feb 28 date. In a more general observation, it would be great to have a schedule sorted when I make my annual inquiries in May, but clubs don’t offer until September rolls around, if at all.

Nolwenn's heading up to Toronto/SW Ontario for 4 days in early December to recruit. I also wouldn't say it's a miracle if we find a school that wants to host. After all, that's how we expect it will play out in New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia (and it's how all our other international tournaments have worked to date). That said, if U of T wants to host, we're all for that. We're hoping as well to have a tournament in the London area too, but we'll see. Anyway, Nolwenn will do her usual dozens of hours of scouring school websites and emailing, and things will happen. It doesn't take a miracle - just dedication and some capital to give it a shot.
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Re: Solving Toronto (and SW Ontario)

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:23 am

The first step to take at this time is to remove Patrick Liao from any position of authority and make sure if he ever decides to be in charge again make sure we have an eye on him at all times.

Few thoughts over the past few years, as an observer now, prompted by an episode involving the previously mentioned person:

- Last weekend, I staffed Lisgar's housewritten Reach tournament. Two out of town teams who don't do quizbowl came -KVHS (NB) for the 6th time in a row who makes the trip extended with museum and Parliament visits, and UTS for the 3rd time in a row who just came for the tournament this year but wants to do the same as KVHS and make it a full trip. It's surprising how we can get these teams to come play this year after year and not quizbowl sets. Anyways, if anyone from Maine is reading this, Kennebecasis Valley High School from Saint John, New Brunswick will come to your tournament!

- It seems history bowl has taken a grasp on the Toronto and SW Ontario circuit, having 20 teams both this year and last. An interesting thing to point out is that the two best History Bowl teams (UTS and Royal St. George) do not do quizbowl and have independent Reach for the Top teams (furthermore, RSG's best history bowl player, a multiple medalist at IHO and member of the 2nd place Canada's JV team last year, wasn't on the Reach team last year because of seniority), while teams that participate in quizbowl (Bayview, Westmount, Waterloo, White Oaks) have shared Quizbowl, Reach, and History Bowl teams coached by the same coach.

- In order to coexist with the least conflicts, Reach (the company) needs to move their Ontario Provincial and National dates to the equivalent of SSNCT and MSNCT weekends respectively. HSNCT/NSC weekends aren't gonna change, and a big reason why teams don't go to HSNCT/NSC is that they think they'll qualify for Reach Nationals, which conflicts with one of (HSNCT, NSC) and is the week (before, after) the other. It's not a problem now because school boards are disallowing travel to the US due to enhanced security at the border, but something that will help out in the long run.

Moving forward, I think it's better to advertise Quizbowl as a version of history bowl but with all the categories rather than a version of Reach. Even if full outreach isn't done, continuing to have a small dedicated circuit in Toronto and SW Ontario would I think be sufficient.
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