Nationals Alternatives?

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Shahar S.
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Nationals Alternatives?

Post by Shahar S. »

Hello all. I think it's safe to say that the string of national competition cancellations in the past two weeks have been devastating to everyone in the Quizbowl community. Obviously, it would be great if we didn't have to deal with the worst pandemic in a century right now and just run everything safely, but as of today that's just not possible. While disappointing, cancelling these competitions is the moral and safe thing to do given the circumstances.
However, I still think it's worthwhile to look for alternatives where we can. Players from every level of the game have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours preparing for this year's nationals, and I think we should try to find a way to honor that by running something in their place. Granted, I'm not affiliated with any of the organizations in charge of running this year's national competitions, but I'm sure they're already making tremendous efforts to find solutions wherever possible. I don't have any specifics in mind, but getting a better idea of what is and isn't feasible would give me, my team, and my community some much needed clarity. Thank you in advance.
Shahar Schwartz

Black Mountain '16
Westview '20

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valanjoel10
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by valanjoel10 »

I agree. Being on a team that is studying hard to improve their standing at nationals, I understand that there are many players this year who were aiming for a high standing after 3 or 4 years of studying; however, cancellations would essentially block them from reaching the pinnacle of their high school career by placing high at a national competition. Additionally, there are many teams that have studied for thousands of hours collectively and improved their synergy over a course of 2 to 4 years in order to place high at a national competition in their last year of high school eligibility; cancellations would also essentially wreck their plans.

As for alternatives, in my opinion, it seems that postponing tournaments until the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided would be the only option. I know that tournaments like Prison Bowl at Hunter HS have been canceled, but may be rescheduled for the fall (in which case, seniors might be allowed to play with their former teams). I think that waiting to see if the outbreak abates by the end of summer is a good option. If it's safe for gatherings of hundreds of people to join and play a tournament by June or July, teams who would have attended a canceled competition months earlier could easily attend a rescheduled one at the beginning of fall.
Joel Valan
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by Dominator »

I don't think postponed tournaments have any real chance of being successful. There is no guarantee that a suitable venue will be available, especially considering all the other postponed events that will be competing for space. Also, once the year is over, the title doesn't quite mean the same thing anymore. I believe there was some discussion to this effect when the college history bowl nationals got cancelled 5-6 years ago.

I think the only possible alternative to nationals would be something online. I have been kicking around ideas that we could implement through my Qblitz platform. We could have something where teams would play a large packet of questions, a round robin would be simulated, and then the top two teams play off on a finals packet on some kind of video platform that could be broadcast, like Twitch. There are some disadvantages compared to a traditional national championship, but there are two key advantages: (1) This could actually happen, even in our current state of social distancing and lockdown. (2) It would be significantly cheaper for the teams, as registration costs would be lower and there would be no travel or lodging expenses.

Would teams want to play such a thing? Are there suggestions for how to tweak the format?
Dr. Noah Prince

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eygotem
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by eygotem »

Interesting idea. An online "national" tournament on any other platform (say, Discord) would probably have issues finding an appropriate question set to use, as this year's nationals questions are almost certainly being saved for next year's nationals. However, since the Qblitz format would allow the tournament to be run using much fewer questions (maybe 1-2 packets' worth for the simulated round robin, and one packet for the finals), it should be possible to write enough new nats-level questions within the next few months - especially if the Qblitz writers recruit other community members in some sort of collaborative effort.

As for the team aspect: would the players on each team have to log on and play the questions simultaneously, or would players play tossups individually (like the current Qblitz system) and have the earliest buzz points count for the team? I'm assuming no bonuses, unless the Qblitz software has been updated recently to allow for them; if present, bonus conferral could present additional issues.

Also, would there be measures in place to prevent cheating? Currently, Qbliltz questions are "read" slowly enough that someone could quickly look up the answer on a different tab or device. Cheating has already affected the quizbowl community's perception of online tournaments held on Discord; any sort of online "national championship" would need to have some protocol in place to address cheating allegations in order for the community to view it as legitimate.
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by Dominator »

eygotem wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:04 pm
As for the team aspect: would the players on each team have to log on and play the questions simultaneously, or would players play tossups individually (like the current Qblitz system) and have the earliest buzz points count for the team? I'm assuming no bonuses, unless the Qblitz software has been updated recently to allow for them; if present, bonus conferral could present additional issues.
Right. Each player would play individually, and those performances would be compiled into a team performance. There would be no bonuses.
eygotem wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:04 pm
Also, would there be measures in place to prevent cheating? Currently, Qbliltz questions are "read" slowly enough that someone could quickly look up the answer on a different tab or device. Cheating has already affected the quizbowl community's perception of online tournaments held on Discord; any sort of online "national championship" would need to have some protocol in place to address cheating allegations in order for the community to view it as legitimate.
There's not a lot that can be done to completely eliminate the possibility of cheating. There are measures that can be and have been taken to minimize it. Still, my main concern is not so much to provide a Legitimate National Championship, but rather to provide the next best thing given the circumstances. And with some extra advantages as well, like more advanced stats, matches against all teams, and the ability to include more teams, possibly ones that would have been priced out of attending NSC or HSNCT.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
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Cheynem
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by Cheynem »

If people want quizbowl, I suggest like organizing a few scrimmage tournaments on guerrilla packets or by paying homeward bound wage slaves (like myself) to write them. You could do like an invitational online where 5-7 good teams play each other in a round robin.
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naturalistic phallacy
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by naturalistic phallacy »

Cheynem wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:19 pm
If people want quizbowl, I suggest like organizing a few scrimmage tournaments on guerrilla packets or by paying homeward bound wage slaves (like myself) to write them. You could do like an invitational online where 5-7 good teams play each other in a round robin.
This.
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eygotem
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by eygotem »

Could the mods move all these comments about saving this year's nationals questions to another thread? This explosive tangent is distracting from the actual discussion about virtual alternatives to the cancelled national tournaments.
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

eygotem wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:37 pm
Could the mods move all these comments about saving this year's nationals questions to another thread? This explosive tangent is distracting from the actual discussion about virtual alternatives to the cancelled national tournaments.
Don't worry, the mods can handle this! The thread has indeed been split accordingly; please continue with your regularly-scheduled discussion.
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by jonathanshauf »

As a person not very familiar with the work involved in running any kind of tournament, what is the feasibility of running any sort of nationals replacement tournament online? A small tournament involving just the top few teams would not involve my team and hundreds of other teams, but could perhaps allow us to crown some sort of national champion. Is any tournament like this feasible to try to plan at this point?
Jonathan Shauf, TJ Classical 2020

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Cheynem
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Re: Nationals Alternatives?

Post by Cheynem »

The challenge in any sort of online tournament is both on the tech end (ensuring all players have appropriate Internet/tech, to avoid any lag or disconnections), the fact that full online tournaments (w/bonuses) takes significantly longer than in person tournaments, and the ability to easily cheat online.

In low stakes scenarios, all of these to some extent become less important, which is why I think like mini tournaments, scrimmages, online packets, and things like the recent MWT mirror of all tossups are great things. But it would not be a true national championship, nor would it really be feasible to do that at this moment, I think. Others can weigh in.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

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