Chris Chiego in the Scarlet Knight Winter announcement wrote: It's pretty incredible that I don't think there's been an event in NJ with a novice bracket or a novice-only tournament in the past few years. Princeton did split standard-competitive this year, but that's it. Perhaps that's why the largest events in NJ are still the 50-60-team modified Jeopardy dreck.
This seems as good as any time to start a discussion that is definitely long overdue. While I have existed in New Jersey quizbowl for five years now, I am definitely not qualified to talk about NJ quizbowl writ large. Despite this, I'm gonna push on through and attempt to do so, likely parroting the lessons learned from other regions and how they can apply to NJ, as well as attempts to see why NJ might not yet have undergone full scale good quizbowl proselytization.Chris Chiego in the Scarlet Knight Winter announcement wrote:A novice set (I assume you mean IS-A set, since the last few SCOP and the PA novice sets have not been mirrored within NJ) implies neither a novice-only tournament nor a novice bracket. When attempting to recruit most schools (read: not the supermagnets or top university town schools) to pyramidal quizbowl, it often helps to have opportunities for those teams to do more than finish in the bottom third of a tournament, which is what novice tournaments and brackets do. Given far more schools in New Jersey play non-pyramidal quizbowl than pyramidal quizbowl, it would be nice to try to change that and get more teams playing pyramidal permanently. The standard NJ tournament (regardless of set) wherein a few non-circuit schools show up each time and usually get trounced isn't a very effective way to accomplish that goal.
First things: I don't mean to impugn any particular person or school in any critiques. I have undoubtedly done far short of what I could have done, and will attempt to get better at this in the future. With respect to future plans, Rutgers will undoubtedly be running a novice only tournament next year. I'll talk about this in a second, and very little is figured out about it, but it's 100% going to happen. We will also make a broader effort to reach out to schools who play bad quizbowl or anything of the kind (they, rather than the frosh of established schools, will be our recruitment goal for the novice tournament, although of course all are super welcome!).
I believe there are two primary issues (Rutgers specific) with running a novice tournament:
1. The schedule is jam packed with tournaments. The simplest solution to this, to me, seems to allow for more overlap, particularly with a novice tournament. I don't personally see it as a problem if there are two tristate area tournaments being run on a day while a novice tournament is run in NJ. Obviously gaps in the schedule are the best, but they may not always materialize. We will try and be quicker about solidifying dates in the future, but for example, running SCOP at Rutgers the same day as Hunter runs it in NYC does not seem like the issue I had thought it was. By my count 5 (EB, HT, Ridgewood, Bergen, and St. Joes) NJ schools attended 2017 SCOP Novice @ Hunter, two of which are closer to Hunter than Rutgers. Hopefully in tandem with increased NYC outreach, I don't see why NJ SCOP would infringe on Hunter's turf (something I previously thought). Of course, the best situation would be perfect schedule harmony, but I'm assuming the trend in tournaments will remain stagnant at the minimum or increase.
There is also the possibility of making our fall tournament a novice one, an idea that seems fine to me. If people with more knowledge of when teams take new players could let me know that'd be awesome! An issue with deciding our fall tournament schedule this year was whether or not schools would have their new team members yet (when I was at EB, our new team members didn't start until October).
2. Staffers: While we are doing our best to recruit more people, our team is still on the smaller side. While we tend to be just fine on staffers, were we to run a larger, two bracketed tournament with legitimate novice and experienced brackets, we would likely run a bit dry. This does not conflict with running a novice tournament next year, its just another issue worth discussing.
Have other states made moderator databases? Having the contact information of those willing to help out seems incredibly impactful. A more concerted effort on the part of tri-state area quizbowl teams (NYU, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers primarily) to staff each others' tournaments seems imperative. Princeton aiding us in running states is the only reason we can do so.
Institutional consistency also seems a reason this may not have been addressed full force yet. Looking at the tournament hosts for this year and the last few years, from New Jersey, there has not been a ton of consistency which could breed institutional knowledge. Rutgers, for instance, began running tournaments in 2016, and both Rutgers and Princeton have in the past had occasional problems with tournaments. East Brunswick began running tournaments in 2016 as well and hopefully will continue to do so, Bergen did so for a few years (though they have continued to run their middle school tournament which is awesome), St. Joes no longer does; High Tech is the only tournament runner other than Princeton whose lineage goes back before 2016 and is extant today (I hope I did not miss anyone).
This, I believe, is largely because many teams are player-oriented (which is not bad necessarily but can hurt consistency). EB began running tournaments my senior year when our A team wanted to; St. Joes stopped after the Alex/Greg/Jack days; Bergen is different because Pinyan is one of the best out there, and they still run a tournament, but they also ran HS tournaments during the Rebecca/Zach/David days.
The only school not mentioned there from NJ hosting this year is Princeton HS (awesome to see a new team in the mix). I have to imagine the lack of teams running tournaments for the 10th year, etc. has hurt the ability of NJ to form a strong core of tournaments. I don't believe this is an inherent problem for outreach, but I imagine coordinating more would help, and having an established program helps. (That said, if there is anything we could ever help with, staffing, etc. feel free to reach out to any of us on Rutgers' team).
In terms of reaching new programs, I was recently shared a list of schools that attended non-quizbowl quiz-style tournaments and we will do our best to reach out to those schools. I don't believe States is the best time to introduce teams to quizbowl since it uses SCT and will have all the best teams doing their best, however we will use that list as well as any other information to particularly spread knowledge about novice-level tournaments.
I hope this is somewhat helpful. Even if nothing I said is, I hope having a discussion thread at all can help come to decent conclusions. We, Rutgers, will definitely ramp up our efforts to improve the circuit, and aid any other schools who wish to help. I'd greatly appreciate advice from people like Chris Chiego, who have done incredible work, and who seem to know NJ better than most. I hope many NJ schools (and neighboring states' schools as well) can help in this task and we can make this a concerted state-wide effort to provide the wide variety of tournament options that can best grow this circuit.
A few questions I have:
1. To what degree do central organizations help, like the PA Coaches one, and should that be part of our aims? (even if its simple stuff like a staffer database)
2. How do we coordinate most effectively with each other and with new schools?
3. Since many NJ schools' institutional consistency seems buoyed by a few people, how do we help build that?
4. Is it too late for this year? And if not, what can we do with the remainder of the schedule, which is populated by lots of tougher sets (and two A sets that are not novice/have novice brackets)?
5. What can do, other than offer discounts and offer novice tournaments, to best ensure retention of new schools?
6. If anyone has notes on how Rutgers in the past few years has done things that were possibly suboptimal, that would be helpful to know!
I wish I had thought more concertedly about this earlier on; any advice would be awesome! I hope nothing I asked has been talked to enough in other places (I tried to read all relevant threads on the forums), but if so I'll gladly learn from those.