Your "real" A-team

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Your "real" A-team

Post by Nick » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:46 am

I just wanted to make this observation and see what people thought: in every other group activity (it seems like) whatever team shows up to compete is considered the legitimate "A" team and their record and performance goes down in the books as that of the "true" A team, regardless of any other circumstances. For example, if Ron Artest gets suspended, those Lakers games he missed still count for the standings. (or if Dwight Howard throws out his back, or Kobe decides to stay home and play with his kids). This seems to hold true for any other interscholastic, intercollegiate, or professional team activity. The team that shows up, and calls itself the "A" team, is the "A" team.

This isn't exactly the case in quizbowl though, and that's odd to me. Maybe its an issue of the legitimacy of the game. Or maybe it has to do with the priorities of the participants. Or maybe its the fact that quizbowl tournaments are pretty independent and there is no NCAA-esque rankings where these Wins and Losses have a huge impact on the season or the game as a whole. It could be a whole host of issues. It just seems odd to me how sometimes we dismiss games or tournaments because "Johnny had something else to do."

I'm writing this not to illicit change or be provocative, but because I'm legitimately curious as to how others view this issue.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:56 am

When evaluating a team's strength for things like seeding a tournament, you should evaluate a team's full ability (unless people are going to be missing from your tournament, in which case you adjust for that).

It would have been awfully silly to seed, say, Centennial from last year poorly (or, you know, just lower) because Adam Silverman didn't go to a tournament.

I guess I don't see what the issue is. Sports teams all play a relatively similar schedule, and you rank them on record because you're obliged to take the top 6 or 8 teams or whatever, and judging them off of perceived strength would be the worst (imagine the BCS in NFL, and then when you're done sobbing, come back to this thread). National tournaments in quiz bowl allow teams to self-select who participates to some extent; you then order that field as best as you can to produce as equal strengths of schedule as possible.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:17 pm

I think it's because most sports teams don't engage in "tournaments" where they have to worry about seeding. NCAA basketball teams do, but even then, injuries are sometimes taken into account in the final tournament seedings. As Fred said, it would be unfair (to them and other teams) for like Centennial to get treated as a #2 seed because they didn't fare as well in some tournaments without Adam. I do think though to an extent seedings can't be too based on hypothetical A teams. For example, thinking about college because that's what I know better, if Matt "Two Sheds" Bollinger doesn't play many tournaments this year, well, we all know he's a whiz anyway and he dominates tournaments he does play, so UVA shouldn't be hurt in seeding. If, however, a program that might be very good but doesn't have a track record and didn't play anything as a full unit shows up at nationals, it might be okay to penalize them a little in the seedings for lack of evidence.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:32 pm

One should use the roster information available to seed for a particular tournament, but when making rankings, predictions, and seedings based on fluctuating rosters, I think taking into account a team's actual performance is a good idea. If Player X can't be bothered to make it to 5 out of the 7 tournaments a team plays in a year, then I think 5/7 is the approximate chance of that player not showing up at NSC or whatever tournament is under discussion. We've all been subject to the "Hypothetical [School]" phenomenon before, where teams insist they would be ranked higher if only some person we've never seen before played tournaments; I generally rank and seed actual teams instead of putative ones.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Mewto55555 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:05 pm

I think what's being missed here is that these rankings mean next to nothing -- just because Fred ranks, say, Dorman higher than St. John's, does not ipso facto mean Dorman is better than St. John's. All it means is Fred thinks Dorman will do better than St. John's at nationals; the actual better of the two teams is the one who does do better at nationals. If Team X is missing their highest scorer at a national and finishes 50th, then there are 49 teams who did better than them. If Team X is missing their highest scorer at a local tournament, and puts up the 50th best statline in the country, then that doesn't really mean anything in terms of how good the teams will be when they come to nationals (and generally, thought not always, even the most disinclined to go to regular-season tournaments show up at the two). Knowing that, say, Cistercian is very good, it's stupid to not seed them at nationals like a top-10 or so team just because they took a group of B-team players to a tournament in Oklahoma, unless we know those same B-teamers would represent them at nationals also.

If we insist on the sports analogy, then Howard's back doesn't functionally mean anything if the Lakers still manage to qualify for playoffs -- if he comes back for playoffs and the team wins it all, then the Lakers are the best. The Lakers may not regularly put up as good of a regular-season performance in his absence, but who cares? Basketball players and their coaches know better than to get on message boards and complain "heyyyy why aren't we predicted to do betterrrrrr."
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:41 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:I think what's being missed here is that these rankings mean next to nothing -- just because Fred ranks, say, Dorman higher than St. John's, does not ipso facto mean Dorman is better than St. John's. All it means is Fred thinks Dorman will do better than St. John's at nationals; the actual better of the two teams is the one who does do better at nationals. If Team X is missing their highest scorer at a national and finishes 50th, then there are 49 teams who did better than them. If Team X is missing their highest scorer at a local tournament, and puts up the 50th best statline in the country, then that doesn't really mean anything in terms of how good the teams will be when they come to nationals (and generally, thought not always, even the most disinclined to go to regular-season tournaments show up at the two). Knowing that, say, Cistercian is very good, it's stupid to not seed them at nationals like a top-10 or so team just because they took a group of B-team players to a tournament in Oklahoma, unless we know those same B-teamers would represent them at nationals also.

If we insist on the sports analogy, then Howard's back doesn't functionally mean anything if the Lakers still manage to qualify for playoffs -- if he comes back for playoffs and the team wins it all, then the Lakers are the best. The Lakers may not regularly put up as good of a regular-season performance in his absence, but who cares? Basketball players and their coaches know better than to get on message boards and complain "heyyyy why aren't we predicted to do betterrrrrr."
Great post.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Nick » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:49 pm

Well it seems that the distinction here is between rankings, which predict how well a team WILL play, and standings, which outline how well a team HAS played. Because quizbowl doesn't have standings throughout the year to show how well certain teams are actually playing, then there is less of an incentive to do well and/or show up with the "true" A team to any specific tournament (beyond the hardware/glory of that specific tournament). I think having some sort of standings would encourage more teams to participate at more tournaments, and to participate with their full A-team, both of which I think are generally good things. I think that regular season tournaments would have more value if doing well at those tournaments meant something outside of the actual tournament. I think this would make players more focused on winning the game rather than on getting a high ppb. And perhaps people would increasingly prioritize quizbowl over other activities.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:07 pm

If only certain tournaments at some point in the year were limited to teams that had met certain performance thresholds at other tournaments throughout the year.

Like, I'm having trouble figuring out what exactly you are trying to put forward here. Are there specific examples of incentives you would be able to put forward here?

Basically, I'm fine with teams "splitting their 'A' team" (assuming I know about it and can bracket accordingly), or only showing up constantly with only a partial "A" team. I mean, teams are free to spend all season splitting up their top 4 or only playing with a partial "A" team if they want, but they better not expect, say, at States or at Nationals, to suddenly just throw their top 4 together for the first time and have them become a fine-tuned quizbowl playing machine. It takes a good amount of playing tournaments against other teams to really know what your teammates know and to not only anticipate where a question is going, but what each teammate is going to be doing during that question.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Cheynem » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:18 pm

I'm not sure what incentive teams have to do "better" in standings that mean nothing and are only seen by the Internet. I guess if you want to trumpet the fact that you won the "9th most games in the nation" or something to your administration for funding purposes, that's cool, but I wouldn't want teams to just chase wins either.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Capitoline » Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:54 pm

If standings replaced the current rankings system, I certainly think teams would try to do well in them and trumpet their rank, more so than they do now. This is because standings are more concrete than rankings, which are estimates of a team's "full strength". To me, "full strength" means very little until a team backs it up.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Mewto55555 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:53 pm

Yeah, there are in fact two sets of definitive standings put out each year! One by NAQT in late May, and one by PACE in mid-June!
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:13 am

Mewto55555 wrote:Yeah, there are in fact two sets of definitive standings put out each year! One by NAQT in late May, and one by PACE in mid-June!
More claps.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Great Bustard » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:38 pm

What about the ethics / gamesmanship issue of switching A and B (and additional) teams once the schedule is known? Do people have strong feelings on this? I've heard the argument both ways - just throwing that out there for continued discussion.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:42 pm

It's dumb and shouldn't be done.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:46 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:What about the ethics / gamesmanship issue of switching A and B (and additional) teams once the schedule is known? Do people have strong feelings on this? I've heard the argument both ways - just throwing that out there for continued discussion.
Teams that try to pull this should be publicly shamed. I would consider never allowing them to play in tournaments I am in charge of.

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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Cheynem » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:07 pm

What is the "pro" argument for this?
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:16 pm

Cheynem wrote:What is the "pro" argument for this?
"I'm trying to game the system!" - coach who does this
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Cheynem » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:17 pm

No, I get "pro" arguments in terms of being a jerk/jibroni. Dave was suggesting there is a legit argument, which I don't see offhand.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:10 pm

Fred wrote:
Cheynem wrote:What is the "pro" argument for this?
"I'm trying to game the system!" - coach who does this
I'm not sure if this is an actual quote (although there are some nearby coaches who could/would/should give that quote to you), but every coach I've ever known to engage in this practice has basically admitted upfront they are trying to game the system.

It seems pretty common at collegiate NAQT tournaments (especially CC SCT) as well. Maybe some people associated with those circuits would care to elaborate.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:24 pm

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote: It seems pretty common at collegiate NAQT tournaments (especially CC SCT) as well. Maybe some people associated with those circuits would care to elaborate.
There's no purpose in doing this at four-year SCT, ICT, or CCCT (for all of which rosters are collected in advance; and in any case the tournament formats are such as to make this sort of thing silly).

I'll take a look at the CC SCT data once naqt.com is back up.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:42 pm

I think there are two reasons coaches do this.

One is that they believe the pools were set up poorly, so they take a vigilante approach to making them even by switching their teams. I suppose we could discuss whether/when this is justified. I'm generally not a fan and never did this, but it is easy to imagine cases where this might be reasonable.

Another is when they think that their A Team will advance to the next top level no matter what the competition is, and their B Team might advance given a favorable schedule. Since their A Team is given a favorable schedule, they switch the teams. Schools should not do this because it makes the tournament less fair overall.

There were times that I split my A Team so that friends/classmates could spend the day playing together. In that case, you call the team you think is better your A Team and deal with the fact that that's your A Team.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:08 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Sulawesi Myzomela wrote: It seems pretty common at collegiate NAQT tournaments (especially CC SCT) as well. Maybe some people associated with those circuits would care to elaborate.
There's no purpose in doing this at four-year SCT, ICT, or CCCT (for all of which rosters are collected in advance; and in any case the tournament formats are such as to make this sort of thing silly).

I'll take a look at the CC SCT data once naqt.com is back up.
It seems like a lot of CC teams split their best players up at CC SCT in order to qualify their B teams (and C teams, etc.) for CCCT, but I guess that could be more isolated than I thought.

EDIT: Never mind, I misinterpreted what the current point of discussion is. Still, the practice I'm talking about should be discouraged.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:56 pm

As I understand it, there are also some schools who divide their teams by age alone, so the team of upperclassmen is always A and the underclassmen always B, even if the B-team puts up better numbers. This should probably stop, but it's A Thing that happens.
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Re: Your "real" A-team

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:56 am

RyuAqua wrote:As I understand it, there are also some schools who divide their teams by age alone, so the team of upperclassmen is always A and the underclassmen always B, even if the B-team puts up better numbers. This should probably stop, but it's A Thing that happens.
Case in point: Hallsville in MO; the B team is entirely sophomores who probably have an NAQT small school national title in their future.
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