--Long post ahead--
Congratulations to Kai, Griffin, Jesse, Aram, and Akshay for placing 10th at NASAT! The only predictions I have are that Ezell-Harding will control the Middle TN area, Farragut will beat Ezell (at any level), and that the NASAT team will improve from this year's finish.
I'm happy with 13 NAQT (not counting Rotary and JROTC, which are restricted), 4 mACF/HSAPQ, and 3 History Bowl tournaments this year, which is way more than last year, even though there was unequal coverage by region. West TN also showed no signs of converting to good quizbowl, as more anti-pyramidal than pyramidal tournaments are held there. We hosts got some old and new teams in the circuit. I'll be cold calling some old and new coaches in August to encourage them to participate more. And although we weren't (I wasn't) able to salvage stats from Ezell, Portland, Webb, Lincoln County, or TACA, I think we can train volunteers to do those things next year.
Next year, I'd like to see increased high school hosting continue. White Station (x2-3), Bolton (maybe), Germantown (x2), Ezell-Harding, Portland, USN (possible), Central Magnet, Farragut (maybe), Vanderbilt (x2-4), Tennessee Tech (not TACA- what will likely be a collegiate program founded by Chuck Pearson), History Bowl hosts (x3), and Oliver Springs will host on pyramidal. While directing History Bowl, I talked to Anderson County about hosting on NAQT, so they might use an A-set next year (I'm not sure whether they are going to host NHBB again, as they had unrealistic expectations about the turnout and lost money). That should help East Tennessee, even if it has low attendance. Unfortunately, UTC might not host anymore since Charlie has retired or something, so someone should host in Chattanooga. Red Bank hosted on NAQT (JROTC) this year, so I'll contact them as well as McCallie, Baylor, and CSAS. Other teams that play well regularly but don't host (Oak Ridge
, and Hume-Fogg
: I'm looking at you), do it! There are lots of sets to be mirrored and lots of money to be made. Chuck Pearson and I are also slowly building a collegiate circuit. I've found ~15 former HS players at UTK, and after they start a student organization, they should be able to host a HS tournament (maybe the year after next).
Now for the usual complaints: I think some of the same problems around for half a decade are still in place, including:
(of the State tournament and some other tournaments, of team coaches and hosts of non-traditional events that deliberately avoid giving contacts or results to "outsiders", of TDs to teams that show up to one of their tournaments once and quit, of team coaches and tournament directors who refuse to respond to emails or phone calls)
(of TACA to new and rejoining teams, of TDs to their one-time teams and teams in general, all of Chris's posts upthread) and
(of ~40 minute modified-NAQT rounds x8 at an inconveniently 2-day State ("tradition") because of moderators that don't know the rules or cannot read packets in time or control talkative teams, of using non-pyramidal housewritten (!) questions lacking a distribution at USN's tournament, of cutting prelim rounds to 15/15 to "save time" instead of training moderators well, of not keeping statistics (or not posting them when your moderators have obviously kept them) or distributing question sets and not understanding how much those numbers, and the packets from sets can help teams improve)
Note 1: USN won't write their own questions next year, which is a good thing. Their decision to write a tournament without real outside help is not entirely their fault- they simply saw it as a microcosm of what goes on in most highly insular state tournaments every year, and that's the real problem.
Note 2: I've read the previous format threads, but I still think the one-clue
worksheet rounds from 6-8 tournaments across the state are suboptimal and not well-written. Some things on there are too hard for HS difficulty (even IS-1X6 difficulty), and the distribution of these worksheet rounds invariably favors general knowledge and not any distribution (don't have any with me right now to prove this, and current players just throw them out because they're virtually useless). Even Ezell's tournament doesn't use worksheets. Yes, dozens of experienced and new players are griping about worksheets, even if that means they don't score as many points as they would have!
Note 3: I don't have any proof of this, but I think that State does not actually crown the best team in the state: Ezell-Harding and probably Farragut would beat Hume-Fogg at any 20/20 event, and that the 10/0, 15q worksheet, 10/10 format contributes to these results (it's like taking out a quarter of a packet and giving half of those points to both teams). In fact, Farragut beat Hume-Fogg at Dennis Haskins with higher PPB and PPG, and Ezell performed better than Hume-Fogg at HSNCT. Also, both H-F and Ezell were playing their full lineups at State..and at WNAB, where Ezell beat H-F on a modified IS-A set. In the past, worse teams have beaten better teams (MLK v. H-F 2012, Farragut v. H-F 2014), not only due to strength, but also due to tournament and round formats, and so this observation is more of a trend than one match.
Why doesn't State just have an 8 team round robin, followed by top 4/bottom 4 split round robin for 10 games in 10 rounds of 20 tossups and 20 bonuses outlined on the ACF website? They have 14 packets, and they only use 8 of them, still splitting things over two days because of their moderators and tradition! The State tournament also forbids B/C teams in the interest of making things "fairer". What other NAQT State Championship would ever do some or all of the above things, which have limited TACA's own growth and revenue for years?
Having one tournament a year with a non-regular format is fine, but not 6-8 (excluding NHBB). These happen to be the exact few most teams play (have played, will play) and expect to improve enough at to do well on IS-1X6, which is the state set, and they are hardly representative of regular-format tournaments in the rest of the quizbowl circuit, which is why every single TN-format only/majority TN-format team suffers at HSNCT!
There is no lower bracket at most TN tournaments, and most offer 5 prelim rounds for the same price that ABC offers 10 guaranteed rounds for! Hosts should consider giving teams more rounds in general and more against similar-caliber teams...and quitting these dumb single-elimination rules apparently in some old coaches' handbook (which also forbids teams with less than four players).
I haven't had much success converting the ~10 schools with lots of raw talent that play both good and bad to switch to only good quizbowl. The week before ABC, I learned of the annual "Upper Cumberland Regional" near Cookeville that ~20-30 good- and bad-playing quizbowl teams had been attending...and it was scheduled the day of ABC (multiple times). Since that non-pyramidal tournament gives teams "very good treatment", it's no surprise that some coaches still prefer bad to good quizbowl. In fact, some teams (in the past) still chose the non-NAQT TV tournament to go to over ABC when they knew good and well that Quizbusters hosts were very date-flexible. Morristown-Hamblen West went to NAC Nationals this year even after their players told me they enjoyed ABC, which sadly shows that most of Tennessee is, and has always been, in a state of flux.
This has created stark differences in performances for the past 5-8 years, where a few coaches go to both good and poorly formatted tournaments, while most (~30 other coaches) attend the poorly-formatted (see:above) and very predictable ones, practice on their older (read, too difficult-1990-2000) IS sets that aren't too helpful, and feel resigned to the same placement with respect to other teams. Preparing for things like lightning or worksheet rounds and "double-or-nothing" rounds steals time during practices, and many students/coaches believe quizbowl is a fact-association game and that good players have eidetic memories based on what many teams do in practice. Some teachers hope that rivalry will make their kids do better but still have no idea how, and this forms a vicious cycle of low motivation and bad performances that has remained unbroken for five years for some teams.
Players and coaches have told me that they enjoyed and learned more from ABC much more than, Webb's or Ezell's tournaments, or even State. That should not be the case: they should enjoy and learn from all NAQT tournaments equally and play regular format more often than they play "Tennessee format".
It's not TACA's job or my job to coach HS teams, but it is our job to make sure that kids play the most and the most competitive and enjoyable environments possible by providing as many real tournaments and resources for improvement as possible. This is where we have a great opportunity to work together to make a positive difference, Tracy, and I hope we can both capitalize on it.
There still needs to be more cross-regional travel within TN and more of an effort to get into the pockets of bad/no QB in the state like the NW and the far East. Once again, a strong federation of regional bodies seems like the way to go rather than one Nashville-based conglomeration.
Chris has posted this twice, but I think the need for HSAPQ's state series or something similar needs to be emphasized again. TACA does not currently encourage competition the way it should, and it didn't even post the dates of Vanderbilt's two or Germantown's three tournaments on its website last year. About five Nashville-area
coaches were surprised when I told them that we host, not because they were aloof from the (poorly formatted, age-old) circuit, but because nobody ever told them before I started vigorously emailing and visiting coaches to try and get this circuit going! So, HSAPQ's state series and the associated outreach would help create the kind of regular, self-improving circuit that could've emerged years ago. It would have legitimacy to coaches and players. I know HSAPQ doesn't usually interfere in states with established NAQT championships, but this state seems like an exception because of geography and State's horrible logistics, and I believe the two (State and the state series) can coexist by taking different dates. Also, Quizbusters tapings can end in March or April but are flexible, and I would work with Vanderbilt's club and HS clubs to make sure nothing interfered with either state tournament.
On that note, Chris, we're going to miss you, and I'm glad Germantown will play and host in the future. I will have more time to do quizbowl-related stuff next year, but I don't think anything I can do will totally compensate for your moderating and hosting abilities.