Dr. Prince and others, first, let me again extend our apologies for the logistical and other issues that your team faced this weekend. I can't underscore enough how embarrassed we are to have run a tournament like that. I sincerely hope, however, that you'll reconsider your decision not to attend next year's NSC. As advocates of good quizbowl, recognize that we have a lot to improve on next year, and I hope you'll take my word for it that we're going to work our hardest to make sure that we do. I want to thank everyone for their patience as we continue to discuss these issues, and I would like to personally solicit feedback from teams as the process continues, especially if we're not publicly addressing something that you think we should be
. We may already be talking about it, but if we're not saying something about it, we should be. You can e-mail me at email@example.com
I want to take a moment to address what Coach K said, and, indirectly, what Dr. Prince said. I believe that he is absolutely correct that PACE has a responsibility in the quizbowl community to run a tournament that serves as an example for other tournaments to follow so that advocates of pyramidal questions and fair competition formats have something to point to. He's also absolutely correct, and I'm ashamed to say this, that we didn't do anything approaching a good job of that this year.
But we are absolutely committed to getting it right next year. It's correct to point out that we're not through discussing the changes that will be made before the 2012 NSC to ensure that the same problems don't recur. We have, however, already come to several conclusions about where the problems came from and what we're going to do next year to solve them. Here's what I can tell you all so far:
1) One of the worst problems that we had this year was a lack of foresight in timing, which led to us making some poor decisions. Examples of those poor decisions include honoring Ms. Gittings Saturday morning, which meant both that it had to be extraordinarily abbreviated (and if you're reading this, Ms. Gittings, I'm very sorry about that!) and that it would hold up the tournament. Another such decision was holding the PACE meeting Saturday after rounds, which, to my chagrin, I later found out held up the statistics, which led to teams getting inexcusably late text messages asking them to return early in the morning for tiebreaker rounds.
Next year, we'll have much more in depth planning sessions related to the exact timing of the tournament, so that everything happens at the correct time.
2) Another issue was the format's long delay Saturday afternoon. It created a very long space of dead time for teams while we rebracketed, and we recognize that teams are not interested in sitting around enduring dead time while they could be playing quizbowl. We had hoped that this year's format would place the lunch break and the rebracketing coterminous. The reason why that didn't work out is that the format that we chose this year was extremely vulnerable to time delays, so because one of the brackets was late reporting back, it's my understanding that the rebracketing didn't get started until much later than it should have.
While I initially liked the format, it's my conclusion that it wasn't the right way to go. We haven't come to any sort of a conclusion on this yet, nor, unfortunately, do I expect us to, but when we choose next year's format, we'll make sure that it minimizes the amount of dead time that teams experience while they wait for us to do statistical calculations behind the scenes. But because all bracketed tournaments have statistical delays, if we choose a bracketed format next year, while we will attempt to minimize them, we'll also ensure that teams know exactly what's going on with the rebracketing and, perhaps, have something interesting to do during breaks (my personal suggestion was scrimmages, if they're long enough).
3) A third issue that we faced this year was poor communication between TDs, control room staffers, and moderators. This led to situations like the incredibly regrettable protest resolution. I'm sorry to say that this isn't a problem that we foresaw, although we should have. This problem is and was last weekend especially insidious, because it feeds off of other problems already present and then makes them worse. It was especially bad because the staffer meeting was unfortunately very abbreviated due to the Saturday meeting starting late.
I want everyone to know that this is something that we're very committed to making sure happens correctly next year. We'll have much more clear instructions for all of the staff so that they know exactly how they're supposed to handle situations that arise and who to communicate with in order to address situations that come up like the protest this year. We'll also have much stricter controls about who has access to the tournament directors.
4) A fourth issue that exacerbated the communications issues this year was that the tournament was spread out across the campus, which led to us having some very contorted control room placements. We should have foreseen the problems that arose from that, and we didn't.
Next year, I don't think it's likely at all that we'll consider tournament sites that don't allow us to have a much more favorable geographical situation. We've had two offers already and I think a third is likely; all three of them seem likely to eliminate the problems that we faced from the campus.
5) The fifth is not a problem unique to the NSC (although it happened there in spades, too), but this year, we've been simply awful at communicating with teams.
We haven't had much of a chance to figure this one out yet, as we've been focused on problems unique to the NSC thus far. But as we turn our attention away from those problems, I'm very confident that we'll come up with a solid plan to make communications happen much better this year.
It has only been a week, and unfortunately, the problems that happened this year can't be solved in one week. It's going to be a year long effort. But we want everyone to know that we are absolutely committed to ensuring that next year's NSC will be the best one yet. In the mean time, I'd like to reiterate my sincere request: contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
if we're not publicly addressing something that you'd like us to. I realize that we have a lot to make up for, but I hope that we'll be able to convince everyone to compete at next year's NSC.