New teams & ACF Fall

Old college threads.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon May 14, 2007 5:22 pm

ShorterPearson wrote: - R Hentzel has already announced Tartan Tussle II at Malacaster as an "ultra-juniorbird" tournament, for "entirely new teams, community college teams, local CBI-only teams, and the greenest of players from established programs." That's the general spirit I have for this tournament as well.
That's the general spirit for ACF Fall as well.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon May 14, 2007 5:33 pm

Bruce wrote:
ShorterPearson wrote: - R Hentzel has already announced Tartan Tussle II at Malacaster as an "ultra-juniorbird" tournament, for "entirely new teams, community college teams, local CBI-only teams, and the greenest of players from established programs." That's the general spirit I have for this tournament as well.
That's the general spirit for ACF Fall as well.
Shut up Bruce. ACF Fall is designed to include as many teams as it can without compromising the principles of ACF, which necessarily mandate a certain distribution and question length. A lot of the teams in question are just coming out of a pure CBI or Honda shell, and an ACF tournament with long questions (even, say, 6 lines), however easy they may be, can be alienating. Tournaments like the ones Shorter and R. will host are useful stepping stones for teams that are relatively new to circuit play, and both Dr. Pearson and R. are very enthusiastic about helping those teams get to a level of familiarity that will allow them to play ACF Fall without being put off by the questions and tougher competition.

Another thing, Bruce and other people. You know why people have a negative image of ACF? Not because people like Charlie occasionally suggest ACF is difficult. It's because people who act like or actually do represent ACF immediately scream ACF IS IMPOSSIBLE OMFG or make some elitist remark that just puts people off further. Nobody is gonna believe someone who says shit like that when they say their tournament is good and easy enough for their team. I've been guilty of doing that in the past, but it's wrong, and we should all cut it out.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon May 14, 2007 9:04 pm

Kit Cloudkicker wrote:
Bruce wrote:
ShorterPearson wrote: - R Hentzel has already announced Tartan Tussle II at Malacaster as an "ultra-juniorbird" tournament, for "entirely new teams, community college teams, local CBI-only teams, and the greenest of players from established programs." That's the general spirit I have for this tournament as well.
That's the general spirit for ACF Fall as well.
Shut up Bruce. ACF Fall is designed to include as many teams as it can without compromising the principles of ACF, which necessarily mandate a certain distribution and question length. A lot of the teams in question are just coming out of a pure CBI or Honda shell, and an ACF tournament with long questions (even, say, 6 lines), however easy they may be, can be alienating. Tournaments like the ones Shorter and R. will host are useful stepping stones for teams that are relatively new to circuit play, and both Dr. Pearson and R. are very enthusiastic about helping those teams get to a level of familiarity that will allow them to play ACF Fall without being put off by the questions and tougher competition.

Another thing, Bruce and other people. You know why people have a negative image of ACF? Not because people like Charlie occasionally suggest ACF is difficult. It's because people who act like or actually do represent ACF immediately scream ACF IS IMPOSSIBLE OMFG or make some elitist remark that just puts people off further. Nobody is gonna believe someone who says shit like that when they say their tournament is good and easy enough for their team. I've been guilty of doing that in the past, but it's wrong, and we should all cut it out.
Huh? I was making the argument that ACF Fall was a perfect tournament for new people, and that therefore new people should go to ACF Fall.

How does that offend you?
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Post by grapesmoker » Mon May 14, 2007 9:29 pm

setht wrote:calm the fuck down, bitches!
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Post by geekjohnson » Mon May 14, 2007 11:14 pm

Well I know I'm just inviting insults, but man do you some of you guys just need to act, I don't know, like perhaps you've met someone other than your drunk mother and 5 year old brother.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon May 14, 2007 11:18 pm

geekjohnson wrote:Well I know I'm just inviting insults, but man do you some of you guys just need to act, I don't know, like perhaps you've met someone other than your drunk mother and 5 year old brother.
All I did was praise ACF Fall. And then Kwartler just snapped on me.
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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon May 14, 2007 11:24 pm

I'd mostly like to post to make this the first and surely only occasion Jerry and I will ever appear in a thread as the voices of moderation and civility. But yes, Bruce is right, play acf fall...smart people like it. Screw the stepping stones.

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Post by AKKOLADE » Mon May 14, 2007 11:52 pm

I realized I said that the college section was a free for all, but for the love of Mike Sorice's hair, even ignoring my request for lest vitirol let's try to at least make sense with rage-fueled posts. I don't even know what everyone's all pissy about.

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Post by theMoMA » Tue May 15, 2007 2:29 am

It seems like Bruce and Ryan are ignoring the reality of the situation by saying that schools should just play Fall. As a Fall editor, I want to see as many schools as possible play ACF. But there are some programs that simply aren't ready. What Eric says is right: tournaments like these are useful stepping stones to circuit play because straight ACF coming from a CBI or Honda background would almost certainly be a frustrating experience.

ACF Fall is a great tournament (and this year's will be the best ever), but stop pretending it's the optimal first step from bad formats to regular circuit play. It's not, and to say otherwise is at best alienating and at worst elitist.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Tue May 15, 2007 2:39 am

theMoMA wrote:It seems like Bruce and Ryan are ignoring the reality of the situation by saying that schools should just play Fall. As a Fall editor, I want to see as many schools as possible play ACF. But there are some programs that simply aren't ready. What Eric says is right: tournaments like these are useful stepping stones to circuit play because straight ACF coming from a CBI or Honda background would almost certainly be a frustrating experience.
I think one important thing is to dispel the notion that "ACF," which is a format and a distribution, has any connotations of one difficulty level or another. There are high school tournaments in ACF format, there's ACF Nationals, there's everything in between. Saying that "ACF" is or is not appropriate for certain teams is frustratingly vague.
ACF Fall is a great tournament (and this year's will be the best ever), but stop pretending it's the optimal first step from bad formats to regular circuit play. It's not, and to say otherwise is at best alienating and at worst elitist.
What else is there? Illinois Novice happens about every other year, Sword Bowl is a horrible tournament that is a JB in name only, and that's about it for actual attempts at novice tournaments these days. Should people just spend all year practicing for Division II sectionals and not going to tournaments? Surely players at four-year colleges should not be going to nonsense like "CUT" tournaments and other magnets for people with no self-respect (and I'm not sure community college students need to be doing that either). Playing high school questions when you are in college is exactly what "regular circuit play" is not. Until there are more actual sets of novice-level collegiate questions produced, playing in controlled-difficulty tournaments where there will be plenty of other new teams to get competitive games with, such as ACF Fall, is not only a great idea for teams who want to know what good questions sound like, it's pretty much the only option for teams who want to play collegiate questions that are anywhere below standard difficulty.

ACF Fall is already the standard-bearer for what a low-difficulty event should be. ACF Regionals ought to be (and, I promise, this year will be) the exemplar of what a normal-difficulty event should be. It is my express wish and the goal of a lot of things that I spend time on regularly to see every team in quizbowl, including those on the outer fringes (i.e., people who were exlcusively playing College Bowl/HCASC/NAQT high school questions this past year) at both tournaments. I hope that the other people involved in those events have the same desire.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Tue May 15, 2007 3:12 am

Of course we have the same desire, but it's not a reality. I'm pretty sure you're spoiled in the midatlantic. Sure, there are some teams who fit the description we're putting forth, but you don't live in the Southeast, Southwest, or North regions. Here it's damn hard to get a quorum for any non-CBI, non-IS set tournament. But I do know that there are good people down here in my region who may host those events but continually encourage other schools to try mACF competition. If you eliminated all non-"true mACF" tournaments, a good number of those teams would stop playing quizbowl. They would not just come running into our arms begging. I hate to sound like Charlie here, but any quizbowl is better than none. In this case I'm not just spouting a platitude. It's a huge transition from Honda/CBI to real quizbowl, and a whole lot of teams aren't ready to make it or have administrations who are resistant to anything they view as too revolutionary. In my earlier post I attempted to make it clear that difficulty isn't the problem, but I guess I didn't explain myself well enough. We can make ACF Fall as easy as we want, but the teams aren't gonna come running. You're right, ACF has nothing to do with difficulty and everything to do with format, but questions that don't remotely resemble what those teams are used to are gonna scare them. I guess sounding as if I'm patronizing those teams intellectually is inevitable, but it remains the truth.

My other point is that posturing on this board and in other public places just makes things worse. I'm sorry, Bruce, for sounding vitriolic--I was just using your post as a stepping stone to say how tired I am of people not seeing the forest through the trees. I know your post was innocuous. That being said, we need to stop the ACF IS IMPOSSIBLE routine. It's extremely condescending and elitist, and image is a huge problem for ACF and its supporters.

What I'm ultimately saying here is that instead of trying to eliminate these tournaments designed for lower-level teams, we should encourage them with the caveat that they absolutely turn away any team that should be qualified for ACF Fall. If we ask the schools and people who host these tournaments to help foster enthusiasm for ACF we will get much better results than we would by yelling about how terrible they are and how great ACF is. The teams in the Southeast don't personally know me, or Jerry, or Matt Weiner, and if they have heard of us they know us only from our vitriolic, ACF elitist punditry. They do know Charlie, though. And they know the Shorter College coach, who has expressed enthusiasm for helping us win favor among the teams with whom he regularly comes in contact, and Chris Borglum, a constant and eternal supporter of ACF who regularly runs a supernovice tournament designed for the teams in question here. I don't mean to sound like a bad motivational speaker, but I really think we should start using the resources at hand instead of yelling at them. I also know that this is a pretty big change of tune from what I said in the absurd moon pie thread. But as I've said repeatedly, ACF needs a change of tune.

Maybe we should start focusing our energies on writing more truly supernovice events with pyramidal questions of similar length to NAQT sets and slightly less rigidly academic distributions. Or maybe there should be an ACF supernovice tournament that fits that description. That's a more complicated discussion. I think a good first step would be to use what's already out there and get ACF Fall back on track lengthwise (something I trust this year's staff to prioritize) along with cutting down on the anti-anti-ACF vitriol.

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Post by grapesmoker » Tue May 15, 2007 3:55 am

This thread is like the opposite day of quizbowl or something, where Eric Kwartler becomes the scourge of arrogant ACF elitists while Bruce Arthur is making perfectly coherent arguments.
Matt Weiner wrote:What else is there? Illinois Novice happens about every other year, Sword Bowl is a horrible tournament that is a JB in name only, and that's about it for actual attempts at novice tournaments these days.
I just feel compelled to point out that my teammates from Brown, Dennis and Eric, are working on the new EFT set for the fall, so there will be at least one other tournament this year primarily geared towards novices.
but you don't live in the Southeast, Southwest, or North regions.
I'm not sure which region counts as North, but I live in a North region, and we do a decent job of getting teams to turn out for mACF events.

Anyway, I don't think "supernovice" ACF events or whatever are particularly necessary or desirable. The editors already have enough work on their hands, and I don't see the call to put together yet another team in order to run yet another packet-sub event. If you're interested in mACF events that come earlier in the fall, you're welcome to mirror EFT. Later on there will probably be CalTech's Technophobia and Yale's Bulldogs event, both of which I'm sure would be glad to entertain mirroring arrangements.

I'm also questioning all this multitude of transitional tournaments. It's not climbing Everest, where you have to undergo acclimatization or you'll die. It's sitting in a room while listening to clues and buzzing when you think you know the answer. Just because the question now has a little extra information, this does not in any way represent some kind of revolution that requires a totally new mindset. It's still the same old quizbowl. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you should go to tournaments like ACF Fall and EFT without looking for some kind of intermediate (it won't really help you anyway) because they are good tournaments with accessible questions. Is this really the sort of controversial proposition we need to be fighting each other over?
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Post by ArloLyle » Tue May 15, 2007 9:17 am

grapesmoker wrote:I just feel compelled to point out that my teammates from Brown, Dennis and Eric, are working on the new EFT set for the fall, so there will be at least one other tournament this year primarily geared towards novices.
No offense, but I hope that this is the case. Having gone to both EFT and ACF Fall last year I felt that ACF Fall was much more accessible to so called novice players, despite EFT being billed as a lead up to ACF Fall. This might not have been how the actual creators of the tournament were billing it, but that was what was being spread around nonetheless.

Having never been to ACF Fall (for whatever reason, I've been to plenty ACF and ACF-style tournaments), I was pleasantly surprised, and I think if a lot of teams got over their misconceptions/phobias/whatever of ACF, they would feel the same way.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue May 15, 2007 2:09 pm

Yeah, I have no idea what moma or kwartler is talking about here. Jerry couldn't be more right - this ain't exactly Everest; the idea of creating "supernovice" tourneys (ones that even compromise the norms of acf) is just mindblowing to me. Further, the idea of proliferating transitional tourneys designed to give an inspirational "hand up" at every step of the way strikes me as mostly pointless and pernicious.

Really, if you can't take the 5 seconds required to become a capable player on the acf fall canon, real quiz bowl probably just isn't for you. Is this elitist posturing? If so, sorry, but I can't fathom that we'd get more positive results from creating an exhaustively measured series of baby tournaments...rather, I suspect we'd get a handful of babies, worthless damned babies...and you all know how much I hate babies.

I don't mean to sound like I'm completely against the whole "softer side of ACF" plan; I just think that it can be taken way too far, and that doing so is just as unhelpful. I'm all for doing what's necessary to encourage people at all levels to turn towards acf and good quizbowl. But I don't see any use in pretending that becoming an acf player requires you to trek down the missing half of a golden amulet that will protect you from the horrors of six-line tossups and Matt Weiner's vampiric gaze...it doesn't, it requires an earnest desire to become a good player. Let's not make whores out of dead schoolgirls here.

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Post by grapesmoker » Tue May 15, 2007 2:24 pm

ArloLyle wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:I just feel compelled to point out that my teammates from Brown, Dennis and Eric, are working on the new EFT set for the fall, so there will be at least one other tournament this year primarily geared towards novices.
No offense, but I hope that this is the case. Having gone to both EFT and ACF Fall last year I felt that ACF Fall was much more accessible to so called novice players, despite EFT being billed as a lead up to ACF Fall. This might not have been how the actual creators of the tournament were billing it, but that was what was being spread around nonetheless.
We're well aware of the issues attendant to last year's EFT and are working hard to make it more of a novice tournament. I think first and second year players will enjoy this year's edition more than last year's.
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Post by ShorterPearson » Tue May 15, 2007 4:58 pm

I started this mess, so I suppose I ought to input. I don't want to get deep at all into the NAQT v ACF disputes, but I do want to bring up the "new school" question from the perspective of a new, small college.

Shorter is not only a small college, but ridiculously so; only this year have we cleared 1,000 traditional undergraduates. We're a unit of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and all the standard weaknesses of Georgia high school education (and all the standard weaknesses of the garden variety evangelical Christian student, and I say that as a card-carrying evangelical Christian) are incredibly apparent to us. I made a couple of noises about starting a quiz bowl program here in 2004 (I loved the game in high school, and had not been able to play or be involved since; I got excited about the game again when I started reading for middle-school and high school tournaments when I started as a professor), and by spring of 2005 I'd found a pretty solid cluster of like-minded undergrads; we've been a small group of 6-10 ever since.

I've gotten to know a lot of people who swear by this game and the relationships they developed by playing the game over the years. With all due respect, in two years, I haven't seen that at all. With very few exceptions (and I'd name names, but I'd surely leave someone out) we've been able to develop very few positive relationships within the game, and we've either been stuck pretty much getting the crap pounded out of us when we attempt to be ambitious in playing tournaments. And of the few programs we've seen around us that were like-minded smaller schools, that we genuinely enjoyed playing against when we were first on the circuit (Stetson and Macon State come immediately to mind), many have disappeared.

This has nothing to do with question level, in my mind. This has everything to do with wanting to have a program that can go to a tournament without (a) playing against all two-year schools (not to dis the two-year schools, we've been whipped by Valencia and Faulkner State enough times) or (b) getting killed against UF and/or UK.

And it's not JUST a matter of "get better or get out" - obviously we DO need to get better. But there's also the little matter of player pools. When you're on a R1 campus of 20,000 students and a graduate program, you have a massive pool of players to pull from who will dedicate themselves to quiz bowl, the whole quiz bowl, and nothing but the quiz bowl. When you're on a small, church-based liberal arts college of 1,000, not only do you have fewer students to pull from, but (inevitably) those students are involved in more things, and don't concentrate on quiz bowl in favor of other things.

This is why I've been talking in private, and I may start talking more in public, about finding "like-minded schools." Regardless of whether the format is CBI, NAQT, or ACF, the deck is stacked against Shorter College being competitive with even a UGa DII team on a regular basis. It's much more reasonable to expect us to be competitive against Athens State, St. Leo, or North Greenville (not to mention some campus in Mount Berry, GA). Unfortunately, not many tournaments are set up to encourage this kind of competition.

Thoughts?
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Post by geekjohnson » Tue May 15, 2007 5:37 pm

Coming from a CC I know what you mean with the small pool of available players. I also understand your feelings in trying to get new players experience in the field (since arriving at UA esp.), especially those who have NONE. Some of my team members really get down about getting crapped on by other teams so harshly, and so frequently, which I understand. Some players just do this as a way to have fun, myself included. Those same players don't really have the time to devote to getting better at qb, especially, you know, with school, and remember, most people can't read something and know it forever, so they just take what they can bring away from class and spew it forth. Point is, sometimes you just want to take your guys to a tournament where they won't be playing 24-29 year old grad students who bitch about the inclusion of trash/geography/etc. Hopefully one day the majority of the persistent naggers in the quizbowl spectrum, those painful 8 of you, with demeaning 25000000 posts each, will realize that some people just want to compete against an equal field with (semi) equal questions. Newer players typically just want to have fun, and going to an upper tier tournament is not their idea of fun, atleast not for EVERY tournament, simply just having fun on a lower set of questions is an easy way to segue way into the game without getting perpetually murdered and also have fun at the same time. If you have the funds available Chuck, first off thank God, then go to whatever suits you and your program best. Having done the majority of leg and bitch work my first year to get the program at UA off the ground, no one has the right to tell me, nor you, nor anyone else in the ENTIRE WORLD, what tournaments they should go to or not. We are having our own CUT tournament here at UA in September/October if you are interested.

Just as a sidebar, the program at Alabama definitely will continue to go to a variety of different tournaments, such as NAQT JB's, ACF Fall, NAQT SCT, and NAQT & ACF Nats, all of which we attended the previous academic year. Just because we, and other programs, choose to deviate from what the "mountain" deems acceptable, is no reason to jump down our throats at every available opportunity. Whatever perturbs your sense of "quizbowl aesthetics" is just a problem you at the top have to deal with.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Tue May 15, 2007 8:38 pm

ShorterPearson wrote:Thoughts?
I suppose that I don't think the correlation between school size and team strength is anywhere near as strong as is often supposed. When you get down to it, what you need to have a nationally competitive team is 4 dedicated people and a couple years of work (if you can get 8-10, you're a great program.) Now, all else equal, you might be more likely to find such people at a large school, but all else is far from equal: there are, in fact, many advantages to being a small school that you can leverage to your advantage.
Case in point, I happen to know that your program is headed by faculty, so it is clearly connected to the administration. Many large schools' programs (ours, for example) have no such connection. Outside the team, almost nobody on our campus cares at all about quizbowl and the very few administrative connections we do have were obtained by years of struggle and are tenuous. For example, we can't even get a blurb in the school paper when we do well nationally; I have to believe that wouldn't be true of you.
In short, there are opportunities at every level if you know how to get at them. When you're a new team, you're going to lose to more experienced teams and it really doesn't matter what you do (vis a vis attending or creating certain kinds of tournaments) to try to prevent that; it's still going to happen. So, my advice would be to leverage the advantages you do have and study and practice hard if you care about winning. Nobody comes to this game a star, no matter where they go to school; that's a fact that can work both for and against you.

Good luck,
MaS

PS: I also question the assumption that people at small schools are generally involved in more activities. I would expect the opposite to be true if anything, but I have no non-anecdotal evidence. The real point, though, is that you have to hope to find people who will put in the work if you expect to be good, whatever it is they're doing. That's a tall order anywhere.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue May 15, 2007 9:40 pm

ShorterPearson wrote: This is why I've been talking in private, and I may start talking more in public, about finding "like-minded schools." Regardless of whether the format is CBI, NAQT, or ACF, the deck is stacked against Shorter College being competitive with even a UGa DII team on a regular basis. It's much more reasonable to expect us to be competitive against Athens State, St. Leo, or North Greenville (not to mention some campus in Mount Berry, GA). Unfortunately, not many tournaments are set up to encourage this kind of competition.

Thoughts?
The thing is, if all those schools on your level (or below) attended ACF Fall, you would have plenty of competitive games at ACF Fall. For all the rounds where Seth Kendell crushes you, you'd have a round where you have a close, fiercely-contested game against one of your peer teams -- or even a round where you crush somebody below your level.

How competitive games are has 0% to do with the question difficulty or format and 100% to do with who else shows up. This is true for ACF Fall and true for any other tournament. If every other team were made of first-graders, I could win ACF Nationals playing solo.
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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue May 15, 2007 11:39 pm

As a likely candidate for one of your "8" painful posters who like quality quizbowl, geek, let me say: noone is or ever has, to my knowledge, implied that you have no right to play and view quizbowl as a lark or a very casual hobby. However, many of the people you refer to (including myself) are interested in seeing the game be a little bit more than that. If quizbowl is the equivalent of an occasional weekend fishing trip to you, that's fine, so be it. But don't act like dedicated professional fishermen are the ones who don't get it ("why do they have to talk about all these fancy lures and casting techniques...it's really not important to Joe Blow who gets drunk and floats down the river at his annual company fishing gala!"). And don't attempt to half-salvage some argument that all of our standards are relative and our "quizbowl aesthetics" are just arbitrary constucts that we've egotistically decided to levy upon everyone else. If you want to identify yourself as strictly all-for-fun, okay, but at least in my book that puts you out of the camp when it comes to discussing real issues. Have your whores or eat dead cake.

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Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Wed May 16, 2007 12:34 am

It seems to me that a lot of the recent discussion on this board has centered on this unfortunate "what counts as real quizbowl" theme, with people like Ryan Westbrook decrying anyone who isn't on board with their high-intensity version of the game. I think this kind of rhetoric -- which baldly asserts that "quizbowl is what we say it is, and them's the facts of the matter, and if you disagree you're confused" -- is fundamentally misguided. There are a lot of gradations between the country's top hard-core elite player (which, if memory serves, is now Seth Teitler) and, say, a part-time member of the team at some community college in the Pacific Northwest. To say to someone like the latter "suck it up and play ACF fall, or you don't deserve to call yourself a quizbowler" is just stupid.

All this talk about "relativism" and "standards" seems beside the point. The real question is this: Is there going to be a place in the game for people who don't want to devote themselves to becoming serious top-level players? To invoke one of the time-honored traditions of quizbowl discussion, consider the following sports analogy. I'm a casual tennis player, which is to say that I'm pretty bad, and if I try to play anyone much better than myself it's no fun for either of us. I enjoy playing tennis, and my life would be poorer if I had no opportunities to play. But I don't feel like investing the time and effort which would be required for me to get good; I'd rather just play at odd times against people who are roughly at my skill level.

I think that there should be a place in our world for people whose relation to quizbowl is comparable to my relation to tennis: that is, people who like the game and want to play it, but who don't care to invest the time to make themselves competitive with "real" players. There's nothing to be gained for such people in playing against the likes of me or Ryan, or in playing anybody on dense ACF questions. But the attitude of a certain cadre of posters on this board seems to be "everyone ought to be an elite player already, or should be striving to become one, and if you're not in either of those camps you shouldn't be around here at all." That's like saying that "everyone who plays tennis ought to be a top-notch player, or should be striving to be top-notch, and if you're not either of those you shouldn't be allowed to pick up a racquet at all."

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed May 16, 2007 1:42 am

Just to clarify, for the sake of clarifying, I didn't mean to say "you're not allowed to pick up a racquet" or "you're not allowed to talk about tennis and why you like it here or elsewhere" What I was saying above was more like "pick which tennis courts you want to play on and let us know, so that we can know what your standards and goals are." But, when you say that you're content with the just-for-fun courts, I think that this has to affect the weight given to your opinions on certain issues related to the development of the game...by definition, you've implied that you're not really interested in seeing the game perfected and improved. And don't claim or drop hints that Roger Federer is just playing a different type of tennis than you are, he's playing better tennis.

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Post by grapesmoker » Wed May 16, 2007 3:09 am

I'm not terribly keen to wade into this discussion again, but I see some things which I think should be addressed and clarified.
geekjohnson wrote:Some of my team members really get down about getting crapped on by other teams so harshly, and so frequently, which I understand... Point is, sometimes you just want to take your guys to a tournament where they won't be playing 24-29 year old grad students who bitch about the inclusion of trash/geography/etc.
First off, most of the novice tournaments we're discussing here already do that. I mean, not many top-notch teams are going to show up in full force to ACF Fall, because that's not the place for those teams. Even if some of them do show up, the relative number of powerhouses in almost any region is actually quite small. In a typical 10-15 team field, you are likely to run into maybe 2 or 3 teams that are really going to blow you out of the water; you have a fighting chance against the rest of them. The intended audience of EFT or ACF Fall is the same as the intended audience of Shorter's tournament.
Hopefully one day the majority of the persistent naggers in the quizbowl spectrum, those painful 8 of you, with demeaning 25000000 posts each, will realize that some people just want to compete against an equal field with (semi) equal questions. Newer players typically just want to have fun, and going to an upper tier tournament is not their idea of fun, atleast not for EVERY tournament, simply just having fun on a lower set of questions is an easy way to segue way into the game without getting perpetually murdered and also have fun at the same time.
As Bruce already pointed out, whether or not you get destroyed in any given match is essentially a function of the team opposing you during that match. A good team will beat a bad team on almost any set of questions because the good team knows more. None of us are against you having fun; by all means, please do. I'm just trying to point out that you can have fun on decent questions just as much as you can on crappy ones.
Having done the majority of leg and bitch work my first year to get the program at UA off the ground, no one has the right to tell me, nor you, nor anyone else in the ENTIRE WORLD, what tournaments they should go to or not. We are having our own CUT tournament here at UA in September/October if you are interested.
With all respect for your hard work, you're not the first or the only person to start a club from scratch; many of the people who are offering their opinions on which tournaments you should attend have done it too. Anyway, a qualifier is in order: if you have any interest in what's generally considered high-quality quizbowl, those are the events you should go to.

Regarding Andrew's tennis analogy, I don't necessarily agree with its total applicability (the tennis equivalent of Moon Pie would involve oddly-shaped rackets randomly handed out to players between every match and balls of varying sizes and materials being used between games) but I understand the spirit of it, and I agree. What I don't understand is the trope that constantly re-emerges in this discussion, which is that whatever it is that good quizbowl is, is invariably too hard, or is somehow an elitist imposition on teams that just want to be weekend warriors. I think it's worth addressing because these kinds of statements carry a lot of hidden implications which are not particularly nice. There is very much an insinuation in some of the above posts that community college students and students from small schools can't compete in principle on ACF-style questions. Ironically, these points are being made by people from CCs and small schools. Since people with strong opinions about questions like myself tend to be from relatively larger universities, it seems to me that what's being articulated here is not just a difference in question preference, but resistance to some perceived form of elitism.

So, let me make one thing clear: neither I personally, nor anyone that I know of in quizbowl, looks down on people who attend community colleges or any other number of small institutions in this country. None of us think that this inherently means you are somehow unable to do things like remember stuff and answer questions. To think so would be horribly condescending. Neither is it our goal to impose a system on you by force; however, as you can obviously tell, we do think that we have objective reasons for preferring one way of playing quizbowl over another, and we also think that we can convince you of this on the merits of the facts. There does not need to be a tension between enjoyable and good quizbowl. Those are goals that are achievable simultaneously, but for some reason we keep having this discussion about what essentially amounts to a false dichotomy.

To be perfectly honest, I just don't see how another "transition" tournament that is somehow between high school and something like ACF Fall is even possible. What meaningful gradations are we speaking of when we refer to such a transition? How are they going to be helpful to these teams? Is the change between 3 or 4 line tossups and 6 or 7 line tossups (which, together with slightly longer bonuses, literally amounts to something like an extra 30 minutes over the course of an entire tournament) really such a huge jump? I understand the desire for easy tournaments where you play against teams of your own skill level, and I don't have any problems with that at all. What I guess I just don't understand is in what way those tournaments serve a transitional purpose.

I'll close with a little personal anecdote. A little while ago (maybe two weeks or so), I read an article in the New York Times about how UMD-Baltimore County (or perhaps it was U-Miami, I'm not so sure anymore) was one of the highest ranked chess programs in the nation. Better than any of the Ivies or the top-notch public institutions. Such a thing is possible because there are smart people everywhere, and chess is a wonderfully democratic game. I think the same is true of quizbowl: it's equally accessible to all. When I started playing at Berkeley, I realized what a pitifully small slice of the world my high school had exposed me to, and this was one of the best high schools in the state in one of the richest parts of the city, where I had wonderful teachers, AP classes, and all the opportunities any high schooler could reasonably ask for. And yet, I very quickly realized I knew virtually nothing. All I had was some basic facts, whose significance I didn't really understand, and on top of that, I was also majoring in a science, which didn't leave me a lot of time to read history and literature and philosophy. So in one sense, quizbowl was very eye-opening for me; it drew me in and made me want to learn stuff on my own. Point being: all you have to do is be curious and interested. Quizbowl, like culture and thought in general, isn't the province of only the top tier of secondary (and tertiary) education in this country. It is something that can be enjoyed by anyone and I encourage everyone to look at quizbowl as a learning opportunity.
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Post by ArloLyle » Wed May 16, 2007 9:11 am

ImmaculateDeception wrote: I suppose that I don't think the correlation between school size and team strength is anywhere near as strong as is often supposed. When you get down to it, what you need to have a nationally competitive team is 4 dedicated people and a couple years of work (if you can get 8-10, you're a great program.) Now, all else equal, you might be more likely to find such people at a large school, but all else is far from equal: there are, in fact, many advantages to being a small school that you can leverage to your advantage.
I think the issue between small schools and large schools is much the same in quizbowl as it is in sports. Very good high school players are much more likely to go to large schools, because in many cases those good quizbowl players are also good at taking standardized tests, have good grades, and quizbowl after all is an extracurricular activity. Thus these are the types of people who are often in line for good scholarships at at large schools. These types of people, like great high school athletes, are able to step in and make their team a great DII team, if not DI, without much change at all. Smaller schools who are less likely to have such players need to rely more heavily on studying to build a solid team that can compete (the equivalent of good coaching in sports). Obviously its not impossible for small teams to compete, but I think its pretty common knowledge in sports that smaller schools are at a disadvantage.
ImmaculateDeception wrote: Case in point, I happen to know that your program is headed by faculty, so it is clearly connected to the administration. Many large schools' programs (ours, for example) have no such connection. Outside the team, almost nobody on our campus cares at all about quizbowl and the very few administrative connections we do have were obtained by years of struggle and are tenuous. For example, we can't even get a blurb in the school paper when we do well nationally; I have to believe that wouldn't be true of you.
As far as I know most schools have some sort of system by which students can create clubs and receive funding for their clubs. Generally these clubs run the gamut of seriousness from Young Democrats to Anime Club, but everybody is accepted if they can show they are providing something for student body. It doesn't matter what percentage of your campus actually cares about your club. Different schools differ in the types and amounts of funding you can get for trips, hotel rooms, etc, but generally there is funding available for official clubs. Doing a quick check of the UIUC website I found that you guys are a registered organization and thus seem to be entitled to some level of funding. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that for whatever reason you guys are able to only get a small amount of funding, or that the funding can not be applied to things that make up the bulk of your expenses. I understand that the rules involving funding can be very strict and in many cases not worth the time to get.

I'm not ignoring the benefit of having a connected professor involved with the club. The last year I was at Tulsa our faculty adviser was promoted to dean of the college of arts and sciences. This helped a great deal when it came time for national tournaments.

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Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Wed May 16, 2007 11:36 am

grapesmoker wrote: Regarding Andrew's tennis analogy, I don't necessarily agree with its total applicability (the tennis equivalent of Moon Pie would involve oddly-shaped rackets randomly handed out to players between every match and balls of varying sizes and materials being used between games) but I understand the spirit of it, and I agree. What I don't understand is the trope that constantly re-emerges in this discussion, which is that whatever it is that good quizbowl is, is invariably too hard, or is somehow an elitist imposition on teams that just want to be weekend warriors. I think it's worth addressing because these kinds of statements carry a lot of hidden implications which are not particularly nice. There is very much an insinuation in some of the above posts that community college students and students from small schools can't compete in principle on ACF-style questions. Ironically, these points are being made by people from CCs and small schools. Since people with strong opinions about questions like myself tend to be from relatively larger universities, it seems to me that what's being articulated here is not just a difference in question preference, but resistance to some perceived form of elitism.

So, let me make one thing clear: neither I personally, nor anyone that I know of in quizbowl, looks down on people who attend community colleges or any other number of small institutions in this country. None of us think that this inherently means you are somehow unable to do things like remember stuff and answer questions. To think so would be horribly condescending. Neither is it our goal to impose a system on you by force; however, as you can obviously tell, we do think that we have objective reasons for preferring one way of playing quizbowl over another, and we also think that we can convince you of this on the merits of the facts.
See, it's that "objective reasons" thing which is, I think, misleading. I agree with everything Jerry says elsewhere about how educational and enlightening the game, at its best, can be. I think Jerry and I enjoy more or less the same kind of quizbowl, and for more or less the same reasons. However, I don't think our reasons for liking it are "objective" reasons which everyone who picks up a buzzer ought to share. It seems to me that there are (at least) two kinds of people who play the game. On the one hand, there are perfectionists like Jerry, who want both to learn a lot of new things and to have their learning translate into superior play. On the other hand, there are "weekend warrior" types who don't really care about improvement (whether of a personal or competitive nature) and just want to play some games against people at similar skill levels. I think that the second type of person probably constitutes a significant proportion of the people who play our game, just as it probably constitutes a significant proportion of the people in the world who play basketball, or tennis, or Scrabble. Obviously, the distinction between these two types of people is independent of any know-nothing distinction between "prestige" schools and, say, community colleges. Either type of person might show up at any school. My point is simply that the casual player has a right to be just that: a casual player. It's pointless to lecture him about how he really ought to care more than he in fact does.

It might be better, or at least saner, if a tournament like Moon Pie (assuming for the sake of argument that Moon Pie is in fact as bad as recent posts have made it out to be) were considered as a tournament for such casual players. Part of what it means to be "casual," I would suggest, is that you don't have the passionate investment in question quality that the perfectionist players do. Another way of putting it would be: the casual player would rather play on what elite players would view as shoddy questions than invest the significant amount of effort necessary to produce great questions. If there's a tacit understanding among the teams at a tournament that it's going to be "casual" in that sense, I don't see that anyone else has a right to complain. The outbreak of criticism of Moon Pie proceeded from the assumption that it was a perfectionist tournament which went horribly wrong. Instead, perhaps it would be better described as a casual tournament which basically achieved its aims.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Wed May 16, 2007 2:33 pm

ArloLyle wrote:Very good high school players are much more likely to go to large schools... [and] are able to step in and make their team a great DII team, if not DI, without much change at all.
In my experience, neither of those things is true. I've seen that good high school players are if anything more likely than other college-bound students to go to smaller schools. Further, I really can't think of anyone in the last 7 years who's vaulted their team to even regional success straight out of high school without a great deal of study and practice. Having just seen the sixth class of incoming freshmen players here, it's my judgment that that's because almost nobody is capable of that, regardless of how good they were in high school. Even if there are such people, their number is incredibly small and no program can count on making itself successful using them (because who knows where they'll go?)
It continues to be true in my judgment that the only major commonality among the nationally competitive teams is a culture of study, practice, and question writing. They're not all the biggest or the best or the most grad-heavy teams, but they're almost certainly the ones that practice the most and write the most and study the most. Those are things that can be done at any level if someone's willing to find the people to do the work and encourage them.
ArloLyle wrote:...Doing a quick check of the UIUC website I found that you guys are a registered organization and thus seem to be entitled to some level of funding. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that for whatever reason you guys are able to only get a small amount of funding, or that the funding can not be applied to things that make up the bulk of your expenses. I understand that the rules involving funding can be very strict and in many cases not worth the time to get.
Not exactly. We're not "entitled" to funding; we're able to apply for it and the funding rules are not an issue at all. The issue is that who gets what money is decided by a board that we have no pull with because we don't mean much of anything to our campus (or, at least, that was true until this year, when we finally were able to make some administrative connections.)
Anyway, the specifics of our situation aren't important (and we're doing fine anyway) outside of that fact that they provide an example of the myriad ways that having the actual, substantive support of your administration can help you. I continue to contend that that's easier to get at a small school than at a large one for a variety of reasons.

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Post by dxdtdemon » Wed May 16, 2007 3:26 pm

Our team is pretty average, and we find that ACF questions are NOT impossible. By pretty average, I mean that at the 2007 SCT, our DI S-value was 30th out of 63 and our DII S-value was 39th out of 93. And we were able to do that despite practicing and studying off of fossilized MLK/NAQT SCT questions, seven of the eight competitors being SCT novices, and six of those seven not having ever been to any level of NAQT tournament before. None of us had ever been to a novice tournament, or an ACF tournament. Almost all of the ACF fall questions get answered correctly at some point in practice, the only real problem is that it seems that the clues drop off sharply from obscure clues at the beginning to easy clues at the end without usually any kind of middle level clues. I thought that there was supposed to be some level of pyrimidality. But anyway, as long as you aren't playing 2004 Michigan or 2002 Chicago or a team of that ilk, ACF Fall should be a pretty reasonable tournament.

I guess being at the third largest university in the country has helped because we could find some people who were pretty good in high school that still were willing to compete and expand their canon somewhat. I agree with Sorice that being at a large university really hurts when it comes to funding. At Ohio State, every club gets $200 that they can use for whatever, and then after that, there is a pretty tight leash on the rest of the money that gets distributed. The captain of our DI team was the Director of Budget and Finance for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) last year, and we still couldn't get the USG to pass a bill to give us $1500 to go to the ICT.

I agree with Jerry that I don't know any quizbowl people who look down on certain schools, either. Some of us may be jerks at times on here, but we're friendly people. Seth Teitler/Selene Koo gave us a lot of good pointers on how to improve our team this year, and no one at the 2004 midwest SCT, where the team that I was on went 0-16, laughed at us for how pathetic we were, and that tournament was attended by most of the regular posters on this board, including Ryan Westbrook.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Wed May 16, 2007 4:03 pm

My concern is basically that people are not using these peripheral tournaments as "stepping stones," but rather playing high school questions and UTC semi-trash tournaments in perpetuity. I think there is nothing wrong with producing a question set intended as a novice event and setting up a novice-only field exclusion--but that means something like "this tournament is for people who never played collegiate quizbowl of any kind before 12 months ago." There are ways to ease people into good questions without necessarily making them face the best competition right away, but it becomes a problem for those of us who want tournaments such as ACF Regionals to be vibrant when people in their third or thirteenth year of collegiate quizbowl shun such events in favor of Steinhice or high school questions. That's also what frustrates me somewhat about the reasons given for some people participating in these events--it's inconsistent to say that you attend events held on high school questions because you don't want to play old people who have become good just by sticking around forever, then have to deal with the likes of Eric Smith and Seth Kendall showing up at said events. Trust me, you have a better chance of beating such players on a difficult question set where your strong areas might come through, then on a set of well-worn super-low-difficulty questions where experience in hearing old clues is of paramount importance.

I also see some logical problems with the idea of just wanting to play "teams on your level." Everyone can't win all the time. That's as close to an objective principle of quizbowl aesthetics as we can get because it's a mathematical truism. Any tournament with an even number of teams is going to have someone with a losing record by simple arithmetic; in the real world, any tournament with eleven teams in it will almost always see someone go 1-9 or 0-10. You could hold a tournament on high school questions and restrict it to community college players who have never touched a buzzer before, and someone's going to spend all day losing. That's an inescapable fact in an activity where we keep score and award wins and losses. As Ryan said, you can go 2-10, or 5-5, or 8-2 just as easily at ACF Fall as you can at a tournament held on high school questions, through one of two routes: getting better or, if you are not interested in being a "dedicated" player, which is fine, recruiting many other "casual" teams to come play ACF Fall along with you. "We won't go to ACF Fall because no other casual teams go and we don't want to play dedicated teams" is a self-fulfilling prophecy in and of itself, and is also inconsistent when "dedicated" (or at least "old") teams are allowed to come stomp through these high school question tournaments you hold instead.

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Post by trphilli » Wed May 16, 2007 4:35 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:[
My point is simply that the casual player has a right to be just that: a casual player. It's pointless to lecture him about how he really ought to care more than he in fact does.

...

If there's a tacit understanding among the teams at a tournament that it's going to be "casual" in that sense, I don't see that anyone else has a right to complain. ... Instead, perhaps it would be better described as a casual tournament which basically achieved its aims.
I agree with this.

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Post by geekjohnson » Wed May 16, 2007 4:52 pm

I seem to have been slightly misinterpreted. I, myself, am in it for the fun and the reward, and I try to improve, by writing questions, studying and what not. I just don't have as much time as I'd like and things don't stick with me very well. I am not a perfectionist, but I am also not a weekend warrior, nor is most of my team, I think we fall into the middle of the totem. I also agree with Matt that some teams use these tournaments not as a stepping stone, but just because they don't want to go to more difficult tournaments. I was just reacting to what I perceived as a deroggatory feelings regarding holding such novice tournaments, especially since I know what Chuck is saying first hand. I have no problem with ACF, nor any of its events, even though my squad only pulled away 1 win at ACF Nats we all still enjoyed, and learned many new things, and also got to play against the best teams assembled. I'm sorry if I came across the wrong way, but I just don't like elitism, and I don't think it is actually that prevelant, it's just that most, if not all, of those players post, frequently, here. Somethings just rouse our emotions, and for me, it is the perception that other people, who have not had a hand in the work you put in with your program think they have some legitimate reason for forcing their opinion on you, or anyone else, and then if you don't take to their way then they say you're wrong and berate you for doing it your way, add some missiles and they become the U.S.! Everyone has their soft spot. For me it's elitism, for Walt Disney it was the Jews. If nothing else at least a beneficial discussion has taken place, at least for the most part.

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Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed May 16, 2007 5:37 pm

Trust me, you have a better chance of beating such players on a difficult question set where your strong areas might come through, then on a set of well-worn super-low-difficulty questions where experience in hearing old clues is of paramount importance.
This is probably getting off topic, but I think the opposite is true. Or rather, if I'm correct in assuming that in the quote above Matt is referring to a tournament like this year's Moon Pie, it wasn't true there. The VaTech team, for example, though nice folks who are clearly getting better, would have likely not fared well against Mr. Kendall on an ACF Regionals packet, though they were able to beat him on a packet with questions in which pyramidality issues led to buzzer races or confusion. Please note that this is not to take anything away from that fair-and-square victory, but the longer one has played, perhaps the longer s/he will sit on a toss-up that begins by saying something about Ralph being the leader of the boys, if only out of astonishment at the clue.

Generally, I figure the harder the questions, the better that more experienced players will do. Besides, for us true academic dinosaurs, we are probably more likely to have had more time to learn more academic stuff not usually asked about.

On another note, one thing I haven't seen noted in this discussion or any of the peripheral ones regarding difficulty, new programs, UTC tournaments, etc, is the obvious point that teams are usually going to play at tournaments that are close by. If Valencia were in Fort Wayne, we'd be going to play at Chicago and Illinois and Michigan tournaments, happily taking our beatings, but we're in Orlando, so we go where we can. Even with our pretty lavish budget, flying to regular season tournaments just isn't feasible.

In any case, the game is a big tent, and no amount of talk will shrink it. There's room for casual players, hardcore players, whatever--just enjoy it. Personally, I'm not fond of trash tournaments or CBI, but I'm all for folks who want to play those; the same goes for playing HS sets in college or invitationals or whatever. The game doesn't belong to anyone, and no one gets to singularly define it.

In the meantime, my Valencia players look forward to ACF Fall and Moon Pie next year, and if ACF Regionals doesn't conflict with the Florida CC tournament, we'll play that, too.
--borglum, "a constant and eternal supporter of ACF"
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Post by ArloLyle » Wed May 16, 2007 5:45 pm

ImmaculateDeception wrote: In my experience, neither of those things is true. I've seen that good high school players are if anything more likely than other college-bound students to go to smaller schools. Further, I really can't think of anyone in the last 7 years who's vaulted their team to even regional success straight out of high school without a great deal of study and practice. Having just seen the sixth class of incoming freshmen players here, it's my judgment that that's because almost nobody is capable of that, regardless of how good they were in high school. Even if there are such people, their number is incredibly small and no program can count on making itself successful using them (because who knows where they'll go?)
It continues to be true in my judgment that the only major commonality among the nationally competitive teams is a culture of study, practice, and question writing. They're not all the biggest or the best or the most grad-heavy teams, but they're almost certainly the ones that practice the most and write the most and study the most. Those are things that can be done at any level if someone's willing to find the people to do the work and encourage them.
Well I suppose we could argue back and forth about what we have seen, but it won't get us anywhere. I know plenty of good high school players who have gone to big schools, but as a more objective argument you can take a look at the schools ranked in the top 100 by US News. Sure there are a fair number of small schools on the list, but I would say most qualify as large schools. Generally these schools in the top 100 are the ones that good high students, quizbowl players or not, are trying to go to.

As for great high players being able turn a team around, you just have to look at the number people who have gone to schools without teams and built programs around themselves and were immediately good. A good example of this is Harding. Jason Loy is one of the exceptions to what I said about good players going to large schools, but the year that he started the team at Harding they finished third in DII at ICT and Jason was the leading DII scorer. Now, I'm not saying that every good quizbowl player has the capability of doing something like this, but this type of person does exist.

To turn subjective again, there are at least a couple high school teams in Georgia (Dorman for one) that I feel could right now be competing successfully in college tournaments. Maybe not winning, but doing well. This is definitely a regional thing. I played high school quizbowl in Arkansas and it was vastly different than the scene in Georgia. Of the about four dominate teams that were around when I played (slightly before Cutter began its domination), probably only one would have been able to compete regularly with teams that are playing in Georgia right now.

I agree with you that to have continued success you need to study, write questions, etc, but my argument is that if you have these really good players coming in that you have a head start. And I'm not saying that its impossible for someone who wasn't so great in high school to become a really good college player through studying, because that clearly is possible.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Thu May 17, 2007 2:50 pm

ArloLyle wrote:Well I suppose we could argue back and forth about what we have seen, but it won't get us anywhere. I know plenty of good high school players who have gone to big schools, but as a more objective argument you can take a look at the schools ranked in the top 100 by US News. Sure there are a fair number of small schools on the list, but I would say most qualify as large schools. Generally these schools in the top 100 are the ones that good high students, quizbowl players or not, are trying to go to.
That's a rather weak argument and I really don't know what you're trying to contend anymore. It seems like you're saying that fewer people go to smaller schools. I say: well, yeah. However, the point remains that you don't need a lot of people (much less a lot of people with extraordinary talents.) What you need is people to do the hard work.
ArloLyle wrote:As for great high players being able turn a team around, you just have to look at the number people who have gone to schools without teams and built programs around themselves and were immediately good.

Right. It's probably in the single digits... but that's really not important because, even if someone does go found their own program, etc. I guarantee you that, if they're successful, it's because they're studying, practicing, and probably writing, not because they were just so smart, talented, and prepared by high school careers.
To see that, look at the converse class of person, the "great" high school player who never does anything. How many allegedly great players have gone to college (even to colleges that already had good teams), decided they were already good enough and didn't need to work anymore, and then never did much of anything? That number is much, much higher, isn't it? The point is that, to get good, you have to get people to work in college, wherever they're starting from as a player. That's true everywhere.
ArloLyle wrote:I agree with you that to have continued success you need to study, write questions, etc, but my argument is that if you have these really good players coming in that you have a head start. And I'm not saying that its impossible for someone who wasn't so great in high school to become a really good college player through studying, because that clearly is possible.
Now we're talking. You're right, having good high school players around can help in some ways (they may be more accustomed to work or studying or competition; they may be more talented, for whatever that's worth, etc.) It seems trivially right that more good players would go to bigger schools (more people go to bigger schools, after all; that's why they're bigger.) My point is that, even granted those two things, there are also numerous advantages to being at a smaller school (being relatively more important as an activity and having to compete with fewer other activities, as examples) and the wise program director will leverage those and achieve success. One need not look very far to find small schools with successful programs, so that must be possible, after all.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu May 17, 2007 3:11 pm

I know this is high school, but I don't see the argument either.
NKC is a school with over 1,800 kids. Our quiz bowl program was (at the most) 8 people this year, with only 4 of us really putting in work at a high intensity level. I know of a nearby small school (200 or 300 students, I forget which) with about 30 kids in quiz bowl. Their team is awful, but a much larger group of kids (especially adjusting for size) does it. I would say I've heard in Missouri about small schools having incredibly large programs. We played one school that was tiny and had 14 alternates for their quiz bowl, and we zeroed them because the three of us playing put in high intensity practice, etc. So I don't think size has to do with it, either.
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Post by miamiqb » Thu May 17, 2007 9:49 pm


I'll close with a little personal anecdote. A little while ago (maybe two weeks or so), I read an article in the New York Times about how UMD-Baltimore County (or perhaps it was U-Miami, I'm not so sure anymore) was one of the highest ranked chess programs in the nation. Better than any of the Ivies or the top-notch public institutions. Such a thing is possible because there are smart people everywhere, and chess is a wonderfully democratic game.


Actually that school is Miami-Dade College, which was actually a community 2-year school up till about 5 years ago. And that isn't a good analogy because there are a ton of Cuban immigrants in Miami who are very good at chess who take night classes there while working and thus make them a national powerhouse.
Chess is a very democratic game, much more than quizbowl...
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Post by Matt Weiner » Thu May 17, 2007 9:58 pm

miamiqb wrote:And that isn't a good analogy because there are a ton of Cuban immigrants in Miami who are very good at chess who take night classes there while working and thus make them a national powerhouse.
Seems to me like that strengthens the analogy because it shows that there is no absolute correlation between a student's capabilities and the size or ranking of the school he chooses.

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Post by miamiqb » Thu May 17, 2007 10:12 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
miamiqb wrote:And that isn't a good analogy because there are a ton of Cuban immigrants in Miami who are very good at chess who take night classes there while working and thus make them a national powerhouse.
Seems to me like that strengthens the analogy because it shows that there is no absolute correlation between a student's capabilities and the size or ranking of the school he chooses.
No it absolutely weakens the analogy. It is a freak circumstance that occurs simply because of Miami's location and because of the importance of chess in Cuban culture, plus the fact that many of these immigrants are not wealthy. There is also the fact that their best players have been raided in the last couple of years by bigger schools (Yale, MIT, UMBC); the big schools always eventually win in the long run.

Plus these people come in at national championship material; they don't improve overnight with their school. Quiz bowl people don't enter the college-game ready-made simply because it is a completely different one from the high school version.
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Post by Chico the Rainmaker » Fri May 18, 2007 1:35 am

Matt Weiner wrote:My concern is basically that people are not using these peripheral tournaments as "stepping stones," but rather playing high school questions and UTC semi-trash tournaments in perpetuity. I think there is nothing wrong with producing a question set intended as a novice event and setting up a novice-only field exclusion--but that means something like "this tournament is for people who never played collegiate quizbowl of any kind before 12 months ago."
What's wrong with that, really? Why does it matter how long I've been playing quiz bowl if I just go to a couple relatively easy tournaments a year (one this year, actually) and don't want to put in the time and effort needed to become "good"? If you restrict the easier tournaments (or "novice" tournaments) to players who have only been playing for 12 months or less do you really think that's going to make me go to ICT or ACF Nats? No, it's not. I'm probably just going to stop playing because in order for those tournaments to be worthwhile for me to attend I would have to put in more time and effort than I'm willing to. Please don't read this as a "waah ACF is hard" post; I don't think ACF Nats or ICT should be made easier to accommodate me because I'm not the target audience for those tournaments. I want to go to tournaments where I can answer a decent number of questions without having to spend a large deal of time preparing and play against teams of comparable skill. Is that really so heinous?
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Post by jollyjew » Fri May 18, 2007 2:49 am

Isn't the issue here whether or not completely novice or relatively inexperienced teams ought to attend Shorter's CUT-style tournament instead of ACF Fall? At least two ACF Fall editors themselves have said that it might be better for those teams to go to the former. Why isn't that good enough?

On the issue of school size, I just had a little note I wanted to add. There are two national tournaments (that I know of) which require qualification: ICT and CBI Nats. No one likes CBI, so ignore them. I don't have specific figures in front of me, but I know that there are about 8-10 schools that have qualified every year the ICT has taken place, and the only one of those with enrollment under, say 5,000 (and I think that number is conservative), is Carleton. Not to discount the skills and effort of people like Emily Pike and Pat Hope, but Carleton has Hilleman, and that's a significant variable when it comes to resources and experience in training players, so just take Carleton out of the picture. I think that, however good or bad the questions are, qualifying for the ICT consistently is some indication of a consistently high quality of play. And it seems like there is some positive correlation between school size and consistent success at the national level. I think it's unquestionably true that what makes a great team is concerted study and practice, but it's also probably true that a larger student body tends to offer a proportionately larger pool of players who are willing to put in that sort of effort.

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Post by STPickrell » Fri May 18, 2007 8:09 am

Swarthmore has enrollment under 2,000 last I checked, as does Williams -- neither are strangers to ICTs. On the other hand, they place at the top of most "top liberal arts colleges in America" polls. Carleton is also highly-ranked.

I think what the Shorter coach is commenting about is the relative paucity of top QB talent that attends (1) non-flagship state universities (I well remember playing the Longwood College and James Madison University during my era) and (2) regional liberal arts schools (Randolph-Macon sat/sits on the bubble between national and regional -- they and Hampden-Sydney are virtual neighbors around ranks 80-90 of the US News report.)

95% of the teams at ICT are either (1) Ivy League or Ivy-calibre national schools (Chicago, Stanford, Vanderbilt, etc.), (2) flagship state schools (UIUC, Michigan, UNC, Texas, Texas A&M, Berkeley, etc.), or (3) nationally ranked liberal arts schools (Williams, Swarthmore, Carleton, etc.)

Occasionally, a second tier school will get a good player or two and be good to decent for a few years (Occidental in the early 00s, Roanoke in the mid 90s, UMBC in the late 90s, VCU during this decade, etc.) This rarely lasts longer than the presence of that player -- the good performance of Harding's "B" teams gives me some hope for the continuity of that program after Jason Loy's graduation.

But let's face it -- the potential QB talent pool at a number of non-flagship state schools and regional liberal arts schools will, on average, be a lot less than the QB talent pool at the three types of schools I mention. You'll have (1) a number of #3 and #4 chairs at good-to-decent HS teams, (2) folks that played QB because their teachers/parents more or less made them play, (3) folks who signed up to bolster their college resumes, (4) folks that played on the "B" team because all their friends were on the "A" team, and (5) the occasional girl who signed up because there were large numbers of boys and smaller numbers of girls. I'm sure there are other archetypes of the non-star QB player in high school that can be thought up.

Types (2) and (3) simply will not play in college unless their parents are so authortarian they will play (unwillingly). The other types will show up at an occasional practice, and might be willing to help at tournaments hosted by the school, but usually won't take the initiative to start a team where none existed before.

Or, there won't be much growth of the circuit unless somehow large numbers of weekend warrior teams start showing up simultaneously. Going 1-13 with only two of the losses being by less than 100 is one thing -- going 4-10 with three or four of the losses being reasonably close is another.

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Post by ezubaric » Fri May 18, 2007 10:01 am

StPickrell wrote:Swarthmore has enrollment under 2,000 last I checked, as does Williams -- neither are strangers to ICTs. On the other hand, they place at the top of most "top liberal arts colleges in America" polls. Carleton is also highly-ranked.
Out of alumni pride, I'll also add that Caltech has fewer than 1,000 undergrads and only about an additional 1,000 grad students.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Fri May 18, 2007 11:47 am

jollyjew wrote:Isn't the issue here whether or not completely novice or relatively inexperienced teams ought to attend Shorter's CUT-style tournament instead of ACF Fall?
No, it isn't, that's why the threads were split off. For what it's worth, discussions are underway about how to avoid scheduling those tournaments on the same day so teams do not have to choose.

More germanely to this thread, here is a proposal: CUT format may not be a bad idea, but it should be used on novice-level collegiate questions, not on high school questions, because collegiate players should never play high school questions. Discuss.

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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Fri May 18, 2007 1:04 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:More germanely to this thread, here is a proposal: CUT format may not be a bad idea, but it should be used on novice-level collegiate questions, not on high school questions, because collegiate players should never play high school questions. Discuss.
I agree with that, but... until NAQT produces IS-Plus or something, college tournaments will continue to be run on IS questions. Most teams that play on those questions -- predominately (at least I hope) novice level or "weekend warrior" type teams -- will have problems producing packets for submission tournaments, even novice level. It can be done, it can be done well sometimes (I think most teams at ACF Fall probably fall in this category, after all), but it will often be done poorly. And when people try to make it work... well, the reaction to Moon Pie on here is a good example. Instead of, "Hey let's host a novice-level packet submission tournament," one might as well say, "Let's subject our program to tons of criticism!"

I'm sure you can argue that, well, just because Moon Pie got that, another tournament at another place might not... And that may be. But most schools would also be giving things over to a first-time editor; most schools would also be receiving really crappy questions at the last minute that they can't do much with. So when NAQT will sell you a complete tournament set, made of decent quality (if low-level) questions, it can be seductive, especially to a smaller, younger program.

I think that's the calculus behind a lot of these tournaments. Sure, in an ideal quizbowl world, every player on every team will write questions every week, and then it should be trivial to produce a packet every few weeks for a submission tournament. But I'm skeptical that world can ever exist, and no amount of complaining will bring it into being. So what's the alternative?

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Post by grapesmoker » Fri May 18, 2007 1:32 pm

NoahMinkCHS wrote:Sure, in an ideal quizbowl world, every player on every team will write questions every week, and then it should be trivial to produce a packet every few weeks for a submission tournament.
If you have a team of 4, and each person writes 1/1 per day (which should take you no more than about half an hour), you should be able to easily produce a packet within one week.
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Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Fri May 18, 2007 1:41 pm

Matt Weiner wrote: More germanely to this thread, here is a proposal: CUT format may not be a bad idea, but it should be used on novice-level collegiate questions, not on high school questions, because collegiate players should never play high school questions. Discuss.
Um, why not? I don't understand the presumption that there is such a thing as a "collegiate" level player, and that such players must be held to certain standards (maybe a year on the novice circuit, then the inevitable bump to ACF fall, then the slow upward rise to stardom). Why shouldn't there be room for, as I have put it, "casual" players who don't want to improve, but still want to play? That is: Just because a person who wants to play some quizbowl happens to be a student in college, it doesn't follow that he is therefore a "collegiate player" who has no place playing "high school questions." There are some dedicated, highly-talented players who happen to be in high school, but who might prefer playing on collegiate questions than easy high school stuff (e.g. the top TJ teams of the past few years). And there are some undedicated, not-very-talented players who happen to be in college, but who might prefer playing on easy high school-type stuff. It's just as silly to say to a casual college-age player "you're in college now, so man up or drop out" as it would be to say to an elite high school-age player "you're still in high school, so don't mess around with hard questions; just stick to one-line tossups until you turn 18."

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Post by quizbowllee » Fri May 18, 2007 2:12 pm

charlieDfromNKC wrote:I know this is high school, but I don't see the argument either.
NKC is a school with over 1,800 kids. Our quiz bowl program was (at the most) 8 people this year, with only 4 of us really putting in work at a high intensity level. I know of a nearby small school (200 or 300 students, I forget which) with about 30 kids in quiz bowl. Their team is awful, but a much larger group of kids (especially adjusting for size) does it. I would say I've heard in Missouri about small schools having incredibly large programs. We played one school that was tiny and had 14 alternates for their quiz bowl, and we zeroed them because the three of us playing put in high intensity practice, etc. So I don't think size has to do with it, either.
Small Schools in Alabama hate us. They've argued for years that a small school can't compete with the large schools in the state. We have proven that wrong. We have less than 300 students total. We have 12 on the team.


As for some of the other things mentioned, particularly about "weekend warrior" quiz bowl players, I have this to say: My father taught me that anything one deems worth doing should be done to the best of one's ability. That's how I live my life. Others may disagree.

That's why I quit playing collegiate quiz bowl in 2004. When I got a job coaching a high school team, I knew that I couldn't put the time in that was necessary to be the best college player possible. So, I stopped.

Now I try to be the best high school coach that I possibly can be.


To Matt: I've been going over past ACF Fall Questions with the Brindlee Mountain Teams. The difference between ACF Fall and NAQT IS questions is negligible in most cases. So, if it's appropriate for a college team to play on ACF Fall questions, then I say it is also appropriate for them to play on NAQT IS questions.

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Post by Deviant Insider » Fri May 18, 2007 3:29 pm

My father taught me that anything one deems worth doing should be done to the best of one's ability. That's how I live my life. Others may disagree.
I disagree. I play golf about once every two years. When I golf, I am horrible at it, I use clubs that are one step away from being thrown out, and I play on a Par 3 course. If I make par on one hole or hit the green from the tee, it's a good day. I can't see why this would upset anybody.

It's impossible to do everything well--we play too many roles in life. Hopefully, you do a few things well.

The Golf/Quiz Bowl analogy is not perfect, because Quiz Bowl teams use their school's funds and they make decisions as a team. However, if somebody who played quiz bowl in high school but is no longer active decides that they want to play one tournament a year, and they choose that tournament based on timing and location rather than quality, I don't see why it's a big problem.

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Post by STPickrell » Fri May 18, 2007 4:24 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:More germanely to this thread, here is a proposal: CUT format may not be a bad idea, but it should be used on novice-level collegiate questions, not on high school questions, because collegiate players should never play high school questions. Discuss.
I am not sure how much effort it would take NAQT to create an IS-C set of questions appropriate for "advanced" high school and novice/mid-level college teams, but I have emailed R. and expressed my hope for the creation of such a product.

"High school questions," IMO, is a term that applies to difficulty level and subject area coverage. What might be appropriate for Longwood v. Radford might not be appropriate for Thomas Jefferson v. Maggie Walker. (Or, not all college teams are created equal.)

I like CUT format.

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Post by vcuEvan » Fri May 18, 2007 6:13 pm

quizbowllee wrote:The difference between ACF Fall and NAQT IS questions is negligible in most cases.
I highly disagree. ACF Fall is a good deal more pyramidal.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri May 18, 2007 6:14 pm

It's about the difference between NAQT and PACE, I kind of think.
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