How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbowl?

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How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbowl?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:36 pm

While moderating the national history bowl on Saturday, I noticed many traditional quizbowl powers present, but I also noticed a lot of teams whose shirts said "[name of school] history team" instead of quizbowl team. There were definitely a substantial number of teams who play NHBB, even play it well, and don't do regular quizbowl.

I spoke with a coach of one of those teams between rounds, who told me that their team is aware of regular quizbowl, but prefer history bowl because of (a) perceived "drama" on the hs quizbowl circuit, (b) the format, and (c) they just like history as a subject better than other subjects. Had I had a bit more time, I would have encouraged her to see quizbowl and history bowl as compatible activities, not an either-or (if my life story is proof of anything, it's that somebody who knows history but virtually nothing else can still have a meaningful quizbowl career, even at high levels). But its clear some teams see it as an either-or.

As far as I know (and my knowledge on this may be outdated) Dave Madden has promoted regular quizbowl wherever he can, giving teams information about other buzzer-based pyramidal events. But there are seemingly robust NHBB circuits in places that are still regular quizbowl wastelands.

Could it be that regular quizbowl has some soul-searching to do about why it isn't attracting these teams? Or have there been success stories? I don't really know, but I'd love to hear perspectives from people on the ground.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:19 pm

Saratoga is one of those teams that only sporadically attends quiz bowl tournaments (they only attended one quiz bowl tournament this year, in no small part because of my persistent nagging). I knew about their incredible prowess having witnessed them firsthand in each of the three NHBB regional tournaments I ran, but they were resistant to coming to quiz bowl tournaments in part because they were invested in the history aspect of History Bowl. I think single-subject competitions will naturally draw greater participation because of this factor: that there are people who want to zero in on their own interests to the exclusion of others, which causes many to shy away from quiz bowl when they cannot answer 80% of questions.

That said, quiz bowl seriously needs to do a better job of promoting itself. Yes, it'll be a while before quiz bowl gains the aura of well-established competitions like, say, NFL Nationals. However, there really is no reason that NAQT, PACE, and HSAPQ cannot develop a stock press release for its placing teams (i.e. a form letter that only requires the insertion of a few details) to be immediately disseminated out to local media outlets upon the completion of a national championship. Ceremony doesn't mean a lot to well-established quiz bowlers, but it can be everything from an outsider's perspective, so taking the step of inviting the press to national championships can go a long way in increasing quiz bowl's cachet. PACE, as a non-profit, could get itself sponsors. HSAPQ could seek out sponsors for its NASAT teams--PAC demonstrates that there are entities out there willing to subsidize state all-star teams, and bright students in California struggle financially to attend one quiz bowl national, much less multiple. Quiz bowl very often takes the role of a secondary activity to many academically minded high schoolers because it is not immediately apparent to them that it's an academically serious activity. The name itself conjures associations with trivia, while History Bowl can at least be thought of as a history equivalent of Science Bowl, a well-known and respected activity. There needs to be video recordings of matches on Youtube (with text of what is being spoken being generated alongside) of good quiz bowl (that aren't ACF Nationals) that can display to skeptical administrators or school board members the academic value of the activity (and hence their willingness to fund it).
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by njsbling » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:17 pm

Some places where there is now History Bowl events and no good HS QB events (to my knowledge) include: eastern Washigton, Wyoming, Nebraska, Central Florida, western Tennessee, Hawaii, and northern Idaho (until this year Portland, OR was in this list and I'm very optimistic that some of these areas will have good QB next year). Have there been places besides Portland, OR where good quiz bowl has come after history bowl? (Although I'm not sure how many teams that competed in the Portland event were already affiliated with history bowl).
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:35 pm

Western Tennessee did have a few good quizbowl tournaments this year. I have no idea if this is partially a result of NHBB, or simply the result of other people working to upgrade their circuit.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by cchiego » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:46 pm

njsbling wrote:western Tennessee
There were 5 pyramidal quizbowl tournaments and 1 History Bowl tournament this year in West TN.

While I do appreciate the geographic breadth of History Bowl, most of these tournaments in non-good-QB areas like WY, CO, NE, etc. are tiny and attract a small fraction of those teams who compete in bad-QB formats in the areas. It's good that there's an opportunity for teams in these areas to play pyramidal questions, but unless they're particularly taken with the questions, I'm not sure how much history bowl by itself will do to change things when the state institutions are anti-good-QB. There's still plenty of room for growth in all formats in pretty much every area.
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:so taking the step of inviting the press to national championships can go a long way in increasing quiz bowl's cachet.
When I did the liveblogs for HSNCT, I sent press releases and emails to all the media outlets in the Chicago/Atlanta areas that I could find. The only thing I got was a blogpost on the Atlanta newspaper's education blog, which was pretty cool, but in subsequent years even that didn't materialize again. I'm pretty sure NAQT also still sends out some press releases as well to top HSNCT finishers' home papers. Getting the press interested is tough and takes persistence and media savviness. It's also very unrewarding since you personally aren't likely to benefit from all your work.

NHBB is doing the right things by putting out NHBB TV and having a better sense of branding than other QB nationals, but again there's plenty more work that could be done for them too.
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:perceived "drama" on the hs quizbowl circuit,
This seems odd. Where is this highly dramatic circuit?
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:51 am

njsbling wrote:Some places where there is now History Bowl events and no good HS QB events (to my knowledge) include: eastern Washigton, Wyoming, Nebraska, Central Florida, western Tennessee, Hawaii, and northern Idaho (until this year Portland, OR was in this list and I'm very optimistic that some of these areas will have good QB next year). Have there been places besides Portland, OR where good quiz bowl has come after history bowl? (Although I'm not sure how many teams that competed in the Portland event were already affiliated with history bowl).
You can pretty much add Upstate NY ( at least Eastern/ Central ) to your list. Ithaca runs a tournament that apparently was poorly attended by top notch programs, and there is Masterminds run through the BOCES - but it only runs introductory sets and the skill level of the teams playing not good enough to compete with Ithaca, Bethlehem, or the downstate teams. Morlan doesn't even rank the teams because they tend to play with a lot of players and do a lot of substitution, particularly in league play prior to their playoffs. I will suggest that if theses teams were ranked it might draw them into the information posted here, and get them to thinking about playing in tournaments outside Masterminds.

Bethlehem (NY) participates in History Bowl because Dave Madden came to the region and actively promoted the game. They also actively promote a MS game. The costs for playing in a NHBB regional are a fraction of the cost of playing in quiz bowls. Our players who have won the State Masterminds tournament for several years in a row, and played well at Prison Bowl this year like History Bowl Better. It's more fun. I appreciate what Fred Morlan has done by setting up the ranking system, but, it also seems to lock everyone into playing a 20/20 format. You don't want to play a game that is not bunus based.... If you could figure out how to incorporate History Bowl teams into the ranking system it might be valuable....

Personally, I was not aware of quiz bowl at all until after we had played History Bowl for a year.

Just 2 cents from a guy who would like his son and team to play some more quiz bowl, but certainly not at the expense of playing history bowl.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:05 am

Mark Wolfsberg wrote: Bethlehem (NY) participates in History Bowl because Dave Madden came to the region and actively promoted the game. They also actively promote a MS game. The costs for playing in a NHBB regional are a fraction of the cost of playing in quiz bowls.
The fact that Masterminds charges a $698 entry fee for a 12-game schedule (spread out over multiple dates so you also have to pay for multiple instances of transportation) is only slightly less mind-boggling than the fact that anyone pays it. Ordinary tournaments charge basically the same as NHBB does -- the regional Bowl costs $75 per team which I would guess is almost exactly the average cost of a comparable Saturday invitational quizbowl tournament across the country; 90% of tournaments are in the $50 to $80 base fee range with just a small few outliers charging more or less than that.

I agree with what I think is your implied point here, which is that quizbowl does not always do a good job of communicating its value proposition. I tried to rectify this in the HSAPQ state tournament letters that went out by calling attention to the fact that you can't get an all-day activity for four talented students that costs only $70 from anyplace else.

I was happy to meet some teams from Wyoming and Colorado at NHBB and discuss quizbowl in their state...the bringing-together of people who it's hard to reach otherwise with experienced quizbowl teams & staffers seems like it can only be a helpful component of the larger process of outreach.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:12 am

Mark Wolfsberg wrote:Bethlehem (NY) participates in History Bowl because Dave Madden came to the region and actively promoted the game. They also actively promote a MS game. The costs for playing in a NHBB regional are a fraction of the cost of playing in quiz bowls. Our players who have won the State Masterminds tournament for several years in a row, and played well at Prison Bowl this year like History Bowl Better. It's more fun. I appreciate what Fred Morlan has done by setting up the ranking system, but, it also seems to lock everyone into playing a 20/20 format.
I'd attribute that more to the fact that both major nationals run 20/20 (or NAQT's 24/24 timed or whatever).
If you could figure out how to incorporate History Bowl teams into the ranking system it might be valuable....
Ignoring the math issues created by trying to properly adjust 4Q vs 3 part bonuses: there's no way to fairly adjust a history bowl performance to quiz bowl, since quiz bowl uses multiple categories.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Kyle » Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:42 pm

cchiego wrote:
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:so taking the step of inviting the press to national championships can go a long way in increasing quiz bowl's cachet.
When I did the liveblogs for HSNCT, I sent press releases and emails to all the media outlets in the Chicago/Atlanta areas that I could find. The only thing I got was a blogpost on the Atlanta newspaper's education blog, which was pretty cool, but in subsequent years even that didn't materialize again. I'm pretty sure NAQT also still sends out some press releases as well to top HSNCT finishers' home papers. Getting the press interested is tough and takes persistence and media savviness. It's also very unrewarding since you personally aren't likely to benefit from all your work.
On the few occasions when there have been articles about quizbowl that have been more or less decent, their authors have gone to great lengths to point out how weird it is that the prizes tend only to be a few used books. I am happy to win a used book at a tournament, and I think the priorities of the American media are very much in the wrong place, but I do think that any of the high school national championship tournaments would get more press if they offered money as prizes. I think that having lucrative prizes was one of the main things that allowed Panasonic to attract more press than the other formats back in the day. Obviously, I know that there isn't a huge pile of money sitting around waiting to be given out and that all of these tournaments are operating on as small a budget as they possibly can, but I do wonder what would happen if either NAQT or PACE were to offer a significant prize?
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by mithokie » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:41 pm

The organizers of the national tournaments may not be interested in pursuing cash prizes. If they are interested in doing that, they should look for corporate sponsorships. Large (or small) businesses can get tax write-offs for these kind of donations. These companies would get their name attached to the prize, logos on programs, pencils, or other tournament related SWAG. When I did MATHCOUNTS, way back in the day, Raytheon was their primary sponsor. The companies would probably help draw media attention as well. There is a lot of work required to develop these partnerships. I think that NAQT has full time staff that could possibly work on something like this. I believe that PACE is an all-volunteer organization, so it may not be possible for PACE to develop these kinds of partnerships.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by johntait1 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:36 pm

Kyle wrote:
cchiego wrote:
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:so taking the step of inviting the press to national championships can go a long way in increasing quiz bowl's cachet.
When I did the liveblogs for HSNCT, I sent press releases and emails to all the media outlets in the Chicago/Atlanta areas that I could find. The only thing I got was a blogpost on the Atlanta newspaper's education blog, which was pretty cool, but in subsequent years even that didn't materialize again. I'm pretty sure NAQT also still sends out some press releases as well to top HSNCT finishers' home papers. Getting the press interested is tough and takes persistence and media savviness. It's also very unrewarding since you personally aren't likely to benefit from all your work.
On the few occasions when there have been articles about quizbowl that have been more or less decent, their authors have gone to great lengths to point out how weird it is that the prizes tend only to be a few used books. I am happy to win a used book at a tournament, and I think the priorities of the American media are very much in the wrong place, but I do think that any of the high school national championship tournaments would get more press if they offered money as prizes. I think that having lucrative prizes was one of the main things that allowed Panasonic to attract more press than the other formats back in the day. Obviously, I know that there isn't a huge pile of money sitting around waiting to be given out and that all of these tournaments are operating on as small a budget as they possibly can, but I do wonder what would happen if either NAQT or PACE were to offer a significant prize?
The fact that History Bowl offers a large amount prize money seems like it would certainly attract many teams. While I personally certainly did NOT spend all my time studying for History Bowl this year because of the prize money they offered and the excitement of winning this year was definitely NOT due to the cash prize, I can see why many students would want to engage in NHBB due to the cash prizes.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by AZQuizbowl » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:25 pm

cchiego wrote:
NHBB is doing the right things by putting out NHBB TV and having a better sense of branding than other QB nationals, but again there's plenty more work that could be done for them too.
That work is coming this year. Our social media journey has just begun, and NHBB TV as you know it is just the beginning. With our great team we'll be able not only to improve the logistics of future Nationals tournaments, but incorporate even more fun and exciting things to promote NHBB and general quizbowl. One of our goals with NHBB obviously is to let kids have fun with history, but it's agreed that we want to help increase the number of teams in the general quizbowl circuit and bring good quizbowl to all corners of the world. We encourage all of our teams to go the quizbowl route after starting with NHBB. Not all of them are into it, but bringing awareness to the pyramidal format is definitely one of our goals.

Year five of NHBB is going to see logistical improvements, increased participation, and vast social media integration.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:33 pm

David would have a better idea, but I do know there are several teams who have/will attend HSNCT whose first quizbowl interaction was History Bowl. Florida's Chaminade-Madonna and Oregon's Westview come to mind.
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Ithaca Cricket Ump » Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:32 am

You can pretty much add Upstate NY ( at least Eastern/ Central ) to your list. Ithaca runs a tournament that apparently was poorly attended by top notch programs
In fact, it was attended by only one top-notch program - Ithaca, the hosts. (Actually, Delaware Valley A at full strength is a go-to-nationals-and-not-get-killed quality team, but only one member of their actual A team was able to attend due to testing, and they're actually located closer to NYC than they are to Ithaca.) I was pleased with the overall attendance considering that 8 schools and 12 teams canceled at the last minute due to inclement weather, but Ithaca was really the only nationals-quality team there, and would've been even without the last-minute cancellations. The discrepancy between the stats of Ithaca A and every other team that played BrainBusters Fall 2013 is quite telling. Ithaca A scored only a few less points than the 2nd through 4th place teams, COMBINED: http://naqt.com/stats/tournament-teams. ... nt_id=4938

One of the reasons that this happened was that Kellenberg's LIFT tournament was assigned the same set that we were, preventing quite a few metro-NYC teams (Seton Hall Prep, St. Joe's, High Tech and Kellenberg themselves, and possibly more) who probably would've made the trip upstate to play and probably will next year from competing at BB Fall. Also, Manheim Township, who would've sent multiple teams, played a tournament at Wilmington Charter the same day (12/7), which is completely understandable...why drive 4+ hours when you can drive 1? For 2014, I will be doing my best to avoid both situations so that we can get a truly regional field in for the tournament's third year. Bethlehem's almost-certain attendance at BB Fall 2014 will, by itself, assure that Ithaca won't have the run of the candy store like they've had the past couple of years, but if we can get the metro-NYC schools and Manheim and maybe some of the Canadian and New England schools to IHS this fall, it could eventually become one of the better tournaments in the region.

Ithaca did not play NHBB this year (except for Casey Wetherbee playing solo JV at the Scranton regional, where he lost 6-5 in the Bee final to national Bee finalist Alex Schmidt) because more than one of their key players had conflicts with the dates of every NHBB regional in the area. Next year, I expect that they will compete even if Casey has to drag his teammates along at gunpoint, and considering the enthusiasm and work ethic that the Ithaca freshmen have shown this year, I don't think it'll come to that.
and there is Masterminds run through the BOCES - but it only runs introductory sets and the skill level of the teams playing not good enough to compete with Ithaca, Bethlehem, or the downstate teams. Morlan doesn't even rank the teams because they tend to play with a lot of players and do a lot of substitution, particularly in league play prior to their playoffs. I will suggest that if theses teams were ranked it might draw them into the information posted here, and get them to thinking about playing in tournaments outside Masterminds.
Even the better MasterMinds teams (Bethlehem excluded, of course) can't hang with the teams you mention, that's quite true. Fillmore and Geneva, who are two of the contenders to win the Rochester MM Regional, lost 555-30 and 410-100 respectively to Ithaca A on the more difficult IS-set questions at BB Fall. No team in MasterMinds this year except Bethlehem would appear in the Morlan rankings, because they simply aren't good enough. The second-best bonus conversion at BB Fall was Geneva's 14.70...not even close to Morlan-ranked standards. In part, this is because we were forced to use an IS set when an A-set would've been more difficulty-appropriate, simply because MasterMinds eats up every A-set NAQT produces each year, and since I'd imagine that they're one of NAQT's longest-standing and consistent customers, I can't expect that NAQT is going to risk annoying them just so I can have the set that I want for my third-year invitational. The other reason is that these teams simply do not have the opportunities to play quizbowl that exist in metro-NYC, Philly area and the Beltway, although that situation is improving with the advent of BB Fall, Bull Bowl at SUNY-Buffalo, BB Solo, the twice-weekly #nypaqb online IRC practices, and two new probable pyramidal tournaments starting next year (at Houghton College and Bethlehem HS). Bethlehem and Ithaca, for the moment, are two sharks in a very small pond. And, speaking of MasterMinds:

Matt Weiner wrote:
The fact that Masterminds charges a $698 entry fee for a 12-game schedule (spread out over multiple dates so you also have to pay for multiple instances of transportation) is only slightly less mind-boggling than the fact that anyone pays it.
This confused me for a long time, as well, considering how many schools in upstate New York plead poverty when I try to get them to attend a tournament that's $75, minus any staffing, buzzer and discounts. Then I found out that MM has some sort of arrangement with BOCES (the cooperative education boards found throughout upstate New York) where, in the cases of many districts, their MasterMinds entry fees are partially or completely subsidized *by* BOCES. I'm not privy to the nuts and bolts of any such agreement, but from talking to MasterMinds coaches I certainly know that it exists. That may explain some (but not totally) why I can tell coaches until I'm blue in the face that they can pay 10% of what they pay for MM and get as many games in one day as they get in a year in that competition, as well as nationals qualifying spots, and they don't seem to care....because for many of them, their school -isn't- actually footing the bill for MM, and 10% of $0 is....

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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by johntait1 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:23 am

Ithaca did not play NHBB this year (except for Casey Wetherbee playing solo JV at the Scranton regional, where he lost 6-5 in the Bee final to national Bee finalist Alex Schmidt) because more than one of their key players had conflicts with the dates of every NHBB regional in the area. Next year, I expect that they will compete even if Casey has to drag his teammates along at gunpoint, and considering the enthusiasm and work ethic that the Ithaca freshmen have shown this year, I don't think it'll come to that.
Just wanted to make a note that Alex Schmidt was a semifinalist, not a finalist. Not trying to take anything away from him or Casey, as they are both great players, just wanted to set the facts straight. Cheers!
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:54 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
Mark Wolfsberg wrote: Bethlehem (NY) participates in History Bowl because Dave Madden came to the region and actively promoted the game. They also actively promote a MS game. The costs for playing in a NHBB regional are a fraction of the cost of playing in quiz bowls.
The fact that Masterminds charges a $698 entry fee for a 12-game schedule (spread out over multiple dates so you also have to pay for multiple instances of transportation) is only slightly less mind-boggling than the fact that anyone pays it. Ordinary tournaments charge basically the same as NHBB does -- the regional Bowl costs $75 per team which I would guess is almost exactly the average cost of a comparable Saturday invitational quizbowl tournament across the country; 90% of tournaments are in the $50 to $80 base fee range with just a small few outliers charging more or less than that.

I agree with what I think is your implied point here, which is that quizbowl does not always do a good job of communicating its value proposition. I tried to rectify this in the HSAPQ state tournament letters that went out by calling attention to the fact that you can't get an all-day activity for four talented students that costs only $70 from anyplace else.
.
Just wanted to point out again that Bethlehem HS and Bethlehem History Bowl Club are two separate entities. The club has no control over how the HS spends its money. I will say for the HS the prestige from destroying the other local High Schools is probably worth more than the prestige from beating Maggie Walker at a national tournament. I did send the HS principal a note today pointing out that Bethlehem teams had beaten a who's who of the best High Schools in the US this weekend at the NHBB. Also the ability to play an afternoon schedule in the local area just like the basketball team is likely a consideration.

If I can get it together with Scott Bliss' help, We will run a tournament in Bethlehem next year for local, and perhaps some remote teams( if they will come) that will allow the other High Schools to see the value proposition you've described. If Bethlehem Plays, it may encourage some teams to travel here. Do teams play at their own tournaments? What type of questions would we run then? For the local teams we should run introductory.... But that's not what we want to run if we want any NYC metro teams to come up to play a challenging Bethlehem team... Maybe we need two tournaments....

In my case, Not only did quizbowl do a poor job of communication its value proposition, which your notes are just now starting to educate me on, I think it does a poor job of communicating its existence. I, for example did not know about QB ( outside masterminds) until a year plus of being involved with NHBB. As I was trying to get some local publicity for our team for NHBB, I spoke to the HS reporter for the Albany paper, the Times Union, who was unaware of both NHBB and quiz bowl.

I'm guessing you try to get press coverage at your tournaments. NHBB does do press releases, but, It would be nice if the parent organizations would create and distribute nice press packages that the local teams could send to their local press to get coverage. So far, I have no Idea how to get one of the local TV stations to run a piece on our team. E-mail has not been an effective way of getting their attention. I'm guessing some nice video clips from a competition might get their interest. I'll try sending the link of Dan Yan & Eric in the Semis at the NHBB JV Bee to them....
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:00 pm

Note the change in my signature. Just for clarification
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Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Ithaca Cricket Ump » Thu May 01, 2014 1:08 am

Just wanted to point out again that Bethlehem HS and Bethlehem History Bowl Club are two separate entities.
This, indeed, is the reason why Bethlehem did not play at BrainBusters Fall this year...because I had no idea of the situation that existed at Bethlehem HS until I started corresponding with Mark a couple of months ago. Bethlehem was sent an invitation to BrainBusters Fall, as was every other MasterMinds school, but the problem is that it went to the wrong person - the high school MasterMinds coach, who has no interest in attending any tournaments -other- than MasterMinds - and as a result, I never got a response to my invitation e-mail. (One other Albany-area school, Amsterdam, *did* attend BB Fall with two teams, and we should also get Emma Willard to attend next December after their participation in the initial HSAPQ state tournament.) Bethlehem has an unusual situation where a teacher runs the MasterMinds team (and Science Olympiad, apparently his main interest), but the team members and their parents run History Bowl and non-MM quizbowl. Now that I know where to send the invites and have a personal relationship with the Bethlehem players and parents, they will most likely be regulars not only at BB Fall, but at every other good quizbowl tournament in upstate New York and quite a few in metro-NYC as well. As Paul Nelson told me when I was starting out, personal relationships are everything in quizbowl recruiting.
If I can get it together with Scott Bliss' help, We will run a tournament in Bethlehem next year for local, and perhaps some remote teams( if they will come) that will allow the other High Schools to see the value proposition you've described. If Bethlehem Plays, it may encourage some teams to travel here.
My guess is that you'd get a decent number of schools from the metro-NYC circuit who'd make the 2-2.5 hour trip simply because Bethlehem and Ithaca are playing in the tournament, and those two upstate schools have shown that they can hold their own and then some against downstate teams. Cooperstown, a very enthusiastic non-MM program who were the (distant) runners-up at this year's BB Fall, would also almost certainly bring multiple teams. The MasterMinds-only teams, at first, may be taken aback by two things - the higher skill level of these regional teams, and the accelerated pace of circuit quizbowl games as opposed to MM. Amsterdam and Geneva both had some trouble adjusting at BB Fall to readers who -weren't- going at a second-grade pace and allowing chatter between tossup-bonus cycles, but Geneva ended up going 9-1 and qualifying for SSNCT, which they're playing this weekend, so they must have adjusted eventually. What we should also hope that they notice is the enthusiasm and work ethic (Ithaca is the only team in my region that I ever see taking notes during games, just for example) that teams like High Tech, St. Joe's, Kellenberg, Hunter, etc., show for the game, and realize that quizbowl can be and is an endeavor that can be taken seriously, that rapid improvement is possible if you're willing to work at it, and most important, as Paul Nelson (again) likes to say at tournaments, that we'd like to see more of these sorts of tournaments in upstate New York, and that there are experienced people, both on and off these forums, who are willing to work with schools if they want more, cheaper, and I daresay higher-quality quizbowl competition than just what they're getting out of MasterMinds.
Do teams play at their own tournaments? What type of questions would we run then? For the local teams we should run introductory.... But that's not what we want to run if we want any NYC metro teams to come up to play a challenging Bethlehem team... Maybe we need two tournaments....
It's rare for teams to play a full-strength team at their own tournaments (usually either they don't participate and staff and run the tournament, or enter a "house team" full of younger and less-experienced players), but Ithaca has entered full-strength teams at both BB Falls, mostly because I've taken on most of the preparation and all of the same-day tournament direction of BB Fall (not everyone realizes this, but I am not an employee of and have no official connection to either Ithaca HS or the Ithaca City School District), and the tournament has been small enough where we've been able to staff it without having to use the actual team members for the most part. Plus, as one of the very few good quizbowl options that's been available in the past in upstate NY, not playing their own tournament would deprive IHS of one of their few opportunities to play good quizbowl without driving 4 hours, which they can't always get permission to *officially* do. Basically, if I was doing the actual TDing of the tournament, depending on turnout Bethlehem could probably put out their regular team(s) as long as there was enough parental, volunteer and coach involvement to staff the tournament properly - something you can encourage by offering staffing discounts to the participating teams. Both of the BB Fall 2013 finalists (Ithaca and Cooperstown) had their coaches serve as readers for the tournament, and this is a quite common practice at weekend circuit tournaments.

As for the question set...due to the MM A-set monopoly that I mentioned in my last post, novice questions from NAQT are probably not going to be an option, simply because there will be major geographic exclusivity problems and MM uses -every- available A-set. The two viable options for a Bethlehem tournament next year are therefore to either commission a novice-level set from HSAPQ (the people who write the National History Bee and Bowl sets), or run the tournament on an IS-set from NAQT. Both are excellent question providers, so quality of questions isn't going to be a problem either way. With HSAPQ, you would be losing automatic NAQT HSNCT or SSNCT qualification spots (although teams that did well at Bethlehem but didn't qualify for those tournaments at any other NAQT event would have good arguments for wild-card spots at HSNCT/SSNCT), although PACE NSC qualification would still be in play. With NAQT IS-sets -in our particular area with the state of quizbowl as it is now-, you have no worries re: nationals qualification for any of those three tournaments, but you run the risk of the questions being slightly too difficult for the field (although this effect could and would be softened with enough regional participation from more experienced teams).

Example: at BB Fall this year (run on an IS set with mostly new-to-pyramidal-quizbowl teams), the 20 teams not named "Ithaca A" averaged 10.03 points per bonus, or exactly 33.3% of all available bonus points. A set that is difficulty-appropriate for a certain field should have a bonus conversion of anywhere from 50-65% of possible points converted. Those 20 teams also averaged 131.7 points scored per 20 tossups heard, when you want that number for the tournament as a whole to be right around 200 (with Ithaca A added in, those numbers go up to 10.61 ppb and 150.3 pp20tu, still very below-average numbers). I would expect the numbers for non-circuit-playing MM teams to be a little higher than that, since they have some experience playing pyramidal quizbowl, but not very much.
In my case, Not only did quizbowl do a poor job of communication its value proposition, which your notes are just now starting to educate me on, I think it does a poor job of communicating its existence. I, for example did not know about QB ( outside masterminds) until a year plus of being involved with NHBB. As I was trying to get some local publicity for our team for NHBB, I spoke to the HS reporter for the Albany paper, the Times Union, who was unaware of both NHBB and quiz bowl.
It's true that we in the quizbowl community aren't as good as we should be sometimes at communicating why our sport is as great as it is and recruiting other schools to start teams and join in the fun, but in the particular case of upstate New York, I find it particularly confusing, since with MasterMinds, we DO already have a circuit of sorts of well over 120 schools that do play some form of quizbowl with good questions. It just seems "off" to me for some reason that at most only 10-15% of those schools have evinced any interest in playing more tournaments, especially ones that are comparatively very cheap (as Matt said, where else can you find a fulfilling and meaningful all-day activity for 4 talented students for $70 or less?) and just as or more high-quality question-wise. Don't get me wrong, most upstate New York public schools are hard up for money right now, but they're not -that- hard up. <shrug>
I'm guessing you try to get press coverage at your tournaments. NHBB does do press releases, but, It would be nice if the parent organizations would create and distribute nice press packages that the local teams could send to their local press to get coverage. So far, I have no Idea how to get one of the local TV stations to run a piece on our team. E-mail has not been an effective way of getting their attention. I'm guessing some nice video clips from a competition might get their interest. I'll try sending the link of Dan Yan & Eric in the Semis at the NHBB JV Bee to them....
One of the things that I (and when I say "I", I mean "my wife", who is much better at this sort of thing than I am) am trying to do for next year's BB Fall is get some form of business or corporate sponsorship for the tournament so that we can give out monetary prizes to the top teams, hopefully to be used to defray expenses for attending national tournaments. She's much more charming than I am and actually has the patience to deal with corporate bureaucracy and various other doggy-doo that makes me want to find the nearest person in a suit and tie and just start throwing haymakers at various parts of their anatomy. We'll see how that goes.

One question that I've run by a few local coaches who -do- show up regularly at tournaments is this: given that the average cost of a circuit tournament is around $75, with attendant discounts, would you prefer to pay that low fee, with the chances to pay even less with the discounts, for a tournament where your prizes will be prestige, possible nationals qualification, trophies and/or medals, and book prizes for all-stars, or would you be willing to pay a much larger fee (say, $200) for a tournament where the vast majority of the money (after tourney-related expenses) is returned to, say, the top 4 or 8 teams in the form of prize money, or entry fees for HSNCT/SSNCT/PACE NSC/NHBB, etc.? The coaches I've talked to (about 5 so far) have all said yes, they would pay the higher fee for a chance at a large payout, but they are also, as I said, regulars who willingly paid $200 a shot to play in Brooks Sanders' tournaments in the past, so they're used to paying that amount. I don't know how circuit teams in general, or new teams to quizbowl, would feel about that, and they may well answer that question differently. Possible sponsorship would add even more to the prize pool. It's something to consider, at any rate.

--Scott
Scott M. Blish
Cheval, FL
Cornell 1990-92, 1997
Tournament Director, BrainBusters Fall
HSNCT moderator 2012-, MSNCT 2013-, SSNCT 2014-, PACE NSC 2013-, NHBB Nationals 2014-

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Mark Wolfsberg
Lulu
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Location: Bethlehem , NY

Re: How successful has NHBB been at promoting regular quizbo

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Thu May 01, 2014 9:38 am

Scott,

Thank you for all of the info. I will be working with the schools to see if we can get facilities and a date.
And, I will be working with parents to make sure they are on-board with supporting an effort.
Mark Wolfsberg
Parent / Driver - certainly not a coach
Bethlehem History Bowl Club

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