The problem with getting more people involved

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The problem with getting more people involved

Post by theMoMA »

Good quiz bowl is highly self-selective. Those who actively seek it out will have an inherent advantage of motivation over those recruited.

As far as I can tell, three factors motivate quiz bowl participation (ie, there are three things in quiz bowl that make it fun): Desire to learn, desire to compete, and desire to prove one's self/team. Players, coaches, or programs that lack any number of these motivating factors probably won't seek out good quiz bowl.

To elaborate a little further...More than competition, the desires to learn and prove one's self and team are what push people to seek out good quiz bowl. Poor quiz bowl doesn't teach in-depth knowledge. Similarly, poor quiz bowl doesn't garner the peer recognition that good quiz bowl does. Sure, you might polish some NAC or Patrick's Press hardware, but don't expect peer accolades.

One of my biggest motivations came from the fact that hardly anyone in the community cared when our high school team made the NAC championship. Sure, I got a shiny medal, but I found that while teams we had competed with and beaten all year got accolades from players across the country for their accomplishments at NAQT, no one seemed to consider us one of the best teams. I realized I'd have to seek out good quiz bowl if I wanted to prove myself against the best players and win something I really felt good about.

Discussion about whether or not to make such-and-such format easier to encourage participation don't mesh with the reality of quiz bowl. The good players aren't tricked into playing pyramidal questions. The good players seek those questions out. Those players are good because they don't just want to win...they want to win against the best players. And the best players want to learn, so the best players play pyramidal questions.
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Post by First Chairman »

Thanks for posting this up and starting this discussion.

The question I have is this: how did you convince your advisor that such "peer recognition" is really important? Usually most teachers dictate the rules and many don't really care if they get peer recognition, as long as there is a trophy to show off to the admins and the parents. Would this really have mattered, considering that many teams would attend certain tournaments for the sake of "tradition," or because the students on the team preferred the tournament venue over tournament rigor?

If you didn't convince your adult sponsor, how would you convince him/her?
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Post by theMoMA »

At my high school, our coach was very open to student input...we actually chose to go to NAC because we were better at the format and a little naive about going to :chip:

But if I were on a team with a more closed-minded coach taking the team to NAC-style instead of NAQT-style tournaments, I'd probably appeal to their ego. Tell them 'I think you've coached us into being one of the top teams in the nation, now let's seek out the best teams and prove it.' That sort of thing. Because chances are the teams that are going to want to cross over are going to be the best at the inferior format, anyway.

I don't think coaches will go against what their players want if students have clearly formed and voiced their question preferences. Coaches get really defensive when they perceive another coach is telling them how to run their program, which is why coaches persuading other programs to join better formats probably won't work.

But that being said, I don't think the limiting factor is coaches. I think it's players who are content to dominate inferior formats without desiring to prove themselves against good teams. And honestly, if they're content to do that, they don't have much desire to learn or to better themselves, so I don't think barring attitude change that they'd be that amazing even if they were recruited. At this stage in the high school game, the good programs know that pyramidal tossups exist. It's up to the students to seek that sort of thing out, and that will always stem from a desire to learn more or to compete against the best.
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Post by vig180 »

It's also a matter of rewards- at my high school, our local TV tournament not only got us on TV but awarded something like $100,000 in total scholarship prizes with the winning team splitting $37,500. So the only format our coach would ever let us and anyone other than me wanted to practice was the TV format, which was entirely AUK questions. I know many other teams in our area followed the same principle.

The problem with that was AUK questions emphasize guessing over knowledge- I never made the varsity team for 2 years because in practice I refused to buzz the moment the "African Authors" topic was announced with "Achebe" or "Early Presidents" with "Jefferson". Consequently, at the 3 pyramidal tournaments we went to over my 3 years on the team I did extremely well while the rest of my team did mediocre. While I liked those formats and tried to drag them out to more tournaments like that, they preferred to practice the AUK format constantly and thought pyramidal questions were "too long" "too hard" and "too confusing." Thus attending these pyramidal tournaments did nothing more than encourage them to stay away because they were too hard.

Interestingly enough, when it came time for the TV matches, I ended up performing better, I think because I had learned stuff and not memorized stock clues. The true appeal of pyramidality is that it helps people learn more (Which is what quizbowl's supposed to be about, right?) and rewards people who prepare over those who just guess correctly.

I think a key way to get more people involved is to try to get more TV formats (of which there are many) to change to at least some semblance of pyramidal questions. It would be tough, yes, because it goes against tradition, but point out the popularity of NAQT as a "national format" and how even just listening to these matches is entertaining. Also emphasize how it logically rewards more knowledge to have pyramidal questions. If there were some way to get NAQT nationals televised, then perhaps other formats would follow suit. Heck if NAQT could find a corporate sponsor somehow, then that might even encourage more people to practice pyramidality just because "the chance to compete for cash and prizes" sounds better to some teams than "trophy and recognition of a job well done".

Fighting for pyramidality will always be a difficult cause, but I think once a team accepts pyramidality as the best format, then they will be much less likely to go back no matter how well their team does. Eventually, slowly but surely, the best format should rise to the top.
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Post by jrbarry »

Our local (Atlanta area) TV game, High Q, has pyramidal tossups although some border on being silly appealing to the TV audience. MOst are well-structured questions.