To expand or not to expand?

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iarehavethestupid
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To expand or not to expand?

Post by iarehavethestupid » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:04 pm

I'm new to this place, so sorry if I say anything stupid.

I'm a rising eighth grader who started quiz bowl last school year. I would consider myself at least a decent history player, at least compared to others in my state.

However, I feel like I haven't been contributing much to my team. I get around 2-3 tossups per round in tournements, while our lit and science players are getting 4-5 per round, and it really frustrates me. Half the time when history questions come up, I've almost fallen asleep waiting for them(Might be an exaggeration, but I hope you get the point). So I've drawn a conclusion: I can either continue studying history or I can start expanding (the music category is a bit empty at the moment). However, History is my passion in quiz bowl and I'm worried that I might be wasting my time doing something I don't like nearly as much.

So what should I do?

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Chromica
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Re: To expand or not to expand?

Post by Chromica » Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:19 pm

Hey, welcome to the forums!

With regards to your question, it depends on what else you like. If history truly is your only passion, I'd recommend sticking with it and becoming a skilled specialist, because you'll find it much harder to learn other categories for quizbowl if you aren't really into it. Whether to branch out also depends on the size of the gaps in your team's knowledge, e.g. not having anybody who can do fine arts might require some sacrifices if you're looking to be decently competitive. Though if you do have other interests, branching out isn't a bad idea, especially if you're looking to contribute more (though I will point out that a consistent 2-3 tossups a game is already a very respectable contribution, especially on top of what you say your teammates are putting up).

The important thing here is to not spread yourself too thin. If you do end up branching out, spend a couple months on one category before moving on to the next. That way if you chose to come back to that topic later you'll have a pretty good knowledge base to work on as you learn harder stuff.
Colton Sanden

-Penn State (2017-2021)
-Camp Hill HS (2013-2017), Captain 2016-2017

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A Very Long Math Tossup
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Re: To expand or not to expand?

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:14 pm

During my first couple years of high school quizbowl, I was in your exact position, albeit as a science player instead of a history one. I decided to expand when our top player left, and I turned myself into mostly a full generalist (though I've always scaled a bit better on science).

The trick to learning things outside your specialty is to find the parts that speak to you. Rather than diving head-on into a new subject, try to find a small area that you like and branch out from there. I picked up a copy of 100 Years of Solitude because it sounded weirdly interesting, and the experience of reading it sparked my interest in "serious" (i.e. quizbowl-relevant) literature. Also, keep in mind that you don't always have to learn every part of every subject: even if 80% of paintings bore you, studying the ones that don't will still get you points.

This is why it's important to write things down during practice and look them up later---eventually, you'll find something you really like, which can kick of a massive reading binge or even ignite a lifelong interest in a new field. In addition, you should try to avoid zoning out: even if you know you can't get a question, you can still try to learn something from it (though my teammates will point out that I don't always follow my own advice on this).

There's something amazing about every area of human knowledge. Start chasing those things, and the points will follow.
Matt Mitchell
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joshxu
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Re: To expand or not to expand?

Post by joshxu » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:19 pm

Getting 2-3 tossups per round equates to 20-30 PPG, which, when added on with the 40-50 PPG each from your lit and science players, is a good contribution to your team! Being a history player myself, I do believe that it is better to master one individual subject that you enjoy studying than to try to learn others which are just going to bore you out. You should think about whether putting in the time and effort to study a totally different subject that you aren't particularly interested in is going to reap more benefits than simply sticking with history.

I don't know all the details of your situation, but speaking from my own personal experience, if you do decide to branch out, I would recommend that you study subjects that tie closely to history, such as geography and social science.
A Very Long Math Tossup wrote:In addition, you should try to avoid zoning out: even if you know you can't get a question, you can still try to learn something from it (though my teammates will point out that I don't always follow my own advice on this).
This is good advice—unfortunately, I have learned it the hard way. When I hear a literature question come up, I tend to zone out. Occasionally, a clue comes up that I recognize from a book I've read, but instead of buzzing (and usually powering) the tossup, I have to wait two sentences just to figure out what the question is asking for.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
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Re: To expand or not to expand?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:14 am

You say you're in 8th grade: so if you keep playing quizbowl in high school and college, your teammates will change several times. Areas that might be very well covered by one of your middle school teammates today might turn out to be weak areas for your future teams.

I started my college quizbowl career as pretty much a history-only specialist, and it worked because all of the other categories were covered by a teammate (or two, or three). Then in grad school, suddenly I was on a team where nobody really knew mythology or religion, so I decided to learn those subjects. It didn't just get me more points, it also got me the gratitude of my teammates who no longer sat in frustration while those questions went dead or answered by the other team.

You're too early in your career to let "other people on my team know this" be a factor that is stopping you from expanding. I echo everyone else's advice on finding something non-history related that seems interesting to you, and expanding on that.
Bruce
Harvard '10 / UChicago '07 / Roycemore School '04
ACF Member emeritus
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