Evolution of High School Quizbowl

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Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by aestheteboy » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:48 pm

After witnessing Shantanu's "godly" performance today at Maryland, I was inspired to ask this question: How has the level of play at the top level of high school quizbowl changed? Where is high school quizbowl going?

It's hard for me to imagine that any team in the near future will be nearly as dominant as TJ '05 was. In relative terms (performance), TJ '05 probably is and will remain to be the best team in high school history. But what about in absolute terms (amount of knowledge)? Judging from podcast and the limited firsthand experience I have, I feel that Whitman '08 and Dorman '08 are both stronger than Gov '07, which is probably still stronger than RM '06. Each year there is one or two unbelievably strong teams, and each year after that, there seems to be an even stronger team. At FICHTE, a high school team of Dan Puma, Steven Feldman, and I defeated, with a comfortable margin, a team with three of Gov '07's old boys. And right now, I simply can't imagine that any single player next year will be as good as Shantanu - and yet, paradoxically, I feel that the evolution of high school quizbowl would not stop... I don't know if there is a similar trend at college level, but quizbowl seems like a good evidence for the Red Queen Hypothesis.
As for the second question, I can only imagine. If this trend continues, in two three years, the gap between the best and the average team may become so great that it just wouldn't be reasonable for them to compete in the same tournament. The best teams may start to abandon high school tournament for college tournaments. In fact, this has started with Whitman choosing to attend FICHTE over NAQT states.

Or, perhaps, my impression is just wrong. I'd like to know what college players (especially those who know both TJ '05 and Whitman '08 firsthand) think.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Ford08 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:04 pm

I totally agree. I think that the amount of knowlege that people are willing to learn is growing. Quizbowl is becoming very popular all over the country the trend will continue. It is hard to compare teams that never get to play one another but yes the TJ 05 team is the best ever, though like you said do they know more than some of the dominate teams of today? I think not.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:32 pm

I think that the spread of pyramidal quizbowl necessitates an evolution-- as more and more teams play NAQT, PACE, and other good (or at least somewhat decent), tournaments, the more and more really strong teams will emerge-- I think that if we sent Whitman, Dorman, TJ, or NKC back in time, they could have a fairly good shot at beating TJ '05. On the other hand, I can't think that next year's top teams will be as good as this year's-- last year, many very good players, especially on the teams that are most dominant now, were retained. However, next year, the entirety of Whitman A, the entirety of Dorman A, 3/4 of TJ A, Charlie Dees, Doug Yetman, Micheal Wright, Dallas Simmons, and Kurtis Droge graduating. While many good players will remain-- Guy, Keith, Puma, Daichi, Ian Eppler, Naren, Dorman and TJ B, and myself, among others, I doubt that we will really be able to fill the boots of the giants that dominate quizbowl at the high school level today.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:42 pm

I'm just throwing it out there that I'm picking Charter, Hunter, and Dorman's current B team to be the class of the field next year at nationals, and I think those teams are already well on their way to being phenomenal. And there's nothing to say others couldn't get there too. I mean, Dorman wasn't that amazing at nats in 2006, and Whitman didn't really come on the national scene until April of last year.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by quizbowllee » Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:54 pm

Personally, I think it might have peaked with TJ '05. No team I have seen since is even on the same planet, much less the same neighborhood. The best 10-15 teams are better than ever, though. I think that, as NAQT and PACE seem to get harder to keep up with the growing number of "great" teams, we might see that change. It will get to a point (sooner, I think, than later), that this will become a severe barrier to entry for a lot of freshmen. This isn't the case in college, where many players continue to play for many years. High school players have complete turnaround every four years, so we will likely see this come into play in the next year or two. Of course, this is all just speculative on my part....
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by TheCzarMan » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:05 pm

I think you may be on to something there with the whole gap between average and great teams widening.

I REALLY doubt we're going to suddendly see a new player sprout up in the East Coast to join the elite schools. I think it could get to a point where only well established teams (TJ, Charter's, State Colleges, Seton Hall's, and other regional powers) are the only ones able to compete on a national basis.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:18 pm

TheCzarMan wrote:I think you may be on to something there with the whole gap between average and great teams widening.

I REALLY doubt we're going to suddenly see a new player sprout up in the East Coast to join the elite schools. I think it could get to a point where only well established teams (TJ, Charter's, State Colleges, Seton Hall's, and other regional powers) are the only ones able to compete on a national basis.
I don't think that this is really true: Charter rose to being the way it is now only recently. Whitman's power is even newer: they didn't really even show up on the scene until last April, and didn't become dominant until around the end of the fall. NKC appeared last year to become a great team without even an appearance at nationals the previous year. Guy has pretty much built Hunter's program from scratch. Eden Prairie only arose as a top team within the last few years. I think that many teams have the potential to rise up to strength: all it takes is one or two players with the talent and dedication to drive the program to a point where it can become nationally noticed. Usually, this takes a few years to happen, (a player with the spark plays a few tournaments, notices that he has talent, goes to more, goes to Nationals, makes playoffs, does somewhat well, pledges to study harder next year), but happen it does.

Edit: (fixing errors) Also, Charlie, I think that it would be a bit of a stretch to suggest that we play on the same level as Whitman after the ~400 point smackdown that they laid on us today.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Sir Thopas » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:27 pm

TheCzarMan wrote:I REALLY doubt we're going to suddendly see a new player sprout up in the East Coast to join the elite schools. I think it could get to a point where only well established teams (TJ, Charter's, State Colleges, Seton Hall's, and other regional powers) are the only ones able to compete on a national basis.
Yeah nothing like those well-established teams Hunter and Stuyvesant which you conveniently forgot to mention. They've been around forever!

There'll always be people who will come out of the woodwork and surprise everyone to compete nationally. There are always a few every year (Lakeside, the NY teams I mentioned before, etc.) Categorically counting them out would be a bad bet. Also, teams that begin to migrate from :chip: could start to show real talent before anyone knows it.

As for HS quizbowl in general, I think the increased connection that the top teams and players have with the college circuit is already leading to an explosion of talent and improvement that can only increase from here. This will probably lead to a widening gap, yes, but that's always been a problem. If a bad team gets slaughtered now 600-5, does it really make that much of a difference if they start to lose by 700-0 as bonus conversion creeps upward? Teams can always get better; the resources are out there. Another problem, though, is that the quality of HS questions greatly lags behind the college level. There are still many good tournaments, but NAQT high school sets and 4-quarter formats and the like tend to be pretty pervasive. I hope NAQT, in particular, will overcome this. It's possible to write good pyramidal questions without jacking up the difficulty; they should realize this as people in the college world are telling them to do. Other than that. more high school teams need to be writing their own, pyramidal tournaments. In addition to adding to the good question pool, this only improves your playing skill greatly.

[EDIT: Beaten to the punch by Henry. Oh well, I guess my non-cohesive second part still stands as valid.]
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:39 pm

I agree with your second part as well-- although I wouldn't mind seeing the difficulty ramped up a bit for one or two of NAQT's sets next year-- it's really necessary to distinguish between the top teams. Even on some of the more difficult HS tournament sets this year (ie: WoQ's two tournaments, the MD/Vandy/Minnesota tournament, TJ's Housh Classic, Harvard) the games between the top teams tend to be very close (except for a few odd incidents like the Whitman's aforementioned beatdown of us, our our 300-point win over TJ). More difficulty would help to make tournaments between these teams less random and more meaningful. Of course, NAQT would continue to produce regular IS sets and A-sets, but if they offered more difficult tournaments, these tournaments might become something like the HS equivalent of ACF fall-- something for the newer teams to play, and adapt to real quizbowl, but not discouraged by being constantly beaten down by the top teams.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by quizbowllee » Sun Apr 13, 2008 12:15 am

A thought, though:

Will teams like MLK, Whitman, Stuyvesant, North Kansas City, etc. continue to be great in the years to come, when their current players move on? Some of them might, but I think some such teams will fall significantly. I know my team at Brindlee Mountain will not be anywhere close to the same caliber next year as they have been. I will continue to coach, but our goals will change. This year our ultimate goal is to WIN whatever tournament we enter. Next year, it will be much more realistic for us to simply try to make the playoffs.

My point comes back to what I said earlier about turnover. Very few teams have REALLY demonstrated that they stand the test of time after major player turnover. Schools like TJ, Maggie Walker, State College, Richard Montgomery, and Dorman are good - REALLY good - every year. While the teams I mentioned earlier (MLK, NKC, etc.) have recently played great, it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up when those players (Dallas, Charlie, et al.) who made them great move on. I'm sure that a few of these schools will continue to be good - some will even get better - but many will fade.

Consider that just three years ago Lakeside and Mission San Jose were both incredible teams. Where are they now? Once that particular group of players moved on, those lights fizzled.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by asdf » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:21 am

quizbowllee wrote: Consider that just three years ago Lakeside and Mission San Jose were both incredible teams. Where are they now? Once that particular group of players moved on, those lights fizzled.
Yea, basically it comes down to good coaching. If a coach can create a competitive environment, students start studying, writing questions, and practicing more often. If a coach solely concentrates on the A-team, the team will fall apart after the the current A-team graduates. Also if a coach can recognize which players are willing to spend the most time on Quiz Bowl, it leads to a group of players that will continually win after the current A-team graduates. Probably the best method to create a depth of players that you can choose from is to choose the top four of each class (as in freshman, sophmore, junior, and senior classes). Having mass amounts of questions and study material is also essential.

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:16 am

I think that perhaps more "Division I" and "Division II" brackets will start to develop at high school tournaments. Obviously there is a widening skill gap between the very best teams (who continue to get better), and the lower end of the spectrum who have remained relatively similar in skill level to the bottom teams in past years. Having these teams play the best teams and perhaps even play on the same questions makes little sense. No one really gets anything out of these games, while using the same questions for both teams sort of results in a compromise that no one is really happy with (the questions are a little too hard for these teams, a little to much too easy for the best teams).

I do think that more high school teams could benefit from playing in college tournaments where the canon is larger and the competition is better. I think it would probably even be a good idea for some of the top teams to even prefer going to easier college events than certain high school events on the same weekend.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Sun Apr 13, 2008 4:34 pm

That's the great thing about being a sophomore- I get to watch and participate in this evolution for the next two years. As for next year, I don't see any teams being as good as some are this year, at least in the DC area. If what Daichi said about TJ '05 is true, then maybe it just proves that these things are cyclical. I don't see any teams being as good as others are this year, but who knows about next year and the year after that?
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by scquizbowl » Sun Apr 13, 2008 5:46 pm

It's getting to be like this in SC, too. The gap between the elite in our state (Dorman, James Island, Aiken, Southsides) and the teams that just compete for a tournament or two, is getting bigger. Fewer teams, sadly, are playing. Like at Dorman yesterday, we played Boiling Springs, which has gone for several years, and they are still ok.

But even Goose Creek, which is one of our region rivals, and only a 35 minute drive away from James Island, only plays at their local tournaments and NAQT.

Academic Magnet also would be better-known, but they only play inside Charleston County. We are not like Georgia, where if you go to any tournament, teams coming up (i.e Berkmar, Etowah, Lassiter), has to play Norcross, Brookwood, Cedar Shoals, Chattahoochee, Walton, and others at every tournament.

Sadly, athletics go over academics at many schools, as only 8 of the 13 schools in Charleston County play quiz bowl, and even in Cobb County, there are four or five schools that do not compete in quiz bowl.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by First Chairman » Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:10 pm

This is a topic I have been thinking very much about (as has Bykowski and others of us who have been around a while).

I have no doubt that the gap between the elite player and the solid player is widening greatly. It has made things very difficult when it comes to writing questions. My own writing for what I hope have been quality mid-range difficulty for HSCS and some of the PACE question sets has shown that I get tons of complaints that my questions are too easy or too hard, even though my own observation is that I target them to my "mid-level" student in an AP science class. This is problematic because if the bar is set too high even for entry-level events, we will not be able to encourage students to continue playing the game.

Coaches also have to play significant catch-up to develop talent to get a great team together. A great player is wonderful to have, but generating a great team requires more effort and more support. That said, how much financial and administrative support does it take to develop a great team? Some schools will be able to get that support, while those who have had more a record of "recreational" play in quiz bowl will not want to "move up", thus putting them at risk of falling further behind.

Personally, I wish there were a way we could keep control of the difficulty level without being overwhelmed with complaints that "our questions are too easy for this field." It's great that we have an outstanding field, but I worry that teams will become more easily overwhelmed if they simply qualify as a tournament champion as a qualifier to NAQT or PACE. Are we approaching more of an "elite" qualification system in which teams truly earn a spot for qualification? Would teams really mind, given the difficulty of avoiding AP exams or graduations? I don't think we can.

I would like to make it clear that PACE should not be considered the ACF of high school quiz bowl due to the negative associations that ACF has had with "impossibly hard." If anything, the high school qb community has the challenge of figuring out how to help a team transition from a "recreational" program to a team that can do well on national-difficulty questions and fields. Unfortunately the local qb programs will still have individual tournaments that run what could be considered suboptimal quiz bowl; how do we get those programs to consider making questions more appropriate and less gimmicky?

One of the best approaches I can think of is to be more collaborative, to help more students and coaches recognize that this community is welcoming, tolerant, and encouraging of individuals who want to improve themselves or their teams. We must share our best practices and help develop people to run great tournaments and write quality questions that target ALL levels. We need to exude professionalism and we need to be supportive, no matter how badly a tournament may be run. In contrast to what others say here, I do not see quiz bowl growing as much as many may think. The split of Divisions is sorely needed, but it does not address disparities of resources or talent. I also don't see the growth in talent resulting in a growth in college quiz bowl. Maybe you can prove me wrong, but I am not convinced that we really have a sustainable community of supportive quiz bowl players and coaches yet... yet.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by theattachment » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:20 pm

In my limited experience (three years in MN) I've seen that the top third of teams has certainly gotten a lot better over the past few years. More teams have seen massive development in talent in both individuals and teams. That said, Minnesota seems to be a micro example of the macro trends in Quiz Bowl in that teams all of a sudden emerge out of nowhere (EP here in Minnesota, Dorman, etc.) with some teams that were once powerhouses slipping to the background (St. Thomas Academy this year) and others just regenerating (Chaska and the like).

In my mind, that's how QB goes. You have this general upward slope with the top teams that occasionally will feed to more "recreational" teams. I think the points that a non-power school's C team will invariably get may come from deeper knowledge now, which implies that across the board we're getting better. That said, I have no idea how the top 10 teams in 2008 would fare against the greats of all time. Nowadays, my experience is that elite teams do one of two things: 1. Develop beast players and hope that teammates remember clues the beast destroys questions on for the future, or 2. Take kids with subject-wide deep knowledge and put them together and hope for the best. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't.

I'll say this, though. The top 10 individuals now could probably beat the top 10 individuals of all time head to head. The stories I hear from players like Charlie Dees, Shantanu, first-hand accounts of the guys from Dorman and the luck I have to play with Michael Wright every time I go out all make me really believe that the individuals of today are the best ever.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:47 pm

One thing that I haven't seen mentioned is that many current and recent HS and college QB players may start becoming coaches in the near future. Since the current standard of good questions has not been around for too long, I don't think that many people who "grew up" playing NAQT/ACF type formats have moved into coaching yet. When these people start graduating from college and settling into stationary jobs, I would expect many older quiz bowlers to start helping the local teams to improve. This could definitely lead to a new generation of powerful teams emerging out of nowhere.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by AdamL » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:00 am

theattachment wrote: teams all of a sudden emerge out of nowhere (EP here in Minnesota, Dorman, etc.)
Maybe so for EP, but Dorman's program has been consistently strong for years, no?
asdf wrote: Probably the best method to create a depth of players that you can choose from is to choose the top four of each class (as in freshman, sophmore, junior, and senior classes).
Maybe I'm reading this the wrong way, but I'm not really sure what you're saying here. Can you clarify, please? (Specifically, what would you be doing with the players that you "choose"?)
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:07 am

aestheteboy wrote:After witnessing Shantanu's "godly" performance today at Maryland, I was inspired to ask this question: How has the level of play at the top level of high school quizbowl changed? Where is high school quizbowl going?

It's hard for me to imagine that any team in the near future will be nearly as dominant as TJ '05 was. In relative terms (performance), TJ '05 probably is and will remain to be the best team in high school history. But what about in absolute terms (amount of knowledge)? Judging from podcast and the limited firsthand experience I have, I feel that Whitman '08 and Dorman '08 are both stronger than Gov '07, which is probably still stronger than RM '06. Each year there is one or two unbelievably strong teams, and each year after that, there seems to be an even stronger team. At FICHTE, a high school team of Dan Puma, Steven Feldman, and I defeated, with a comfortable margin, a team with three of Gov '07's old boys. And right now, I simply can't imagine that any single player next year will be as good as Shantanu - and yet, paradoxically, I feel that the evolution of high school quizbowl would not stop... I don't know if there is a similar trend at college level, but quizbowl seems like a good evidence for the Red Queen Hypothesis.
As for the second question, I can only imagine. If this trend continues, in two three years, the gap between the best and the average team may become so great that it just wouldn't be reasonable for them to compete in the same tournament. The best teams may start to abandon high school tournament for college tournaments. In fact, this has started with Whitman choosing to attend FICHTE over NAQT states.

Or, perhaps, my impression is just wrong. I'd like to know what college players (especially those who know both TJ '05 and Whitman '08 firsthand) think.
While I agree that this year's teams at Whitman and Dorman are better than we were last year, the fact that your team at FICHTE defeated a team with three of us from last year's gov team doesn't really prove much. Particularly when you consider that half of our team hadn't really played quizbowl in a very long time.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Matthew D » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:08 am

My problem has been finding players for my team... seems like I get two to come and try it and they decide that it is too much work or they have a boyfriend/girlfriend that ends up talking them out of playing on the team... had that last one happen twice this year... even after I invited all parties involved out for the team..
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by vandyhawk » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:08 am

I'll echo the thoughts of Dr. Chuck. I've been involved with ABC for 7 years now, editing it for 6 of those (though for this latest collaboration, I started my transition out by not doing all the editing for the Vandy rounds). Anyway, it's very tough now to write a set that will please everyone in a field that ranges from elite to weak teams. For example, based on stats from Vandy, Minn, and now Maryland, the very top of the field just killed the questions, the lower end still struggled mightily, and the middle (majority) of the field did fine, as expected. I don't know that I really see a better solution, though, for a tournament with a large and highly varied field. You just have to write good, pyramidal tossups, and structure bonuses as well as possible, and the top of the field should still sort itself out properly while not putting off the rest of the field. For nationals, I think questions can be consistently harder, and for a smaller tournament with a less varied field, questions can be adapted accordingly. I'm not a fan of having separate questions for varsity vs. JV, and esp. for collegiate-hosted tournaments, we don't really have the manpower and time to do that.

It seems more and more HS teams are practicing on college questions these days, which is likely a big part of some teams becoming ridiculously good at the HS level and even being able to do well when they attend college tournaments. With more and more good sets of questions available for people to practice on, there is a noticeable difference in the top of the field even from just a few years ago, and definitely compared with 6-7 years ago. I wonder if things have peaked, or if even more separation is possible.

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Lapego1 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:41 am

I've only skimmed through the rest of the posts, so sorry if I'm redundant. It seems to me that any increase in the number of really good teams out there correlates with an increase in the number of tournaments (even quality tournaments) one can find out there. Last year at Gov, there were stretches when we attended tournaments every weekend, while now that I'm somewhat playing college quiz bowl at Penn and attending fewer tournaments, I've noticed my ability has sharply fallen over the course of the year. For example, earlier this year at William and Mary's EFT mirror, I played against a team with Shantanu and Dan. Both of these guys were good, but we were still able to pull out a win by over 100. I played a solo Dan again more recently at the VCU MUT mirror and only barely won on the last couple of questions and more recently, the Feldman-Puma-Daichi team beat me and some of my '07 mates (as Daichi points out in the opening post) at FICHTE. This goes to show how the course of the year can really make or break your game. Also as Matt K. says, teams seem to be practicing on more college questions (something we only did late in the year last year).

Also, as someone who has seen both TJ '05 and at least the players from some of the current top teams, I don't know that there is much of a comparison. Before I continue though, I'd like to point out that I think most year-to-year comparisons are faulty (though I'm likely to contradict myself in the following). Questions and competition (and subsequently mindset) are too different to make any apt comparison. I mean, it's likely that Gov '07 and any of these aforementioned teams could have beaten TJ in that podcasted HSNCT '05 championship, but over the course of the HSNCT and the year, they showed their dominance by hitting over like 600 ppg at any tournament they went to. They broke 700 points at several NSC games with only three players and won every tournament they attended as a full team. I remember when Dan Wright from that team nearly won GSAC singlehandedly against some VERY good competition. Any two of them could've probably won a lot of tournaments they went to (against good competition), and they were at least the deepest, most well-rounded team I have ever seen. If some squad from this year happens to hit 800 points in several PACE games, whose question difficulty I don't believe fluctuates too much from year to year, then maybe they are in the same ballpark, but until I see that, I don't believe anyone is near as good.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Lapego1 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:47 am

Also, as an addendum, I think it's interesting to note that your competition really has a lot to do with how good you are. TJ '05 had so much good competition in its '03 and '04 incarnations (the lineups of which stayed similar over those three years) that they sort of emerged as these god-like figures that no one could touch in the '04-'05 season. Though I wasn't on Gov '06, I know they faced their share of competition in RM, State College, and the like and thus emerged a strong team (along with State College) in '06-'07. Is it possible that some of the top teams now faced somewhat good competition last year and by maintaining their lineups (Whitman, TJ, Dorman, Charter, and I'm sure others) and continuing to face each other have become very good teams?
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by First Chairman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:43 am

On the higher standards of competition, I think that has been going on in each "region", but this has really come into play over the last ten years. I combination of the internet (chatrooms, this bb, Facebook eventually), PACE & NAQT, and more collegiality has really helped raise the bar for the elite group. With the formation of new communities and quiz bowl "hubs" off the East Coast is very exciting, and who knows what will happen in the next ten years. It has been nice to see that the teams and the coaches have done a lot to identify and retain teams that want to make that jump to the next level (Raleigh Charter, Wilmington Charter, Brindlee Mountain).

That said, I know many of us rail on the travel restrictions that some teams have to endure from their state associations. In addition, petrol is not getting any cheaper so the cost for this mixing is putting a brake on whatever growth in this mixing there could be.

I think the real concern is that if we set the "practice, we're talking about practice" standard so high regarding preparation, we will push away a lot of people who might be happy as an "occasional" or "recreational" player. Yes, you need a strong team, but instilling confidence in a student (high school or college) who is starting out is an issue... as Matthew points out, recruiting players -- especially at the college level -- is key to having a viable team to run outstanding tournaments (high school or college). On B and C (or other letter) teams, these opportunities to give the "subject specialist" confidence is key to developing her/him as an outstanding consistent player by senior year.

The other thing I always have been concerned about is that we need more high school students who -- as college players -- can run tournaments and edit questions. That I see is the next evolutionary step that HAS to be addressed to improve both HS and college circuits. We old guys are getting too far removed from this evolution in standards, but we have the philosophy to make sure that the questions don't become too difficult or out of control. We need organizers; the era of writing questions AND running tournaments to produce a high-quality event has passed. We need to keep the "above average" players to have them run teams or events (as I did) and have them read our seriously understaffed competitions across the country or coach high school or college teams. We need to keep the quiz bowl "alumni" (high school and college) involved with the circuit somehow, and encourage them to remain involved.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by First Chairman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:59 am

squareroot165 wrote:One thing that I haven't seen mentioned is that many current and recent HS and college QB players may start becoming coaches in the near future. Since the current standard of good questions has not been around for too long, I don't think that many people who "grew up" playing NAQT/ACF type formats have moved into coaching yet. When these people start graduating from college and settling into stationary jobs, I would expect many older quiz bowlers to start helping the local teams to improve. This could definitely lead to a new generation of powerful teams emerging out of nowhere.
But NAQT and ACF have been around quite a while: among the people I would consider products of the early era of NAQT/PACE: Bill Tressler and Eric Huff. I'm sure there are a couple of others I'm forgetting because I'm old. I agree as more college players pursue careers in teaching (perhaps), we may get a few more great teams and they'll know our community will support them.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by btressler » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:57 am

Oh look, my name got dropped.

Wilmington Charter will probably peak next year. My class of 2009 is the best yet, and while the classes behind that are good, they will not be finishing as high as Henry, Neeraj, and their supporting cast have been.

I could see the high school circuit getting even more talented if a good middle school circuit were in place. But I think we are at least several years from that.

Why do we practice college questions? Because the high school ones are too easy, and college questions tend to be free. In fact, we hope to attend several college / open events next year, probably in lieu of a few of the high school tournaments we normally do. Maryland has been very good about making this possible, and I appreciate that.

(And to that end: here's a plea for the Mid-Atlantic EFT to be open again next fall. We stayed home in part this year because I couldn't play.)

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:32 pm

I think that it's a combination of how much work schools put in these days, the growth in both quantity and ability of college players as high school writers, and the growing use of the Internet for communication between the writers and the players. To the first part, I believe there was a thread back in about 2004 (don't know if it got lost and too lazy to find out) that asked how much time teams spent practicing. Most of the nationally competitive teams spent somewhat less than 5 hours a week. It's very difficult now to be nationally competitive on anything less than 5 hours a week; many schools have entire class periods for it plus additional after school or individual work.

The second part concerns the "realification" of the game. As NAQT and PACE have grown, they have started to rely more and more on current and recent college players to fill their sets. Almost every current writer of good college questions also writes for NAQT or PACE or both. Many of these writers played either for or against many of the historically great modern-era teams. Thus, there may be a growing disconnect between writers and the average player on what constitutes "high school difficulty". Even those of us who try to write at, say, ACF Fall difficulty may still end up with questions that are objectively too hard for the average high school. Regardless of any possible disconnect in difficulty level, there is also the issue that almost all of us can write high school questions with good pyramidality. Coupled with the decline of ASCN and the growing irrelevance of Chip's tournament, this forces any team wanting to be competitive to "study up" to answer the difficult questions and to get the easier questions early enough.

Lastly, the increased use of the hsquizbowl forums and IRC channel has provided a way for high school players and coaches to directly interact with many of the people who wrote their questions. The common link among most regular posters is a devotion to the game and a desire to get better; the average ability of a regular poster (player) or team (coach/group of players), especially after a year or so on the boards, is probably not at the same level as the average player.

I think this combination of increased devotion to the game and increased reliance on college writers creates a growing cycle in which the top high school players have mastered the limited canon and cry for expansion, whereupon the college players accede and write more difficult leadins and more difficult questions, and this leads to the top high school players spending more time to devouring the expanded canon until they've once again mastered it. Meanwhile, the average high school ability has probably not significantly changed. A large reason why NAQT does not make its sets more difficult in the face of so much criticism of "it's too easy" is because there's likely an equal amount of non-public criticism from relatively "backwards" areas that those same exact questions are too hard.

Ultimately, this spiral may lead to a situation in which many casual teams drop their programs because they just can't compete with the bigger programs and it's just not fun anymore. This has happened with Academic Decathlon in Orange County and may be happening with quizbowl in other areas of the country.

I remember the 2002 HSNCT meeting its stated goal of being good questions on anything and everything high school students should know. The evolution of the high school game makes such a nationals-level set no longer possible.

While the best idea would be for NAQT to add an IS-Plus to its IS and IS-A levels, I'm not sure it's all that feasible with the already high demands on NAQT for questions. One solution might be to replace some IS or IS-A sets with the IS-Plus sets and move some questions from the IS-Plus set down in difficulty to create a regular IS or IS-A set, similar to what's being done with the Division I versus Division II sets at the college level.

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:13 pm

Actually, questions have gotten easier across the board, for all teams in all formats, in recent years. There is no relationship between "the top teams are really good" and "the questions are really hard." Two average teams today will score more points in a game on an NAQT IS set or a PACE NSC set or whatever than they did in 2002, 2004, or 2006.

I don't think there is very much we can do about teams who are answering more questions than before, feeling that the material is out of their grasp less than ever before, and otherwise enjoying the benefits of easier questions, who still gripe because they can't beat harder-working elite teams. This is a competitive game, we keep score, there are winners and losers and trophies, and that's not going to change. The really immature teams will do what they have always done--flee to Chip Beall and math bowl and other crap, where question and opponent quality is so unreliable that literally anyone has a realistic chance of winning any given tournament. Most teams will probably understand that if they want to play a competitive activity, they will have to either find some way to enjoy themselves without winning all the time, or do the work needed to win. That is going to be the case regardless of the difficulty level of the questions.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by asdf » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:56 pm

AdamL wrote:
asdf wrote: Probably the best method to create a depth of players that you can choose from is to choose the top four of each class (as in freshman, sophmore, junior, and senior classes).
Maybe I'm reading this the wrong way, but I'm not really sure what you're saying here. Can you clarify, please? (Specifically, what would you be doing with the players that you "choose"?)
The Freshman class would be the JV's B team
The Sophmore class would be the JV's A team
The Junior class would be the Varsity's B team
The Senior class would be the Varsity's A team

The people "chosen" would be sent to more tournaments

Of course this is assuming you have enough players

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:14 pm

That's a horrible idea. Maybe your A team should be the best combination of 4 players, and your B team be the 2nd best combo, etc.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by the return of AHAN » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:33 pm

Deesy Does It wrote:That's a horrible idea. Maybe your A team should be the best combination of 4 players, and your B team be the 2nd best combo, etc.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by asdf » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:39 pm

Deesy Does It wrote:That's a horrible idea. Maybe your A team should be the best combination of 4 players, and your B team be the 2nd best combo, etc.
Not saying the coach couldn't be flexible..

Assuming your best players are those with experience, then this would help keep your team competitive for many years.
Rather than having a super group of players. It usually lowers the motivation of the B or C teams, especially if your team is tight on budget and can't afford to send so many teams to tournaments.

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Matthew D » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:43 pm

Okay on that note, would it make sense to have your best players split up during practice sessions and then put them together for tournaments?
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:48 pm

I personally have no problem with having your entire club play together at practices because I think it exposes lees talented players to more talented gameplay and can give something to strive for, as well as exposure to people reacting to clues and seeing what's good to learn, but if you do split players up I think it would be ideal to have good players leading the split practices. I know a lot of times at our practices I read questions to everyone and then tell them what's stock and what's good to know, and I think that has helped my teammates improve a lot over the last couple years. However, I don't know if there really is any substitute for just sitting down and reading questions on your own.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by asdf » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:50 pm

Matthew D wrote:Okay on that note, would it make sense to have your best players split up during practice sessions and then put them together for tournaments?
That would be a good idea.
Usually you put them together a week or two before tournaments.
I know this would be a problem if you have tournaments every week though.

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:51 pm

asdf wrote:The Freshman class would be the JV's B team
The Sophmore class would be the JV's A team
The Junior class would be the Varsity's B team
The Senior class would be the Varsity's A team

The people "chosen" would be sent to more tournaments

Of course this is assuming you have enough players
My school is a pretty good example of why, if nothing else, the rigidity of this wouldn't work. The sophomores are better than the juniors, and we have no seniors or freshman. Not all teams have a huge pool of students to work with, sadly.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Matthew D » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:55 pm

see my team has only 10th graders and only 1 freshman
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:30 pm

Deesy Does It wrote:That's a horrible idea. Maybe your A team should be the best combination of 4 players, and your B team be the 2nd best combo, etc.
I agree. Building teams based around internal politics or seniority really can hamper a program's ability to do well. I know from my own experience that had our A-team at the 2006 HSNCT simply been composed of the 4 best players available rather than 4 seniors who were friends, it probably would have made the top 10. In the past, TJ's program has had similar problems. For a program to really become powerful in Quizbowl (or "evolve," in this thread's parlance), it needs to put together the combination of people that will score the most points.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by catsasslippers » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:30 pm

I think it depends how good your B and C teams are as to whether or not you should split up your players. Three of the four A-team players could single handedly beat our B, C and D teams all playing together, and so for us you have to split them up. A team like Dorman could have the B and A teams play against each other and have a challenging game.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:33 pm

catsasslippers wrote:I think it depends how good your B and C teams are as to whether or not you should split up your players. Three of the four A-team players could single handedly beat our B, C and D teams all playing together, and so for us you have to split them up. A team like Dorman could have the B and A teams play against each other and have a challenging game.
Should've clarified. I was referring to competition, not to practice.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by BuzzerZen » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:16 pm

SwissBoy wrote:In the past, TJ's program has had similar problems.
Huh?
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by edisoncharger32 » Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:40 am

What are your opinions on the teams developing out west of the Mississippi? There used to be a dearth of teams, but now they are sprouting up all over. What are your views on this progress and where do you see them going?
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by btressler » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:29 am

I think Henry is claiming that TJ B was similar to or better than TJ A in a recent year. I'm not sure if that's a "problem". (Although when Charter B was better than Charter A, it was controversial.)

Henry is not wrong with regard to Charter. At HSNCT '06 had Charter A been Terry Wu, Austin Zheng, Henry, and Raja Vel instead of the five seniors, they probably would have done better.

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:18 am

Stat74 wrote:I think Henry is claiming that TJ B was similar to or better than TJ A in a recent year. I'm not sure if that's a "problem". (Although when Charter B was better than Charter A, it was controversial.)

Henry is not wrong with regard to Charter. At HSNCT '06 had Charter A been Terry Wu, Austin Zheng, Henry, and Raja Vel instead of the five seniors, they probably would have done better.
This clarification is correct-- I was referring to how last year, TJ B would beat TJ A sometimes. Of course, this is really irrelevant, as TJ A was still easily one of the 4 best teams in the country last year (and probably still is).
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by jrbarry » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:54 pm

This is a topic area that I have great interest in as a coach of over 25 years now. I have noticed some wrong info here in some posts that, as a history person, I would like to challenge.

1. I saw Walt Whitman play in the 1980s at least twice at nationals and they were absolutely awesome.

2. North Kansas City has had many very strong teams over the past 12 or so years. Topnotch quiz bowl at NKC existed before Mr Dees arrival.

3. Some of us have been using academic, pyramid tossups for decades. They have been the norm in GA and SC since the mid-1980s. Nothing new about using pyramid questions at least not in the Southeast.

What I have noticed in the last 5-6 years is the growing number of questions in quiz bowl that are on the fringes of the high school canon (loosly defined, of course) if they can be considered canon at all. Coach after coach after coach have complained to me about this, at least in the Southeast (and even some in other areas of the country). This is driving individual and teams out of competitions that feature those types of questions.

I hope quiz bowl can survive this trend. I want it to flourish even in small schools in non-urban areas.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:39 pm

jrbarry wrote:What I have noticed in the last 5-6 years is the growing number of questions in quiz bowl that are on the fringes of the high school canon (loosly defined, of course) if they can be considered canon at all. Coach after coach after coach have complained to me about this, at least in the Southeast (and even some in other areas of the country). This is driving individual and teams out of competitions that feature those types of questions.

I hope quiz bowl can survive this trend. I want it to flourish even in small schools in non-urban areas.
I think it's very important for schools to participate on at least some questions that are appropriate to their skill level. It'd be ideal if each area had a perfect distribution of tournaments that are held on that area's perfect difficulty levels.

That being said, canon expansion is not a bad thing. Without canon expansion, you'd end up with questions on the same subjects over and over. It's somewhat necessary to do this to continue testing the top-level teams.

Question authors should not be introducing new, overly difficult subjects on introductory sets, but they're perfectly acceptable in appropriate quantities at premiere regional contests, most state championships and national championships.

It sounds like the coaches who are complaining are (if I look at it optimistically) either playing on questions that are above their teams' capabilities, which is understandably frustrating, or fail to recognize the importance of canon expansion in the appropriate areas. Unfortunately, there are also some coaches who don't wish to update their coaching methods and want all quiz bowl to play down to their level. Complaints for these reasons should plainly be unacceptable.
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:54 pm

Every set of actual numbers that I've seen indicates that questions are becoming easier for the average team, not harder. Perhaps, much like all difficulty complaints ever, the coaches who allege that this is not the case are in fact using it as a pretext for some other issue they have with the tournament?
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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by asdf » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:05 pm

Another way to accommodate more people is to use harder clues for tossups and ask questions of the expanded canon on bonuses. Of course this would lead to longer questions, but this can be countered by faster readers and maybe a lesser amount of questions.

Also based on the recent NAQT packets I've played on, the power marks are ridiculously placed way too close to the "FTP" mark. At least put it two sentences before the FTP marks because it is hard to predict whether to risk negging instead of powering when the opposing team has buzzed in and negged. Or maybe I'm just unaware of NAQT's guidelines.

Are there any general guidelines in which NAQT places their power marks?

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Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by The Time Keeper » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:11 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Every set of actual numbers that I've seen indicates that questions are becoming easier for the average team, not harder. Perhaps, much like all difficulty complaints ever, the coaches who allege that this is not the case are in fact using it as a pretext for some other issue they have with the tournament?
I see it as usually being nothing more than what Fred said about most of the complaining coaches simply being people who have failed to adapt to quizbowl becoming much more real. Even in various places like the Southeast where pyramidal questions have been popular for decades, the current pyramidal tossups in good sets are a million times better. I mean, there's a noticeable difference between "good" HS questions from 2002 and good HS questions now, I don't want to think about what qualified as good HS quizbowl in the mid-80s to mid-90s. Anyway, I suspect the majority of the coaches complaining about the change in quizbowl are those who can't seem to realize that their routines of practicing on lists by that Campbell guy or Kevin Keegan or whoever that were made over a decade ago won't help them win real games on real questions against even slightly real teams. I have to believe that in the majority of these cases it's a mix of ignorance of modern qb, irrational stubbornness about how their system was great 5000 years ago why shouldn't it still work we had a tradition of excellence on ASCN and Chip questions we deserve to win now rargh blarg and such idiocy, and possibly disappointment in having some players who simply don't want to get better.
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Captain Sinico
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Posts: 2840
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:46 pm
Location: Champaign, Illinois

Re: Evolution of High School Quizbowl

Post by Captain Sinico » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:49 pm

asdf wrote:Also based on the recent NAQT packets I've played on, the power marks are ridiculously placed way too close to the "FTP" mark. At least put it two sentences before the FTP marks because it is hard to predict whether to risk negging instead of powering when the opposing team has buzzed in and negged. Or maybe I'm just unaware of NAQT's guidelines.

Are there any general guidelines in which NAQT places their power marks?
You're aware that power doesn't really matter all that much, right?

MaS
Mike Sorice
Coach, Centennial High School of Champaign, IL (2014-) & Team Illinois (2016-2018)
Alumnus, Illinois ABT (2000-2002; 2003-2009) & Fenwick Scholastic Bowl (1999-2000)
ACF
IHSSBCA
PACE

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