Professionalism for coaches

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Professionalism for coaches

Post by First Chairman » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:51 am

A number of discussions that have been running recently has mentioned how often coaches from less-nationally-competitive teams (I'm being kind) use a strategy of just complaining or putting up frivolous protests to try to give their students a chance against other teams (whether the opponent is nationally competitive or not). While one should not prevent a coach or other knowledgeable advisor from lodging valid complaints, I know that the lack of perceived professionalism is being seen as acceptable "strategy" in quiz bowl.

I am wondering that while there may be conduct expectations for players on quiz bowl teams... do state associations or organizations have similar expectations of professional conduct for coaches? Should there be one?
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:06 am

Well of course there should be one, but i'm not sure if it's been officially documented in any way. Maybe it's one of those things that's just assumed that coaches obey without having to be told.

Is there a specific example that came up that prompted this, Dr. Chuck?
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by STPickrell » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:09 am

Complaining is something that cannot be measured objectively.

On the other hand, a TD can rule, 'You're making frivolous protests. Please stop.'

Would there be support for a rule in states with 'association quizbowl' (e.g. VA, MO, IL, OK, etc.) to make 'repeated frivolous protests' a sportsmanship violation?
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:17 am

STPickrell wrote:Would there be support for a rule in states with 'association quizbowl' (e.g. VA, MO, IL, OK, etc.) to make 'repeated frivolous protests' a sportsmanship violation?
Most "associations" would only turn this into a rule against complaining about question quality, a la Ohio.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:48 am

IHSSBCA does have Ethical Standards for Coaches, though they don't handle the situations addressed in this thread. To be honest, the filing of frivolous protests for the purposes of winning a match is not done commonly. Additionally, the reporting of rules violations to the IHSA with the intent of disqualifying another team is extremely rare, if it ever happens at all in reality. Also, I think we would be pushing our limits if we told coaches to ignore bad IHSA rules. As an Association, we make a long list every year of the IHSA Rules we want to change, and every year we have mixed success in having changes made, the biggest obstacles typically being coaches who are members of the IHSSBCA but have power within IHSA and different opinions than the Steering Committee.

Most of the complaining that is done by coaches in Illinois is not official complaining and is not done for competitive advantage. Most complaining has more to do with rationalizing why that team did poorly in a particular tournament or in general--the questions are too hard or some team takes Scholastic Bowl too seriously or whatever. The limitations on Illinois Scholastic Bowl teams generally speaking are not very restrictive. (I do disagree with the IESA Rule under discussion in the Junior High thread, and I will contact the IESA and IHSA about it in the near future, but I don't think it is fair to call the IESA an authoritarian regime based on one bad rule that has never been challenged before. Encourage the teams affected to bring the rule to IESA's attention and see what happens.)
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:26 pm

For the record, in my three years of high school quizbowl I only observed one coach making the kind of frivolous protests I think you describe, or doing similar stuff that was clearly an (almost always unsuccessful) attempt to gain a competitive edge. In point of fact, he was the coach one of the most (at the time) nationally competitive teams, and if you've ever counted how many doctorates he claimed to have during various protests over the course of a tournament, you know of whom I speak. So I think it's odd to characterize this as a thing that happens with "non-nationally competitive teams" (that also sounds kind of elitist to me, really).

I think any sort of behavior codification for quizbowl coaches is a bad idea. Adding bureaucracy and nuance to this kind of stuff just makes it more confounding and likely to cause an actual problem rather than be just a hilarious cautionary tale for the quizbowl history books. In situations in which a governing body or coaches council or whatever is absent, anyone who actually approaches disruptive behavior can just be tossed by the TD. I sort of question where this thread is coming from. . . is there a kind of epidemic of this stuff I'm not aware of? Are TDs at a loss for how to stop it, or somehow restricted from doing so? I don't know that this is really in need of a special discussion - some coaches are always going to push hard for their teams, some of those people occasionally cross lines, the very few times that happens people deal with it.

Tangentially, having rules for punishing frivolous protests is the worst idea since In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. I've never heard of those being actually successful against a frivolous protester, only screwing over people from actually using the protest the right way. Ohio, stop it.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:40 pm

Yeah, I mostly agree with Chris. I think that this is a problem best solved by making it very clear to tournament directors that it is their job to make sure that coaches are fostering competition, not ruining it. (Obviously, tournament directors have to understand what the actual competition is, but shouldn't a good proportion of tournament directors know that this isn't mock trial with the rulebook?)

The issue with a "code of professionalism" or anything larger than one tournament is that those who violate it immediately gain an advantage, and unless we keep a running blacklist of mean coaches, there's not much that can be done. I say let TDs moderate.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by the return of AHAN » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:47 pm

everyday847 wrote:
... and unless we keep a running blacklist of mean coaches, there's not much that can be done.
And this is precisely why there are certain teams that don't get invited to the Barrington Invitational any more, despite being active organizations.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:21 pm

Punishing students for their coach's behavior seems like a terrible idea.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by the return of AHAN » Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:29 pm

I was thinking the same thing recently when I saw a high school coach draw a technical foul in a basketball game.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by cvdwightw » Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:40 pm

It is my opinion that the following are frivolous and should be immediately discarded:
1. Retroactively protesting that your team was read the wrong bonus, in formats where bonuses are not directly related to tossups
2. Protesting that your own team should not receive points for a correct answer
3. Protesting that an answer that is widely different from the answer on paper is correct, unless the answer on paper is clearly incorrect
4. Counter-protesting the resolution of a protest against your team, or refusing to accept the other team's protest if you know they're right
5. Protesting that the questions are too long, too hard, contain too much academic material, contain not enough math calculation/trash/general knowledge, or contain not enough of an academic subject your team is really good at; that the tournament director and staff is clearly biased against your team (unless this is :chip: or CBI, in which case you're entirely justified in making the protest, but the staff is going to discard your protest as frivolous anyways); or that (an)other team(s)'s player(s) should be disqualified for being "too good" while alleging that they have heard the questions before.

The following are borderline; they should probably be resolved, though the coach/player may look like an idiot. In order of "most likely to get angry stares from competent people" to "least likely to get angry stares from competent people":
1. Protesting that a team's (incorrect) answer should not have been accepted, then bragging about "screwing a team out of a national championship" on an online message board.
2. Protesting that a team is in violation of a minor, stupid rule
3. Insisting that a protest be ruled upon in a blowout game in a format where paper tiebreakers do not exist (or are noted not-predictive tiebreaker head-to-head)
4. Protesting any aspect of moderator discretion (the sole exception to this is if the moderator is acting like an idiot by either wasting time in a timed round or refusing to accept answers that have demonstratively been proven correct)

The following should always be ruled upon, and are incumbent upon a coach to protest:
1. Protesting that a reasonably close answer should be acceptable for the answer on paper
2. Protesting that an incorrect clue caused a player to give an incorrect answer, or that the answer on paper is wrong

Generally, I think that the problem with borderline situation #2 is not with the coach. There are several coaches who insist on a strict reading of the rules, and if they can point to me where a clear violation of the rules occurs, then I have to side with them; I may view them as pains in the neck, but not as "unprofessional." The problem is that the rule is stupid and should be changed. The reason that these kinds of rules reflect badly on the coach is that the same coaches that are tirelessly enforcing these rules are the same coaches the refuse to change the rules. Therefore even though the coaches are right in enforcing the rule, they look unprofessional for not being willing to change stupid rules (because said stupid rules benefit their team, because they are the only coaches calling teams out on violating them).
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by mujason » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:25 pm

Missouri, of all places, actually has a good rule about protests. After a team has a second unsuccessful protest in a match, it cannot protest for the rest of that match. That way, real protests can be let through while frivolous protests are soon stopped.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by pray for elves » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:35 pm

cvdwightw wrote:It is my opinion that the following are frivolous and should be immediately discarded:
...
3. Protesting that an answer that is widely different from the answer on paper is correct, unless the answer on paper is clearly incorrect
This one seems to me to be flawed if the question-writing is terrible; if there's a question that starts with two or three non-unique clues that all apply to at least two things that are not at all related, and someone buzzes and picks the wrong one, that protest is not frivolous in my mind.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:41 pm

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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:33 pm

My high school team was often hampered because our coach would try to act TOO professional. If we were up by a lot, he would substitute out all the good players so as to not run up the score. If the other team wasn't wearing matching uniforms and should have started out at -30 (or whatever it is under IHSA rules), he did not invoke the rule. This behavior hurt our chances of winning, or reduced our statistical tiebreakers. I fear it would be encouraged by any kind of code of conduct.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by First Chairman » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:11 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Is there a specific example that came up that prompted this, Dr. Chuck?
No particular example though the discussion in the middle school thread sparked some questions from me. (I don't want to recall the Ohio protest rule's genesis or ways that various coaches had tried to bully me as a new TD back in "ancient times".) I had been thinking about it because I'm trying to think about what resistance there would be for some of the changes that are coming to quiz bowl (primarily through many hardworking people here). I don't think there's anything specific but I just am wondering... many coaches are not in tune with what is happening. I do think coaches are less likely to gripe to get a moderator to go "their way", but I don't know if that is always the case at other local/regional events.

Thanks for the discussion. I do want to know where we are on this. It's nice to see that we have a network of supportive coaches, but there is always concern by other coaches who are quick to accuse others of cheating before looking into what it would take to adjust to the game.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:49 pm

My high school team was often hampered because our coach would try to act TOO professional. If we were up by a lot, he would substitute out all the good players so as to not run up the score.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:54 pm

Missouri, of all places, actually has a good rule about protests. After a team has a second unsuccessful protest in a match, it cannot protest for the rest of that match. That way, real protests can be let through while frivolous protests are soon stopped.
The reason why this rule sucks is that often MSHSAA has problems with ruling correctly on protests. I once saw Ladue get turned down during a match at state when they properly identified the synaptic vesicles as the structure that transmits neurotransmitters to a dendrite when all the question wanted was "axon," and at Marshall high school one year we got screwed over on protests multiple times throughout the day and got forced out of protesting because of that crappy rule in at least 1 game.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:32 pm

mujason wrote:Missouri, of all places, actually has a good rule about protests. After a team has a second unsuccessful protest in a match, it cannot protest for the rest of that match. That way, real protests can be let through while frivolous protests are soon stopped.
This rule is horrible because it assumes a person cannot make a good faith mistake about a fact.
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by pblessman » Fri Jun 04, 2010 6:52 pm

Formats which have to have a rule disallowing protests after a certain number of protests (whether successful or not) in a match or tournament would seem to have inherent flaws. I have coached in close to a thousand quizbowl matches, and I can only think of one match with more than two protests by one team (and actually it was three by one and four by the other... this year at Indiana Chipbowl!). At the "good" quizbowl tournaments we have attended I can count on one hand when there have been two protests by one team. You might also consider it a bad sign that Chip Beall restricts the number of protests in a tournament to one...
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by An Intergalactic Puzzlepalooza » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:10 pm

cvdwightw wrote:2. Protesting that your own team should not receive points for a correct answer
I feel like this should actually be considered good sportsmanship, unless I'm misinterpreting it. e.g. in a recent tournament's quarterfinals, a bonus read something along the lines of "Into which kingdom do the following organisms fall(Yes, this is far too easy a question; that's not relevant to the current discussion, though.)?" Our reader, however, read it as "Into which animal kingdom..." We wouldn't have missed it had he not said that, but since those points clinched the match, the right thing to do, since our opponents had not noticed it, seemed to be to lodge a protest against ourselves. Am I missing something?

(And herein lies the mandatory "First Post!" declaration(And an apology, since I didn't notice that this thread had not been posted in in over two years, and made the assumption that since this was the first post in a subforum that it was recent))
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Re: Professionalism for coaches

Post by MrHickoryHam » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:14 am

i think that coaches that are simply trying to be really obnoxious or too frivolous about protests are very easy to notice and distinguish from coaches that are just trying to do their job. Protesting the acceptable answers to questions is one thing, but protesting question quality, minor rules such as dress code (someone earlier mentioned this one), etc - that is just blatant disregard for the spirit of competition and should be ignored.

there has been much debate over whether a team should be allowed as many protests as it deems necessary, and no resolution has been reached, particularly on the topic of "is a coach being unprofessional by protesting a lot even when protests are necessary/reasonable?". I believe the only way to solve this problem is to make a distinction between reasonable and unreasonable causes for protest. There should be no limit on how many times a team may protest correct vs incorrect answers, but the moderator/TD should have good enough sense to know when someone is protesting for really stupid reasons, like "that team brought in food/drink to this match. Disqualify them!". Clearly, this sort of behavior is not at all related to Quiz Bowl and should not be used against a team in a Quiz Bowl match.
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