Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Old college threads.
Locked
Strongside
Rikku
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:03 pm
Contact:

Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Strongside » Fri May 08, 2009 4:17 pm

Zeke touched on this in his recent thread, and I remember it was talked about on the IRC, and I wanted to start a thread on teams bringing buzzers to tournaments.

Most tournaments give a five or ten dollar discount for each working buzzer, with some tournaments having a maximum number of buzzers that can be brought for a discount.

I have never bought or looked into buying a buzzer, but I know they can cost of hundreds of dollars, and buzzers range widely in terms of how reliable they are, and how much they cost.

The issues is that there are a lot of risks in bringing buzzers tournaments.

The main issue is having them stolen. Tournaments usually have lunch breaks, and the tournament rooms are usually left unlocked during this time. Most of the people, and sometimes all of the people at the tournament leave at this time.

This could give potential thieves a window to steal buzzers. It wouldn't be that hard for a clever or not so clever thief to steal buzzer sets. Why would a thief want to steal quiz bowl buzzers? Why not? They are worth money, and could be relatively easy to steal.

One way around this is locking rooms/watching them during lunch breaks, but this would be a hassle, and I know that a lot of teams don't have access top locking/unlocking individual rooms.

Another problem is that buzzers can get misplaced, or teams could accidentally take the wrong buzzer. I know at major tournaments, the buzzers are gathered up, and teams can go and take their buzzer. It is possible for a team to take the wrong buzzer, especially since some buzzers are similar. A team could also purposely steal another team's buzzer, although I don't know any instances of that happening.

Other issues with buzzers is carrying them around, especially if they are heavy. I know at Minnesota we bring our judge to meets, but at times it seems like kind of a lot of work for only a 5 or 10 dollar discount at times. I know at times we have forgotten it in the car, and had to go back and get it. I also had these same issues when I was at Drake. Also, if teams are going to a tournament via an airplane, taking buzzers is even more of a hassle.

There is also the issue of teams mistreating buzzers, throwing them, and breaking them during a tournament. I will admit that I have thrown buzzers before (Immature, I know).

Bringing laptops to tournaments is another issue. I didn't want to start a separate thread for this, but it doesn't make sense to me to let someone else use your laptop for a 5 or 10 dollar discount.

I was thinking that maybe quiz bowl could change the buzzer discount, laptop discount, and maybe in turn the base fee of the tournament to reflect that. What do other people think?
Brendan Byrne

Drake University, 2006-2008
University of Minnesota, 2008-2010

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6385
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Cheynem » Fri May 08, 2009 4:29 pm

Just to clarify, are you suggesting that the discounts should be higher?
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
dtaylor4
Auron
Posts: 3733
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:43 am

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri May 08, 2009 4:30 pm

I disagree that thieves are much of an issue. Do people really buy buzzers on the black market? If not, how else is a thief going to make a decent return?

Also, it would be hard to prove that a team purposefully stole another team's buzzer.

As for incentives: I hold that the potential for slap bowl should be enough incentive for teams to bring buzzers. Unless teams are playing a lot of slap bowl at practice, I hold that most clubs probably own a buzzer system. If you want to go to tournaments that have enough buzzers, bring them, unless you either expect other clubs to bring lots of them and/or for the host club to come up with a lot on their own.

User avatar
Important Bird Area
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5393
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:33 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri May 08, 2009 4:31 pm

This is particularly noteworthy for national tournaments, because so many teams have to bring buzzers on planes. The buzzer discounts for ICT and HSNCT have been increasing accordingly.
Jeff Hoppes
President, Northern California Quiz Bowl Alliance
former HSQB Chief Admin (2012-13)
VP for Communication and history subject editor, NAQT
Editor emeritus, ACF

"I wish to make some kind of joke about Jeff's love of birds, but I always fear he'll turn them on me Hitchcock-style." -Fred

Strongside
Rikku
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:03 pm
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Strongside » Fri May 08, 2009 4:36 pm

Yeah, I think it would be a good idea for buzzer incentives to be increased somehow. Maybe tournaments could raise the base fee and the buzzer discount fee by similar amounts, especially since as far as I know, most teams have buzzers.
Brendan Byrne

Drake University, 2006-2008
University of Minnesota, 2008-2010

User avatar
Important Bird Area
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5393
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:33 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri May 08, 2009 4:42 pm

It's a balance between "making sure there are enough buzzers to avoid slap bowl" and "not driving away new teams with an effective tax on people who don't have buzzers yet (or lack the money to repair broken ones)"
Jeff Hoppes
President, Northern California Quiz Bowl Alliance
former HSQB Chief Admin (2012-13)
VP for Communication and history subject editor, NAQT
Editor emeritus, ACF

"I wish to make some kind of joke about Jeff's love of birds, but I always fear he'll turn them on me Hitchcock-style." -Fred

jonah
Auron
Posts: 2272
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by jonah » Fri May 08, 2009 4:49 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:not driving away new teams with an effective tax on people who don't have buzzers yet
This is certainly an important consideration. Have tournaments ever given discounts for something like "teams formed in the last two years", or considered doing so?
Jonah Greenthal
National Academic Quiz Tournaments

User avatar
at your pleasure
Auron
Posts: 1670
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:56 pm

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by at your pleasure » Fri May 08, 2009 4:55 pm

I think an "economic hardship" discount would fit that purpose well. Any team that cannot afford to buy or repair a buzzer system would almost certainly qualify. I think that some tournaments have discounts that seem to work like this(ACF nationals providing discounts for high schoolers and shorthanded teams, for instance). If this is roughly equal to the buzzer discount, it would seem to neutralize the effective tax.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
"... imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid."-Sir James Frazer,The Golden Bough

http://avorticistking.wordpress.com/

User avatar
aestheteboy
Tidus
Posts: 570
Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 5:07 pm

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by aestheteboy » Fri May 08, 2009 5:03 pm

I think raising the buzzer discounts (and if necessary the base fee) makes a lot of sense. I've always felt that the cost of bringing buzzer systems exceed $5.
dtaylor4 wrote:As for incentives: I hold that the potential for slap bowl should be enough incentive for teams to bring buzzers. Unless teams are playing a lot of slap bowl at practice, I hold that most clubs probably own a buzzer system. If you want to go to tournaments that have enough buzzers, bring them, unless you either expect other clubs to bring lots of them and/or for the host club to come up with a lot on their own.
It seems to me that the potential for slap bowl may not be a strong enough incentive: first of all, buzzer systems are non-excludable goods, and second of all, responsibility tends to diffuse over people in a situation like this.
Daichi - Walter Johnson; Vanderbilt; U of Chicago.
Daichi's Law of High School Quizbowl: the frequency of posting in the Quizbowl Resource Center is proportional to the likelihood of being overrated.

User avatar
Ben Dillon
Rikku
Posts: 271
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:47 pm
Location: South Bend, IN
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Ben Dillon » Fri May 08, 2009 5:17 pm

IMHO, I don't think it's helpful to set a dollar amount. For (ridiculous) example, a buzzer discount of $1 against an entry fee of $1000 wouldn't be an incentive to bring a system. Plus, I not only want enough buzzer systems to run the tourney but enough systems to function as backups too. It's not like I'm expecting systems to fail, but I very much like the idea of most to every room having a backup they can set up by themselves quickly without having to summon a TD.

To preserve the incentive, I think what should be set is a percentage, say 25%. (To me, knocking a quarter off the entry fee strikes me as adequate.)

And to lob another dead cat down the church aisle, I'd say the same should be true of teams providing moderators. Give them an adequate incentive to do so. (Phil Blessman extends this sort of concept to giving discounts (tax breaks?) to teams who come from long distances; conceivably discounts could be given for teams new to a tourney as well, which would favor startup teams.)
Ben Dillon, Saint Joseph HS
Indiana State Quiz Bowl Board

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast!"

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5625
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri May 08, 2009 5:26 pm

jonah wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:not driving away new teams with an effective tax on people who don't have buzzers yet
This is certainly an important consideration. Have tournaments ever given discounts for something like "teams formed in the last two years", or considered doing so?
Considering Mizzou has played multiple ACF events for as little as $0 this year thanks to new team and new to ACF discounts, I'd say yes.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Mike Bentley
Auron
Posts: 5630
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley » Fri May 08, 2009 8:42 pm

I don't think that the buzzer discounts should be raised, at least not for non-national tournaments. Maryland, for instance, has something like 6 buzzer systems it can potentially bring to a tournament. If the buzzer discount was raised to like $10 or $15 per buzzer with no cap on buzzers, it starts getting to the point where this team could pretty much negate writing a packet (or at least a timely one) by the number of buzzers they bring. Writing and editing tournaments takes a tremendous amount of work, and adding ways for people to pay the editors a lot less money by just bringing a lot of buzzers seems like a bad idea to me.

Additionally, if the incentive to bring more buzzers is greater, even more teams are going to start bringing broken buzzers. I don't think I've ever seen a team's buzzer discount reduced after the fact because the buzzer system hasn't worked. Only a small minority of TDs personally check whether the systems are working at registration, and even if they have staffers report this information back to them, they still would need to write up new invoices, etc. Furthermore, many buzzer systems break mid-way through the day. I don't think I've ever seen a team lose a buzzer discount because their buzzer crapped out in Round 3, even if that buzzer has crapped out in every previous tournament they've brought it to.

Also, I don't think slap bowl is the worst thing that could ever happen to a tournament. Having people say "buzz" is good enough to distinguish who buzzed first in almost all cases.
Mike Bentley
Treasurer, Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence
Adviser, Quizbowl Team at University of Washington
University of Maryland, Class of 2008

User avatar
DumbJaques
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 3055
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:21 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by DumbJaques » Fri May 08, 2009 8:58 pm

Why would a thief want to steal quiz bowl buzzers? Why not? They are worth money, and could be relatively easy to steal.
Nobody who steals things with the primary motivation of receiving money for them* would waste time stealing quizbowl buzzers. It's not the kind of thing you can get real money for at any normal avenue to unload stolen merchandise (even pawn shops and such that take almost anything), and it's actually kind of a job to pack up an entire buzzer set and abscond with it. You'd make infinitely more money stealing somebody's ipod or even a calculator, and it would be thousands of times easier. I doubt any teams seriously decide not to bring buzzers because of concerns about theft, but if they do, those teams are just retarded and that won't really be fixed by throwing money at them.

*I guess it's theoretically possible that some equal-opportunity kleptomaniac could wander buy and swipe them, and then stagger cross-campus with zeecraft cords trailing behind him or bits of the judge strapped songbird-style to his calves. As far as I know, this kind of event has had far less of a tangible impact on quizbowl than ill-mannered steak 'n shake employees, whom we similarly do not target with financial incentives.
Chris Ray
OSU
University of Chicago, 2016
University of Maryland, 2014
ACF, PACE

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6385
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Cheynem » Fri May 08, 2009 9:11 pm

Regarding Mike's points:

-One thing about the discount would be to say that if you have to write a packet, the discounts only apply if the packet is turned in on time or something, so you can't just rely on the buzzer discounts to bail you out of a very late packet turn-in.

-Slap bowl, I guess, does determine who buzzed in first in almost all cases. The problem is that a lot of quiz bowl matches feature buzzer races at some point, and sometimes in close matches, that buzzer race might determine the winner of that match. Having any tournament match, let alone a nationals match, decided on a game in which it is impossible to objectively determine who buzzed in first at times is intolerable for me.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
Broad-tailed Grassbird
Tidus
Posts: 712
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:27 pm
Location: Somewhere nice.
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Broad-tailed Grassbird » Mon May 11, 2009 12:28 pm

Strongside wrote:
There is also the issue of teams mistreating buzzers, throwing them, and breaking them during a tournament. I will admit that I have thrown buzzers before (Immature, I know).
You break it you buy it, collegiate quiz bowl should be no different.
Nalin
Scranton Middle School (2000-2003)
Brighton High School (2003-2007)
Michigan State University (2007-2011)
Semi-Retired (2012-present)

User avatar
Ben Dillon
Rikku
Posts: 271
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:47 pm
Location: South Bend, IN
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Ben Dillon » Mon May 11, 2009 1:30 pm

nalin wrote: You break it you buy it, collegiate quiz bowl should be no different.
Such a system would depend on the owner being notified as soon as the breakage occurred. I once found out at the end of a morning that my buzzer system was broken, but, because it was swapped out for a working one at some point and ten-plus teams had played on it, the guilty party could not be apprehended.
Ben Dillon, Saint Joseph HS
Indiana State Quiz Bowl Board

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast!"

User avatar
Captain Sinico
Auron
Posts: 2838
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:46 pm
Location: Champaign, Illinois

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed May 13, 2009 7:21 pm

Discounts ought to be increased, considering that buzzers are seemingly harder to come by for various reasons and, probably relatedly, they're more expensive to get places. I also observe that people bringing broken buzzers* to tournaments is a major problem, considering how high a fraction of the circuit's systems don't work properly+, and ought to result in cancellation of discounts or even imposition of additional penalties.
nalin wrote:You break it you buy it, collegiate quiz bowl should be no different.
That's a very poor standard, considering that buzzers frequently break through ordinary use. I'd agree with the sentiment that people ought to be less abusive to systems, though.

MaS

* I suppose I mean passing off a broken system as a working one. If someone says "We're bringing a system on which only six buzzers work; give me whatever discount you think is fair" or whatever, I don't see how anyone can have a problem with that.

+I'd like to say: please fix your systems, people! It's not hard or expensive to do, generally (except for Judges; I'm still working on that one.)
Mike Sorice
Coach, Centennial High School of Champaign, IL (2014-) & Team Illinois (2016-2018)
Alumnus, Illinois ABT (2000-2002; 2003-2009) & Fenwick Scholastic Bowl (1999-2000)
ACF
IHSSBCA
PACE

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed May 13, 2009 7:37 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:+I'd like to say: please fix your systems, people! It's not hard or expensive to do, generally (except for Judges; I'm still working on that one.)
Quik Pro wants $90 each to fix our systems that don't lock out when someone buzzes. Does anyone have a home fix for this?
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org

User avatar
Matthew D
Yuna
Posts: 919
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2005 9:52 pm
Location: Scenic Grant Alabama

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Matthew D » Wed May 13, 2009 10:33 pm

Mike.. what is your judge doing?
I have had some success with repairing mine... I replaced two of the buttons with better ones earlier in the year... didn't do one of them right, so I need to redo it but the other is working great
Matt Dennis
Coach DAR Quizbowl Team

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5625
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed May 13, 2009 10:34 pm

I agree that you break it, you but it is an unworkable strategy. At NKC we had a player my sophomore year who would come into practice and slam, drop, hit, and throw the buzzers around probably at least once every other question. None of them broke while he was doing it, but then later they all broke, and I'm pretty firmly convinced they broke from being helped along by him doing that. I think it's very rare to find a buzzer that you can point to one person being responsible for breaking, because I'd bet all of the slamming, traveling, dropping, and just general wear and tear from practice and tournaments over many months is why most buzzers break.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Broad-tailed Grassbird
Tidus
Posts: 712
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:27 pm
Location: Somewhere nice.
Contact:

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Broad-tailed Grassbird » Thu May 14, 2009 10:28 am

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I agree that you break it, you but it is an unworkable strategy. At NKC we had a player my sophomore year who would come into practice and slam, drop, hit, and throw the buzzers around probably at least once every other question. None of them broke while he was doing it, but then later they all broke, and I'm pretty firmly convinced they broke from being helped along by him doing that. I think it's very rare to find a buzzer that you can point to one person being responsible for breaking, because I'd bet all of the slamming, traveling, dropping, and just general wear and tear from practice and tournaments over many months is why most buzzers break.
In that case, it is I guess the moderator's responsibility to tell the player to stop doing it. I've never really thought about it that way, but in the future I will tell moderators to warn abusive players to stop. I just think its ludicrous that anyone should treat other people's equipment like such crap.
Nalin
Scranton Middle School (2000-2003)
Brighton High School (2003-2007)
Michigan State University (2007-2011)
Semi-Retired (2012-present)

User avatar
Captain Sinico
Auron
Posts: 2838
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:46 pm
Location: Champaign, Illinois

Re: Bringing Buzzer to Tournaments

Post by Captain Sinico » Sat May 16, 2009 12:52 am

Matt Weiner wrote:
Captain Sinico wrote:+I'd like to say: please fix your systems, people! It's not hard or expensive to do, generally (except for Judges; I'm still working on that one.)
Quik Pro wants $90 each to fix our systems that don't lock out when someone buzzes. Does anyone have a home fix for this?
I don't know about that system. I'd suggest just letting someone who knows some circuit stuff take it apart.
Matthew D wrote:Mike.. what is your judge doing?
I have had some success with repairing mine... I replaced two of the buttons with better ones earlier in the year... didn't do one of them right, so I need to redo it but the other is working great
Three of the paddles don't work at the moment (that entails some re-writing) and one of the lights doesn't light (which I think entails just replacing the LED.) So, it's basically stuff I should be able to fix if I ever make the time.

MaS
Mike Sorice
Coach, Centennial High School of Champaign, IL (2014-) & Team Illinois (2016-2018)
Alumnus, Illinois ABT (2000-2002; 2003-2009) & Fenwick Scholastic Bowl (1999-2000)
ACF
IHSSBCA
PACE

Locked