Equal represenation in Quizbowl

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Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by euterpe42 » Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:58 pm

I'm the member of a Southern California Quizbowl team, and we have a problem. We have a team of about 20-something, and only two of us are girls. Unfortunately, many of our team members don't find this a problem and therefore haven't tried to solve it, and so we have a lot of trouble recruiting girls to play when they realize that they'll be in a very small minority. I would really like to try and achieve gender balance on my team, so I was wondering if anyone else has problems recruiting girls to play, and if so, how did you solve it? I'd also appreciate any general advice people have on recruiting for their teams. Thank you so much!
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Cheynem » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:51 pm

I guess I'll bite.

First of all, I don't necessarily see gender imbalance as a major problem. Some teams attract a lot of men, some teams attract a lot of women, some attract a mixture. It could just be the nature of the school.

But, I'll make some general comments about recruitment in general, which if applied generally might stop a gender imbalance:

1. Avoid the "old boys club" feel. By this, I don't mean male chauvinism, I mean, "If I'm a newcomer and walk in on a practice, will I be ignored by everyone as they make all sorts of in-jokes?" You've got to be welcoming to all newcomers, get them to feel involved, etc.

2. Get professional in how new people are addressed. If you have a coach, certainly the coach could do some of this, but I would argue that newcomers should have access to the rules, old questions, Internet resources, and other things that would help them to better understand and enjoy quizbowl. I'm not saying you have to a rules symposium every practice if a newcomer shows up, but this definitely should happen the first few practices or so of the year.

3. Do what you say. You say "Free pizza?" Well, you better have free pizza! You say "We're going to be practicing at 3:00 after school until 5:00"? Well, let's try to keep to that. If you're a college team, I realize that it can be a little trickier and people are adult enough to understand schedule conflicts, but in high school, I'd say to keep as close as possible to what you're promising, else you run the risk of seeming like a club that's really just for the people in charge.

4. Get people opportunities to play. It's no fun to go to practice if you're just going to sit around and watch other people play or only read or whatever. All team members should have gameplay opportunities. If there are tournaments, within reason, anyone who wants to play should be allowed to attend (the budget may have some say-so). Instead of taking a gigantic A team and just having a person sit around as the seventh man, why not, if possible, send a B team? For that matter, novice players should be included in the practice at hand--if a veteran player one-lines a tossup, why not have that player briefly explain what he or she was buzzing on? Everyone should get involved.

5. Use practice time wisely. What kills newcomers from returning? If practices de-evolve into "let's watch these funny Youtube videos!" or "Let's just read these dumb trash packets that only four people like!" Make sure your practices accurately represent what your team does and what quiz bowl is.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by at your pleasure » Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:03 pm

Instead of taking a gigantic A team and just having a person sit around as the seventh man, why not, if possible, send a B team?
This seems like common sense to me, as does part 5.
I would add that it might be a good idea to devote some time specifically to novice players. What's worked well for our retention is to split up for the first half-hour to 45 minutes(with the coach reading easier questions to the novices in one room while one of the non-novices reads to the rest of the non-novices in the next room), then reunite for the rest of the practice and play either free-for all or on balanced teams on regular-difficulty questions. There was a thread awhile back in Special Discussions about recruitment that discussed gender (im)balance, so that might also be useful.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Broad-tailed Grassbird » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:02 am

Having been on a team with almost no girls (high school), and almost 50% girls (college), my biggest recommendation is recruiting. At the college level, its more about recruiting people you don't know, while in high school its more about people you do know.

Personally, from grades 7-11 I was the only person in year who did quiz bowl (in a graduating class of 440). It seemed like I asked anyone and everyone. My senior year, I focused in on asking people who would actually take the chance on it. Try other academic competitions (e.g. Science Olympiad). Try friends, people you can share something with. There are 3 major ways people will join quiz bowl 1) they just love academic competition (somehow recruited themselves), 2) they wouldn't mind trying it, and their friend on the team asks them to, 3) their parents made them do it.

You can't count on self-recruiting to balance things out. Focus on getting girls who would actually take a chance on it, or maybe wouldn't be scared off by a bunch of boys trying to intimidate them. Additionally, tell the boys to be more open to new players who are different than them(if they don't force them to hold down the GK/PC that is more often picked up by girls).
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Tower Monarch » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:00 am

Anti-Climacus wrote:
Instead of taking a gigantic A team and just having a person sit around as the seventh man, why not, if possible, send a B team?
This seems like common sense to me, as does part 5.
I would add that it might be a good idea to devote some time specifically to novice players. What's worked well for our retention is to split up for the first half-hour to 45 minutes(with the coach reading easier questions to the novices in one room while one of the non-novices reads to the rest of the non-novices in the next room), then reunite for the rest of the practice and play either free-for all or on balanced teams on regular-difficulty questions. There was a thread awhile back in Special Discussions about recruitment that discussed gender (im)balance, so that might also be useful.
On that first part, you'd be surprised how many times parts 1, 4 & 5 are ignored. With the second, definitely: Maggie Walker has a very successful program that has often included fall freshman-only (which have, on multiple occasions, included older but just as inexperienced players) practices, usually run by higher level players. On the gender note, that method seemed effective in bringing (relatively) many girls into the introduction stage, but the dropout rate was significantly higher in girls than in guys (the Governor's School team has averaged 2 active female members a year for the past 4 years, compared to 2+ guys from each grade).
From my Cosby experiences, I will say that the best chance to create more of a balance is this:
nalin wrote:...in high school its more about people you do know....Try friends, people you can share something with.
I guarantee that a female quizbowl player a) has a nontrivial total of female friends, and b) shares some part of her own academic interest with those friends. Therefore, I would say that that pool of friends is the likeliest group of candidates for joining.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:08 am

Tower Monarch wrote:I guarantee that a female quizbowl player a) has a nontrivial total of female friends, and b) shares some part of her own academic interest with those friends. Therefore, I would say that that pool of friends is the likeliest group of candidates for joining.
Yeah, that's not necessarily true at all. I have satisfied both conditions since high school, and somehow I've never played on an academic team with another girl (excepting open tournaments, of course).

Look, gender-oriented affirmative action in quizbowl isn't a huge priority. I agree with Mike et al that the best thing to do is focus on excellent novice recruiting, and if you want a fellow girl on the team, either lean on your friends a lot harder than I did or just recruit broadly and hope another girl joins. But another girl on the team isn't a necessary condition for a team of people who are interesting to play with and fun to be around.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Tower Monarch » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:18 am

HKirsch wrote:
Tower Monarch wrote:I guarantee that a female quizbowl player a) has a nontrivial total of female friends, and b) shares some part of her own academic interest with those friends. Therefore, I would say that that pool of friends is the likeliest group of candidates for joining.
Yeah, that's not necessarily true at all. I have satisfied both conditions since high school, and somehow I've never played on an academic team with another girl (excepting open tournaments, of course).
Which "both conditions"? If you mean you satisfied a) and b), then I think my statement is still true: your group of friends was still the likeliest, if not most fruitful in the end, group of candidates. If you just meant "female" and "quizbowl player," then I still say that a) and b) should hold and that you should have a(n apparently untapped) source of female teammates. Unless the part you're saying isn't necessarily true is the second sentence, to which I would respond that they were probably still the likeliest candidates, and therefore the first to look into, but not necessarily guaranteed candidates. I guess it's possible my first sentence is off base, but it is based on observation and an understanding of how friendship works...
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:31 am

It would be great if we lived in a world where everyone intelligent were motivated to play quizbowl, and all that stuff, but as with every single other activity in existence, there is going to be random fluctuations in gender populations from year to year on any given team, and on the whole. At NKC I played on teams that were 3/4 girls, 1/4 girls, and last year, on a team that never had any girls play, and it wasn't because anyone was driven off so much as we just didn't have many girls want to play quizbowl that particular year. All things being equal (by which I mean the coach isn't sexist, there isn't a guy stalking the female players on the team, and other unfortunate extremes that probably do exist), I think if a girl wants to play quizbowl on a normal accepting team, she will whether everyone else is a girl or everyone else is a guy. I agree with everyone else that the larger concern is just that you should recruit novices (and it sounds like with your team size, that isn't a problem). If it just so happens that there are no interested girl novices in your school, then that's just what you're given to work with, and I think it is a waste of your time to do something more to specifically bring in girls. As long as the environment is welcoming, the team is clearly having fun, and nothing creepy is happening that might otherwise drive off girls, then you are running your team right and there is not much else left to do that would be helpful.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by euterpe42 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:32 am

I think the main reason that I'm interested in getting more girls on the team is that it really has degenerated into an "old boys' club" mentality. It's very cliquey among these guys, and there's always a select cabal of them that basically run the club. I know that trying to gender balance the team won't solve these issues, but I'm hoping they'll help. Normally I wouldn't be this worried, but I think that this has actually caused a problem on my team.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:02 am

Then I suggest bringing guns to practice.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Auroni » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:36 am

What I suggest that you do then, is basically take the club over. Learn about good quizbowl on here and the resources that this site links you to, and then one day, get everyone together and read them academic packets. It will take some time to dissolve the exclusive ownership of your club, but you can accelerate by specifically encouraging specific members to go out and learn parts of the high school canon of good quizbowl, being as inclusive as possible. Then, once everyone is comfortable with this situation, get some people together to post flyers and encourage all to come (I'm agreeing generally with the point raised by Mike and Hannah, that it's fruitless to exclusively target girls, the people that come will just be luck of the draw.) If you become this active in your organization, people will see you as a literally active female player, and perhaps that would influence the people that respond to your cries of "come practice with us, we have [food, candy, etc.]!"

Also, I see that you're from Scripps Ranch, which probably means that you do a lot of AL stuff. Since I put up with that for three years as a Torrey Pines student, I might guess that coaches direct your practice towards that sort of material. In that case, do everything I listed above outside the framework of your practice (maybe under the guise of additional practice.) I'd love to see Scripps Ranch become a competitive SoCal team in the state and national scene eventually, and you've definitely taken the first step by getting exposed to this forum.


Sorry if that devolved into a digression-ary rant, I suppose it was time for one of those from me anyway.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Huang » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:14 pm

euterpe42 wrote:I think the main reason that I'm interested in getting more girls on the team is that it really has degenerated into an "old boys' club" mentality. It's very cliquey among these guys, and there's always a select cabal of them that basically run the club. I know that trying to gender balance the team won't solve these issues, but I'm hoping they'll help. Normally I wouldn't be this worried, but I think that this has actually caused a problem on my team.
Specific examples of this "old boys club/clique/cabal mentality" causing a problem would be helpful in judging if your team really does have a serious issue. If it's not really a serious issue, then you're inviting an environment of "No of course you can't have differing levels of friendship with different people you meet at this school." It's extremely naive to assume a quizbowl team should resemble an impossible idealized utopian high school environment where cliques don't exist. However, if they're showing overt unwarranted favoritism towards their friends and letting that affect their quizbowl-related decisions then I suggest possibly: A) Form a new club or B) Let your quizbowl skills command their respect (assuming the clique will recognize your merit) or C) Form your own group to counteract the current clique.

There are more important issues at hand for a quizbowl team than worrying about if cliques are present or not. Playing less one-line questions and playing more pyramidal quizbowl strike me as more important and even easier to solve relatively.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by kayli » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:18 pm

Lemme preface by saying I'm not a girl. My parents thought Kay is a manly name.

I pretty much agree with everyone else here that you should focus on just recruiting people and hoping that a girl comes. But also, I think that there are a lot of social misconceptions and prejudices against quizbowllah that prevent people in general from joining. You might have to overcome that and convince people that quizbowl isn't a group of nerds who sit together and answer trivia questions. Also, at least in my school, quizbowl is seen as some sort of an elite organizations of super nerds. A lot of people won't come because they think of it that way. In addition, there's the entire social hierarchy of high school (high school is serious business). Quizbowl, although often respected, isn't really the coolest thing to do in high school so a lot of people prefer to do cooler clubs like Mu Alpha Theta and cheerleading.

If you want girls specifically to come, then you should probably go talk to your own friends and convince them that quizbowl is super cool (which it is). Also, make friends with timid freshman and tell them to join the club. Make the first couple of meetings a little fun (everyone likes pizza) and make sure to have people feel like they belong. If your club has a cabal of guys making snide remarks to themselves, you could always try to make your own group of friends within the club (but don't cause hostility amongst team members obviously).

Last year, we had 0 girls on our team. This year, I recruited my girlfriend and timid freshman and the count went up tremendously.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:49 pm

When i think "equal representation" in quizbowl (and maybe i'm mildly surprised this hasn't been brought up yet) i DON'T automatically think gender-wise. I think race. I think something that the community needs to work on is some sort of outreach to Hispanic and African-American students so they can participate as well and not feel ostracized. Not sure how/if this could be done, but i think it does matter.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:07 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:When i think "equal representation" in quizbowl (and maybe i'm mildly surprised this hasn't been brought up yet) i DON'T automatically think gender-wise. I think race. I think something that the community needs to work on is some sort of outreach to Hispanic and African-American students so they can participate as well and not feel ostracized. Not sure how/if this could be done, but i think it does matter.
In college, CBI actively hindered this. I think Kyle Gregory knows about this more than anyone else here, and I believe has provided concrete examples of this in the past.

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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by cvdwightw » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:36 pm

Realistically, the only time gender ever should become an issue is if you're trying to book hotel rooms for nationals.

I agree with everything Auroni said. If there's a clique-ish group that runs the club, take advantage of these resources and try to be inclusive in getting everyone to get better. If you need to, run "non-sanctioned," additional practices for people who want to get better. Sooner or later one of two things will happen: everyone will get better, or the old boys clique will resist the change and everyone else will get better and kick their butts. Unless quizbowl at Scripps Ranch is seriously screwed up, playtime is determined the same way it's determined everywhere else: if you're the best in the club, or you fill major knowledge gaps in the club's best players, you play on the top team. So the best way to wrest control is to be better than the people in control, and work to get other people better as well.

You might also want to take a few people (either from the club, or some friends that might be interested) to some of UCSD's summer practices, or see if someone down there is running high school summer practices like Zhao from RB did last year. Summer practices are a great way to meet people from other clubs in an informal setting.

EDIT: I'm now going to plug this any time someone new from the SoCal area starts posting: join the SoCalHSQuizbowl google group for tournament announcements and other information relevant to the Southern California area.
Last edited by cvdwightw on Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:40 pm

I agree, we definitely need to work on getting rid of the "quizbowl is for rich White and Asian kids" stereotype. Our team hasn't had an African American or Hispanic member in recent memory, but there aren't a lot of minorities in our county.

As for the gender balance, it's a different problem. We had 3 girls on our team this past year, out of 15 total members. The year before it was 4 out of 14. However, we're going to be getting a good deal more girls who decided to join for next year from what I understand. The key is to have coaches and players who associate with girls in the school more do the recruiting. They don't neccessarily have to be females to do so, just people who seem to get along with females fairly well.

Overall, I don't think it should be a major concern over how many girls are on the team. If you recruit everyone the same, then girls may join. The way the club does things needs to be based on what good players want, regardless of gender. It's even possible your school just happens to not have many girls interested in quizbowl at the moment. It happens. In five years, it may be the opposite where there are more girls than guys interested.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by First Chairman » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:17 pm

I agree with most everyone's posts. You need an appropriately welcoming and respectful environment for any club to be inclusive of any minority (girls/women, Hispanics, African Americans, etc.). I think anyone who is appropriately motivated and encouraged to build confidence in their skills as a player and/or as a team organizer can do well in this activity as well as others.

What I'm not sure we can address are the other societal influences. I don't know if I'm generalizing too much, but perhaps there is the societal expectation that girls aren't cool if they participated in such activities like quiz bowl. I am hopeful this doesn't happen at the schools represented on this forum, but I don't know if this is the case at other schools. As for other minorities, it is possible other societal and cultural influences play a factor whether it is the perception of being "smart" (and thus being picked on by friends) or the lack of others like themselves who succeed in coursework in general (much less in quiz bowl).

These are issues that affect everyone in general regarding undergraduate admissions, teacher recruitment, and so on. I hope it is a noble thing to try to address this somehow with quiz bowl; thus that's why to some extent the Honda CBI tournament is certainly worth supporting conceptually, even if we really would like it to be with appropriately academic-oriented questions.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by DumbJaques » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:44 pm

I don't know if I'm generalizing too much, but perhaps there is the societal expectation that girls aren't cool if they participated in such activities like quiz bowl.
Right, because every male quizbowler I ever knew would always roll into prom with two girls on each arm.
These are issues that affect everyone in general regarding undergraduate admissions, teacher recruitment, and so on. I hope it is a noble thing to try to address this somehow with quiz bowl; thus that's why to some extent the Honda CBI tournament is certainly worth supporting conceptually, even if we really would like it to be with appropriately academic-oriented questions.
I don't agree with this at all. In fact, I think that constructing a fake circuit using racial parameters and actively trying to keep minorities trapped within that system is a really bad idea. I can't think of a better way to discourage the kind of freedom to achieve and demonstrate your academic knowledge without institutional, arbitrary, or social hindrance that quizbowl at any level ought to be about.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:21 pm

The Honda tournament is a travesty that is racist by any definition of the word (I'm even including the definition that says excluding white people can't be racist, because the patronizing treatment of the Honda participants, including open derision of their intellectual abilities by the College Bowl staff, makes it a horrible, bigoted event even aside from that debate). I can't think of anything more destructive than emulating it.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:22 pm

Well, I think I bring a slightly different perspective on this, being an African-American at a relatively diverse private school and all.

Quizbowl is one of the most egalitarian games I know. Physical strength, height, weight, gender, skin color, and ethnic background are all irrelevant - we gather to test our knowledge against that of others, and that's that. Being of a certain race or gender brings no inherent disadvantage to you - you can get as good at this as you want to be by gathering the pertinent knowledge and learning it well.

Now, let's be real: It's often the case that quizbowl programs develop in schools where districting and demographic trends lead to underrepresentation of racial minorities, and it's often the case that some students of a certain gender or ethnic group feel especially pressured against joining certain activities. It's also true that on the overwhelming majority of quizbowl teams that have ever existed, males have outnumbered females. In my mind, all of these things are existent, real problems for quizbowl (that reflect problems in general society, but that's a whole different topic).

In the places where these problems are existent, it's important that people who care about quizbowl simply recruit new members well, and it's my belief that underlying issues of race and gender will have reduced effect. Recruit well and recruit deeply - if you are encouraging enough and try earnestly enough to reach every region of the student body, you will get some interested girls and people of underrepresented minorities as a consequence. I agree with Mike Cheyne about maintaining an encouraging atmosphere for anyone who walks in the door. Make sure that your team is welcoming to newcomers, and don't assume for a second that anyone is less interested or worse at the game for any reason until they themselves prove it to you. If someone seems more likely to drop out or less likely to buzz due to lack of confidence, for any reason, help them increase their confidence without being patronizing.

@Dr. Chuck: That's why I believe the maintenance of a separate "championship" for historically black colleges and universities, with the paternalistic pretense that they "can't" compete with other colleges and universities or play real quizbowl tournaments, cannot be supported, "conceptually" or otherwise. The existence of separate national championship for black schools implies that the organizers of said championship believe that blacks have no place in "real" quizbowl, and that the relative scarcity of blacks on "real " national championship teams should be augmented sharply by preventing majority-black schools' teams from ever competing in the same league. (Interestingly, with the suspension of "regular" CBI, College Bowl Company has no other business activity than to maintain this segregation and prevent good college teams from discovering that their competitors are far less defunct than College Bowl currently is.)

On a related note, are there supporters of good collegiate quizbowl who have encouraged HCASC-focused teams to come to quizbowl tournaments during the regular season? There is absolutely no reason why historically black colleges can't compete alongside other colleges at regular-season tournaments, and people who like quizbowl are welcoming to new teams who appear and want to improve the circuit, right?
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:54 pm

RyuAqua wrote:On a related note, are there supporters of good collegiate quizbowl who have encouraged HCASC-focused teams to come to quizbowl tournaments during the regular season? There is absolutely no reason why historically black colleges can't compete alongside other colleges at regular-season tournaments, and people who like quizbowl are welcoming to new teams who appear and want to improve the circuit, right?
I've contacted every single HCASC participant between New York and South Carolina about Mid-Atlantic tournaments and include them on my monthly e-mail newsletter about events in the region. Several schools have expressed interest in participating in mainstream circuit events but have not made it out to one yet for various reasons.

There are definitely a few institutional factors that complicate this. Like College Bowl, HCASC is presented as a big deal that you participate in one time a year and is defined by its exclusivity--there's a big emphasis on the "intramurals," the "tryouts," the value of "making the team." It's not like real quizbowl where we make an effort to get as many participants as possible and have events nearly every weekend. There is a carnival atmosphere involved in the HCASC itself, which takes place over five days and involves a cruise, banquets, hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money, and high-ranking representatives of participating institutions (department chairs, deans, heads of activities offices) rather than either the zero faculty participation that is common at regular tournaments or the occasional appearance of someone who works for the college and chooses to remain involved because they are a former player. Games involve TV-like sets, tablecloths, placards, five officials in each room, and about six hours of downtime for each 16-minute instance of actual competition. College Bowl desperately wants to get this back on television (it was on BET in the 1990s) and, just like NAC, they are going to keep running things as if cameras were present so they always have a product to show to producers.

Because of this, teams view going to a tournament as a huge undertaking that requires thousands of dollars in expense and the coordination of VIP schedules; the mentality of simply putting four students in a car and driving up to Maryland for the day to play 15 rounds in a poorly ventilated basement classroom just isn't there and needs to be communicated explicitly. The teams are not run by a year-to-year chain of student leaders like quizbowl teams are, but by a faculty sponsor who is the gatekeeper of all information. The faculty sponsor has signed one for a commitment of one travel weekend per year and a few weeks of prior preparation (the teams who end up winning HCASC probably practice year-round, but this is not the norm for everyone else), not for the minimum 30 hours per week that the average quizbowl team puts into practicing, writing questions, and traveling to and playing Saturday tournaments. The faculty sponsor is probably the head of the activities office or the chair of an academic department; they don't have enough free time to run a full-time quizbowl team even if they wanted to. Many of them don't even want to receive e-mails about non-HCASC events, though that may be related to the next point.

College Bowl is run by terrible, terrible human beings. I know there's some hyperbole and mud-slinging (and even more perception of it where there's actually just straightforward discussion) that goes on around this board, but this is flatly true and there are many hundreds of people besides myself who will attest to it. We've talked about them fixing games, making fraudulent offers of prizes, recycling entire tournament sets, and offering the worst questions out there in the past. What's immediately relevant here is that they will do anything to keep their business afloat and crush their competition. In terms of their former College Bowl program, this took the form of spurious "licensing agreements" and threats of copyright lawsuits that advanced their false claim to hold a copyright on the tossup/bonus format. With HCASC, this takes the form of College Bowl employees spreading made-up stories of racism on the mainstream quizbowl circuit to a captive audience. Tom Michael (who was awarded the title of "Worst Person in Quizbowl History" for this and other antics) is fond of telling people that a Howard team that showed up to a quizbowl tournament in 1994 was greeted with racist jokes by the circuit. I asked the Howard coach about this and she said it wasn't a mainstream event (it was a gameshow run by non-qb people that was filming a pilot attempt to compete with College Bowl), and the team in question wasn't a real quizbowl team (it was from one of the schools that assembled a foursome just for this event and had no club or participation in other events). There are further stories circulated that aren't wild distortions like that but are just made up from whole cloth, and of course there isn't any mention of College Bowl employees flatly announcing their view that HBCU students are not capable of competing on an intellectual level with majority-white schools. There's no question who the real racists are, but when College Bowl controls nearly all the information that gets out to the HCASC teams, it can sometimes be difficult to break through the spin and communicate.

It was also the case through 1996 that HCASC participants were barred from playing any other tournaments whatsoever, under penalty of disqualification from HCASC. From 1996 to 1999, they could only play "licensed tournaments," which qbwiki accurately defines as "events which signed a fraudulent statement acknowledging College Bowl's illegal claim to have a trademark over all intercollegiate academic competition." Since 1999 the only restriction has been that teams cannot play HCASC and College Bowl in the same year, due to question recycling and other reasons, though of course this is moot with the dissolution of the College Bowl program last year. While these former restrictions are now gone, College Bowl has certainly not been active in pushing that fact to HCASC teams, and they in fact try to compete with the most likely circuit tournaments for HCASC teams to try out by scheduling HCASC warm-up events on the weekend of NAQT Sectionals.

With all of that that said, there are also schools such as Coppin State, Howard, and Hampton that have either participated in non-HCASC events in the past or gotten to the point of registering for and planning to attend an event recently before other logistical factors intervened. It is possible to show the quizbowl circuit for what it is--and despite all the rancor about math calculation or NAQT's distribution or ACF's level of organization, the quizbowl circuit is, above all else, constantly falling all over itself to welcome anyone who actually wants to participate in real tournaments--and I think more schools will get the message in the future, as well as question the point of the HCASC program and all the negatives about the College Bowl question/tournament style that come with it.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by at your pleasure » Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:12 pm

When i think "equal representation" in quizbowl (and maybe i'm mildly surprised this hasn't been brought up yet) i DON'T automatically think gender-wise. I think race. I think something that the community needs to work on is some sort of outreach to Hispanic and African-American students so they can participate as well and not feel ostracized. Not sure how/if this could be done, but i think it does matter.
I think that this mostly reflects the (real and problematic) issue that most quizbowl programs develop in predominantly white schools, while few majority-nonwhite schools that I know of have programs. Prehaps, then, the problem of making quizbowl racially diverse is more a problem of expanding to majority-nonwhite schools.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:39 pm

This topic looks like it could get touchy pretty fast. Clearly, no one's said anyone offensive yet, but tread carefully, everyone.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:51 pm

Yes, which is why there's a moderation staff that is, you know, watching this thread for that very thing.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:36 am

Moderation staff, you say? Brilliant!

Anyway, there are other issues here:

1) The damage CBI has done: Having an activity with a (unfortunately, fairly recent) racist past could very well drive away minorities interested in Quizbowl. And when an administrator in a minority school finds out that some segments of Quizbowl hasn't always been on the up and up, they may get a little cold feet in upping funding on a program in his or her school. Also, former players*** help form a great support system for teams (especially in the way of coaching) and some of the discriminated against minorities of the 90s are now teachers and soon will be parents of potential players. And they may not have nice things to say when they hear a Quizbowl team is starting nearby, and may not want to help coach or fund a team. We have to reach out not only to future participants, but try to reach out and right the wrongs of the past.

2) How will we show the world we're not racist: This is pretty simple, we just need to treat everyone fairly and deal with minority schools in an equal way, just like we would anyone else. Also, always be ready to point out that we are not CBI, and, if questioned, that mainstream quizbowl renounces and apologizes for any racist activities by any "quizbowl" like organizations in the past.

3) Fighting Stereotypes: The belief that only Whites and Asians can play quizbowl is completely false, and everyone here knows it. I'm not entirely sure where the stereotype comes from, but here is one possibilty. A lot of minorities face issues with poverty*** (just like all races, but the unfortunate truth is that it is worse among minorities) and the stereotype that educational activities are for the elite "rich" people (AKA "SNOBBY NERDS") is something that hurts quizbowl in many ways, and could be doing so on this issue as well.

4)It's the Economy, Stupid: My personal experience is that of a low income white in the world of quizbowl, and I've seen that there are expenses involved. Newer teams may have to have players pay more that just for food, and even food expenses add up after a while. And longer trips are very financially straining. In some minority schools, there is a significantly higher amount of low income students, and they are unfortunately less likely to join quizbowl. There is a reputation that quizbowl is for "people who can afford it" and parents and students may shy away from the potential expense.

A lot of the issues I've pointed out are universal to all races, not just minorities. What we must do in Quizbowl is actively fight all these problems for all people, and hope that they will bring about equal representation of minorities as well.




***To defer any potential misinterpretation of these comments as racist in any way, I'll point out the two potentially contentious points here:

1) That former minority players could be involved in the lives of possible minority players or schools with a mainly minority population. This is, in fact, an assumption (based on the influence of former players in my personal experience and the influence of former players on the HSQB forum), and if there is even a shred of evidence that comes to light it was false, I promise I will retract that assumption and apologize.

2) That minorities have a higher amount of people with low incomes. Hopefully the following link helps support that:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_ine ... isparities
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by First Chairman » Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:47 am

RyuAqua wrote:@Dr. Chuck: That's why I believe the maintenance of a separate "championship" for historically black colleges and universities, with the paternalistic pretense that they "can't" compete with other colleges and universities or play real quizbowl tournaments, cannot be supported, "conceptually" or otherwise. The existence of separate national championship for black schools implies that the organizers of said championship believe that blacks have no place in "real" quizbowl, and that the relative scarcity of blacks on "real " national championship teams should be augmented sharply by preventing majority-black schools' teams from ever competing in the same league. (Interestingly, with the suspension of "regular" CBI, College Bowl Company has no other business activity than to maintain this segregation and prevent good college teams from discovering that their competitors are far less defunct than College Bowl currently is.)

On a related note, are there supporters of good collegiate quizbowl who have encouraged HCASC-focused teams to come to quizbowl tournaments during the regular season? There is absolutely no reason why historically black colleges can't compete alongside other colleges at regular-season tournaments, and people who like quizbowl are welcoming to new teams who appear and want to improve the circuit, right?
For Matt J: I certainly cannot disagree with your points or with the facts that Matt Weiner points out regarding how the Honda tournament is administered. I do note that societally there are larger problems and issues regarding historical minority populations that still persist even though the situation is much better than at least 20 years ago. I certainly don't know the people in charge of this particular event, and they may have their own historical reasons to keep this particular event the way it is which is likely: 1) visibility for those historic black colleges and universities as academic institutions, 2) scholarship money to support real students in need at those schools so that they can get an education, and/or 3) some measure however minimal to promote academic excellence and pride among those who attend those schools.

Would I like to see the wall that separates the Honda program from the rest of the academic circuit? Sure. I would love to see NAQT have a separate ICT commendation/championship in the same way they recognize community college teams (which are also demographically the source of many historic minorities as a gateway to four-year degrees). Yes, there are other considerations that the administrators and students there have that prevent any paving of inroads into the HBCU's, and I"m not sure what it would take to tear down the wall.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Susan » Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:14 am

Tom Chuck wrote:I would love to see NAQT have a separate ICT commendation/championship in the same way they recognize community college teams...
At the risk of sounding snide, is this a serious suggestion? Because that sounds even more awful and patronizing than the odious "Title IX" scoring prize awarded at some tournaments.
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Re: Equal represenation in Quizbowl

Post by Cheynem » Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:43 pm

The best way to encourage a broader and more diverse representation in quiz bowl is, in my opinion, to continue bettering the game by (1). writing high-quality, accessible questions for a diverse array of skill levels, (2). continuing to develop an organized national apparatus to provide quality tournaments in all regions of the country, and (3). working to ensure tournaments give teams their "money's worth" by providing affordable yet quality experiences. You do these things, quiz bowl is going to get more of a broader representation.
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