Why is Illinois bad?

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Why is Illinois bad?

Post by BGSO » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:01 pm

I was thinking that we should have a centralized thread to talk about things we have done and want to do to make Illinois better.

I would like this thread to be a place that we can direct people that are trying to understand what makes Illinois bad, so could we try to keep it civil and tangent free?
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:30 pm

Questions - not enough tournaments on good ones, too many entrenched tournaments on mediocre/bad ones

Format - the bonus format restricts what writers can do, which is why we have issues with questions

Travel - In this part of the state, you gotta travel a good distance to get to good tournaments on good questions. Carbondale deserves much love for traveling as much as they do, but teams aren't emulating them. This would be alleviated if more teams around here hosted tournaments on good questions.

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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:31 pm

I think we in Illinois are sometimes a bit too critical of our state. I have no problem with a thread like this, because we have our problems, and we should try to do something about them. However, I want to insert a little interlude to put things into perspective.

At PACE NSC, Illinois and Virginia were the only states to place four teams in the top half of the field. At NAQT HSNCT, Illinois ranked second to California in the number of playoff teams. (I realize that these statistics are somewhat cherry-picked from a good year, and I'm not saying that Illinois is one of the top two or three states in the country at producing elite teams. I'm just saying that we're not awful.) Illinois has several good tournaments throughout the year because we are tied for first in terms of the number of tournaments using HSAPQ (or second if you consider Virginia and Maryland to be a single entity), we are starting to mirror several good out-of-state tournaments (HFT, Dunbar, Novice), we use a fair amount of NAQT, and we have decent house-writes at Auburn Frosh/Soph and New Trier.

We get frustrated when we see a great tournament attract fewer than 20 out of the more than 500 teams in Illinois, which is something we see often. We get frustrated when we see a lot of students spending a lot of time on flawed quizbowl, which is also something we see often. We get frustrated when good policies are unpopular or bad policies are popular, which is also something we see often. I get frustrated myself. Interlude over.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Kanga-Rat Murder Society » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:37 pm

The problem that I view as the biggest is that of apathy. I think that it is safe to say that most coaches in Chicagoland do not care about victory. To them, it is just another paycheck. This is evident when coaches complain that tournaments have more than six games. If students are told that the ultimate goal is to win some games in their conference, then they will not attend Saturday tournaments. Heck, most students probably are unaware that these tournaments exist. These students do not bother to study, because they have nothing to study for. Thus, teacher apathy leads to student apathy.

Another similar problem is the fact that many schools will not let younger kids play Varsity. This, combined with our horrible frosh-soph circuit, prevents schools from challenging state powerhouses. After all, good programs are aware of the Varsity canon a full two years before the rest of the state. So why, you ask, do coaches not insert these kids on Varsity? It all comes back to apathy.

The issue now becomes how to fix apathy. I believe that a key way to fix apathy is through the ACE grants. ACE exposes kids to the larger quizbowl world, hopefully destroying the apathy. Another way is just simply talking to teams. Either way, most problems will be fixed when people care.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by at your pleasure » Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:29 pm

I'd like to adress the question from another angle. Since even today, nodes of bad quizbowl are more common than nodes of good quizbowl(although this is changing very, very quickly), it might be more productive for us to look at good quizbowl areas. In other words, why is the mid-atlantic circuit goo
Here are some reasons:
1. It's Academic. Yes, I realize it uses terrible, terrible questions. However, it has done one very good thing-it's given academic competition a high profile and made it matter to parents and adminstrators.
2. The closeness of jurisdictions. This reduces the power of "official" organizations(a matter I will treat in a moment) by reducing their geographic sway.
3. The fact that there is no mid-atlantic equivalent to IHSA. This partially stems from the closeness of jurisdictions; a team that wants to branch out beyond poor school-sponsored play can cross state lines and play the good tournament in DC/MD/VA easily. More imporant, it prevents coaches who wish to hold back quizbowl(and they exist here too) from uniting to retard the spread of good quizbowl.
5. Ease of transportation. Since the mid-atlantic is a highly concentrated area, most tournaments are quite close. It's possible for a centrally located team to assemble a full slate of events without having to travel more than two and a half hours one-way.
6. The large number of college teams. Thanks to the presence of teams at VCU, UMD, Penn, and various other college teams, there are many college tournaments (and potential hosts for high school tournaments that might not otherwise get played).
Let's compare this to Illinois. First difference: one large state to administer activities. Second difference: a monolithic state organization that introduces much inertia and allows coaches who support poor quizbowl to unite against good quizbowl. Third difference: A large, spread-out geographic area. Fourth difference: Fewer college teams to host(do any host besides UIUC and Chicago?). Of these, two are more or less fixed and one will only change as more college teams get started. However, there is one difference that can be changed and should provide food for thought: the IHSA's power over quizbowl.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:34 pm

Anti-Climacus wrote:However, there is one difference that can be changed and should provide food for thought: the IHSA's power over quizbowl.
This has been discussed many times. The problem is that there are a lot of schools who would disappear if this were to happen, as school administrations would not support such activities, given the already-tight budgets. Yes, some schools around here do host tournaments on bad questions, but that number pales in comparison to the number of schools.with teams (and there are a good number of schools in this part of the state without teams.)

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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by JackGlerum » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:24 pm

Reinstein is right that Illinois isn't as bad as people say it is; we have good teams who go to good events every weekend.

The problem, as I've always said, is the ultimate goal. For all but, say, 1-4 teams, IHSA State is the be-all end-all (those 1-4 try to do their best at nationals). Not saying that they think IHSA is the Lombardi trophy, but even Auburn, pretty much the best team in the state last year, brought a freaking army of fans to Peoria! I thought it was great, but I'm only pointing out that IHSA means a lot to a lot of teams, even the good-quizbowl oriented ones. And as we know, the state series is a joke. What's the highest peak in Illinois again?

We can try night and day to introduce things like pyramidal questions, normal bonuses, and the companies that produce good questions to teams who don't know about them, but (I think?) most will respond with the legitimate answer of "we simply like one-liners better" or the illegitimate response which may include, but is not limited to:

1. That's not what we're used to
2. Your school system is better than ours, we can't handle it
3. Some veiled BS amounting to "you city people and your long questions thinking that you're better than us!"

Carbondale is proof enough that it is possible for the stereotypical "small southern school" to succeed at the quizbowl we know and love (17th HSNCT & 23rd NSC--way better than my north shore ass)

Basically, IHSA is the elephant in the room and having good tournaments each and every Saturday is all we can ask for. Vent over.

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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by David Riley » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:39 pm

With all due respects, though, Carbondale is a college town....which probably drives their team, if not their curriculum [Carbondale folks please correct me if I'm wrong]. The same could be said for Bloomington-Normal, I suppose, but not Champaign and Urbana, whose high schools rarely play anything outside of their league.

To paraphrase Up the Down Staircase, and to second David and Nick, I do think the major issue (based on my coaching experience) is not unteachable students but uncoachable coaches. I have met far too many coaches in my day who second Jack's comment re the IHSA.

However, if anyone has been following the discussion the Georgia forum, I think money is also an issue here, even with the schools that have the best of intentions. I've met many coaches over the years who can barely afford a $30 entry fee, and their schools give them next to nothing for a budget. And just as football is a religion in the South, so with basketball in Illinois.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by at your pleasure » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:55 pm

David Riley wrote:
I think money is also an issue here
Well, I've been wondering about the possiblity of an Indigent Quizbowl Teams Relief Fund.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:29 pm

David Riley wrote:With all due respects, though, Carbondale is a college town....which probably drives their team, if not their curriculum [Carbondale folks please correct me if I'm wrong]. The same could be said for Bloomington-Normal, I suppose, but not Champaign and Urbana, whose high schools rarely play anything outside of their league.
There are five high schools in the C-U area:
Champaign Central - had a team in the past, unsure if still active
Champaign Centennial - former HS player now teaching there, starting a team
St. Thomas More - private, goes to a few tournaments
Uni High - does not have a team
Urbana - allegedly is starting a program

I am in close contact with the coach at Centennial, and will be doing my best to try to get these teams playing good quizbowl.

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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:34 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:Uni High - does not have a team
Didn't they send a team to Earlybird in 2007?

I will have a lot more to say about this thread sometime in the next few days, but I have too much on my plate now to put the effort into that post that it deserves.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by dtaylor4 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:19 am

jonah wrote:
dtaylor4 wrote:Uni High - does not have a team
Didn't they send a team to Earlybird in 2007?
That was the Uni High from Normal, which was a Class A powerhouse about 10 years ago and hosted a large JV tournament until 2006

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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Geringer » Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:04 pm

Illinois has the only high school trash tournament!
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by David Riley » Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:29 pm

aren't you proud? :grin:
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:51 pm

David Riley wrote:To paraphrase Up the Down Staircase...
We actually put on a play version of this in High School. Yes, it was awful.
SomethingBetterAndLessCumbersome wrote:Illinois has the only high school trash tournament!
David Riley wrote:aren't you proud? :grin:
In a way though, I could see it being a good thing. The college scene seems to profit from seperating their trash and academic tourneys...maybe putting all the trash in one place will help Illinois too? (At least, that was the idea when they built I-80...sorry, had to)

The point is not so much why is Illinois bad quizbowl...that's simply a long standing tradition of the way things are done. The real question is can the state as a whole move toward better quizbowl, rather than just a few teams. I say yes, and I think the evidence is there that slowly but surely, teams are beginning to turn the corner. Take my high school, Winnebago. Old school coach, winners from the olden days. When I was there from 2000-2004, I had never even heard of NAQT or any other non-Illinois format in any meaningful manner. But now, just this past year, the annual Winnebago tournament used NAQT questions, a far cry from their past format. It will take time, but the impetus for change is there...and eventually(very long term) enough teams will convince the IHSA to turn the corner with their questions (or abolish the state series), and everyone will go along with it.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:36 pm

Okay, here's my dissertation.

The straightforward answer to the original question is "computation, a bad bonus format, a bunch of minor but dumb subcategories, and a bunch of minor but dumb rules". But everyone knows that (some people who I otherwise agree with dispute that the first one is bad, but that list is pretty generally accepted), so I will instead examine what I believe to be the causes of these problems. I think the reasons can be boiled down pretty well to these:
  1. History/inertia
  2. Bad coaches/ignorance
  3. The IHSA
Let me preface this by making clear that I don't think Illinois quizbowl is bad. I think Illinois Scholastic Bowl is bad. The distinction is that a bunch of teams know there's good quizbowl out there and they make an effort to play it. But 500 or so of them stick to the IHSA State Series, the Masonic tournament (which I will no longer dignify with any further acknowledgment of it being a putative state championship), and maybe a few other crappy tournaments. It is the IHSA State Series, Masonic, and about half the independent tournaments in Illinois, along with the teams that emphasize those, that I think are bad. The teams who either eschew those tournaments or place little value on them are okay in my book, and they are thankfully growing in number, albeit slowly.

1. History and Inertia
Illinois Scholastic Bowl dates back to circa 1960. I don't know a whole lot about the early history, but there were certainly no pyramidal questions. I don't know where the bonus format came from, but I assume it was devised prior to the IHSA, and maybe before the part-by-part format came into widespread popularity. The blurt rule is a TV relic.

A lot of coaches, particularly older ones, seem to think that the longevity of the format is sufficient reason to keep it. Others simply don't want to change after a long career. Some new coaches are coming up who were players in this format, and they adopt basically the same view for apparently nostalgic reasons, or because their reverence for their predecessor impedes their ability to think critically about the activity.

The coaches who are the biggest obstacles to change don't hate pyramidal questions because they're long and difficult, even if they say they do; they don't hate part-by-part bonuses because they reduce team play, even if they say they do. They oppose pyramidal questions and part-by-part bonuses because they're not what they're used to. At the last IHSSBCA Steering Committee meeting, several coaches were talking about how rule changes were a terrible thing because they meant they'd have to retrain the parent volunteers they use as moderators for all their tournaments. Sure, it sucks to have to do that, but that's no reason not to change rules! I can't explain why they lie about their reasons, or whether they mean to lie or not, but it's very clear from their votes on surveys and their comments at IHSSBCA meetings.

Computation is more complicated. Tradition is certainly part of it. But most proponents of computation also want it because their team needs it to score points. Some, like Reinstein, favor it for other reasons, but I daresay the majority of coaches who advocate computation do so not because of their pedagogical beliefs about it, but because it's always been in the game and because it helps their team.

2. Bad Coaches and Ignorance
First, let me explain why I group those two together. Maybe five years ago, ignorance was an excuse for not knowing there existed/exists good quizbowl. But the IHSSBCA has, through its newsletter, made that fact pretty clear. If member coaches don't read the newsletter, they're being willfully ignorant. If they're not members, they ought to be and probably are aware of the opportunity. Even for nonmembers, there are zillions of internet resources, most especially this very site, on which they can find out about good quizbowl and ought to. So I consider ignorant coaches a subset of bad coaches.

There are a few types of bad coaches. There are coaches who don't care or take their job seriously, coaches who actively impede their team from playing good quizbowl when they want to, coaches who actively push the status quo, and coaches who don't respect their students. Many coaches overlap some of these (the last one is pervasive among coaches who satisfy any of the others).

Coaches who don't take their job seriously probably play the IHSA State Series and nothing else. Maybe they play the Masonic tournament. They got the job because no one else wanted it and they wanted a little extra money, if it was offered. When surveyed, these coaches (if they respond at all) vote for the status quo because they haven't bothered to find out anything about the alternatives, and because of this and their vast number, they might be the biggest obstacle to change in Illinois.

The CSL is full of such teams, teams that have incredible raw talent but a coach with no interest in developing it. (I say the CSL not because I think there aren't plenty of other teams in such a situation, but because it's the group with which I have the most experience.) Deerfield, the Nileses, and the Glenbrooks are certainly among these; Highland Park and Evanston probably are too. OPRF is also in this category, though their attendance at last year's NAQT State bodes well. All of these teams could win their regional every year if they put an iota of effort into it, and New Trier would actually have competition in the league. (Maine South's recent-ish rejoining of the CSL does add a challenger. But two active teams in a league of twelve is just stupid and tragic.)

Anyway, because these coaches don't bother to find out anything meaningful about their activity, their team is confined to a rut unless they find out about opportunities themselves, but if they do, the coach probably won't be interested. Perhaps they then turn into...

Coaches who actively impede their teams who want to do well aren't all that common to my knowledge. St. Viator and Buffalo Grove have both recently dealt with such people. I'm aware of a person who told their team that s/he didn't want the team to win matches, because it would make the other teams look bad! This might be caused by laziness, beliefs contrary to good quizbowl, or something else.

Coaches who push the status quo are pretty active in the IHSSBCA, but I think they're not actually that great in number. The trouble is they're loud, and people accord them respect because most of them have been around forever. Some of them deserve some of that respect; some don't. Also, they tend to be geographically together: nearly all of the schools interested in good quizbowl are in Chicagoland. Noted exceptions are Rockford and Carbondale, certainly, and there are a few others that are less so. But basically the entire northwestern corner of the state is of this type, as well as most of the central mass.

Tons of coaches don't respect their students. When Matt and I took the player survey at the end of last year, we got a bunch of nasty emails, and there were others that weren't directed at us. One coach who is in a very significant leadership role within Illinois noted that she was insulted by the survey's existence and refused to let her students participate in it because she knows better than them. There were other similar cases, but that was the most egregious I'm aware of. The continued existence of the blurt rule, the rule that only coaches can call time-outs, and a few other of the bad rules are all manifestations of this view, the view that students are not worthy of being treated like human beings.

3. The IHSA
One major aspect of the IHSA's problems is the way it is set up regionally. Chicagoland, with about two-thirds of the state's population, gets only 43% of the votes on each advisory committee. Furthermore, many downstate people seem to resent what they view as northern aggression, which is usually tied into accusations of elitism (not the same as the elitism inherent to quizbowl), so they vote as a bloc against any northern proposals, which are generally good ones. The sectionals system is similarly flawed, though the IHSA at least admits that the teams in attendance at the state finals are not ("necessarily", they say) the eight best teams in the state.

The IHSA is run, of course, by football coaches. They have no interest in anything academic and want to run their activity with a minimum of cost and bother. Because of this, appeals about the pedagogical value of good quizbowl as compared to IHSA-format Scholastic Bowl fall on deaf ears. It's just like how George Bush doesn't care about black people; the IHSA doesn't care about Scholastic Bowl.

The IHSA first sponsored a State Series in 1987, nearly 30 years after Scholastic Bowl first became a thing in Illinois. I don't know the details of how it became an IHSA activity, but I do know that it would be better in a lot of ways if the IHSA would stop governing Scholastic Bowl. The trouble is that there is immense political pressure to remain affiliated with the IHSA (even though teams could deaffiliate only for Scholastic Bowl), and that many teams' funding (if they are funded at all) depends on its status as an IHSA activity. Also, there might be some restrictions about IHSA member teams playing non-member teams...I know they exist for sports, but I don't know the details, if there are any, about Scholastic Bowl. I continue to think that the best solution for teams interested in good quizbowl is to deaffiliate, but I don't see that happening in the near future.

Some of the stupid Illinois rules are strictly because of the IHSA and not because even the bad coaches want them. The matching tops rule is one such rule; according to my understanding, Ron McGraw, the IHSA Assistant Executive Director who's in charge of Scholastic Bowl and a bunch of other things, will not allow the repeal of that rule, and he does indeed have final say over any changes. The 18-date rule (Scholastic Bowl teams in Illinois are allowed to compete only on 18 dates besides the IHSA State Series, but tournaments with four players to a team fall outside of this rule) is a completely nonsensical rule that the IHSA has no business sticking their nose in, as is the rule about playing no (or maybe it's one) tournament(s) outside of the officially-defined season. (I sometimes wonder about the legality of the IHSA's policies with regard to contract law. I bet a bunch of them wouldn't pass court muster.)

The IHSA also maintains its question-writing cabal in secrecy. This allows the writers of horrible questions to hide from the response to them. And there are plenty of horrible questions. Many of the writers, including the head editor, have no contact with real quizbowl and thus have no sense of accepted topics and styles. What do I mean by "styles"? Lots of the questions start out with something like "I am looking for a ten-letter adjective", or "Your answer should be a four-word noun phrase", or "The mountain range you are to name", or even "The five-letter South American mountain range you are to name".

This screed has been much less well-organized than I would've liked, but I think I hit on all of my major points. I'll post again if I realize I left something out, and I'd be glad to clarify anything.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:37 am

I added a few things to the second paragraph in the history/inertia section, plus a bunch to the section about coaches who don't take their jobs seriously.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by at your pleasure » Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:05 pm

(I sometimes wonder about the legality of the IHSA's policies with regard to contract law. I bet a bunch of them wouldn't pass court muster.)
Could you explain why these policies might violate contract laws?
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:15 pm

Doink the Clown wrote:
(I sometimes wonder about the legality of the IHSA's policies with regard to contract law. I bet a bunch of them wouldn't pass court muster.)
Could you explain why these policies might violate contract laws?
Well, I say might because I haven't researched it fully, but there are a bunch of reasons I suspect malfeasance. The IHSA is not in effect an opt-in organization, though it technically is, because in many sports, member teams are not permitted to compete against nonmember teams even outside of IHSA tournaments; this is coercive, because it means that unless many schools deaffiliate simultaneously, schools cannot realistically maintain their programs if they deaffiliate.

While most IHSA sports and activities are opted in on an individual basis (i.e., a school's Scholastic Bowl team could stop competing in IHSA stuff and stop being bound by most of its restrictions while the school still enters a football team), the IHSA also extends restrictions to activities that it has no other involvement in: there is no lacrosse State Series, and thus schools can't opt in or out of IHSA lacrosse, but the IHSA still has lacrosse season restrictions that any school that has any IHSA affiliation must abide by.

The IHSA also restricts freedom of association in ways that are unethical, and it is these that I most strongly suspect are illegal. Students are under IHSA restrictions even when they do not represent their school or use its name (i.e., a quizbowl player entering a college tournament without using his/her school's name), and even if they're not involved with the relevant team or club at their school. The 18-date restriction is similar, though it doesn't seem to apply to individuals, only teams.

Scholastic Bowl doesn't have the worst of these policies. Tom Egan knows more about how sports and other activities are affected, and some of them are much more severe. The other night at dinner he was telling stories about football, in particular, that were probably grounds for a lawsuit if anyone had the standing and the money—which of course no one does.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:40 pm

I don't have time for a long response now, but, according to Brentwood Academy v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass’n, Jonah is wrong.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:47 pm

Xanta Claus wrote:I don't have time for a long response now, but, according to Brentwood Academy v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass’n, Jonah is wrong.
That case only addresses issues of recruitment and activities between member schools. The majority decision doesn't address the coercivity of membership in the association itself, activities between a member school and a nonmember school, or most importantly, punishing schools and their subdivisions for the activities of students who act completely independently of the school.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:16 pm

I'm not a lawyer. The main finding of the case was that decisions by organizations like IHSA should be treated as decisions by state agencies, even though IHSA is not a state agency. I would think that this would give a lot of power to IHSA, though I'm not completely positive. In any case, we agree that this is not heading to court.

To correct a few other problems regarding Jonah's opinions about the IHSA...
The representation level reflects the number of member schools. Because city and suburban schools are larger than rural schools, you would get very different results if representation was based off of enrollment. (23% of Illinoisans live in Chicago, 20% live in other parts of Cook County, and 20% live in four large counties bordering Cook.)

Additionally, it is unreasonable to expect IHSA to make decisions based on the pedagogical value of good quizbowl when nobody presents the relevant arguments to them and when the majority of coaches disagree with those arguments. We're talking about changes that 2% of coaches are strongly in favor of and 20% of coaches are in favor of. Why is there any reason to expect the IHSA to be a forceful agency for enlightenment?

Even with matching tops, if lots of students and coaches were strongly against it, it would change. The IHSA writers don't write bad questions on purpose--they write bad questions because they have not been exposed to the high standards of the current circuit. They are not hiding their identity out of shame, they are hiding it because IHSA wants comments directed to the organization. Unfortunately, nobody takes the time to make any comments on the questions other than in informal discussions and on this board.

It's getting harder and harder to blame the IHSA for our problems. There will be about fifteen tournaments in Illinois this year that don't follow IHSA format.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:31 pm

Xanta Claus wrote:I'm not a lawyer. The main finding of the case was that decisions by organizations like IHSA should be treated as decisions by state agencies, even though IHSA is not a state agency. I would think that this would give a lot of power to IHSA, though I'm not completely positive. In any case, we agree that this is not heading to court.
On the other hand, government agencies are bound by some restrictions that private parties aren't. I'm not sure whether the IHSA has these too, since based on that decision such associations seem to occupy some sort of gray area between being a state agency and a private company.
Xanta Claus wrote:Additionally, it is unreasonable to expect IHSA to make decisions based on the pedagogical value of good quizbowl when nobody presents the relevant arguments to them and when the majority of coaches disagree with those arguments. We're talking about changes that 2% of coaches are strongly in favor of and 20% of coaches are in favor of. Why is there any reason to expect the IHSA to be a forceful agency for enlightenment?
There isn't, and no one does. To the best of my knowledge, Reinstein, you present the relevant pedagogical arguments for whatever good changes are being proposed at each AdCo meeting; apparently it does no good.
Xanta Claus wrote:Even with matching tops, if lots of students and coaches were strongly against it, it would change.
I do not believe this, but I would love to be proven wrong.
Xanta Claus wrote:The IHSA writers don't write bad questions on purpose--they write bad questions because they have not been exposed to the high standards of the current circuit.
True, for the ones to whom that applies. However, the IHSA is at fault for choosing a head editor who is out of touch, and she in turn is at fault for choosing (or continuing to contract with) writers who are out of touch. At least one of last year's (good) writers wrote a letter to McGraw about this, but in a decision with which I disagree, that writer chose not to send it. I may write a similar letter this year.
Xanta Claus wrote:They are not hiding their identity out of shame, they are hiding it because IHSA wants comments directed to the organization. Unfortunately, nobody takes the time to make any comments on the questions other than in informal discussions and on this board.
I would love to write a detailed critique of the questions, which I would send to both McGraw and Sister John. However, the IHSA mandates that all copies of the questions be destroyed as soon as they're used, and thus it would cost me $50 to buy the questions in order to have a copy to critique. Actually, I'm not even sure it's $50, because the order form link on the website is dead, but I think that's right. In any case, I don't want to give my $50 to an organization I think so little of.
Xanta Claus wrote:It's getting harder and harder to blame the IHSA for our problems. There will be about fifteen tournaments in Illinois this year that don't follow IHSA format.
Things are certainly far better than they were even two years ago. My complaint is not so much about the IHSA State Series itself, even though it is incredibly flawed, but with the control that the IHSA exerts over things it ought not to. I wouldn't really care if the IHSA decided to sponsor a tournament every spring with 6/6 mud wrestling and call it Scholastic Bowl, as long as they didn't restrict people who wanted to play real quizbowl. (I do like the idea of having a formally recognized state championship, but I'd rather have none than a lousy one.)

By the way, I count 11 separate high school varsity team tournaments in Illinois on the tournament calendar draft that are, in my book, good quizbowl or mostly good quizbowl: Novice (two locations), Earlybird, Ultima, Wildcat, Kickoff (five locations), Decemberist, HFT mirror, New Trier Varsity, Loyburn, Huskie Bowl, and NAQT State. Maybe Winnebago and/or Springfield will use an IS set again; that would be 12 or 13.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:54 pm

My arguments are rejected by the Advisory Committee, which consists of coaches. On most issues, McGraw is evenhanded and follows the wishes of the committee. My viewpoints were also rejected in a survey of coaches last year. A survey of students found that there was no consensus on several issues, as Jonah knows.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Matt Bardoe » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:21 am

A few points here I would like to make.

1. When you say IHSA you really mean Advisory Council and the Question Editor. I have been on the advisory council for less than a year, and it was, at times, a frustrating meeting. But you have to know that the people who are there have the best of intentions. They are doing what they believe to be good and right for their students and this activity.

2. When people call out the Viator coaches, I feel like that is picking on the kind of people that we need to enlist. These coaches organize their team's league. They host a Saturday tournament for the league every year, and they have helped build an outstanding team. I think that they have some difficulties with their administration on their funding and that is a little sad, because I agree with everyone else, those players deserve more. But I don't think the coaches are the main problem, and without them there would be a problem at Viator at all, because there would be no team.

3. Jonah points out the problem with "inertia". My take on it is that the arguments for good quizbowl at present do not overcome the inertia. I see the problem with the arguments not the inertia, the inertia is natural and predictable.

4. The reason we love to pick on IHSA, is that they could solve all of our problems at once for us by adopting a tournament/question structure that we desire. It would be the magic bullet instantly changing the culture. I propose for us to stop looking to commit to the hard slog. That is probably easier for me to say as a coach with many years of scholastic bowl remaining than player that wants change before their time is up.

What to do. Make better tournaments. Show people that going to good tournaments leads to success. Look for programs to co-opt to your point of view. Class A could be a place to really work. When we can get class A coaches from south of I-80 begging for good quizbowl we will be in a position to win. Byron and Litchfield are both schools that have great kids that go to ACE camp. Find those kids and replicate St. Viator there. Try to get at least one good quizbowl believing school in each conference.

IHSA is the tail, and the tail can't wag the dog.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:50 am

Matt Bardoe wrote:A few points here I would like to make.

1. When you say IHSA you really mean Advisory Council and the Question Editor. I have been on the advisory council for less than a year, and it was, at times, a frustrating meeting. But you have to know that the people who are there have the best of intentions. They are doing what they believe to be good and right for their students and this activity.
Then why don't they listen to those who actually know what we're talking about? A while back, I emailed a particular coach I've known for a long time,
Matt Bardoe wrote:2. When people call out the Viator coaches, I feel like that is picking on the kind of people that we need to enlist. These coaches organize their team's league. They host a Saturday tournament for the league every year, and they have helped build an outstanding team. I think that they have some difficulties with their administration on their funding and that is a little sad, because I agree with everyone else, those players deserve more. But I don't think the coaches are the main problem, and without them there would be a problem at Viator at all, because there would be no team.
Based on my understanding, the players at Viator should get as much if not more credit for the changes. To go from having coaching issues to bringing a team to a college tournament and the two legitimate national tournaments is astounding.
Matt Bardoe wrote:3. Jonah points out the problem with "inertia". My take on it is that the arguments for good quizbowl at present do not overcome the inertia. I see the problem with the arguments not the inertia, the inertia is natural and predictable.
I am not going to compromise the basic tenets of good quizbowl just to appease the masses. Also, what, exactly, is wrong with the arguments, o wise one?
Matt Bardoe wrote:4. The reason we love to pick on IHSA, is that they could solve all of our problems at once for us by adopting a tournament/question structure that we desire. It would be the magic bullet instantly changing the culture. I propose for us to stop looking to commit to the hard slog. That is probably easier for me to say as a coach with many years of scholastic bowl remaining than player that wants change before their time is up.
We pick on the IHSA because without it, the vast majority of teams WOULD NOT EXIST.
Matt Bardoe wrote:What to do. Make better tournaments. Show people that going to good tournaments leads to success. Look for programs to co-opt to your point of view. Class A could be a place to really work. When we can get class A coaches from south of I-80 begging for good quizbowl we will be in a position to win. Byron and Litchfield are both schools that have great kids that go to ACE camp. Find those kids and replicate St. Viator there. Try to get at least one good quizbowl believing school in each conference.

IHSA is the tail, and the tail can't wag the dog.
There are good tournaments in the area. The Academic Buzzer Team here at the U of I runs arguably the best tournament within the state, and we can't get more than a handful of teams from the area every year, and rarely do these teams come back again. You claim that we have to change our arguments to fight the inertia, and then try to say that one team can change a conference? I wish I could swear in this section, because I want to drop a number of bombs right now.

You hold up Byron and Litchfield as examples of good Class A programs. What good tournaments have they been to? There's a big difference between going to ACE Camp and actually going to legitimate tournaments on good questions.

Eagerly awaiting your response,
Donald Taylor

PS: When are you gonna register your team for Earlybird?

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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by marnold » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:27 am

Question in the Thread Title wrote:Why is Illinois bad?
Matt Bardoe Provides the Answer wrote:My take on it is that the arguments for good quizbowl at present do not overcome the inertia. I see the problem with the arguments
SCIENCE!

Let me edit to add that this is basically exactly why I've taken such a militant policy against hosting high school tournaments at UChicago during the rest of my tenure as team president.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri Aug 28, 2009 8:58 am

For the record, Mr. Bardoe was one of three voters at the IHSA Advisory Committee who supported my positions. He is the only one of the three whose term did not expire. At that meeting, we improved the distribution, and we would have improved it more had Bardoe's support of history and the effort to remove Drivers Ed gone through.

The statement that our arguments have not overcome inertia is a statement of fact, not a praise of inertia. We need to make our case better than we have been making it.

I am not a moderator, and I don't want anybody banned, but I wish that people wouldn't assume the worst intentions about other posters on this board. We can disagree without acting like a bunch of Congressmen.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Kanga-Rat Murder Society » Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:19 am

Matt Bardoe wrote: 2. When people call out the Viator coaches, I feel like that is picking on the kind of people that we need to enlist. These coaches organize their team's league. They host a Saturday tournament for the league every year, and they have helped build an outstanding team. I think that they have some difficulties with their administration on their funding and that is a little sad, because I agree with everyone else, those players deserve more. But I don't think the coaches are the main problem, and without them there would be a problem at Viator at all, because there would be no team.
This is a horrible position to take. I know that it may surprise you, but there are several good teams out there that are student led. These students work their butt off to become good players on their own time. I know my old team (whose coach Jonah also "called out") got better because we had two hour practices twice a week at my house. No coach was involved. I do not know how much Viator's coach was involved with their success, but to automatically give credit to the coach is absurd.

Also, the last sentence really seems like you are tolerating bad coaching. After all, kids should not be questioning their coach's decisions because the coach is the only reason the team exists. C'mon. Also, the only reason that statement is true is because of the IHSA. In other states it is not unheard for teams to not even have a "coach". Instead, they find sponsors to take them to events. If I am not mistaken, teams have won nationals without a coach.
Matt Bardoe wrote:Show people that good tournaments lead to success
What more can we do to show this? Last year, the three teams that went to the most good quizbowl events were Carbondale, Auburn, and Loyola. These teams finished 1st, 2nd, and 4th at IHSA State respectively. If we have not proved this yet, we never will.
dtaylor4 wrote:Byron
To be fair, Byron did go to both of Brad Fischer's tournaments, and performed decently well at both of them.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Geringer » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:45 pm

marnold wrote:Let me edit to add that this is basically exactly why I've taken such a militant policy against hosting high school tournaments at UChicago during the rest of my tenure as team president.
So, what you're saying is, with all of the resources you have at U of C and all of the talented college quizbowlers you have at your disposal, you'd rather point out flaws in the Illinois system rather than help solve the problem? I could only imagine if a universally respected academic institution like U of C ran a local tournament on good questions and invited some of the aforementioned "ignorant" teams. Maybe it'd help bring some more teams into our fold.
BG MSL Champs wrote:I do not know how much Viator's coach was involved with their success, but to automatically give credit to the coach is absurd.
They were involved quite a bit, actually. Dr. Bardoe plays in our league and knows how much our coach(es) invest into the program. His position was well-founded. While some teams function without coaches, most schools require supervision and contacts for activities. My former coach, for instance, has mad navigation skills in addition to supporting our team and doing a lot of the paperwork.

(Reasonably Important and Possibly Offensive)
I don't really want to make a big deal about this, but I'm really sensing an elitist attitude in this thread. The way to improve Illinois is not to sit on a high pedestal (or post on a board frequented only by people who care) and talk about how awful "bad quizbowl" is. No one, and I mean, NO ONE, likes to be told they're wrong. Face it. There will be no immediate switch to ACF format. However, if we take small steps each year, eventually the situation will change. First, pyramidality needs to be improved. I believe we've seen progress towards that. Secondly, if the number of "good teams" increases every year, there will eventually be a push for a change to the national format. It might not happen for ten years, but in the meantime, the teams that care will have a full schedule of good tournaments and will compete just as well on the national level.

If we change our lingo a little bit, we could attract more teams. Instead of a "better format," we need to talk about a "national format" or a "more popular format." Instead of ripping on computational math, just state that it's generally frowned down upon in the national community and doesn't really gel with national rules like powers and faster games (all true). The good quizbowl community is tight-knit, and coming from someone who has only recently become part of it, it's very intimidating. As someone who holds unpopular opinions, it's downright demoralizing when I'm speaking my mind in an Illinois thread and someone from out east writes a page-long dissertation on how wrong I am. We need to drop the "you're wrong's" and start being more friendly.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:59 pm

SomethingBetterAndLessCumbersome wrote: As someone who holds unpopular opinions, it's downright demoralizing when I'm speaking my mind in an Illinois thread and someone from out east writes a page-long dissertation on how wrong I am. We need to drop the "you're wrong's" and start being more friendly.
As "someone from out East," I believe I have some claim to have done more for Illinois than "sit on a high pedestal and talk." I wrote questions for IHSA for two years and I found it to be a complete waste of my time. For every good question I tried to write within the often extensive constraints of the IHSA format, there was another 2-line "literature" tossup on Dwight Eisenhower's memoirs that I was bound to "proofread" and couldn't do anything to fix the content of, and another speed arithmetic tossup being put into the set by a third person. I was doing nothing for good quizbowl in Illinois by continuing to participate in this, and IHSA has similarly disenchanted other good writers and been left to the mercies of people willing to sell out and write driver's ed questions.

It's very easy to look down upon arguments that invoke the fact of certain things being better than other things. Anyone who starts talking about "good" and "bad" can easily be dismissed as a moralist, unrealistic, etc. That doesn't mean that we are wrong, though. It just means that we are taking positions which happen to lend themselves easily to avoision on the part of opponents. We can either engage people who are arguing in bad faith on their own terms, which is to lose, or we can call people on their bullshit and frequently sound impolite, because we would rather achieve whatever is possible.

When you are in the minority, calls for gradualism are calls to give up. The situation will NOT change with "small steps each year." There can be no greater evidence for this than the fact that ten years of small steps have, to this point, had no impact on the overall "situation," if by that you mean the question style, distribution, game format, and tournament format used in the IHSA series. Dramatic, immediate gestures work in their fashion--teams can just stop caring about IHSA and form their own alternative activity where the 10 to 20 percent of coaches who actually care about good quizbowl can play HSAPQ and NAQT questions. That is what has happened, and that's all that will ever happen as long as the self-perpetuating IHSA system remains in place. At best, you may gain enough teams' interest in real tournaments to compensate for teams who drop out as players with organizational skill graduate or coaches who get it retire; maybe, if everything lines up, a "gradualism" strategy for expanding the number of Illinois high schools who have real quizbowl programs from 25 to 50 will work in five or ten years. But you won't ever change IHSA by that method, because IHSA is controlled by people such as football coaches and politicians whose influence quizbowl players can never hope to contend with, and those people are actively against the sort of changes that good quizbowl entails.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:10 pm

Well, Matt, what do you think we should do? Neither teams nor schools can realistically deaffiliate from the IHSA. A very few might be able to, but in general, political and budgetary pressure preclude that. At least one coach I know of has been trying to deaffiliate his team for years, but his principal won't let him. So teams are obligated to both play the IHSA State Series in all its horror, and to abide by the other IHSA restrictions.
Currently, we can get around some (but not all) of the IHSA's restrictions because they don't apply to formats with four people. However, if this were to become widely known, principals and many coaches would push for that loophole to be closed. That would then prevent people from going to college tournaments (including independently of their schools), either nationals, NAQT State, more than 18 dates (including league play) outside of the IHSA State Series, and a lot of other problems. Similarly, principals would likely push for the institution of a rule that tournaments in Illinois had to follow or mostly follow IHSA rules and distribution and such—already some coaches are trying for this. The IHSA is very responsive to principals' demands. Obviously the coaches calling for bad changes outnumber the good ones substantially, too, so we have no nope as far as I can tell of implementing good changes wholesale.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:16 pm

1) See if you can aid any political initiatives aimed at curtailing the authority of the IHSA. Since you live in Illinois, politics probably requires more money than quizbowl generates, but it's worth looking into.
2) Continue building the purity and size of the alternative circuit as best you can.
3) Everyone's time, energy, and money is limited. Direct what resources for quizbowl that you do have towards #2 instead of throwing them into the "maybe if we present the right football coach with a tribute of a thousand maidens, IHSA will stop asking questions about farm equipment" black hole.

And, of course, keep showing up at the IHSA tournaments that your school binds you to participate in, but make no particular effort at getting good at the IHSA format, and invest no emotion into what happens if you lose to someone who can press a button quickly and divide three-digit numbers faster than you can, instead practicing for the real tournaments being held at some other time.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by at your pleasure » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:32 pm

I just thought of something, actually. I recently learned that at least one DC school has split the quizbowl and Its' Academic(TV show) teams. What if people who want to play good quizbowl simply form a separate team and organize it as a club rather than competitive activity? If it's considered a different activity, that might allow the quizbowl team to avoid IHSA restrictions. Would this work?
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:35 pm

If IHSA is anything like MSHSAA, it's completely infeasible unless you have enough money to pay out of pocket to compete in nothing but out of state tournaments (which would be exacerbated by your club not being allowed to host tournaments), and even then you have to run the risk of being caught and, while you would not be subject to any punishments because of how you fund yourself, the rest of your school's athletic program could get suspended.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:36 pm

Doink the Clown wrote:I just thought of something, actually. I recently learned that at least one DC school has split the quizbowl and Its' Academic(TV show) teams. What if people who want to play good quizbowl simply form a separate team and organize it as a club rather than competitive activity? If it's considered a different activity, that might allow the quizbowl team to avoid IHSA restrictions. Would this work?
Coaches here will probably provide some good answers, but I'm inclined to think it won't for a few reasons. Many teams' funding (if they get any at all) depends largely or wholly on Scholastic Bowl's status as an IHSA activity, so if they were to be separate, they would have serious funding problems. (Yes, they could host tournaments, but that takes time and startup resources and such, and there are probably more schools interested in good quizbowl than the market can bear tournaments.) Also, schools around here are big on clubs having active sponsors (read: coaches), which would presumably usually be the same person as the schobowl team's coach. And if you have two clubs with the same sponsor and largely overlapping membership, schools are (fairly reasonably) going to say "What? No."

Also, I think the IHSA may have restrictions on playing teams who aren't part of it, so if I'm right about that, every team interested in good quizbowl would have to do this at once.

edit: I don't know if Charlie's situation is the case, though I suspect it's not. But if it is, then obviously there's an even bigger problem than what I said.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:46 pm

I don't know if Charlie's situation is the case, though I suspect it's not. But if it is, then obviously there's an even bigger problem than what I said.
My prediction would be that such a club would never really be allowed to exist in the school's eyes, since it would by definition jeopardize their IHSA teams (assuming that IHSA can sanction an entire school's program if one activity commits an egregious violation. Also, to be fair, I get the feeling that IHSA wouldn't actually go through with such an action, but the threat of it would be enough to not approve this hypothetical club). If the club is not allowed to get school sponsorship, as you already noted they would lose a lot of funding, but it would also mean you can only practice at people's homes unless you found a teacher willing to let you hide out in his room. I can't imagine any school that would let a nonexistant club reserve the rooms it would need to run a tournament.
Separately, IHSA requires sanctioning of tournaments that IHSA members attend, correct? If so, then it would likely be impossible to let an unsanctioned in-state team into anybody's field. In Missouri if a non-approved team plays, every single school in the tournament's field is potentially going to face sanctioning, so no sane TD would destroy their field size over ideology. That's why I predict that this hypothetical team would need to compete exclusively out of state. If I am wrong about how the IHSA functions, or about how a school would support this team, please let me know.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:51 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
I don't know if Charlie's situation is the case, though I suspect it's not. But if it is, then obviously there's an even bigger problem than what I said.
My prediction would be that such a club would never really be allowed to exist in the school's eyes, since it would by definition jeopardize their IHSA teams (assuming that IHSA can sanction an entire school's program if one activity commits an egregious violation.
That's the major part of your post I'm unsure about. It's plausible, but I'm not aware of it being the case. I think it's one of the things where MSHSAA is worse than IHSA, which are several.
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Also, to be fair, I get the feeling that IHSA wouldn't actually go through with such an action, but the threat of it would be enough to not approve this hypothetical club
Assuming it's even possible that they could, yeah, they might not, but as you point out it's obviously not worth the risk for the school.
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Separately, IHSA requires sanctioning of tournaments that IHSA members attend, correct?
I'm pretty sure this is not the case.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by David Riley » Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:44 pm

Before my health started to deteriorate a few years ago, I actually thought about splitting the activity into a "funn" team and a "serious" team. Teams would go to appropriate tournaments.

As it is, the only IHSA-formatted tournaments that we're attending this year is the IHSSBCA Kickoff and the State Series itself, assuming New Trier Varsity goes 4-on-4, and we have a full schedule of tournaments from late September to early March.

Jonah is pretty much on target. While small steps have been made, I don't think anything is going to change anytime soon, for reasons which have been given over and over on this board. What a lot of coaches don't understand is that they have a longevity (I'm starting year 17) that students don't (maximum four years). Fortunately, the teams that want to play good tournaments and formats are free to do so. Don't criticize coaches too harshly--true, there are quite a few who don't care about the activity or their students, but there are a sufficient number who do, and some of those unfortunately live in very (economically) depressed districts with limited resources (believe it or not, some of these schools barely have an Internet connection, and even then a limited number of computers).
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:58 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
Separately, IHSA requires sanctioning of tournaments that IHSA members attend, correct? If so, then it would likely be impossible to let an unsanctioned in-state team into anybody's field. In Missouri if a non-approved team plays, every single school in the tournament's field is potentially going to face sanctioning, so no sane TD would destroy their field size over ideology. That's why I predict that this hypothetical team would need to compete exclusively out of state. If I am wrong about how the IHSA functions, or about how a school would support this team, please let me know.
If you are asking if the IHSA requires a "stamp of approval" on tournaments attended by IHSA teams, the answer is no...as far as I know they don't pay any attention to that sort of thing. If you're asking if only IHSA teams can attend IHSA events, namely the state series, that would be correct...although attendance is not required. To my knowledge the Big North's Johnsburg didn't attend a state-tourney (or conference play) during my tenure in high school.

Getting back to your point though, again to the best of my knowledge, the IHSA only cares about its State Series (and kind of the kickoffs) as far as "sanctioned" goes. Attendence of a "club" at any other tournament would be up to the organizer's discretion.

Edit: It's very hard to take me seriously with this name/avatar.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by David Riley » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:02 pm

Yeah BJ, you gotta change that. :grin:
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Dan-Don » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:57 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:
Matt Bardoe wrote:2. When people call out the Viator coaches, I feel like that is picking on the kind of people that we need to enlist. These coaches organize their team's league. They host a Saturday tournament for the league every year, and they have helped build an outstanding team. I think that they have some difficulties with their administration on their funding and that is a little sad, because I agree with everyone else, those players deserve more. But I don't think the coaches are the main problem, and without them there would be a problem at Viator at all, because there would be no team.
Based on my understanding, the players at Viator should get as much if not more credit for the changes. To go from having coaching issues to bringing a team to a college tournament and the two legitimate national tournaments is astounding.
I was the first one in our program (coaches included) to find out about good quizbowl because I read the quizbowl chapter in :kenj: 's book and did research on the quiz bowl wiki. Mrs. O'Laughlin saw that good quizbowl made me, Jeff, Sean, and Alex happy and therefore brought us to those tournaments. She deserves credit. Mrs. Martin does work very hard, especially considering she is now teaching full time and trying to juggle the care of her two toddlers. She has also agreed to coach us Ultima and Kickoffs (and Fremd and Masonics... :sad: )
BG MSL Champs wrote:I know my old team (whose coach Jonah also "called out") got better because we had two hour practices twice a week at my house. No coach was involved. I do not know how much Viator's coach was involved with their success, but to automatically give credit to the coach is absurd.
Last year was a difficult year because our practice schedule was reduced to one hour a week (during which we couldn't even get through a 16-question IHSA packet), and Varsity was forced to monopolize Mrs. O'Laughlin's frosh/soph practices But we worked hard as players, and I hope that work ethic continues this season. I've talked with a few of the guys about "house practices" and everyone seems open to doing them at my house at least once a week. Anyways...to nicely tie this point into the title of the thread, I think one issue is practices. How often should they be held? Should they be merely mock games? Or learning experiences like ACE camp classes? I'd like to hear people's thoughts on this...I'll bet that many teams in the state have 1, 1-hour practice a week during which they read an IHSA packet and go home. This could be one explanation for the "badness" of Illinois. If more teams were to adopt a practice schedule of 3 days a week, 2 hours a day, 'til around 5:00, they might start using good questions and holding "classes." Here's an amusing anecdote to that effect: today, in last period Spanish, Eddie Zahrebelski--who is fast becoming my right-hand man in terms of scoring--said that we could use another practice. I said sure. We walked downstairs, asked Mrs. O if she would read the two of us an HSAPQ ACF packet, and she did. :grin:
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:09 pm

I wonder if coaches outside the circuit are picking up on the Good Quizbowl vs. Bad Quizbowl dichotomy we’ve been working with. We’re mentioning things like Byron attending good tournaments like Decemberist and Huskie Bowl, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that Byron is interested in good quizbowl, but rather just nearby quizbowl. (Byron, specifically, is interested in good quizbowl – take their attendance at New Trier Varsity, I believe, as evidence)
If you ask Carbondale or Auburn what tournaments they play, they answer good ones, and they’re interested in driving as far as necessary to get them. If you ask most Northern Illinois teams what tournaments they play, I’m willing to bet they’d answer local ones – they’re interested in playing as many tournaments as possible, but prioritize driving distance over (what we call) quality. They go to the tournaments Kristin and I run as well as tournaments with crappy questions and subpar formats, and if there’s a conflict between them, they’ll pick the nearer tournament (which is almost certainly [what we call] bad quality).
I don’t know if it’s a matter of explaining the difference between good and bad. Teams that play terrible questions and don’t speak out in the debate about quality have come to the Decemberist and enjoyed themselves for a day. Maybe they find it acceptable to enjoy both good and bad quizbowl (because they don’t understand/accept our claim that “bad quizbowl is so bad as to not be worth playing”?). Maybe they don’t understand that the Decemberist is good and their other tourneys are bad (because they don’t play enough good tournaments to see the difference? Because they don’t yet know that there’s a dichotomy at all?) Maybe they truly believe that bad quizbowl is better than good quizbowl, but take the Steinhice view that it’s better to play a tournament they don’t like than no tournament at all (very possible, because the Decemberist is very local to these teams). There are obviously teams in the last option, and we already know the uphill challenge we have with them, but teams in the first two options need to be further integrated into the debate.
We need more coaches who agree with us on a significant percentage of good tenets – not just more coaches taking their teams to good tournaments, bad tournaments, and not caring about the difference. But even if all bad tournaments magically disappeared and teams were forced into playing good tournaments, that wouldn’t be enough because the coaches wouldn’t automatically be on the same page as us.
Essentially, I agree with Coach Bardoe – if we get one coach in each conference who agrees with good quizbowl and works to improve his/her area, we’ll get massive improvement. The Big Northern Conference has used Platypus for years, but my constant needling of the coaches at Winnebago and Byron has led to them switching because they’re the only coaches active enough to make a decision like that – everyone else just said “do what you want, we trust you.” They’ve earned that trust by being active, and the coaches at Hampshire and Richmond Burton have started to emulate that activity and progressed in the circuit. With Coach Stouffer moving from Richmond Burton to Algonquin Jacobs this year, it’s hopeful that their conference will improve with time, and so on.
Show people that good tournaments lead to success

What more can we do to show this? Last year, the three teams that went to the most good quizbowl events were Carbondale, Auburn, and Loyola. These teams finished 1st, 2nd, and 4th at IHSA State respectively. If we have not proved this yet, we never will.
I’d also like to offer a devil’s advocate rebuttal to this claim. Over the last 3 years, the only good quality tournament that Morrison has played in is Winnebago’s IS set last year. Their conference used NAQT Illinois-format questions last year (maybe previous years as well?). Their drive to Rockford or DeKalb is not prohibitively long, but they haven’t been up to Decemberist, Huskie Bowl, Auburn’s Harvard Mirror or F/S, etc. Morrison’s won the Byron/Winnebago sectional 2 out of 3 years, while Byron and Bago have been to New Trier Varsity, Decemberist, Huskie Bowl, etc. over that period. If success is measured by the IHSA State Series – which it undoubtedly is for these teams – Byron and Bago might have been better off studying more for the IHSA style and skipping the tournaments that differ from it. (If you measure success by strong victories over good teams throughout the year, then Byron and Bago do claim success, but the notion that IHSA is the primary goal is way too widespread to ignore.) If anything, Carbondale, Auburn, and Loyola prove tautologically that having good players leads to success. (Note that I’m conveniently ignoring the fact that, in the main Illinois thread, there’s a lovefest going on between current players about how much playing on B-teams at good Varsity tournaments instead of bad F/S tournaments has helped them improve. Such is the way of the devil’s advocacy.)
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Matt Bardoe » Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:52 pm

Thanks Brad for your support, and I think you have done a much better job of saying what I wanted to communicate.

I would add that we look not just for coaches, but importantly for players. Many of the people on this board are players who have had a tremendous effect on their programs, and they have highlighted the difference between good and bad quizbowl to their teams. Lisle is a school with a strong program, and have had All-State caliber players for years, but they don't seem to be in love with good quizbowl until recently. I believe some of their players (I am assuming a little bit here) got them to go to NAQT and several other strong tournaments. This is why I raised the connection with ACE Camp. Players can bring a lot of change to teams. There are coaches that are dictatorial, but most coaches I know at least profess to be in it for their players, and one student's passion can make a huge difference. So I see my approach as one student, one coach, one league at a time. That maybe stupid, it may never work, as much as people have been working for faster change recently with polls and such, thus far that has been met with small gains and a lot of suspicion of there being two castes, and most sadly to me, I think it has been very hard on people like David Reinstein who has done nothing but made this activity better and better, but now some coaches feel like he is trying to do something behind their back. That's a shame. Having David as the head of the IHSSBCA is something that good quizbowl has going for it in this state, and I would hate to think of what could happen if someone who actively preferred bad quizbowl was in that position.

It maybe right and proper to admit that I am not an ideal coach according the definition of bad and good that is being talked about here. I have many sins to lay before you here. I don't assiduously avoid bad quizbowl tournaments. I have not been able to convince the league I am in to purchase "good" questions. I have not been able to eliminate Driver's Ed from the State Series, even though I am part of the advisory council. The IHSA tournament means a lot to me. I like computational math (though I am coming around, slowly). And Donald, we won't be coming to Earlybird, mostly because I am "that" kind of coach. So maybe I am just a spy in the house of love.

The other thing that I want to reiterate is that I don't think that IHSA has it out for good quizbowl. But it is an institution and there is a reason people refer institutional change as slow. There is a natural conservatism on the advisory committee because they don't see it as hopelessly broken. Tegan has said many times (I believe) if there was no IHSA then there would be a significant smaller number of teams, would that be progress?

I do think that good quizbowl is generally better than bad. I don't see it as black and white as most people here, and therefore I have some sympathy for those that don't see it at all. Brad explained this much better than I ever could.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Dan-Don » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:02 pm

Matt Bardoe wrote:It maybe right and proper to admit that I am not an ideal coach according the definition of bad and good that is being talked about here. I have many sins to lay before you here. I don't assiduously avoid bad quizbowl tournaments. I have not been able to convince the league I am in to purchase "good" questions. I have not been able to eliminate Driver's Ed from the State Series, even though I am part of the advisory council. The IHSA tournament means a lot to me. I like computational math (though I am coming around, slowly). And Donald, we won't be coming to Earlybird, mostly because I am "that" kind of coach. So maybe I am just a spy in the house of love.
Mrs. O'Laughlin and Mrs. Martin are going to propose that the league get the IHSA-format NAQT set for this season. But, I just have to wonder, you've done a lot of talking about improving Illinois, what good is it if you don't expose your players to good quizbowl? If you don't want to make the drive down to Earlybird (btw, Donald, I talked to admissions at NU, I can take the SAT IIs in November so we'll be there), I understand, but will we see you at the Septemberist? Ultima? NTV?
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by jonah » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:06 pm

Matt Bardoe wrote:And Donald, we won't be coming to Earlybird, mostly because I am "that" kind of coach.
Forgive me for intruding in your dialogue with Donald, but I'm not sure what "that kind of coach" is; can you expand on it a bit? Can I get you to come to, say, New Trier Varsity?
Matt Bardoe wrote:if there was no IHSA then there would be a significant smaller number of teams, would that be progress?
I have two answers to this, both of which are of course no more than my personal opinion, and both of which are yes, it would be progress (for two different reasons).

Firstly, if the IHSA were not regulating quizbowl/Scholastic Bowl (or didn't exist at all, which is far less realistic), then the institution that is by far the biggest obstacle to good quizbowl would be out of the way. Sure, teams would still have budgetary woes, and Carbondale would probably still have to drive six hours to get to most of the good tournaments--which totally sucks. But we wouldn't have season limitations; the NAQT State Championship (a good tournament, assuming this year's set was anomalously bad)would become the de facto crown of Illinois quizbowl; and people interested in bad quizbowl wouldn't be allowed to influence any of the tournaments the remaining teams attended.

Furthermore, some teams would remain and be strong. The teams with players who care about Scholastic Bowl and want their program to continue are, overwhelmingly, interested in good quizbowl. They get their teams to go to good tournaments; they go to ACE camp; they practice a lot; they write questions and study hard. It is those teams that we would retain. We would be losing the 450 teams who don't have any real interest in Scholastic Bowl, which includes the teams whose coaches are active in pushing for bad quizbowl. Those coaches don't have a driven team, so they feel they must drive their program themselves--in the only way they know, which is the old ways of bad quizbowl. Those teams' continued existence is what is holding back the activity, so if they were to go away, it would in fact be an improvement.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Dan-Don » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:16 pm

jonah wrote:Furthermore, some teams would remain and be strong. The teams with players who care about Scholastic Bowl and want their program to continue are, overwhelmingly, interested in good quizbowl. They get their teams to go to good tournaments; they go to ACE camp; they practice a lot; they write questions and study hard. It is those teams that we would retain. We would be losing the 450 teams who don't have any real interest in Scholastic Bowl, which includes the teams whose coaches are active in pushing for bad quizbowl. Those coaches don't have a driven team, so they feel they must drive their program themselves--in the only way they know, which is the old ways of bad quizbowl. Those teams' continued existence is what is holding back the activity, so if they were to go away, it would in fact be an improvement.
That's really well said Jonah, and it makes perfect sense: the teams that impede progress are the ones with players who don't care. With all due respect Dr. Bardoe, I don't mean to keep picking on Latin--but the way to get players to care about good quizbowl (and, therefore, according to Jonah's logic, make progress towards making good quizbowl the state norm) is not to take your kids exclusively to a league run on Bryce Avery's masterpieces. (Same goes for the Fremd Tournament and the like...I can't remember if Latin was there.) I understand that Latin is inclined to put up with the IHSA more than most teams, especially given that this season and last are/were two of the weakest years in Class A history and that you'll never have a difficult time in Peoria because your closest competition, Lisle, in your Sectional. But, c'mon.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by Matt Bardoe » Sat Aug 29, 2009 12:57 am

Our team goes to the things that make sense with our schedule, and we have some history with generally. So we are planning to go to things that look good, and are not too far. There are lots of reasons for this, time commitment for myself and my co-coaches, family commitments, etc. So we will go to kickoffs, NT Solo, Loyola (F/S) (if it happens), Septemberist (cause we love St. Viator), Fremd, Homewood-Flossmoor, New Trier, Masonics and IHSA (there maybe more that I am forgetting) and our league. I want to help good quizbowl, but not at all costs. One of the reasons I read this board is get more information about good quizbowl. I want to make my team better, and I want to make quizbowl better in Illinois as a member of Advisory Council. I want to hear about how to do that. For my team, I am going to go about in my own way, with input from my team...

I am trying not to be the enemy here, but I am ok with it if that is what I am.
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by at your pleasure » Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:21 am

There are lots of reasons for this, time commitment for myself and my co-coaches, family commitments, etc.
Out of curiosity, how do you feel about your team going to stuff on their own if you can't come yourself?
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Re: Why is Illinois bad?

Post by dtaylor4 » Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:37 am

Doink the Clown wrote:
Matt Bardoe wrote:There are lots of reasons for this, time commitment for myself and my co-coaches, family commitments, etc.
Out of curiosity, how do you feel about your team going to stuff on their own if you can't come yourself?
I too would like to know. I understand if there are legal issues with your school, but if your players want to come to Earlybird under their own auspices, I would be willing to accomodate them.
Matt Bardoe wrote:I want to make my team better
The tried-and-true method of getting better at quizbowl is to go to good tournaments, preferably against teams of similar or better quality. The Earlybird will have a stacked field featuring several good teams from within and without that few tournaments save possibly Ultima and NTV can match.
Last edited by dtaylor4 on Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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