The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" attitude

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The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" attitude

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:22 pm

This thread is part of the "The Big Vision" series. Click here to go back to index/introduction.

Having Serious Fun
Rooting out the "unofficial" / "Eh, who cares" aesthetic, and its harmful effects
(i.e. taking required logistics seriously and having fun aren’t actually opposites!)

There’s a long-running streak within the quizbowl psyche, perhaps because of its insular history, which sees it "at heart" as a game run by amateurs, for amateurs. It’s a deeply-held idea in many corners that since nobody outside quizbowl could possibly care about it and nobody’s looking, the logistics and external trappings of decent planning don’t really matter, so long as the questions are good and the small circle of super-invested editors put in the minimal amount of effort to keep proceedings running. [This is far more true of the college level than the high school level, and varies a lot from circuit to circuit, so I don’t mean to accuse any of the circuits which regularly do do better on this front of falling into all of these traps. But it can definitely pop up anywhere, say, when a college team runs a lackadaisical event in an area where high school teams take things seriously.]

Jeff Siegel’s Slate article evokes it well: There’s a sort of fetishizing/idealizing of the “unofficial” / “seat-of-our-pants” aesthetic in this game. Such an attitude is certainly a bug, not a feature (or, at minimum, the sort of thing which we don’t have to keep doing forever into the future just because it’s loomed large in our past and present). And it causes many real problems. Some examples: Teams often show up late without excuse just because they’ve never been penalized for it. Question sets are routinely written at the absolute last minute, allowing little time to catch proofreading errors or to ensure grammatical coherence. Tournament hosts might devise a schedule on the fly rather than printing out copies or putting it up on the projector, or input stats at a disorganized table in the hall. TDs often waffle over what to do in front of teams rather than making hard fast decisions in a separate control room. Last minute drops/cancellations at every level -- individual, team, tournament, set -- bespeak an attitude of throwing one’s arms up and just going ‘eh, it’s quizbowl, no one can make me commit do anything.’ In an interesting sociological twist, many of the best quizbowl players have never bothered to read the official rules of the tournaments they play in! Some championship-caliber teams still do things like lodge disallowed protests or make mistaken timing calls on tossup answers or prompts.

It’s by no means inherent to the game or the people who play it that “quizbowl people” are (as the in-game stereotypes often have it) always late, somewhat bumbling, uninterested in putting on a smooth event in favor of petty bickering over pizza orders, questionably hygienic, etc. In fact, it’s a disservice to paying teams to assume that every attending team cares as little about organization as the “cool kids” who are only in it for the questions. All of the major “acronym” quizbowl organizations (NAQT, NHBB, ACF, PACE, HSAPQ) have now gotten their acts together to lead by example on this front, running national championships which take logistics as seriously as the question content.

What’s more, there is a growing number of people for whom this game actually has to run well, since it’s earning them a living. I can now count on two hands the number of people who make quizbowl their job on a serious full-time or almost-full-time basis (R Hentzel, Jeff Hoppes, Seth Teitler, Chad Kubicek, Matt Weiner, Eric Huff, Nick Clusserath, Dave Madden, Nolwenn Madden -- am I missing anyone?). That number will grow, and that’s not factoring in people who effectively make quizbowl their second job by getting coaching stipends, working as an editor for a big question-writing operation, etc. Insistence that quizbowl can’t help but be disorganized, apologism for hazy and lazily-enforced rules, peals that “it’s all for fun, maaaaan” in the face of logistical breakdowns, slap bowl rooms, and the like are flat-out insulting to the efforts those people put in day in and day out.

And it will only become more important to get this right in the near future.To be quite frank about the brave new world we’re entering: We’re starting to see a growing amount of parental/familial interest in quizbowl at the middle and high school levels. I helped run the info desk at the 2014 PACE NSC, at which at least three dozen distinct parents must have accompanied their kids’ teams to the tournament (way up from when I was in high school). Parents are even more of a presence, I’m told, at middle school events such as MSNCT and the Middle School History Bee. Involved parents can be FIERCE about ensuring that their kids’ experiences are consistently excellent, and many simply won’t tolerate low standards in the running of events. In extreme situations, some are willing to voice their discontent, challenging TDs’ authority to keep events running. Being able to impress such people with well-run events, and being able deal with such people by staying firm in rough situations, is going to be non-optional in every circuit very shortly. To get back to the issue of outside support, which is what so much of this improvement project is geared towards: It’s increasingly the rule, not the exception, that spectators such as parents are there to chaperone their kids and see events unfolding firsthand. The outsiders are here now -- will they see an activity which they can respect?

Relatedly: We as a community can do a lot more to help new tournament directors, rather than assuming they’ll figure everything out from scratch on their own. I don’t want to look like I’m blaming inexperienced TDs for the mere fact of their inexperience -- I’m casting this particular stone at people who know better. The “design patterns” of tournament directing success should be made much more widely available. It takes minimal effort to print the schedule out or project it on a wall/screen. It’s not as easy for many coaches to learn the principles of fair scheduling for various numbers of teams, and why those principles exist, or to learn the nuances of protest resolution. It would be good to see more guidance and more resources available which people can look at (see Part 5 for more on this).

What’s more, good logistics are themselves an outreach tactic and need to be seen as such. Marginal teams are more likely to return to specific tournaments where they were treated well and given many efficient games without hassle or delay. Teams marginal to quizbowl as a whole are less likely to see the activity as worth their while when 10-round tournaments run until 7 PM or moderators don’t know what they’re doing. If all those teams erode, you’re left only with the “top tier” types who’d be there no matter what -- a bad situation for the game’s future health. The make-up-a-schedule-on-the-fly-and-draw-it-on-the-chalkboard days are over. It’s time to take the task of replacing them seriously.

This is not to say that there can’t be people who play quizbowl just ‘for fun,’ or who choose not to make a serious program of studying to get better a part of their time in the game. It is only to say that people should be free to set their own level of involvement and dedication in an environment of well-run, professional-looking tournaments on well-written intelligible questions, instead of sloppily-organized tournaments which assume that insiders care enough to stick around and aren’t concerned with non-insiders at all. In fact, we are far more likely to be able to cater to people who are less serious about improving when our events are appealing.

So: Learn the rules. If you’re running a non-NAQT set, know which rule set you’re using for the day. Finish your sets well before their first use -- ideally, make sure every question is written at least a week in advance, so you can do a final proofreading and placement of questions into packets. Enforce eligibility rules consistently. Treat teams fairly. Remember that your behavior reflects not just on yourself, but on your school and other quizbowl affiliations as well.

If time and resources permit you to add more “bells and whistles” to your tournament to make it look more official, such as an opening PowerPoint, a light breakfast, name tags, etc. -- go for it. There's no reason why well-run tournaments can't also look pretty, and once the logistical basics are in place, I see little sense in the 'traditional' quizbowl attitudes against such niceties. That said, used-book prizes are such an embedded part of our culture, and such an elegant statement of what the game is about, that I’d hate to see them go. Frankly, I prefer them to the small statuettes that NAQT’s championships give out.

A pervasive attitude of defeatism (mentioned in Part 1) often goes hand-in-hand with this sort of ‘anti-establishment’ streak. People who say “oh well, quizbowl tournaments have always been disorganized and people always show up late in the past -- I guess they always will” are very much an obstacle to breaking some of these vicious cycles. Instead of continuing to reinforce stereotypes, do your best to do one better. I assure you, teams at your events will notice if you go an extra ways to make your questions, logistics, etc. better than average. And as “average” rises to the level it needs to be at, and tournaments which look especially well-run today become the norm, teams will be more generally satisfied and likely to want to attend a full schedule of tournaments a year.

In the future, think about this little test when putting together an official quizbowl event: Say some outsider does swing by your tournament with 10,000 dollars in a bag, saying that if the tournament looks like it’s worthwhile to support, the TD’s organization can take the dollars and use them to promote quizbowl in their area however the TD sees fit. Wouldn’t we want to put on as good a show in that case? If it meant hundreds more dollars in our own pockets each year for tournaments that draw more interest, summed across multiple years, suddenly that absurd fictional scenario seems slightly more real.

While we’re at it, let’s make that prospect even less hypothetical in Part Four, shall we?
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Sun Aug 31, 2014 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Nick » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:01 am

The majority of this post describes the "eh, who cares" attitude within the context of logistics, specifically question-writing and schedule-making/following. But that aesthetic seems to show up in so many other ways that you didn't mention. It might be because you didn't think of them, or it might be because some of them are a bit more "undecided" and/or controversial. For example:

-What should participants wear to tournaments?
-What should staffers/officials wear to tournaments?
-What are the pros/cons of teams attending unofficially and/or using pseudonyms?
-What is the role of pop culture / trash in quizbowl?
-Should moderators be compensated for their time/expertise?
-Should there be penalties for profanity or other verbal mid-game distractions?
-Should tournaments be directed by students?
-Should coaches be moderating tournaments in which their students are participating?
-How should protests be lodged and resolved?
-Should the (possibly only) prize for winning a tournament be a used book instead of a trophy/plaque/medal? (which, ironically, you mentioned yourself)

Matt, imagine you are one of the leaders of the debate community and you are asking your colleagues these questions (or analogous ones). How would they respond? I find it hard to believe that if I were to show up in a Star Wars tank top and a fedora, the debate community would take me seriously. Or if you debated under the name Jatt Mack$on. Or if your topic of debate was "Who's going to win the Super Bowl?" You get what I'm saying.

My point here isn't for us to debate all of these topics. Its only to point out that the "it's just quizbowl, whatever" attitude is much more ingrained and pervasive than you outlined. I agree so strongly that quizbowl should be a source of pride for its participants. It would be wonderful if we got the recognition and rewards on-par with other activities. But it is hard for outsiders (whether they be school administrators, potential players, or the 6 o'clock news) to take us seriously if we don't take ourselves seriously. I think we should be taking coordinated steps to boost the seriousness, legitimacy, professionalism, etc in quizbowl and it goes far beyond printing the schedules in advance.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Mewto55555 » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:33 am

Nick wrote:-Should the (possibly only) prize for winning a tournament be a used book instead of a trophy/plaque/medal? (which, ironically, you mentioned yourself)


The very happy medium of trophies/plaques for the top X teams and book prizes for top scorers and players on top teams works incredibly well, in my opinion, and seems like it would be a fine standard for local tournaments. Replacing the books with medals/statuettes makes sense at the two big championships though.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Rococo A Go Go » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:38 am

Mewto55555 wrote:
Nick wrote:-Should the (possibly only) prize for winning a tournament be a used book instead of a trophy/plaque/medal? (which, ironically, you mentioned yourself)


The very happy medium of trophies/plaques for the top X teams and book prizes for top scorers and players on top teams works incredibly well, in my opinion, and seems like it would be a fine standard for local tournaments. Replacing the books with medals/statuettes makes sense at the two big championships though.


This might be a good idea for state championships as well. I know we tend to understand that maybe winning NAQT State isn't much different than winning Random Invitational X in March or whatever, but if we want to sell players/teams/schools/the public on our competition being particularly important, than we need to have reasonably attainable goals attached to properly awarded accomplishments to point towards.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby cchiego » Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:13 am

I know we tend to understand that maybe winning NAQT State isn't much different than winning Random Invitational X in March or whatever


This needs more discussion. In a few states, we have a happy medium where there is a well-regarded state championship tournament on good QB questions (VA of course and Alabama also qualifies now thanks to the hard work of coaches in that state). Unfortunately, the vast majority of states will either have only a bad QB championship or a bad QB championship that gets all the press and a separate seeming-regular NAQT state tournament.

NAQT State in general has a problem. It's the cheapest question set (free) and that seems to attract some unscrupulous hosts who end up charging the same as a regular tournament and pocketing the profit without actually running a good tournament, doing outreach, and in general running a state championship. I believe the state set does only two things differently from normal sets: slightly slightly harder questions and one more guaranteed "qualifier" slot than usual. This would be a good place to start making some changes with more of an effort to get real hosts and more incentives for teams and hosts to treat this as a real tournament. Perhaps changing the qualification system (as mentioned in another of Matt's posts) to making tournaments have different kinds of qualification standards would work? Another problem with nationals and state though is that state tournaments take place so late in the year that the nationals fields have often filled up by then.

The HSAPQ regionals idea is a good idea in theory and I look forward to seeing how it grows this year and in the future. But it needs to keep growing and doing things to try to acquire more of this kind of legitimacy--if the tournaments have a tiny handful of teams, slow stats-posting, and lack some of the big-name teams in the area, that's not going to help.

I think we should be taking coordinated steps to boost the seriousness, legitimacy, professionalism, etc in quizbowl and it goes far beyond printing the schedules in advance.


This is a great idea in general and Nick points out to a lot of specific things that should be addressed. The problem is that "professionalism" requires having a large corps of willing people to inculcate in this ethos. Since so much of quizbowl runs on volunteers, including random people imported to read at tournaments at the last minute, I don't know how successful this is going to be in general. A national organization like NHBB that has a core group of staffers that go to multiple tournaments? Yeah, that makes sense. But part of the appeal of quizbowl is that it's not in general run by a single centralized org with multiple regulations. Perhaps nationals can--and should be--more of the focus here, but again you run into the problem of PACE/NAQT having a ton of volunteer staffers to deal with at once and people really not understanding what it means to be professional.

One very basic professional thing when it comes to running a tournament is simply ensuring that stats are posted quickly. It takes almost no time to do this, but so many tournaments take multiple days to get any stats up for reasons that don't make sense. When I ran tournaments last year, I made sure to advertise LIVE STATS and sent links out to all the coaches to distribute to parents to keep track of how their kids were doing. People loved it--I got multiple comments from coaches about how awesome it was and parents who thought it was the coolest thing they'd seen. It got parents more involved in what the kids were doing and made people just a bit more excited about quizbowl than they had been. There's got to be a lot of other "little things" like that which, taken together, can add up to a better experience.

Furthermore, how do you hold people accountable for egregious breaches of professionalism? Do we rely on anecdotes from random people for the evidence? Do we appoint official quizbowl commissions to investigate allegations of unprofessional behavior? Relying on "making fun of X in the IRC" isn't going to change anything, but sending official letters to a school admin and prohibiting certain schools from hosting might. On the other hand, if these shenanigans happen in areas where there are few or no other good quizbowl hosts, what do we do then? And who is this "we" going to be anyways?
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Matt Weiner » Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:32 am

cchiego wrote:The HSAPQ regionals idea is a good idea in theory and I look forward to seeing how it grows this year and in the future. But it needs to keep growing and doing things to try to acquire more of this kind of legitimacy--if the tournaments have a tiny handful of teams, slow stats-posting, and lack some of the big-name teams in the area, that's not going to help.


I think that so far we're making some inroads here -- the HSAPQ tournaments have gotten many teams who didn't exist at all or never played a good tournament before to attend a good event, have gotten some teams in the paper for winning at the regional or state level, and have proven the viability of "turnkey hosting." I'm working on some of the challenges that we faced in the first year -- a few stats sheet envelopes either never made it to us or were illegible. I think that taking the onus of doing stats off of hosts was a good idea, but this year we'll be implementing a little more stringency to make sure doing stats centrally doesn't result in stats disappearing.

As far as some established teams not buying in, that's one of the few things we can in fact solve by jabbering on the message board. I was a little shocked to hear that teams in Los Angeles thought that driving to Fresno was an impossibility, or that major teams in New York didn't think that possibly having a "New York State Championship" trophy would help with their funding woes. This goes to the general issue of the pluses and minuses of student-run teams. I really like the fact that quizbowl has a low barrier to entry and we let people play even without worrying about a faculty sponsor, and that one of the benefits of the overall environment is teaching leadership skills to students. The drawback is that people can get a very short-term, tunnel-visioned approach where "we've never made a trip to a tournament 200 miles away before so obviously it's impossible" becomes received wisdom. But, we are talking here about teams who ARE part of the existing elite and can presumably be reasoned with under mutually agreed principles in this forum, which is a much smaller challenge than the large outreach problem, so I expect it to be solved.

On the most important point for this discussion, I strongly agree with what's been said -- "state championships" are a concept that come with built-in comprehensibility and cachet for non-quizbowl people, and we need to take better advantage of that by treating them as special tournaments that you need to qualify for and running them properly.

Perhaps nationals can--and should be--more of the focus here, but again you run into the problem of PACE/NAQT having a ton of volunteer staffers to deal with at once and people really not understanding what it means to be professional.


In my experience, NAQT and PACE both have done a decent job on things like dress code, timeliness, and getting people to follow standard procedures as compared to your average invitational. I've seen this from both sides, as another cog in the moderator wheel along with 80 other people at HSNCT and inside the TD room of the NSC. NHBB middle school also puts a lot of focus on making sure staffers present the desired tournament experience. At all these tournaments, there are ready examples of a single person not getting the message who has caused problems, but the improvement has been constant year to year.

Furthermore, how do you hold people accountable for egregious breaches of professionalism? Do we rely on anecdotes from random people for the evidence? Do we appoint official quizbowl commissions to investigate allegations of unprofessional behavior? Relying on "making fun of X in the IRC" isn't going to change anything, but sending official letters to a school admin and prohibiting certain schools from hosting might. On the other hand, if these shenanigans happen in areas where there are few or no other good quizbowl hosts, what do we do then? And who is this "we" going to be anyways?


I'd like to see what, specifically, we are talking about here. Can you give some examples of "breaches of professionalism" so people in this thread can offer answers to your questions? I'm not sure if you're talking about "tournament hosts taking 10 minutes longer than promised to post playoff brackets after lunch" or "people being called slurs at tournaments" or something in the middle of those two on the severity scale, so it's hard to get a bead on a response.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:36 am

There's a lot more discussion of state championships in thread 8, if folks want to move it there and/or draw on that while continuing to post here.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby cchiego » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:23 pm

I'd like to see what, specifically, we are talking about here. Can you give some examples of "breaches of professionalism" so people in this thread can offer answers to your questions?


Here are 5 examples from recent years. In all cases, I'd argue that a tournament wasn't quite as professional as we'd like things to be.

Example 1: A college-run tournament takes place on good questions with many teams where there's immense amount of disorganization, horrible readers, and a lot of dodging in terms of accountability from any of the directors. The team then announces another tournament for the next year and promises things will be better despite several past tournaments also being terribly run.

Example 2: A local tournament uses NAQT questions but then employs very strange rules that the moderators were not uniformly aware of and single-elim playoffs based on points scored in the poorly-seeded prelims despite being advised of good QB practices (i.e. don't do that) before the tournament. On the other hand, it was one of 5 tournaments in the area the whole year on good questions with few other hosts interested. Plus, the team that ran the tournament supports good quizbowl and actually travels to good tournaments outside the region unlike most teams in the area.

Example 3: The only pyramidal tournament in a pyramidal-deficient region decided to run the tournament on the clock, despite some rounds only getting through barely a dozen or so tossups because the moderators were poor and then doing single elim playoffs. The coach supports good quizbowl stuff in a state run by bad QB people and does a good job with outreach to many teams with a reliable tournament each year.

Example 4: A high school-run NAQT State Championship that ends up being very slow and disorganized and for which the host does next to no real outreach, resulting in a smaller field than many nearby tournaments. Yet this school continues to run other decent tournaments and is otherwise a great circuit team.

Example 5: A high school runs a tournament with only 16 tossups per round and often poor moderating and odd scheduling. But the director of the tournament runs lots of tournaments on good questions.

So what do we do with these examples? I'd argue all are unprofessional and negative for QB's image in some sense but what do we do about changing that? There are individually incompetent/unprofessional mods at some tournaments too, where the onus seems to be more on figuring out what to do with the individual readers who just aren't up to par. This also isn't accounting the many hosts that kind of sort of announce tournaments, then cancel them relatively soon beforehand.

There's also plenty of "mediocre" tournaments out there that don't do anything egregiously wrong, but don't hustle to get rounds done and just seem lazily organized, which I think is more the case of what Matt' Js post is targeting and a place where the community can make a difference in raising the bar. Perhaps PACE certifying tournaments retrospectively might make more sense as an incentive (if a small one) to actually get things done.

I'd also point to the recent examples of cheating and packet sharing as another place for professionalism improvements. It would be ideal for mirrors to have a much smaller timeframe in which mirrors occur and to be much more stringent with packet distribution policy with hosts (some have made excellent changes for this coming year, but not all have and it's also incumbent on hosts to avoid this as well). I don't know if we need a code of ethics or something like that, but there needs to be some kind of reminder to players and teams in all regions that cheating is wrong and if you are caught cheating or the evidence strongly points to you cheating, there will be consequences, either from your team or the circuit.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Rococo A Go Go » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:13 pm

Maybe we can start by actually calling out these people for their poor jobs than just alluding to them. There seems to be some unwritten rule in this community that format doesn't matter as long as a tournament runs on pyramidal questions and on time, but quite frankly that's just wrong. When Ezell-Harding runs a large tournament that everyone wants to attend because it's on good questions and draws a great national field, it's worth calling them out specifically when they do things like use 16 question rounds in the prelims and then decide the championship with a single elimination playoff. When TACA mismanages a state championship for a decade and yet NAQT continues to let them host NAQT State in Tennessee, somebody needs to call out both of those organizations for their failure to provide Tennessee with an adequate state championship tournament.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby kayli » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:37 pm

Just calling people out isn't enough. People have been calling out tournaments for doing things wrong for years, and what always ends up happening is that they apologize and run better tournaments (or sometimes refuse to host more) and then someone else messes up and we shout at them.

I think most of the problems right now in quizbowl can be fixed through centralization efforts by HSAPQ and NAQT. Centralization will help to ensure a similar product throughout circuits. That means having schools who host tournaments adhere to a set of rules set forward by HSAPQ or NAQT and punishing them for not doing so, either by them forfeiting a deposit or being suspended from hosting future tournaments for a period of n months or years. Additionally, they need to formalize tournament naming using some format like "NAQT [Region] [Season] Invitational [IS-set number]" so that 1) people won't get into the habit of naming their tournaments dumb acronyms that spell out NECKBEARD, 2) things will have the appearance of professionalism, and 3) quizbowl organizations can build their brand. By ensuring the consistency and quality of local tournaments, NAQT and HSAPQ will solidify their brand and will thus have more power to proselytize and solicit money from various other organizations. Of course, this is nothing new as NHBB has been more or less employing this strategy over the past 3 or so years.

Also, thanks to MattJ for putting the work into this series of posts. I hope it'll produce some productive dialog.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Important Bird Area » Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:04 pm

Touko Kettunen wrote:I think most of the problems right now in quizbowl can be fixed through centralization efforts by HSAPQ and NAQT. Centralization will help to ensure a similar product throughout circuits. That means having schools who host tournaments adhere to a set of rules set forward by HSAPQ or NAQT and punishing them for not doing so, either by them forfeiting a deposit or being suspended from hosting future tournaments for a period of n months or years. Additionally, they need to formalize tournament naming using some format like "NAQT [Region] [Season] Invitational [IS-set number]" so that 1) people won't get into the habit of naming their tournaments dumb acronyms that spell out NECKBEARD, 2) things will have the appearance of professionalism, and 3) quizbowl organizations can build their brand. By ensuring the consistency and quality of local tournaments, NAQT and HSAPQ will solidify their brand and will thus have more power to proselytize and solicit money from various other organizations.


Historically, NAQT has chosen not to adopt policies like these. We are concerned that telling teams "you can't use our questions on your local format/if you use single-elim playoffs/if you call your tournament SILLYACRONYM" is likely to drive teams away from NAQT (which both hurts NAQT and has a good chance of hurting the teams at the tournament, if the organizers end up with a set of lower quality).
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby cchiego » Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:11 pm

Maybe we can start by actually calling out these people for their poor jobs than just alluding to them. There seems to be some unwritten rule in this community that format doesn't matter as long as a tournament runs on pyramidal questions and on time, but quite frankly that's just wrong. When Ezell-Harding runs a large tournament that everyone wants to attend because it's on good questions and draws a great national field, it's worth calling them out specifically when they do things like use 16 question rounds in the prelims and then decide the championship with a single elimination playoff. When TACA mismanages a state championship for a decade and yet NAQT continues to let them host NAQT State in Tennessee, somebody needs to call out both of those organizations for their failure to provide Tennessee with an adequate state championship tournament.


Then you get into the question of who replaces them and who enforces any consequences besides turning people off from the broader quizbowl community.

I would love to see Ezell's tournament use a regular distribution and better playoffs. I would love to see TACA get into the 21st century and actually run quizbowl the way it's supposed to be played. But what do you do? NAQT isn't going to give up the $700 it makes off Ezell's tournament. TACA isn't going to change.

And even if they did agree to hand over responsibility to someone else, who would replace them? Vanderbilt's interminable and consistently poorly-run tournaments? USN's bizarre housewrite? The random tournament at UT-Martin and other lesser-known ones that still hide in the hills and dales of East TN? I don't know how much naming and shaming is going to help unless we can figure out some way to actually professionalize the people we have in the region and get them to commit to good quizbowl practices.

And then if we start paying people to moderate ($50 a tournament or something) and bringing in TDs from elsewhere (for $200-400), do you then have to raise tournament fees? Once you do that, then you start turning off new teams and limiting outreach. But this seems to be the direction some places like Texas are taking. I would be curious to hear from if this seems to be a reasonable trade-off or not.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby kayli » Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:15 pm

I thin NAQT should make accommodations for local formats to use its questions as it sees fit. I'm focused mainly on the one off invitational tournament where I don't think it's the case that they would not use NAQT for frivolous reasons like not being allowed to name their tournament something dumb or using single elimination is really going to bump them off of quiz bowl. I don't think people need to coddled that much especially since as MattJ mentioned the spectre of Chip Beall had long passed us.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Important Bird Area » Sun Aug 31, 2014 3:27 pm

Touko Kettunen wrote:I thin NAQT should make accommodations for local formats to use its questions as it sees fit.


In general, hosts of local tournaments (that is: not SCT or state championships) are free to use whatever format they choose.
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Citizen Snips » Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:29 pm

bird bird bird bird bird wrote:
Touko Kettunen wrote:I thin NAQT should make accommodations for local formats to use its questions as it sees fit.


In general, hosts of local tournaments (that is: not SCT or state championships) are free to use whatever format they choose.


If this is true, then why is TACA allowed to host its state championship on the abysmal local format?
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby Important Bird Area » Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:53 pm

While we prefer that state championships use our standard rules and format, prospective hosts are allowed to apply for alterations. (Tennessee is not the only such state; the Indiana NAQT championship uses lightning rounds in its format.)
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Re: The Big Vision: [3] Rooting out the "Eh, who cares" atti

Postby cvdwightw » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:22 pm

Nick wrote:-Should tournaments be directed by students?
In my opinion, this is never going to change, unless every team in the country unilaterally decides not to attend any tournament directed by a student.

1) High school students who run a competent tournament with enough staff, good questions, etc. get to write about it as a positive experience demonstrating leadership, organizational skill, etc. on college essays
2) High school students who run a terrible tournament with no staff, games lasting 50 minutes on terrible questions, etc., still get to put "ran a tournament" on their college applications and discuss it on their college essays

In other words, there is a non-negligible incentive for students to run a tournament, and the difference between a well-run and poorly-run tournament isn't that large in terms of outside-the-community incentives.

So assuming that students will continue to run tournaments, how can we provide some modicum of "professionalism" to those tournaments?

My opinion is that the model used by Irvine and Arcadia has worked fairly well. Students direct the actual tournament, but there is a teacher/coach that serves as an "adviser" (essentially a co-TD) and takes care of administrative issues that it would be difficult or impossible for a student TD to take care of (ensuring there is somewhere to put the tournament fees, getting room guarantees from the administration, notifying teachers whose rooms would be used, serving as a general authority figure for newer teams that might be wary of an entirely student-run event, etc.). Furthermore, this setup ensures that (as we've talked about) there is some institutional memory for how to run tournaments, how to train staff, etc.
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