Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

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Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Sat Dec 20, 2014 9:00 pm

Is it just me ? or are you bothered by the teams who drop from tournaments with less than a week before the event. When you sign up for A tournament, aren't you making a commitment to be there? When you drop at the last minute, doesn't that say something about your character?

I see two problems with this behavior I'm sure TDs can add to this list:

1. Obviously it screws up the tournament bracketing and seeding that has to be redone and scrambled usually the night before the tournament.

2. It takes up spots that other teams might want. Some teams accept the waiting list & keep their fingers crossed. Others go to a different tournament or take a break that weekend.

I suggest that TDs start posting the teams that bolt, and how much notice they were given. Then other TDs can decide if they want to accept registrations from these teams. TDs can consider requiring a deposit or up front payment from repeat offenders.

I may be over reacting, but I find it completely irritating that this seams to be acceptable behavior in this region.
For the Ithaca tournament, there were several team who just plane did not show up. No warning, nothing, just didn't come.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Grace » Sat Dec 20, 2014 9:50 pm

There are, I think, two different cases addressed in your post: 1) that of the last-week drop and 2) that of the tournament no-show (or the drop with less than a day's notice). I don't believe that anyone thinks that tournament no-shows are permissible or acceptable, but I do think that the intense competition for spots in tournament fields has (rather reasonably) led teams to err on the side of excess when trying to gauge interest during the registration process.

BHSAT is trying to combat the second phenomenon by including a payment clause which requires no-shows to pay at least part of the tournament fee; this should hopefully disincentive that sort of behavior. That said, naming and shaming teams that drop does seem excessive, and selectively requiring deposits is a sign of distrust that undermines quizbowl's efforts to make all interested teams and students feel welcome.

The first situation, however, would probably be better remedied with a concerted effort to acquire the staffing manpower to expand tournament fields. I'm sure that no one over-registers with the intent of giving TDs a headache, but it's a problem that's been exacerbated by the admirable strides quizbowl has been making in the Northeast, and surely the best kind of solution would be one that allows for more (and better) quizbowl for everyone.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Cody » Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:19 pm

Grace wrote:BHSAT is trying to combat the second phenomenon by including a payment clause which requires no-shows to pay at least part of the tournament fee; this should hopefully disincentive that sort of behavior.
Hey, this is a bad idea from any sort of perspective and you should reconsider. This can work for national tournaments and such (though it's questionable even there), but is a big mistake to try to implement at a regular tournament. Teams that no-show are almost universally not heavily involved in the circuit -- if you try to extract money from them, it only disincentivizes them from participating at future tournaments run by you. This means you make less money than letting it slide and trying to get them to heavily patronize future tournaments run by you.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Vainamoinen » Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:03 pm

Mark Wolfsberg wrote:When you sign up for A tournament, aren't you making a commitment to be there? When you drop at the last minute, doesn't that say something about your character?
No, it doesn't say anything about your character. I don't claim to know about other schools or their motives for registering/unregistering, but at my school we have a sign-up sheet for tournaments and we register a number of teams in proportion to how many people sign up. Freshmen, who barely even know what quizbowl is yet, aren't making a binding commitment to the tournament director when they put their name down. You could argue that it is our responsibility to make sure we can actually send the number of teams we initially register, but that would ultimately lead to an environment within the school of "if you sign up for this tournament happening a month from now you better be there or else!" And that's no way to help a club grow. I imagine a similar scenario would be true for teams that are just beginning to build their program, even on the "A team" level. Anyways, a bunch of teenagers realizing they can't go to a tournament they signed up for doesn't mean they have bad character, that's ridiculous.
Most tournament directors probably have a range of schedule planned in case of drops anyways; my school does for the tournament we run. So tournaments can deal with drops, and there's no reason to punish those teams that are trying to send freshmen on a D team or are just trying to start up their program.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:46 pm

If you're a TD, it is your responsibility to have alternate schedules handy in case a team drops out at any point, especially in the last minute.

If you're a team, it is your responsibility to tell the TD that you are dropping from the tournament, as soon as possible.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to drop out of a tournament, even at the last minute.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Lawrence Simon » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:08 am

Kinda adding on to what Will was talking about: no team is going to drop a tournament, especially at the last minute, just because they think it'll be funny. Usually it's due to an emergency. For example, at the most recent VCU Winter, our main science players weren't able to go for good reasons: one had SAT II's and the other had gotten very sick just two days before the tournament. Luckily our B-team science player was available, but there was a time slot when I thought we'd have to drop at the last minute. Not because we were lazy or attempting to be malicious to the tournament and its directors, but because of events out of our control. I feel this is a problem especially for smaller programs, like the one at QO, or other newer teams in various areas.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Al Hirt » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:25 am

I'm really not sure who you're mad at here, coaches or players. Either way, realize that coaches drop their teams because players drop, and players drop for a wide variety of circumstances that are often out of their control. We're talking about high schoolers with a lot on their plate; quiz bowl is just one facet of their lives.

Drops the week of can be and usually are perfectly legitimate. Unforeseen events, that dreaded thing called homework, cost (especially if you have to pay out of pocket for every single tournament every week). There have been times I've signed up two teams and had to cancel both of them because of this (and we're a fairly large program).

Drops the day of can be a pain, but as others have noted, there are ways to prepare for it. I've been to plenty of tournaments where this has happened, and mods have had no problem dealing with it.

Fundamentally, if the quiz bowl community wants greater reach (even in a well established region like the Metro-NYC area), it should do everything in its power to encourage new teams to join. Simple well-placed phone calls to inexperienced advisers who've dropped out unexpectedly might have a far more positive effect than blacklisting teams.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Cheynem » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:52 am

As a TD, drops are annoying, but really, a drop the WEEK of? Frankly, the only drops that really annoyed me were complete no-shows or drops the night of (like sending an e-mail at 2 AM). If your tournament is Saturday and you drop on Wednesday, I can see why that annoys you, but that seems like plenty of time to draw up new schedules (which you should have in reserve anyway).
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:44 pm

Lawrence Simon wrote:Kinda adding on to what Will was talking about: no team is going to drop a tournament, especially at the last minute, just because they think it'll be funny. Usually it's due to an emergency. For example, at the most recent VCU Winter, our main science players weren't able to go for good reasons: one had SAT II's and the other had gotten very sick just two days before the tournament. Luckily our B-team science player was available, but there was a time slot when I thought we'd have to drop at the last minute. Not because we were lazy or attempting to be malicious to the tournament and its directors, but because of events out of our control. I feel this is a problem especially for smaller programs, like the one at QO, or other newer teams in various areas.
We have an extremely small program. We know when the SATs are long in advanced. I get it if someone gets sick, falls out of a tree etc.

Personally I think High school students can and should be held to commitments. If you say you are going to be somewhere, barring an unforeseen problem, you should be there.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:52 pm

Well,

I'm new to this and so is our school. I've seen big problems at tournaments because of the late drops. We travel much farther than the average team to attend QB contests. A school that we really wanted to play was a late drop this weekend.... But with no support from the community for this position, we may act accordingly in the future.

The message seems to be that it is perfectly normal, and that we shouldn't really worry about whether we can make it, or pay for it, when we sign up. We should just go ahead & sign up as soon as we see tournaments posted, and worry about who can go later.

Can you imagine if a basketball team just decided not to show up for a game?
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Cheynem » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:08 pm

If quizbowl tournaments were one on one match-ups, your basketball analogy would make more sense.

I think I agree that drops are frustrating, but the dilemma here is that I think any unduly harsh solutions would create new problems of their own. If you want the community to say "hey, don't sign up and drop willy nilly," sure, I think that's something we can all agree on.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Ndg » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:20 pm

Mark Wolfsberg wrote:
Lawrence Simon wrote:Kinda adding on to what Will was talking about: no team is going to drop a tournament, especially at the last minute, just because they think it'll be funny. Usually it's due to an emergency. For example, at the most recent VCU Winter, our main science players weren't able to go for good reasons: one had SAT II's and the other had gotten very sick just two days before the tournament. Luckily our B-team science player was available, but there was a time slot when I thought we'd have to drop at the last minute. Not because we were lazy or attempting to be malicious to the tournament and its directors, but because of events out of our control. I feel this is a problem especially for smaller programs, like the one at QO, or other newer teams in various areas.
We have an extremely small program. We know when the SATs are long in advanced. I get it if someone gets sick, falls out of a tree etc.
I'm assuming what Lawrence meant was that they already knew they were down to one science player (because of the SAT) and so the other one being sick was what caused the last minute problem. If that wasn't the case and people really are bailing out of tournaments because they forgot they signed up for the SAT, then yes, that's actually a really bad reason.

I'm also confused about how cost would be a reason to drop out the week of a tournament. It shouldn't be unreasonable to assume that if a team registers for a tournament, they do in fact know that they will be able to pay the registration fee. If you're paying out of pocket, then you should be able to set aside seventy dollars or however much you need when you register.
Mark Wolfsberg wrote: Can you imagine if a basketball team just decided not to show up for a game?
While I tend to disagree with a lot of things Mr. Wolfsberg says, and while comparing people who drop out of tournaments to a group of aliens hell-bent on destroying humanity is probably going too far, I think he is right to point out that in many other competitive high school activities, it's not nearly as common for teams to drop out as often as seems to happen in quiz bowl. But we need to keep in mind that quiz bowl just isn't that important to the majority of players in high school tournaments, and that punishing or shaming or getting angry at people isn't going to change that attitude.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Al Hirt » Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:37 pm

Ndg wrote:
I'm also confused about how cost would be a reason to drop out the week of a tournament. It shouldn't be unreasonable to assume that if a team registers for a tournament, they do in fact know that they will be able to pay the registration fee. If you're paying out of pocket, then you should be able to set aside seventy dollars or however much you need when you register.
Since our school doesn't let us attend tournaments out of state, many times we go independently under an alias. Regardless of affiliation, we have to pay out of pocket. Asking each player to pay 15 dollars every week (plus whatever food costs if applicable) can become an issue, so situations have arisen when someone's parents refuse to put up the money a couple days before. Generally, I have my parents write the check, but it's hard to stomach the cost if a bunch of players we expected to have don't show up. I don't think this has happened more than once, if at all.

I'm not disagreeing that it's reasonable to expect teams to honor their commitments. But to address Mr. Wolfsberg's point, I just think it's better to approach this gently rather than aggressively. There are a lot of other factors at play here, including the fact most parents as invested in quiz bowl as Mr. Wolfsberg.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Sun Dec 21, 2014 7:49 pm

Lawrence Simon wrote:Kinda adding on to what Will was talking about: no team is going to drop a tournament, especially at the last minute, just because they think it'll be funny. Usually it's due to an emergency. For example, at the most recent VCU Winter, our main science players weren't able to go for good reasons: one had SAT II's and the other had gotten very sick just two days before the tournament. Luckily our B-team science player was available, but there was a time slot when I thought we'd have to drop at the last minute. Not because we were lazy or attempting to be malicious to the tournament and its directors, but because of events out of our control. I feel this is a problem especially for smaller programs, like the one at QO, or other newer teams in various areas.
I'm not trying to jump on you here, but I think this attitude is one that can lead to problems - just because your science player can't come, you're going to drop your team? Really? I've had to inform/beg not to drop coaches who think that because they only have three players available they can't come or anything. Maybe 20% of the questions won't go so well for your team, but "we have a three player team" is not a good reason to drop the day before a tournament.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Vainamoinen » Sun Dec 21, 2014 8:00 pm

Mark Wolfsberg wrote:We have an extremely small program.
When we say small program we mean one with students who are just starting to learn the basics of the games, not one ranked 20th in the nation.
Mark Wolfsberg wrote:Personally I think High school students can and should be held to commitments. If you say you are going to be somewhere, barring an unforeseen problem, you should be there.
Again, many of them do not see it as making any kind of commitment. When you try out for your school's basketball team you know you are going to be committed to it throughout the season and you have the schedule given to you the first day. In quizbowl, however, going to a tournament is decided on a one-by-one basis; you have to see that these two scenarios are different.

Tournaments have a lot of teams in them, I'm sorry if the one team you wanted to play didn't show up, but they haven't made any "commitment" to you. Also, you could have just put your team on the waiting list for St. Joe's tournament, those lists exist for a reason. Anyways, just go drive your son's team to hear some good questions, that's the point of going to tournaments.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by czheng0708 » Mon Dec 22, 2014 12:57 am

Mr. Wolfsberg,

Since I'm from one of the teams that dropped in the days leading up to St. Joe's mirror of GSAC, I'm sorry if that prevented Bethlehem from signing up in any way. You're right in believing that signing up a certain number of teams should be indicative of a team's commitment. Speaking only for GNS/West Egg, we'll work on an internal solution so that we don't prevent teams from signing up for tournaments, especially incredibly competitive ones like St. Joe's. I can't add onto the arguments that others have commented before me because they've covered pretty much everything, but I felt it was necessary to apologize. Sorry.

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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Northern Central Railway » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:04 am

I don't know how/why it became an acceptable solution for some teams, but schools signing up a sizable (3+) number of teams for a tournament that equals the upper bound of the number of people on the team within hours of it being announced and then just dropping some/all teams once people actually have their interest/availability checked is poor form. I feel that this is a bigger issue than teams dropping the week of a tournament (which happens quite a bit for mostly legitimate reasons and isn't as bad a problem as some in this thread make it out to be) or teams dropping the day before a tournament (which is a problem, but not one I feel is very common).

Is there a solution to this or way to police what I will call bookmarking?

Maybe. Last year for the first Mountain Lakes Invitational I posted the announcement for the tournament but made it very clear that registration would not be open for another week, in response to the then new phenomenon of tournament fields filling up within 48 hours. Of the schools that did drop teams from the original number of teams registered, all were for weather-related reasons - in no case did it seem like people had just 'bookmarked' a spot in the field and then checked interest later.

For the 2015 iteration of the Mountain Lakes Invitational, registration was open immediately. Likely partially as a result, I've had 13 drops already. A few for legitimate reasons, and a few that I would guess are a result of bookmarking.

Although most of the fault for bookmarking does lie with coaches/captains who don't gauge interest before registering just a few hours after the tournament is announced, to act like there is nothing that tournament directors can do about it is false. I believe that announcing a tournament but not opening registration until a token period of time later helps solve this problem, as teams have more time to gauge interest before registering and don't have to resort to bookmarking.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:06 am

czheng0708 wrote:Mr. Wolfsberg,

Since I'm from one of the teams that dropped in the days leading up to St. Joe's mirror of GSAC, I'm sorry if that prevented Bethlehem from signing up in any way. You're right in believing that signing up a certain number of teams should be indicative of a team's commitment. Speaking only for GNS/West Egg, we'll work on an internal solution so that we don't prevent teams from signing up for tournaments, especially incredibly competitive ones like St. Joe's. I can't add onto the arguments that others have commented before me because they've covered pretty much everything, but I felt it was necessary to apologize. Sorry.

Chris
It's pretty clear that we've learned a lesson about waiting lists, and that the community is perfectly OK with how you do things.

To be honest, I think the team was happy to be going to Lexington and found some competition there, but were disappointed that the best team dropped with less than a week to go. I'm sure they had a legit excuse.....
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Mark Wolfsberg » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:28 am

Vainamoinen wrote:
Mark Wolfsberg wrote:We have an extremely small program.
When we say small program we mean one with students who are just starting to learn the basics of the games, not one ranked 20th in the nation.
Clearly we are still trying to learn the basics - including the culture. Following the forum to get signed up in time, understanding that waiting lists move, knowing that it isn't a sin to drop out.....

Not for nothing... Bethlehem is a very new team.. We played only 1 QB tournament " Prison Bowl" last year, and this is our first year playing a number of tournaments. We have 3 strong players and 4-5 not so strong... or freshman players. We've have played NHBB for 3 years and more players are interested in it than QB.

Having all 3 strong players available for any particular tournament is nearly impossible and has happened only once at PHSAT. We will field a strong team for NHBB, but it is very unlikely that we will get all three together for any other national tournament. I am not sure we'll be able to attend... I have hopes, but, I am not sure that the team which is not officially supported by the HS will survive beyond next year when Eric, Will , & Dan graduate. Ben is a Sr. now.
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Re: Vermicious Knids who drop at the last minute

Post by Howard » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:08 pm

d this about a year ago when I wasn't feeling so well physically and wasn't sure I could make a 2.5 hour trip and spend a half hour sitting in a room at a time.
3. If you do need to drop, let the tournament director know immediately. This allows for the greatest amount of time for the director to make necessary changes.

Once upon a time, teams just no-showed without giving notice. I don't see that very much anymore. On the other hand, it was also a time when entries were mailed in and typically had to happen a month in advance. People are entering tournaments later, but with more certainty. There are fewer drops and nearly zero no-shows.

Odd things do sometimes happen, however. The last tournament I ran (about 2005 or so) had a few no-shows or changes during on-site registration. Oddly, I correctly surmised one of the teams would be a no-show about a month in advance. They were from out of town. When I sent my confirmation e-mail, I also inquired whether they needed any lodging or other information regarding the area. I received no response to this e-mail nor to any of the other updates I'd sent to teams. I'm not sure why the team did this, but it also wasn't too difficult to figure out the never really intended to show up.

Naming this school publicly isn't going to help. What helps is being observant and prepared as a tournament director. This includes taking note of whether teams respond to your questions to e-mail. And it includes being prepared for variations in schedule should the number of teams change.
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