Tournament Overload

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Tournament Overload

Post by David Riley » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:09 am

Several of us have been on Facebook recently, discussing: do we have too many tournaments in Illinois (I am referring to tournaments on good questions, defined as NAQT, HSAPQ, and mirrors of acknowledged housewrites)? Are people getting burned out? Are experienced moderators at a premium? Discuss here. I'm particularly interested in students' opinions.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:38 am

Absolutely, good staffers are at a premium. We need more, so people can take a Saturday off of quizbowl.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Charles Martel » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:43 am

I love playing quizbowl every weekend, and I don't think it would be possible for me to get burned out with too many tournaments.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:40 am

whitesoxfan wrote:I love playing quizbowl every weekend, and I don't think it would be possible for me to get burned out with too many tournaments.
You also don't have parents who tell your coach that you can't come out and play for x reason.

You may not be burnt out, but for college students who juggle studies, a job, and sometimes college quizbowl commitments, it can take a toll.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:44 am

I mean I enjoy it as a student, but I'm not sure about all the staffer constraints and stuff.

I remember Matt Weiner mentioning stuff about Illinois having a ridiculous amount of tournaments and like, problems with too many of of them in the mid season podcast, but I can't remember what he mentioned off the top of my head
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by jonah » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:17 pm

It's difficult or impossible to find enough quality moderators for a decent-sized field to begin with. Most tournaments have been handling this by asking some coaches to read; this helps solve the immediate problem, but creates bigger-picture problems and is unfair to the coach and his/her team. On top of that, each of the fairly small number of quality moderators who aren't affiliated with a team sometimes wants a break, has another commitment, etc. This is perfectly reasonable, and despite tournament directors' ensuing frustration, it's really inappropriate to give those people as much grief as I've been seeing some of them given.

If we can find a way to significantly increase the number of good staffers who are willing and able to help out at tournaments on a regular basis, certainly we should do that. But if the existing staffer pool feels it can't support the number of tournaments we have—and as part of that pool, I do think so—then reducing the number of tournaments may be the right solution.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by the return of AHAN » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:50 pm

And this is the reason Barrington HS may never make the great leap forward to join the ranks of the elite. I'm simply helping Mr. Baker, who doesn't get a stipend commensurate to what you'd expect of someone who's taking his team to 12-15 weekend tournaments between October and March. He and I switch on and off periodically because he is opposed to being at tournaments every weekend. And I can't say I blame him. We have other responsibilities and, in my case, a family.

Dec 17 = NTV
Jan 7 = Turnabout
Jan 14 = off
Jan 21 = Ultima
Jan 28 = off
Feb 4 = off
Feb 11 = History Bowl (I'm at Metcalf Sweetheart w/ Station)
Feb 18 = Masonic
Feb 25 = off
Mar 3 = possible Masonic State (I'm at Jr. Wildcat with Station)
Mar 10 = possible IHSA sectionals

As you can see, we have a few Saturdays here and there where we DON'T fill in with things just to keep balance in our lives, and I'm sure it's at the expense of making the team better.
Jeff Price, Barrington Station Middle School Coach (2013 MSNCT Champions, 2013 & 2017 Illinois Class AA State Champions)
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:01 pm

I agree that it's, "difficult or impossible to find enough quality moderators for a decent-sized field to begin with." However, I don't think that's a reason to reduce the number of tournaments.

For one thing, I think it's just part of life that if you coach a good team and can moderate decently you are going to spend some of your Saturdays moderating while your teams plays without a coach. Obviously, this isn't an ideal situation, but it's not a huge problem.

For another thing, I think that reducing the number of tournaments only slightly solves this problem. There still aren't a lot of moderators, and I would think that moderators pick the tournaments they miss based on what else is going on in their lives that Saturday at least as much as trying to control the number of tournaments they work.

If there is a problem with too many tournaments, it is a problem that people may feel pressured to go to more tournaments than they want to in their role of coach, player, or moderator. It's probably a good idea to remind people that they shouldn't attend more tournaments than they want to and that there is nothing wrong with missing a tournament. Also, we shouldn't take good coaches, players, or moderators for granted--we should be extremely grateful that we have a lot of great people who repeatedly go above and beyond, and we shouldn't expect martyrdom.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by jonah » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:20 pm

Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:For one thing, I think it's just part of life that if you coach a good team and can moderate decently you are going to spend some of your Saturdays moderating while your teams plays without a coach. Obviously, this isn't an ideal situation, but it's not a huge problem.
Right; the problem comes when you spend few or no Saturdays with your team. There are at least two people I can think of to whom this applies, and they and their teams deserve better.
Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:For another thing, I think that reducing the number of tournaments only slightly solves this problem. There still aren't a lot of moderators, and I would think that moderators pick the tournaments they miss based on what else is going on in their lives that Saturday at least as much as trying to control the number of tournaments they work.
Certainly, but if there are fewer tournaments, there is a smaller chance of conflict between a tournament and something else. Furthermore, some of the staffer obligations are not specific to a date, but rather of the general form "spend time with my family/significant other/textbooks", so having some free Saturdays on which to schedule those would be a good thing.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:34 pm

I think another thing that we could definitely do is just stretch out the schedule more. Seeing as most teams that go to tournaments anyway have move past holding up IHSA State as the end-all tournament, we could definitely use the months of March/April/May more than we currently do. For example, we had a tournament scheduled for every single weekend in January yet we have nothing other than IHSA Sectionals/State schedule for March and April right now. During these three months there's usually only 1 or 2 tournaments (e.g. ATROPHY, Wildcat, QUALM-FREE in the past) that are in Illinois (obviously Texas weekend is a thing some of us are doing this year, Midwest Championship has been at Culver in the past, nationals start). By spreading out our tournaments better, it would reduce both the 'burning out' effect that people get from the earlier months and perhaps the feeling of inactivity/slump during these months.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by No Electricity Required » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:04 pm

Internet appliance wrote: I remember Matt Weiner mentioning stuff about Illinois having a ridiculous amount of tournaments and like, problems with too many of of them in the mid season podcast, but I can't remember what he mentioned off the top of my head
Matt Weiner was saying that his criticism of the number of tournaments didn't apply to Illinois because our circuit (in terms of number of participants, etx.) was/is not being hurt by there being so many tournaments like circuits in other regions (like the Mid-Atlantic), at least in his opinion.
Gus Honeybun wrote:I think another thing that we could definitely do is just stretch out the schedule more. Seeing as most teams that go to tournaments anyway have move past holding up IHSA State as the end-all tournament, we could definitely use the months of March/April/May more than we currently do. For example, we had a tournament scheduled for every single weekend in January yet we have nothing other than IHSA Sectionals/State schedule for March and April right now. During these three months there's usually only 1 or 2 tournaments (e.g. ATROPHY, Wildcat, QUALM-FREE in the past) that are in Illinois (obviously Texas weekend is a thing some of us are doing this year, Midwest Championship has been at Culver in the past, nationals start). By spreading out our tournaments better, it would reduce both the 'burning out' effect that people get from the earlier months and perhaps the feeling of inactivity/slump during these months.
I really like the idea of getting some more tournaments in the spring to spread the burden out, but I'm afraid it might be hard to convince teams to host their tournaments then when they might lose some schools because of the time and because it'd be harder to recruit the less usual suspects. I don't think that tournaments would be hurt much by a later spring date, but it might be hard to get more people trying it out.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by tintinnabulation » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:44 pm

No Electricity Required wrote:
Gus Honeybun wrote:I think another thing that we could definitely do is just stretch out the schedule more. Seeing as most teams that go to tournaments anyway have move past holding up IHSA State as the end-all tournament, we could definitely use the months of March/April/May more than we currently do. For example, we had a tournament scheduled for every single weekend in January yet we have nothing other than IHSA Sectionals/State schedule for March and April right now. During these three months there's usually only 1 or 2 tournaments (e.g. ATROPHY, Wildcat, QUALM-FREE in the past) that are in Illinois (obviously Texas weekend is a thing some of us are doing this year, Midwest Championship has been at Culver in the past, nationals start). By spreading out our tournaments better, it would reduce both the 'burning out' effect that people get from the earlier months and perhaps the feeling of inactivity/slump during these months.
I really like the idea of getting some more tournaments in the spring to spread the burden out, but I'm afraid it might be hard to convince teams to host their tournaments then when they might lose some schools because of the time and because it'd be harder to recruit the less usual suspects. I don't think that tournaments would be hurt much by a later spring date, but it might be hard to get more people trying it out.
I think that spreading the tournaments out into the spring might actually beef up the tournament field. There were two tournaments we were invited to that we were not able to go to because we were hosting on those Saturdays. If there are spring weekends where there's only one tourney going on in Illinois, more teams can come. Ex: Tristan, you probably would have gone to the Loyola Ultima if you didn't have the Springfield invite last week, right?

Also, spreading out the tournaments means that the staffers won't be split between tourneys, which means that there will be enough/enough that some can get a break.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by David Riley » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:08 pm

*LONG POST*

Okay, since I opened up this can of worms, I'll continue the discussion. Note that there is a similar discussion going on in the DC area thread, so we're not alone!

1. Fun vs. competition -- I agree that we need to make quiz bowl more fun for freshmen/newcomers. I don't think that the way to do this is by using poor questions; fortunately, the packet archives have lots of choices. Perhaps the way to do this is by adding an element of fun to practices (how?), or by doing it through logistics at tournaments (it's been my experience that people generally don't pay enough attention to tournaments logistics). Then, I'm not sure there is a tried and true answer. A few years ago, both my A and B teams were a group of enthusiastic seniors, and their enthusiasm was contagious. I told the C Team before their first tournament (the challenging U of I Early Bird) that they were welcome to play but that they would probably be slaughtered. They decided to play anyway, and they were slaughtered but won a few matches as well. Most of them stuck with it. The next year, I had a freshman class that was either very timid or else left after the first practice when they found out that our brand of quiz bowl bore no resemblance to Trivial Pursuit. They pleaded for one-liner questios (I refused). We also need to keep in mind that middle schools have little experience with good quiz bowl, although Jeff Price at Barrington Station and the Northwestern crew are trying to change that.

2. Now, I'm taking a deep breath here . . .no disrespect is intended to neither the team nor their program, but: one of the reasons Auburn may be having trouble finding a sufficient field for their RAVE tournament is that it's the fourth tournament that they hosted this year. If a team went to both the Harvard Mirror and Loyburn, they may not want to go to Auburn for the third time that year, viewing three trips to Rockford (most qb teams being outside the Rockford area) as overkill. Just a thought. Perhaps, if we do decide to reduce the number of Illinois tournaments, a place to start would be for hosts to limit their tournaments to either two varsity tournaments, or a varsity and a frosh/soph-novice. Saying this, I realize that tournaments are often fund raisers and this may be a lot to ask for.

3. Anyone who has ever attended a large tournament knows that we need to train more moderators. Some coaches can read (although they would probably rather be with their teams) and some are abysmal. The current number of quality moderators is relatively small, and we are stretching them to the limit. In addition to not hosting high school tournaments on college tournament weekends, we might want to pick two or three weekends where no tournaments are held, though as some point out, a non-quiz bowl tournament might snap up the spot. If we train additional moderators, it is probably not necessary to reduce the number of tournaments.

These are just suggestions; any further comments?
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Edward Elric » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:46 pm

I'll address Mr. Riley's comments the way that I see them.

1. Making Practices More Fun:
As a person who is running college practices with inexperienced first year players (note this only has some significance to HS), I have tried to find of ways to get people to stick with it. It's worked relatively well as we have retained everyone from the beginning of the year. I've done this by making practices more laid back and fun. I feel that a lot of the good teams tend to find ways to have inner-cliques that foster competition among members of the team. I can see this a bit in IMSA and Loyola. I also think that a coach that is enthusiastic and willing to guide students is the best way to make practices "fun." That way, losing to Andrew Wang by 500 points can be seen as a learning experience rather than a debate on how "that kid powered half the questions."

2. Hosting Tournaments:
I understand that Auburn has been having issues raising funds and needs to host more tournaments in order to raise money for nationals and other tournaments. I feel that, however, we should start getting other school around different areas of the state to host more tournaments. As much as I don't mind going to Loyola, New Trier, Auburn and NIU multiple times a year, I believe that if we get more schools like Metea Valley and Belvidere North to host that would be a good way to expand quizbowl. I also feel that there should be more tournaments in the middle area between Chicagoland and central Illinois that is not as far west as Rockford. That is a good way to draw up some Southern and Central Illinois teams. As a last note to this, I feel that some tournaments should specifically attract growing teams that are not necessarily F/S (similar to Turnabout) that could be run on sets like LIST or other housewrites of the future. Spread the housewrites out across the state People!

3. Training more Moderators:
I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of training more moderators but the only question that I have is where are we going to get these moderators from? Other circuits have the benefit of having colleges and universitys close that can have staffers staff a large quantity of tournaments. The only real universitys around here who have staffers that staff high school tournaments are UIUC, UIC and UChicago. I'm not counting NIU because thats more of Brad and Kristin's brainchild. The problem with this is that UIUC students tend not to want to staff during a school year due to commuting issues (completely reasonable) and that UChicago students tend to play college tournamnents more than staff, (which again I completely understand). I staff more tournaments because I commute from home and can afford to drive around. That's not an option for a lot of people though so we need to find more moderators. My solution? Try to find people like Ali Nagib that are out of school and can staff or find more coaches and train them to be good moderators. We shouldn't force these coaches to miss seeing their team play but rather help staff if moderators are at a minimum (as was this weekend at NIU).

Finally, regarding weekends off I completely and wholeheartedly agree. I can't staff tournaments every weekend as I know a lot of my fellow moderators can't either. I feel that weekends for college tournaments like SCT, ACF Regs and ACF Fall should be automatic black out dates and that we sprinkle every 2 or 3 weeks a week off. The flip side to this is that we should try to spread out the torunaments through April. This will take a part in convincing schools to play after IHSA state (which was completely foreign to me in High school).

Anyways, sorry for the long post but I think that some of these ideas should try to be put into place. Any comments are welcome.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:32 pm

We need more moderators. It's as simple as that. NIU's at the point where the only utility we offer when we host an event is the ability to do the logistics ourselves - thanks to Kristin functioning as TD rather than moderator and Danielle Long's interest in moderating both NIU and Chicago-area tournaments, we provide one fewer moderator to an event if we host it than if Kristin, Danielle, and I just drive in to someone else's tournament.

Awesome people like Ali Nagib and Clark Reamer saved our tournament, and we're reliant on such independent moderators for our events. But Huskie Bowl was on the razor's edge for staff thanks to my sore throat, and it'd be really nice to space things out a bit so that we don't have to play Russian roulette with tournament viability. Simply saying "we need more moderators, let's get more moderators" is 100% true and 0% workable. It's a thing we need to do, but we can't simply say "we're gonna do that, so the problem will be solved."

As I said in the HSQB mid-season podcast, we've got these organizations like (nationally) PACE and (in Illinois) IHSSBCA that we've endowed with some authority. The IHSSBCA Tournament Calendar has been a powerful force in keeping good quizbowl organized, refraining from stepping on nearby tournament's toes. Let's further use that authority to organize the state's tournament calendar for the sanity of our finite moderator pool.

I call on the IHSSBCA to take a more active role in statewide tournament coordination, and to that end I will be sketching a proposal for such a role and presenting it at the Feb. 12th meeting. If you have thoughts/suggestions, please email me.
Brad Fischer
Head Editor, IHSA State Series

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Mike Wong » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:17 pm

Bone seeker wrote: I call on the IHSSBCA to take a more active role in statewide tournament coordination, and to that end I will be sketching a proposal for such a role and presenting it at the Feb. 12th meeting. If you have thoughts/suggestions, please email me.
How is this going? Can you post what you've got?
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:20 pm

We've got three big problems right now that my ideas focus on.
1. Not enough moderating power (not enough people and they're spread too thin over the calendar)
2. The calendar is very inefficient; there's a Chicago-area tournament literally every Saturday (excepting the three holiday weeks) from mid-October to mid-March, but none in September and very little in late March to May; the Central/Southern calendar has very little in the way of varsity tournaments pre-January, then seven straight Saturdays in January-February before the March screeching halt. We really need to spread that out.
3. The constant issue of getting more teams to play more tournaments; Mike Wong's research says that there are 127 schools (not teams, schools) that have played only one or two good tournaments (defined as good questions + SQBS stats, because otherwise we couldn't know about them; there's enough correlation this year between those two components that it works), but only 24 schools that have played three or four tournaments and only 18 that have played five or more. We need to move some of those 127 up to the next tier.

So, my plan for tournament scheduling reform.
The IHSSBCA should continue to host/construct the tournament calendar (i.e. what Coach Riley's done, and would optimally continue to do, if he wants). However, the tournament calendar presents with one primary concern - if there is a hole in the calendar in Chicago, there is usually a new tournament interested in filling that hole. If, however, the calendar is presented to the circuit with well-defined "break" weeks - something for which there is support right now - we can preserve the moderator's ability to say "No, I'm taking that week off' without feeling like a failure. If a tournament wants to fill a hole, they do so at the risk of not having interested teams/staff.

So, proposal 1: Announce the tournament calendar in August-early September, with noticeable gaps - roughly one per month. An example schedule for 2012-13 can be viewed in this Google Doc: HERE

Benefit 1: It allows moderators to determine their schedule ahead of time and say without guilt "this is my week off."
Benefit 2: Well-defined weeks off increase the probability of moderators being able to say "this is my week on," so we'll see more moderator availability on the weekends that there are tournaments; these tournaments can then grow to invite more teams.
Benefit 3: There are a plethora of schools that pick and choose their tournaments seemingly at random - breakweeks will push teams towards other tournaments and increase field sizes.

It is dangerous to assume Benefit 3; we should work to reduce the risk of dropping attendance. The easiest way to do that is to emulate the most successful events in the state - the IHSSBCA-supported Kickoff and Turnabout events. Just putting the name "IHSSBCA" in front of a tourney name boosts attendance drastically; we need more of these events.

So, proposal 2: Create a five-tournament collection of IHSSBCA events, one each in October, November, December, January, and February, each designed as a statewide multi-site event, each coordinated using the same rules and same question set, trying to give tournament sites to as many different qualified hosts as possible. These tournaments can (and should!!) be used in coordination with already-existing independent events.
Benefit 1: An IHSSBCA-sponsored/supported event sees more turnout than an independent event; this will bump many of those once-or-twice teams into more regular circuit participants
Benefit 2: Question sets will be used more efficiently
Benefit 2a: We can probably negotiate for lower mirror fees (maybe not anything more with NAQT, but with independent housewrites)
Benefit 3: Allocating hosting duties to different schools lowers the probability that a school can't find a week to host their own tournament thanks to the breakweeks in my first proposal.

Specifically, I've imagined the events to go as follows:
October: IHSSBCA Novice
November: IHSSBCA Kickoff, as usual
December: IHSSBCA December Varsity
January: IHSSBCA Turnabout, as usual
February: IHSSBCA February Varsity

December and February would be standard regular season tournaments, preferably using the easiest possible independent housewrites (LIST 3, if it happens, would be ideal). IHSSBCA Novice in October would use a novice set like SCOP Novice 3 or Fall Novice 4, and would have a well-defined eligibility rule.

I volunteer to coordinate the IHSSBCA-based logistics for these new events - finding/choosing hosts, finding/choosing questions, writing up announcements in Scholastic Visions, assisting TDs with formatting schedules/etc., - although it does present with the extra work of more snail mail, and I'd like help with that :)

Finally, I mentioned moderating power, so I have a minor proposal to help work with that.
Proposal 3: Severely discourage Varsity tournaments from competing against IHSSBCA Novice and Turnabout; they dilute the moderator pool. Encourage players on non-Novices and blacklisted teams to staff IHSSBCA Novice and Turnabout in exchange for small discounts at other IHSSBCA events.
Benefit 1: More staff at IHSSBCA tournaments.
Benefit 2: A breakweek for players who want it; an ability to give back to the circuit and practice moderating for players who want more quizbowl
Benefit 3: The best way to grow the moderator pool is getting students involved in the work of tournaments; when they already know how enjoyable moderating is, they'll be more likely to say "yes" when we beg and plead them to come back after graduation.

I'm very open to further suggestions and concerns, of course. Thoughts?
Brad Fischer
Head Editor, IHSA State Series

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Northern Illinois University ('10)
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Edward Elric » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:08 pm

The only thing I have to add at the moment is that in the VCU Closed thread, Jeff Hoppes alluded to SCT being the 9th of February as opposed to the 2nd (which will be VCU Closed).

Besides that, I'm all for having blackout weekends :grin: . I think having higher level students staffing Turnabouts and other IHSSBCA events is a great idea. The schedule put forth seems legitimate and doable.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:33 pm

March is just an overall bad month. You have three weekends taken by Masonic and IHSA, and you run into Spring Break.

April could use another, while in May you hit APs, graduations, and nationals.

20-odd years ago the calendar used to be September-May for teams that wanted it. I think we can return to that, if it can be sustained.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:38 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:March is just an overall bad month. You have three weekends taken by Masonic and IHSA, and you run into Spring Break.
Yeah, I definitely can't see being able to set up large expectations for March or May tournaments; there's so much other stuff going on that expecting to pull off a Kickoff or even a New Trier Varsity isn't possible yet. But as long as there are enough interested players, March shouldn't be a horrible experience for moderators (not much actual work going on that month for us) so a tourney should be able to go off, even if it doesn't have all top ten teams or whatever. A Midwest Championship in May after APs are done should be fine, and given nats at the end of the month, that's probably enough.

As a state, we should be able to do three April tournaments; maybe not this year or next, but there isn't anything inherent about April other than Easter that would keep that from happening (and therefore, Easter = the breakweek for April). So we may not have tons of college help thanks to nats; no matter.
Brad Fischer
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:48 pm

Also, as long as we're training more readers, more competent stat gurus are needed. I'm willing to train interested people, as I'll be severely cutting the number of tournaments I staff.

If we can get good data for more teams and more tournaments, they can be used to attract more teams as well as help lower-tier teams improve.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by David Riley » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:42 pm

As I responded to David Reinstein (since I will unfortunately be unable to attend the meeting), we have always been told by downstate teams that they can't play tournaments prior to December because of either basketball or deer-hunting season
(I'm not joking!). Downstaters, is this true, or is it a downstate legend? If the latter, then we should definitely encourage more tournaments in that region from September through November.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:19 am

David Riley wrote:As I responded to David Reinstein (since I will unfortunately be unable to attend the meeting), we have always been told by downstate teams that they can't play tournaments prior to December because of either basketball or deer-hunting season
(I'm not joking!). Downstaters, is this true, or is it a downstate legend? If the latter, then we should definitely encourage more tournaments in that region from September through November.
There are some bad tournaments (I think that UIUC's Phi Scholars still do a shitty tournament), but the issue is of capable hosts. Once we get more teams (besides PORTA, Springfield, and Bloomington) that can host, the calendar will expand down here.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:00 am

Before we go move forward with Brad's proposals, I want to make sure the flaws are fully vetted.

1) A number of teams are only interested in playing tournaments on certain weekends when there are no conflicts with whatever primary activities exist in their school. Should we be worried about a team that plays 3 good tournaments a year losing one of those days because there are no tournaments on the days they want to play?
2) There is no enforcement mechanism. What is the reaction going to be when somebody hosts a good tournament on a date they aren't supposed to host a tournament on?
3) Is this going to make it impossible for new tournaments to establish themselves? There won't be any dates, or they'll have to pick a date in September and run their tournament with four teams.
4) Why are we working so hard to give moderators a week or two off? They can already have any and all weeks off that they want.
5) It has been difficult to find hosts for the two IHSSBCA statewide dates. What are we going to do if we only get one or two hosts for one or two of the five dates? What happens if the only host in an area wants to run a tournament with only five guaranteed matches? Also, when we do get several hosts for the same date, it is not realistic that all the sites will be fully staffed.
6) Does this schedule allow for innovation? If somebody wants to host a novice tournament later in the year or a high school tournament on college questions, does this schedule allow for a few oddities like that?
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:13 am

Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:Before we go move forward with Brad's proposals, I want to make sure the flaws are fully vetted.

1) A number of teams are only interested in playing tournaments on certain weekends when there are no conflicts with whatever primary activities exist in their school. Should we be worried about a team that plays 3 good tournaments a year losing one of those days because there are no tournaments on the days they want to play?
My thinking is that IHSSBCA recognition of October Novice, Decemberist, and February Varsity make it more likely that those events become primary activities akin to Kickoff and Turnabout, thereby making it more likely that they get to 3 (or more). In addition...(see next point)
2) There is no enforcement mechanism. What is the reaction going to be when somebody hosts a good tournament on a date they aren't supposed to host a tournament on?
My idea is for passive enforcement - we announce the calendar when it's confirmed, and independent moderators that want break weeks take note and reserve those weeks as breaks, if they like. (Moderators don't have to take breakweeks off! It's just a matter of giving them an option to in a clearer way than we currently have.) We make it very clear that that's the motivation behind the breakweeks, noting that hosting a tournament during a breakweek isn't illegal, just harder to find independent moderating staff if they want that break week. If you're UIUC or Northwestern and you can run an entire event on your own club's efforts, go for it! If you're running a conference that puts your end-of-league tournament on a Saturday, put it on a breakweek so you don't have to miss a big tournament! But if you're like NIU and you have two total in-house moderators, you should expect to hear "sorry, can't moderate, have non-qb plans." Long story short, if you run a tournament that doesn't rely on the assistance of tons of outside help, you should feel free to fill the breakweek.
3) Is this going to make it impossible for new tournaments to establish themselves? There won't be any dates, or they'll have to pick a date in September and run their tournament with four teams.
The October Novice, Decemberist, and February Varsity events are intended to provide opportunities for a variety of schools to host events - indeed, it'll help new tournaments establish themselves because they'll have the support and advice of the IHSSBCA behind them. We usually only see one or two new events each year, but given the current status of the calendar, I'm not sure that we can support even that rate of growth of new tournaments if they don't closely coordinate with each other to share question sets and calendar space. The new IHSSBCA events will help on this front.
4) Why are we working so hard to give moderators a week or two off? They can already have any and all weeks off that they want.
Because of my "weak enforcement" idea above, the concept of breakweeks will probably take shape more as "this week, we won't have as many moderators at our event" rather than "this week, there is no event." It's an effort to efficiently allow moderators to take weeks off without feeling guilty or facing tough decisions on which tournaments to miss -- because there is an undeniable social pressure to help out the quizbowl circuit as much as possible. If I take a week off this year, I'm actively slighting a good friend of mine by hurting their tournament, not to mention ignoring my duties as assistant coach. You shouldn't have to feel bad because you want a day off to study or relax.
5) It has been difficult to find hosts for the two IHSSBCA statewide dates. What are we going to do if we only get one or two hosts for one or two of the five dates? What happens if the only host in an area wants to run a tournament with only five guaranteed matches? Also, when we do get several hosts for the same date, it is not realistic that all the sites will be fully staffed.
Say we only get one or two hosts for IHSSBCA February Varsity - call them Auburn (because they had the date this year) and Springfield (because it's not in Chicago and it came to my mind first). That's already a DOUBLING of the number of good quizbowl tournaments available on that weekend. Optimally, we'll get four or five sites around the state to make it easy to get to one of these events - and I will work tirelessly to accomplish this - but coming up short still leaves us better off than we currently are.

Re: not following IHSSBCA procedure -- what do we currently do when this happens?
Re: staffing -- staffing capacity is going to lag behind circuit growth no matter what. At an IHSSBCA large-size tournament, we're sacrificing quality-of-the-worst-moderator for tournament size, but that's a tradeoff that Illinois needs to make more often. 9 rounds in a bad-case scenario (not worst-case, but still bad) is still done by 4 PM; just because we could be done by 3 PM if we kept field sizes low enough to not require coaches to read doesn't mean we should lower field sizes.
6) Does this schedule allow for innovation? If somebody wants to host a novice tournament later in the year or a high school tournament on college questions, does this schedule allow for a few oddities like that?
The mid-season podcast had a lot of good thoughts regarding late-season novice tournaments - when you get to spring semester, pretty much anyone who wants to play quizbowl has had a plethora of opportunities to start playing, whether that's the original novice tournaments, or Turnabout at the start of January, or the various standard divisions. Late-season novice doesn't solve a problem we currently have.
High school tournaments on college questions are also not a great idea - I can see the argument for ACF Fall, because the essential difference between ACF Fall and a self-advertised "harder than regular HS" set is that ACF Fall will have better copy-editing - but we do not need to be suggesting to the state as a whole that college questions are a good idea.

So if that's innovation and my proposal would stand to deny it, that's a point in favor of my proposal! :grin: But, generally speaking, the "weak enforcement" principle would come into play here. If you want to try something on a breakweek, go for it - just expect that some moderators might say no, so don't rely on them to save your tournament from the current status of, say, National History Bee and Bowl @ Fenton (which is, currently, exactly zero outside moderating help).

Thoughts?
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by cornfused » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:32 pm

As an independent moderator, I don't like the idea of needing to reserve a break week in advance. That's just silly.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:37 am

cornfused wrote:As an independent moderator, I don't like the idea of needing to reserve a break week in advance. That's just silly.
I think it's more along the lines of signaling what weeks you won't be reading.

I also find it pointless. If someone doesn't want to read a particular week, so what. The onus is on the TD to figure out who's available. That should not change.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by jonah » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:08 am

dtaylor4 wrote:I also find it pointless. If someone doesn't want to read a particular week, so what. The onus is on the TD to figure out who's available. That should not change.
This proposal is probably for the benefit of teams as much as moderators. But regarding moderators: in theory, you're right, but it seems that some TDs are giving moderators inordinate amounts of grief when a moderator chooses to take a week off, and this could help solve that problem. (Though it would be preferable, of course, for said TDs to treat their potential staff better.)
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by AKKOLADE » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:58 am

jonah wrote:(Though it would be preferable, of course, for said TDs to treat their potential staff better.)
This is the proper solution. Any TDs who are jerks to anyone for - GASP - not wanting to spend every single Saturday reading quiz bowl questions should be hurled into Lake Michigan.

There's no other reasonable solution to this problem than getting jerks to stop being like that, or else outright replacing them. Volunteers don't owe you anything.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by Dominator » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:13 am

jonah wrote:
dtaylor4 wrote:I also find it pointless. If someone doesn't want to read a particular week, so what. The onus is on the TD to figure out who's available. That should not change.
This proposal is probably for the benefit of teams as much as moderators. But regarding moderators: in theory, you're right, but it seems that some TDs are giving moderators inordinate amounts of grief when a moderator chooses to take a week off, and this could help solve that problem. (Though it would be preferable, of course, for said TDs to treat their potential staff better.)
This. Yes, moderators are worn out. But coaches and budgets are also worn out, and maybe some players are too. If the break week thing is not a popular suggestion, then I feel we should still consider ways to keep the schedule in check. (I suppose Donald could still say that coaches should take weeks off when they need to, but I will respond that it is not that easy, that there is pressure on coaches to stretch themselves [some of that pressure being advocated on these boards all the time], and that even if it is that easy we should try to take a friendlier stance if we want to encourage people to be involved in quizbowl. We can continue to maintain that it is easy to just take a week off, but if coaches do not feel that way, they can just stop coaching altogether. The same applies to moderators.)
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:28 pm

Dominator wrote:This. Yes, moderators are worn out. But coaches and budgets are also worn out, and maybe some players are too. If the break week thing is not a popular suggestion, then I feel we should still consider ways to keep the schedule in check. (I suppose Donald could still say that coaches should take weeks off when they need to, but I will respond that it is not that easy, that there is pressure on coaches to stretch themselves [some of that pressure being advocated on these boards all the time], and that even if it is that easy we should try to take a friendlier stance if we want to encourage people to be involved in quizbowl. We can continue to maintain that it is easy to just take a week off, but if coaches do not feel that way, they can just stop coaching altogether. The same applies to moderators.)
Ultimately, people will vote with their feet. If people/teams feel pressured into playing/staffing tournaments that they otherwise wouldn't go to, they're going for the wrong reasons.

The community as a whole needs to see about finding and creating better quality readers. They don't pop up overnight, they come from people who are given ample opportunity to improve. As long as TDs keep going to the same barrel over and over, the pool will stagnate.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by TheDoctor » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:58 pm

The way I see it, the problem isn't so much that all of us feel pressured to attend events we otherwise wouldn't, but that we feel compelled to attend many or all of the good quality tournaments, and give up a ton of time to support them because we feel it's the right thing to do. Personally, I'm a fan of Brad's schedule both as a moderator who has experienced this kind of pressure and as a tournament director who has heard the "we've played too many events lately and my team needs a break" apology a few too many times this year.
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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:00 am

TheDoctor wrote:The way I see it, the problem isn't so much that all of us feel pressured to attend events we otherwise wouldn't, but that we feel compelled to attend many or all of the good quality tournaments, and give up a ton of time to support them because we feel it's the right thing to do. Personally, I'm a fan of Brad's schedule both as a moderator who has experienced this kind of pressure and as a tournament director who has heard the "we've played too many events lately and my team needs a break" apology a few too many times this year.
Where I disagree with this is where teams are forced into certain break weeks. We can't expect everyone in the community to have their lives revolve around the quizbowl schedule, nor should we.

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Re: Tournament Overload

Post by TheDoctor » Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:07 am

dtaylor4 wrote:Where I disagree with this is where teams are forced into certain break weeks. We can't expect everyone in the community to have their lives revolve around the quizbowl schedule, nor should we.
We're not. We're just setting up suggested breaks to ensure that everyone can take one periodically without missing a good tournament. They can still host or attend a tournament on break days, but such a tournament would be more likely to be a small tournament with local teams and alumni moderating. Off weeks also provide a good opportunity for intramural promotional events, or can allow students to attend IMEA, ICTM, or any of the other myriad events they also love without the guilt of skipping out on their team. Frankly, I can see a lot of ways in which this tournament schedule could help a lot of different people, and no way in which it would substantially hurt anyone.
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