Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

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Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by treeman9488 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:04 pm

We hope to see a wide variety of teams come out for this tournament as well as ABC in the spring.

This is the general announcement for the 2015 Vanderbilt University Scholastic Performance Of Outstanding Knowledgeable Youths Tournament, a high school quizbowl tournament, to be hosted at Vanderbilt's Buttrick Hall, 2400 Vanderbilt Pl, Nashville, TN 37212, on Saturday, October 31st, 2015. We are planning to mirror a regular difficulty high school set. Your Tournament Director will be Daniel Laky (daniel.j.laky@vanderbilt.edu), but Rohan Nag or myself (Brett Tregoning) will be handling registration/recruitment as usual at vandyquizbowl@gmail.com.
Registration will begin at 8:00 AM, the first round by 9 AM, and the tournament will hopefully finish by 5 PM.

Location and directions:
The tournament will take place in Buttrick Hall, 2400 Vanderbilt Pl, Nashville, TN 37212, approachable easily from I-440's exit 1A onto West End heading north, or I-40's exit 209B on Broadway heading South towards the Medical Center, or just from Charlotte Ave. to West End heading towards the West side of campus near the roundabout near Kirkland Hall. Note: you can't actually park near Buttrick Hall, but you can drive up close to it (for drop-off) via West Side Row off 24th Ave S which will put you behind Rand dining hall with a 2 minute walk to Buttrick Hall.

Parking:
Is limited, so I've linked the campus map (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/map/), a campus parking map (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/traffic_parki ... de2014.pdf) as well as the Medical Center parking map (http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/documents/ ... %20Map.pdf). These should give adequate guidelines for parking and locations. Tip: I'd suggest parking in either the Terrace Place or Wesley Place garages, which are about 7-10 minutes from Buttrick Hall, but free and likely large enough, as opposed to the reserved lots that surround the area.

Questions:
UPDATED: We will be mirroring SCOP Novice. Though this is a novice set, high school competitors of all levels are encouraged to attend.

Format:
Preliminary brackets will be seeded and then playoff brackets will be determined based on record. All teams will be offered a minimum of 9 games (liable to change as well with moderator count). Rounds will not be timed, but no round should be longer than 30 minutes. Statistics will be kept in full. Halloween themed prizes will be offered to the top three teams and top five scorers. The current cap is 24 teams.

Fees:
Base fee: $60 per first team, $50 per second team and so on. There is no limit to the number of teams who can attend from one school, but schools sending more than two teams are strongly encouraged to provide a competent staffer. This will change if we get more than 15 or so total staffers.

There will be
a $15 discount for experienced staffers who can moderate,
a $5 discount per buzzer with no limit on buzzers (until we reach 15 buzzers or so), and
a $5 discount for every 100 miles traveled one-way according to Google Maps.
and finally, a $10 discount to any team that arrives fully in costume
The minimum fee is $35.

Registration:
This tournament is open to any HS (including JV) teams; we may have a separate JV division if there are enough teams, but don't count on it. We will email and contact as many teams as possible, however, if you feel that you didn't get an invite and deserve one, just e-mail us at vandyquizbowl@gmail.com or post here or contact Rohan. (We are still contacting teams!)
Once you confirm that you are coming, you should e-mail us at vandyquizbowl@gmail.com with:
1. The number of teams, buzzers, and staffers you can bring.
2. A phone number for a coach/chaperone/captain that will be there with you on the day of the competition.
3. An email address where you/your coach can be contacted for further details or changes.

Payment:
We prefer payment on the day of, but feel free to send checks to us ahead of time (Email us for the address to send the check to!) All teams must pay by 10/31/15. Cash, personal checks, funds from an organization, or checks are all fine. Purchase orders, credit cards, Paypal, or anything else that we can't process will not be counted as payment and you will have to pay late fees of 25$. All checks must be made out to "Vanderbilt Quiz Bowl". If you need a pre-tournament invoice or W-9 form in order to have a check written, you must let us know by October 1st, so that we can send you the paperwork in time and so your payment can be on time.

Team size:
The maximum number of players on any one team is 6. Chances for substitutions always occur after Bonus 10 in each round (half-time), and if your moderator doesn't ask you, just briefly tell them the name of the player(s) you are substituting in/out. Each player may appear on only one team's roster throughout the day, and we will keep stats as such.

Food:
Neither breakfast nor lunch will be provided. However, here's a list of places, from fast-food to sit-down, that are open during lunch break which will likely be around an hour. Note: these are NOT in order of distance from Buttrick Hall, and some are about a 15 minute walk, but Jimmy John's, Moe's, San Antonio Taco Company, Panera, and Subway are closest to Buttrick Hall.

Along West End
Taco Bell
Checkers
Amerigo's
Five Guys
Jason's Deli
Jack in the Box
Qdoba
Jimmy Johns
Moe's
PF Chang's
Bread & Company
Wendy's

Along 21st Ave S
San Antonio Taco Company
Panera
Subway
Chipotle
Mellow Mushroom
Wendy's

Please email vandyquizbowl@gmail.com if you have any further questions. I'm looking forward to seeing a wide variety of teams from Tennessee and surrounding states on Halloween!

We would like to acknowledge the concerns of some members of the quiz bowl community that the Halloween theme of SPOOKY will detrimentally affect the professional integrity of the tournament. This tournament, like all Vanderbilt tournaments, will be run to the best of our ability. We will ensure that the spirit of Halloween will not interfere with the merits of a good quiz bowl tournament. Costumes are completely optional and are not designed to detract from the quality of quiz bowl we hope to provide.

Additionally, we apologize for the late announcement. We understand that this may be an issue for some teams, but we believe a tournament announced slightly late is better than no tournament at all.
Last edited by treeman9488 on Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:42 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K. Tournament '15

Post by cchiego » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:18 am

I remember the good ol' days when Vanderbilt hosted a series of tournaments titled rather humbly "Academic Bowl Competition" (or ABC) that drew teams from around the country. Those tournaments were the premier quizbowl events in the Southeast and were taken seriously by all involved.

Now we have the Vanderbilt Student Trivia Night Club ("a bar trivia club with a quizbowl problem") hosting a ridiculously named tournament with discounts for costumes that announces late and hasn't even figured out what question set it's using. A team that has access to one of the most venerable and recognizable tournament names in quizbowl (ABC) is now choosing to use a silly acronym, which is unprofessional and makes quizbowl look like...bar trivia.

Tennessee needs more serious, well-run tournaments from Vandy that attract more than just a handful of Nashville-area teams. This announcement isn't encouraging.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Sep 16, 2015 7:30 pm

I remember when Vanderbilt was relevant in quiz bowl. It's been a few sad years since then.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:19 pm

Vanderbilt finished 22nd at ICT last year, so it's not like they're not relevant anymore. To suggest otherwise is as silly as calling a tournament SPOOKY and putting their non-quizbowl members in charge of running it.

Here's the blunt truth: People who don't want to play quizbowl, like the leadership over the last few years, have no business running a quizbowl team. It was a disaster when Eric Turner was running the basically dead team, and now that Brett has taken over it seems like it only holds a very good team back. Wider quizbowl should recognize that there is a good, competent team of people at Vanderbilt that we can work with. Unfortunately they aren't running the offical team. Instead their leaders come from the group mindset that:

1) Ran an awful ACF Fall in 2012
2) Played about 1 tournament in 5 years before Rohan showed up
3) Marginalized good quizbowl voices within their club and ignored those from outside the club
4) Made fun of people who were good at quizbowl to chase them away from the team
5) Ripped a very nice person off to the tune of hundreds of dollars, essentially causing him to quit quizbowl

These people are a cancer on Vanderbilt's quizbowl team. The quizbowl community should be fully supportive of the efforts of Rohan and other competent players to reform their team, and hope that the ineffective power structure represented by Brett withers away as quickly as possible.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:48 am

Yawar Fiesta wrote:Vanderbilt finished 22nd at ICT last year, so it's not like they're not relevant anymore. To suggest otherwise is as silly as calling a tournament SPOOKY and putting their non-quizbowl members in charge of running it.

Here's the blunt truth: People who don't want to play quizbowl, like the leadership over the last few years, have no business running a quizbowl team. It was a disaster when Eric Turner was running the basically dead team, and now that Brett has taken over it seems like it only holds a very good team back. Wider quizbowl should recognize that there is a good, competent team of people at Vanderbilt that we can work with. Unfortunately they aren't running the official team. Instead their leaders come from the group mindset that:

1) Ran an awful ACF Fall in 2012
2) Played about 1 tournament in 5 years before Rohan showed up
3) Marginalized good quizbowl voices within their club and ignored those from outside the club
4) Made fun of people who were good at quizbowl to chase them away from the team
5) Ripped a very nice person off to the tune of hundreds of dollars, essentially causing him to quit quizbowl

These people are a cancer on Vanderbilt's quizbowl team. The quizbowl community should be fully supportive of the efforts of Rohan and other competent players to reform their team, and hope that the ineffective power structure represented by Brett withers away as quickly as possible.
This post has my full endorsement. The current incarnation of Vanderbilt's quizbowl team may be their most talented ever, including the Keller teams. Unfortunately they are held back a bit by internal politics. Such demons aren't easily eviscerated from clubs. Trust me, the internal battles some of us fought at Alabama were not pretty. Rohan and company have to deal with similar if not worse stuff on a regular basis. I understand the community's disappointment with the organization, but please understand that their best team has done their absolute best to succeed in spite of this cancer that eats away at their organization. They should be commended for this.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:28 am

To be clear, my mockery is of the garbage anti-quizbowl leadership of the quizbowl team, which should be a relic of 2004 and not a present day concern of what was once a very important team (which is what I was specifically getting at - they may have talented players still, but the Vandy team has completely failed in every way at being a host for high school or college teams).
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by kmattix » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:33 am

I want to say that, although the Vanderbilt quizbowl organization doesn't host as frequently as we all would like, the tournaments that it has hosted have been extremely helpful in bringing teams together to compete on a statewide field in an otherwise quizbowl-barren state. Rohan has talked to me frequently about his efforts to take down the TACA machine, and I think we all realize that these efforts are going to take time.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:06 am

kmattix wrote:I want to say that, although the Vanderbilt quizbowl organization doesn't host as frequently as we all would like, the tournaments that it has hosted have been extremely helpful in bringing teams together to compete on a statewide field in an otherwise quizbowl-barren state. Rohan has talked to me frequently about his efforts to take down the TACA machine, and I think we all realize that these efforts are going to take time.
The efforts to take down a tournament run on good questions which draws maybe 8 teams? It's like a starving man attacking an emaciated corpse for an individual ear of corn.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by Cheynem » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:27 am

So I am not from Tennessee or its area. Part of what confounds me as an observer is the swirling, Rashomon-esque series of perspectives surrounding the Vanderbilt team. I don't want to pick on Rohan, but he seems to be a focal point for discussion of the team--Fred seems to be suggesting, as have others, that Rohan is a misguided fellow who doesn't really know what he's doing. In talking with others last night (several who have posted in this thread), they argue that he is being sabotaged by his team and is actually a good influence for quizbowl at Vanderbilt. I don't know if it's possible for people who have more insider knowledge than others to really lay out the facts, but the only thing I'm taking away from it is that there are issues at Vandy.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:34 am

Cheynem wrote:Fred seems to be suggesting, as have others, that Rohan is a misguided fellow who doesn't really know what he's doing. In talking with others last night (several who have posted in this thread), they argue that he is being sabotaged by his team and is actually a good influence for quizbowl at Vanderbilt. I don't know if it's possible for people who have more insider knowledge than others to really lay out the facts, but the only thing I'm taking away from it is that there are issues at Vandy.
I think it's both. He clearly has a better idea as to what a quiz bowl team should be doing than current Vanderbilt leadership, but targeting TACA is a waste of effort and resources.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by cchiego » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:25 pm

Cheynem wrote:Fred seems to be suggesting, as have others, that Rohan is a misguided fellow who doesn't really know what he's doing. In talking with others last night (several who have posted in this thread), they argue that he is being sabotaged by his team and is actually a good influence for quizbowl at Vanderbilt.
Let's not contribute to the "swirling" rumors here and instead make something crystal-clear: Rohan is an advocate for good quizbowl in an organization that believes "serious" quizbowl is a distraction from funn. I think in the past people in the larger quizbowl world (including myself) didn't realize the extent to which the Vanderbilt team had been corrupted and so viewed failures by Vanderbilt to host or play things as failures on Rohan's part, which was definitely not the case. Nick's post does a nice job of laying out just how far the organization has fallen and what kind of people we're dealing with here.
Stefan HSQBRankovich wrote:The efforts to take down a tournament run on good questions which draws maybe 8 teams? It's like a starving man attacking an emaciated corpse for an individual ear of corn.
I'm not sure why Fred is dismissing trying to give Tennessee a real alternative to the Middle TN Old Coaches Club (aka TACA) and get it replaced with an actual state competition that unifies a state desperately in need of a real good quizbowl organization. Considering that outreach is one of the few things someone stuck on a team full of deliberately "unserious" quizbowl people can do and the huge amount of work that Rohan's put into outreach across the state, this effort ought to be applauded. In contrast, tournaments like the one advertised in this thread seem to be yet another step backwards for the area, which doesn't lack for potential teams--see the 60 teams coming to EH this weekend while a bad QB tournament and a good QB tournament with 30+ teams between them take place in West TN--but does lack in good quizbowl organization.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:51 pm

cchiego wrote:
Stefan HSQBRankovich wrote:The efforts to take down a tournament run on good questions which draws maybe 8 teams? It's like a starving man attacking an emaciated corpse for an individual ear of corn.
I'm not sure why Fred is dismissing trying to give Tennessee a real alternative to the Middle TN Old Coaches Club (aka TACA) and get it replaced with an actual state competition that unifies a state desperately in need of a real good quizbowl organization. Considering that outreach is one of the few things someone stuck on a team full of deliberately "unserious" quizbowl people can do and the huge amount of work that Rohan's put into outreach across the state, this effort ought to be applauded.
You've got two options - spend the energy fighting the pre-existing organization that does good quiz bowl tournaments, or spend the energy helping that organization improve. No one's actually tried to help TACA (at least to the point that I've seen it from here), and in fact most of the complaints I've seen have come on non-essential issues like "we need powers!" and "get rid of the worksheet!", which have somehow lead to the further decision "we must fight the TACA." As far as I can tell, "the TACA" is just Tracy Franklin emailing people when possible. Improving the extant state championship is a valid option that does not seem to have even been considered.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by cchiego » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:22 pm

Stefan HSQBRankovich wrote: You've got two options - spend the energy fighting the pre-existing organization that does good quiz bowl tournaments, or spend the energy helping that organization improve. No one's actually tried to help TACA (at least to the point that I've seen it from here), and in fact most of the complaints I've seen have come on non-essential issues like "we need powers!" and "get rid of the worksheet!", which have somehow lead to the further decision "we must fight the TACA." As far as I can tell, "the TACA" is just Tracy Franklin emailing people when possible. Improving the extant state championship is a valid option that does not seem to have even been considered.
That's the problem--it's not really much of an organization, but it gets the state championship questions and sucks the air out of any attempt to start a statewide good quizbowl organization like Alabama's or Missouri's. I would absolutely love to help Tracy and others if they were interested in making TACA a better and more truly statewide organization. But I have yet to see any evidence that there is support from the current TACA people for that and all reports indicate that they are not interested in doing anything differently (I would be very happy to be proven wrong on this). The current setup seems to suit them nicely and the rest of the state can wither on a vine with no outreach and a "state championship" that attracts the same few (almost entirely) middle TN teams again and again.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:37 pm

Well, let's find out for sure what TACA wants before we abandon them. Doesn't seem like any legwork has been done (again, from afar).
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by kmattix » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:28 pm

I actually messaged just about everybody in the organization via the TACA website a couple years ago and got absolutely zero response from them. They don't reach out to West TN whatsoever which is why, before Chris came to Germantown, most of us had never even heard of good tournaments. The teams that go to TACA state are all from the same area, and news of it doesn't spread. Reform needs to occur, but no one in TACA is interested in making it happen.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:50 pm

After that and some other info I got over email regarding TACA not responding to anyone, that's a huge problem.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:02 pm

Regardless of whether TACA is worth fighting to improve or whatever, I would at least like to chime in with some more info here. Let me preface this by saying that whatever faults Rohan has, he is definitely not to blame for the mess at Vanderbilt, because it started well before he entered college. I think some of the criticism Rohan has gotten about Vanderbilt has been somewhat unfair, because he's been doing exactly what Fred is suggesting with TACA in regards to the Vanderbilt quizbowl team, which is to work with the bad organization from within and try to push them towards good quizbowl. The problem is that he has been fought on this by people like Brett Tregoning and his predecessor Eric Turner, who have served as the leaders of the organization for the last few years. How the team got to its current state is unknown to me, but I have reasons to believe its problems started before those two were there, since ABC had already started to crumble and the team became less active. My understanding is that its main goals were to play bar trivia, practice on trash and high school packets, and occasionally host a poorly run high school tournament that further tarnished their team's name.

My first knowledge that the Vanderbilt teams still existed as anything cohesive was because they attended an SCT in Virginia in 2012, their first tournament since 2010. My former high school teammate Scott Blain graduated in 2012 and elected to attend Vanderbilt, and in talking with him at the beginning of that season I quickly learned that the current structure had little knowledge of the outside quizbowl world, the forums, or even what tournaments existed. My hope was that his presence would encourage them to become more active, and I became intrigued when they decided to host ACF Fall in 2012.

This was one of the worst tournaments I have ever attended. I emailed a long list of suggestions after ACF Fall to Eric, hoping to see improvement and further involvement in the southeast circuit. I have since learned that hosting ACF Fall was not really Vanderbilt's idea, that ACF had to force them not to do double-elimination playoffs, and that my suggestions were not only ignored but ridiculed by the members of Vanderbilt's team. The 2012-13 season passed without Vanderbilt participating in anything else. The next season brought news that Henry Gorman was attending Vanderbilt for a History PhD, but he promptly retired from quizbowl. It is rumored that the leadership of the team were very unfriendly towards him; whether this had any impact upon his retirement is unknown to me, but the impression I got from good quizbowl adherents at Vanderbilt is that the leadership were glad he wasn't going to be on the team because he was a good, serious player and therefore everything they detested.

That 2013-14 season did bring more Vanderbilt participation however, as Rohan and Scott managed to find 2 or 3 other people willing to play good quizbowl within their team, but the leadership did not provide much support and indeed I always got the feeling that they were a rump quizbowl team located within a wider club that was certainly not devoted to quizbowl. They were very good however, and qualified for ICT that year. The players obtained verbal permission to attend ICT from their club leadership, and therefore registered for the tournament. One of the players who enjoyed quizbowl bought bus tickets and reserved a hotel room for the team, upon the condition that he would reimbursed. Upon learning that this had taken place, the Vanderbilt quizbowl leadership rescinded their permission for a team to compete at ICT just a couple weeks before the tournament. They decided that although there was plenty of money available to send a team, doing so was "not in the best interests" of their team and demanded that Vanderbilt drop from the ICT field. The Vanderbilt leadership also refused to pay for anything relating to ICT, telling the good quizbowl adherents to pay NAQT's drop fee and eat the cost of the bus tickets.

It was at that time that myself, Jake Sundberg, Matthew Riggle, and a handful of other people became aware of this situation. I discussed the situation with NAQT in the hopes that they would enforce the collection of any unpaid fees from the official Vanderbilt Quizbowl club, who was under the impression that they could just tell NAQT that it was Rohan's responsibility to pay despite the drop being their decision. I prepared to release this information on HSQB and bring the situation to the community's attention if needed, but Rohan managed to negotiate an internal settlement that satisfied the club leadership, himself, and his good quizbowl playing teammates. The club agreed to eat all of the costs associated with the squashed ICT trip, but only with funds raised through the 2014 Vanderbilt Pre-Nationals tournament, which would be directed by Rohan with minimal backing from club leadership. This apparently worked out well enough, although at least one person who enjoyed good quizbowl quit the team after having been essentially swindled by the club leadership.

Knowing that Eric Turner was a duplicitous moron, I had hoped that the harmful leadership structure was slowly starting to leave Vanderbilt upon his graduation in 2014. Rohan indicated that Brett was a more reasonable person to deal with Eric, and quite honestly it looked like this was the case last year since Vanderbilt was very active, hosted ACF Regionals, and finished 22nd at ICT. There are four players (Griffin Ray, Duncan Morgan, Rohan Nag, and Jesse Bennett) at Vanderbilt this year that I know like good quizbowl and are very good at it, and such a team would be very successful this year. I hope it attends plenty of tournaments this year, and does well at them.

But here we have the announced SPOOKY tournament, complete with double-elimination playoffs, gimmicky funn themes and prizes, and the odd choice of a novice set to use for a tournament meant for a high school circuit that includes quite a few competent-to-good teams. And even worse, upon receiving criticism from the community, Brett has shown a familiar refusal to listen to outside input and general disconnect from the wider quizbowl community. He is the heir of Eric Turner in more ways than one it seems, and this is a problem which will rear its ugly head over and over again until something is done about it. I have completely lost patience on this matter, and think the only honorable thing for Brett and his fellow officers to do is to publicly face the community, take our advice on how to run a better tournament and team, and assure us that they have changed their ways from everything I have mentioned in this thread.

If they are unwilling to do that, they have ceased being a legitimate quizbowl team as long as people with those harmful attitudes are in charge.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:59 pm

Nick and Chris have laid out much of the history and current state of the Vanderbilt team, so this post is mostly to address posts concerning me.

In short, without an official club position, I've been an "advisor" to the club, so I have been doing much of the work of hosting, outreach, registration, writing, etc. for the past 2 years (this year, I am "external tournament coordinator", which is for college tournaments the team attends). Sure, I've made several mistakes in hosting tournaments and in dealing with the club (and TACA), but I have learned from them. I actively try to host and play as many tournaments as possible, while justifying good practices and changes to other club members on a regular basis and dealing with the details myself. This includes finding and guiding new HS teams, making the regional calendar, writing packets for packet-sub events we attend (this, I had help with), refining a list of ~400 contacts, giving teams resources to study with, training readers, buying trophies, getting book prizes, arranging schedules and contingencies, getting contact phone #s, securing question sets, trying to fund NASAT teams, etc. Recent tournaments, where I was not the unofficial TD (and was not allowed to TD, because someone else has the "internal tournament coordinator" position), have seen some or many of these things neglected. For the past 2 years, I had enough time to do this, and was happy that these kinds of things were actually getting done, because HS players and coaches realized that this was a positive change from before. The club finally seemed to be able to do things for the state, which was a huge change.

Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time anymore. I've been editing LIMIT for the past few months, and while I was (and still am) busy, I didn’t put together a plan for hosting during the fall, and I didn’t expect the club to either (no fall tournament). On September 13th, I was notified that the club members adamantly wanted to host "SPOOKY" on October 31st. They couldn’t seem to understand that this was a bad idea, and this post went up soon after. I suggested that, at the very very least, they should move the date, but no. They were inserting fun into the game, and didn’t seem to care about concerned teachers, parents, and other chaperones, or about school district policies if teams had school approval, or the tenuous state of the entire circuit.

The club as a whole has remained aloof from the greater community and towards the state circuit we are part of. There’s not so much quizbowl know-how (hosting, going to tournaments, etc.) among the club members who don't play tournaments. There’s also a general, strong fear of hard tournaments (except ICT) among players, which you can see by our attendance. The club’s attitude is why I haven't been able to do much from my position, which isn't even a real position. The club’s leadership structure is by appointment by the President (and possibly some internal discussion among current leadership), so nothing is truly guaranteed to change.

Re: TACA. I'll be honest, I was aggressive in the beginning (between my senior year of HS and 2014). I put pressure on TACA to serve as role models for the state circuit, because most tournaments in the state followed their model, and because there was and still is a large, fundamental disconnect between players and TACA. Players regarded the entire game (tournaments, practices, learning, studying) as a giant chore and had no joy in answering tossups or 20ing or 30ing bonuses. So, I had assumed some things were being done incorrectly, or that some practices were relics of the past. I also assumed that this had led to a sparse, completely apathetic circuit, where breakout players were the exception, and no teams had done truly well except a few with strong traditions that were still in place (experienced coaches who remained active, etc.). The reasons behind the fragmentation and thinning of the state circuit are still quite unclear, but I assumed, whatever the reason, TACA was one of the organizations that could help bring inter-Grand Division competition and higher participation rates back.

My initial demands included them 1. replacing their volunteer moderating core from the local Rotary club, composed of 60-80-year-olds who read a tossup in about 1 minute or more 2. changing their format to standard 20/20, which was initially critical to me, but became secondary later on 3. doing outreach to teams and to the media, the good old email-and-phone way, not just by word-of-mouth. The rest of this story is in the old TN discussion threads.

I quit this aggressive email/contact method in early 2014, when I realized I needed to offer TACA my support and that the entire club could help. I began to ask Tracy how we could help, and he chose to stick to Rotary members for whatever unsaid reason. I emailed Cumberland University's host before that year's state championship (the location changed that year) and Rod Pineda of Tennessee Tech asking if we could help, but there was no response, and Tracy had stopped responding much earlier. I did not have the time to continue begging, so I tried to get the club to host 3 tournaments a year, regularly, to compensate for the lack of activity and transparency by TACA. It worked last year, and I have not heard from Tracy or anyone from TACA or their supporters since about mid-2014, so you can't say that I've been "wasting energy" "attacking TACA" for 2 years.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by Username#412 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 5:30 pm

I was hesitant to say anything about the matter, but I feel the need to speak up and defend Vandy quiz bowl as an organization and the leaders who (at least in my time here) have done a perfectly fine job of running a team. Granted, it is true that the people in charge have little interest in actually playing quiz bowl competitively. However, I fail to see how this makes them inherently unqualified to run the team. Last year, we went to 5 or 6 tournaments (including ICT) and hosted three events (two high school events and ACF Regionals) that ran quite smoothly, thanks in very large part to the leaders of our organization. We received quite a bit of positive feedback from teams at all three. As far as I’m concerned, Vanderbilt quiz bowl could not have had a much better year. The leaders were more than willing to fund us when we went to those tournaments (quite the opposite of holding the playing members back), and they served as competent staffers at the events we hosted. In all honesty, I think our organization will be significantly weaker next year after these guys graduate: we will have five fewer people who have experience running tournaments, so our field sizes will likely have to be somewhat smaller, and our events may not run as well as they did last year.

Rohan mentioned in his post that there is a “strong fear” of hard tournaments among the team. I assume he is referring to a conversation in which I told him I did not want to attend Penn Bowl this year. I no longer have the time to study like I once did, so I’m perfectly aware that I won’t be a top-tier player like I was in high school. My main goal in playing quiz bowl now is to have fun. I still love competing (and winning, preferably), but my focus is much more on enjoying myself than it is on the singular pursuit of victory. I find that I don’t have as much fun at tournaments with questions above regular difficulty, so I’m less likely to want to go to them. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine my teammates (Duncan and Charles) feel roughly the same way.

As far as SPOOKY is concerned, I understand many of the complaints surrounding it, but I also think hosting a tournament is far better than not hosting a tournament. Yes, the announcement was late; for that, we are very, very sorry. It is completely our fault for not getting on the ball sooner and establishing concrete plans. People seem to be disappointed in the name, which seems odd given that there are quite a few quiz bowl tournaments with goofy acronyms as their name (including one on the same day as SPOOKY). I’m not sure why ours drew so much ire. This tournament will not have double-elimination playoffs; we did not notice that when copying-and-pasting last year’s announcement, but it has been changed accordingly. Nick brought up the fact that we are using a novice set for this event. Honestly, I’m not totally sure why we’re using that set, either. When I was perusing sets that we could mirror, I came across one (of regular difficulty, but I don’t recall the exact set) that looked good, but I wanted to check with Rohan, since he has more experience than I do in this area. He said that our using a regular-difficulty set last year messed up the stats (ppb, I think), so he suggested that we should go with SCOP. Finally, the theme: yes, I suppose it is somewhat gimmicky, but we are merely making the most of something that occurs roughly once every seven years (that is, Halloween falling on a Saturday) to make our event unique. Rohan brings up an interesting point (not the “inserting fun into the game,” because I have absolutely no idea how that could possibly be a bad thing) of the school district policies possibly preventing schools from coming. None of us in the club had considered it, but Rohan did not bring it up when we first proposed the event, nor did he mention it to any of us before he posted it on the forum. If this poses a problem to a large number of teams, we may reconsider. For what it’s worth, though, I talked to a few teams about this event on Saturday when I read at the Ezell tournament (they recognized me from Vandy); they all seemed excited about it and couldn’t understand why we were receiving so much hate from the forum-goers. Perhaps these teams are outliers, but I think most high schoolers would tend to agree with them.

In short, I don’t think the state of Vanderbilt quiz bowl is as dire as everyone here seems to think it is. When Duncan and I presumably assume leadership roles next year, I don’t think much will change: not because we want to resist change, but because we see very little that needs to be changed. However, if members of the community have suggestions, I know that I will be more than willing to listen to what you all have to say. Thanks for reading.
Griffin Ray
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by cchiego » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:04 pm

Username#412 wrote:I don’t think much will change: not because we want to resist change, but because we see very little that needs to be changed. However, if members of the community have suggestions, I know that I will be more than willing to listen to what you all have to say.
In that spirit, a few suggestions on tournament invitations (this applies more broadly to all potential tournament hosts as well):

Sending a tournament invitation as a large pdf attachment to an email is a bad idea. It's more likely to get caught in spam filters or not read in the first place compared to a short text email (you can include links if you'd like to direct them to more info or wait until a school registers to send out the full details). It's also likely to fill up the surprisingly small email boxes for official school email accounts and might get bounced.

Sending a tournament invite as part of multiple mass BCC emails (that seem to have hit a number of email addresses at least twice) is also not a good idea since it's annoying to get the same email multiple times, especially an unpersonalized one. You're unlikely to attract any new schools via such mass emails, especially compared to personalizing them with at least the name of the school (if not the coach/contact).

In the middle of the tournament invite pdf, crammed between "Team Size" and "Food Options" (but not, for some reason, on the post here) is a very important requirement to all teams to click on a link, download a document, and get it signed and sent in 3 weeks before the tournament. You might want to make something that important much more clear and upfront to teams.

You may also want to divide the field into novice teams using SCOP while maintaining a "nationals" division that uses a harder tournament set (there appear to be plenty available that are not yet being mirrored in Central TN).

Finally:
treeman9488 wrote: Costumes are completely optional and are not designed to detract from the quality of quiz bowl we hope to provide.
Vanderbilt QB Email wrote: Costumes are encouraged for the spirit Halloween. [sic]
It's this general pattern of questionable hosting competence (I'm not surprised the last Vandy HS tournament attracted only 10 teams) and a focus on "funn" that's attracted so much attention. The image of quizbowl, especially in a state like TN with an erratic circuit, is a public good and it's in the interest of quizbowlers everywhere to help ensure that more quizbowl events are professionally and efficiently run. Again, I wish Vandy the best of luck in hosting and hope that these criticisms are used to help improve the experience of TN's quizbowl teams at this tournament and others.
Chris C.
UGA '09, UCSD '12, UPenn '19
Greater Pennsylvania QuizBowl
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by Unicolored Jay » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:07 pm

So I've been watching this thread, since as a freshly arrived Tennessee resident I've been curious as to what role Vanderbilt's quizbowl team has in the overall circuit (both HS and college). I've been hoping to play against Vandy at tournaments and maybe establish a friendly rivalry or something.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the various points being raised here:

-It's not necessarily bad if the club's officers themselves don't want to attend tournaments. It's only bad if they're actively preventing people who do want to do just that, and if that problem has been fixed after 2014's mess, then good! Ultimately I (and other collegiate quizbowlers) would like to see Vandy go to tournaments, and while you don't have to go to all of them if you don't want to, that is still the main purpose of having a team. If things are as you say, Griffin, then there shouldn't be any more issues there.
-Also, I don't see why hosting this particular tournament is inherently an issue. It only is if there are aspects of it that are problematic, and Chris has noted the biggest ones above.
-I have attended tournaments where people would dress up for Halloween, although I'm pretty sure the tournament directors were explicitly telling people to do so, which is the main reason the tournament's drawing criticism (it comes into conflict with quizbowl's goal of looking more professional).
-There are people who would like to see Vanderbilt be an example of good quizbowl practices in Tennessee, since there seems to not be much of it in the state (the Memphis area has a lot of bad quizbowl still going on, East Tennessee has no good quizbowl tournaments left excluding NHBB, leaving the Nashville circuit the most active region). While a collegiate quizbowl club isn't obligated to do this, there is at least one player (Rohan) who is willing to do this outreach and improve quizbowl in the state, and what better way to achieve these goals through a well-run tournament? Like Chris said, it really helps quizbowl if you can run a tournament that goes smoothly and sets an example for other events in the state (which would be great since apparently there are all sorts of problems with tournaments in Tennessee). This is definitely one of my own goals once I have the resources to do it.

I have experience running and staffing tournaments, and I do want to see quizbowl in Tennessee improve, so if you have questions or need help feel free to contact me!
Jasper Lee
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Solon High School '10

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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by Username#412 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:16 pm

Thank you very much for the suggestions, Chris. I have pointed out this post to Brett, and we will do our best to rectify the mistakes we have made regarding this tournament and to limit the errors we make when announcing future tournaments. Your first three suggestions were especially helpful. I think splitting the field is a good idea, but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to attract enough teams to justify splitting it. If enough teams do register, though, we will definitely consider adding a more difficult set to provide an appropriate challenge for the experienced teams.

I do wonder where questions of our hosting competence come from, though. I have been involved with nearly every tournament Vanderbilt has hosted since 2010 (as either a competitor or as a staff member), and I can remember only one event that went particularly badly: ABC in the fall of 2010. Other than that one, I recall being at least fairly satisfied with every tournament in which I played here, and I believe the three that we hosted last year (my first three as a staffer instead of a player) also ran quite well. Perhaps others thought otherwise, but this would be news to me. Also, I cannot think of a Vanderbilt tournament that had a focus on “funn”; the Vanderbilt tournaments in which I played (especially my junior and senior years) all followed standard good quiz bowl practices and were played on good pyramidal questions. As you may have noticed in the email, the costume discount was removed in favor of just taking $10 off the top of the registration fee; we hoped this would help assuage some of the negativity we have been receiving. I don’t understand how encouraging teams to wear costumes to an event on Halloween is necessarily a bad thing (and I don’t see anything directly pertaining to it in the definition of “funn” on the wiki page). As I mentioned in my last post, the teams to whom I spoke this weekend seemed excited at the idea, and it only fits with the spirit of the holiday. I can say with confidence (barring an unforeseen catastrophe, I suppose) that this tournament will be run efficiently and will be a fun, competitive experience for all involved, regardless of the attire worn by the players. I think that’s what really matters.

I could see how professionalism would be an issue here. We didn’t expect this sort of response when we posted the announcement; since the tournament falls on Halloween, we imagined encouraging costumes would be no big deal. If we hadn’t mentioned costumes, though, I’m sure someone would’ve asked about them. Would you all have wanted us to encourage that team to wear costumes or to tell them that they couldn’t? I do agree that wearing costumes is not totally professional, but I believe that telling teams they couldn’t come in costume would have somewhat discouraged at least some teams from coming (the teams I spoke to at the Ezell tournament, if no one else). I don’t think that allowing it on Halloween is such a black mark on the quiz bowl community and its image, but it's quite possible that I'm in the minority, so I am open to hearing why I may be wrong.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:12 am

Username#412 wrote: I do wonder where questions of our hosting competence come from, though.
A club's reputation doesn't automatically get reset when new people come in, unfortunately. While I'm thankful that Vanderbilt hosted ACF Fall 2012, that tournament is a prominent example of why people think your club is incompetent when it comes to hosting. I'm sure very few currently involved in your club's current activities are to blame for the inadequacies of this tournament. However, when your organization hosts a 21-team tournament that doesn't provide proper statistics, puts three of the four best teams in the tournament in one seven team pool, and even has a certain team which shall remain nameless play the entire twelve round tournament in one room, people do not forget. If you were following the region at all in 2012, you would know that putting teams named Georgia Tech A, Alabama A, and Chipola A in the same seven team morning pool is not a good idea. I don't have any additional examples of your club's blunders because I was not part of any of them, hence I don't know much about them. What I do know is that your team's officers were not very receptive to criticism of their event. Unfortunately, this sort of behavior sticks with your club's reputation for a while.

Historically, the southeast has a reputation for having some problematic organizations, which has lead some on the boards to adopt a "here we go again" mentality with regards to its southern friends. While very few of these things are you or your current club's fault, this mentality, however erroneous it may be at times, does exist. The southeastern quizbowl circuit has been home to some problematic beasts. Several of us who have commented here have worked extremely hard to eliminate problematic behavior in the region and have worked to improve the circuit. We want what's best for Vanderbilt and the region. Vanderbilt is a great location for tournaments, so a healthier Vanderbilt means a better circuit.

It can be shown empirically that the repeated emergence of "funn" things strongly correlates to quizbowl organizations being run in a suboptimal manner. "We like to have fun, leave us alone" is almost always an indicator that a club may be doing things which are problematic. Sometimes I feel the leadership of these clubs don't get the greater picture of things and don't quite understand why it is important to get the greater picture. While you may think wearing costumes to a tournament is fun, you must remember that your club represents your university and should uphold a standard of professionalism at your events. As quizbowl moves in a more professional direction, portraying a quizbowl tournament as part qb / part Halloween event can be perceived as unprofessional by your clients and detracts from quizbowl's greater goals.
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by treeman9488 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:51 pm

Congratulations to Hume Fogg A for taking first place! Full stats can be found here: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/tournaments/3251/. Special mention to Battle Ground Academy A and University School of Nashville A for taking second and third respectively. Also, congratulations to our top 5 scorers in the preliminary 6 games: Aditya (Hume Fogg A), Jack (Battle Ground A), Tom (University School of Nashville B), Michael P (Merrol Hyde), and Alex (USN A). Finally, a special mention to the best dressed team, Merrol Hyde! Though they took the award, we'd like to thank everyone who dressed up for helping to make the tournament a great way to spend Halloween.
Brett Tregoning
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Re: Vanderbilt S.P.O.O.K.Y. Tournament '15 (10/31/15)

Post by ShorterPearson » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:37 pm

I'd like to add a few comments.

(1) Credit to all of the teams in the tournament's top flight. There were very few of you that it wasn't an absolute joy to read for, and in particular, those final four matches among the top teams were great games between great students who are a credit to the circuit.
(1a) I try not to play favorites, but the Madisonville North A/Madisonville North B match that finished my day was an absolute highlight for the joy of the players. That's one team I will always want to see do well.

(2) Thanks to Brett, Tyler, Duncan, Griffin, and all the other Vanderbilt guys for organizing a pretty dang good day out. The tournament went efficiently, with a minimum of hiccups, and everything was handled well. That's my second time working with them (ACF Regionals last spring was the other), both were good tournaments, and I look forward to jumping back in with them in March and conspiring with them in other ways going forward.

(3) I'm very grateful for the SCOP program for getting national-format, 20/20 tournaments into places where teams that otherwise wouldn't get exposure to this format of tournament can play and be successful. If I have one complaint about this particular field, it's that there were teams that can and should be playing HSNCT and PACE playing this set of questions, and not giving teams that could really benefit a chance to compete on even terms. I don't think that's anybody's fault, and I'm not about to blame anyone for it even if it is; it's as much an artifact of the state of the circuit in the region right now as it is anything else.

I've said repeatedly, privately and publicly, that I have one and only one ulterior motive in working in high school quiz bowl: I want to get players to come to my school and start playing 'round here. (Vandy guys, I love you dearly, and I want a team at Tennessee Tech that can kick all y'all's tails.) I know that "if we build it, they will come" has more than a bit of fallacy to it, but I'm grateful for any chance to help out with a tournament that's run on a national format and that exposes high school students to the specific game that we play at the collegiate level. Let's get more of these tournaments running.

(And yes, I will do my part on that end, hopefully sooner rather than later.)

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