The Business of TRASH

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The Business of TRASH

Post by JamesDinanProxy »

(note, I am not James Dinan. However, since James' post on his blog is relevant to the thoughts on the current TRASH brouhaha, and is publically available, I thought it would be appropriate to repost it here so that us jackholes can respond)

Another TRASH Regionals weekend, or in the case, weekends, has come and gone. Hard to believe that I’ve been doing this, in some form or another, for nine years.

We’ve already received some feedback, and most of it has been positive. However, there have been some comments that I feel have gone over the line when it comes to “criticizing TRASH”. Constructive criticism is fine, but allegations that border on the ridiculous is unfair.

The first allegation is that there is a double standard where TRASH is impervious to criticism, while academic tournaments are criticized to the gills. This is a free country, and TRASH is open to criticism as much as any organization in the country. Frankly, TRASH WANTS CRITICISM, and we’ve never done anything to suggest that we want to suppress it.

Allegation 2 is TRASH doesn’t accept feedback. Every e-mail, message board posting and newsletter I send out features my e-mail address at least once. And that e-mail address is used to accept feedback from players, officials and others about TRASH tournaments and the format itself. I personally read every e-mail I receive regarding TRASH, and I respond to every one. So do other TRASH officials.

Allegation 3 concerns the kinds of players who compete at TRASH tournaments. TRASH is an open tournament, which means that anyone 18 years of age and above can compete. Current college students can play. So can alumni and people off the street.

Allegation 4 is that the men and women of TRASH are “elitist”. That could be farther from the truth than all of the other allegations combined! I compete in 1-2 open trash tournaments a season, and assist as a game official in others, and other TRASH members do the same. If I had my doings, I’d invite every competitor and game official who has participated in TRASH to my wedding, but common sense and Susanne has to prevail there  I’ve made a lot of friends through TRASH, and I hope to make more.

Allegation 5 is that TRASH wants to drive people away. If someone is frustrated with TRASH, I want to hear from him/her to see what TRASH can do to make his/her experience better next time. I appreciate it when people like Samer Ismail, Dan Passner and Adam Fine (for example – first three names to pop in my head  ) write to me and the TRASH folks and explain, in detail, what they like and what they don’t like, and what we can do to make them repeat customers.

Some of the concerns written in later messages were quite eloquent, and TRASH is discussing those concerns (primarily a note from Eric Kwartler saying that, on occasion, TRASH strays too far from pyramid-style tossups).

Why that first poster was so angry and upset I may never understand. Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he was frustrated that ACF was being bashed in various forums (and I have no problems with the ACF folks and their philosophy, despite the little misunderstanding we had several months ago. ACF does a great job at what they do, and I hope they continue to have success). But as TRASH’s proverbial whipping boy, I try my best to make everyone happy with the format, questions, etc. And if there are any problems, I need to know. Don’t go posting allegations without knowing the facts.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

I can see from the post and the comments what TRASH really thinks about anyone who dissaproves of their questions. This whole post reminds me of talking to Republicans. "Why are you so angry" is just a way of sidestepping complaint by implying that there is something wrong with anyone who would complain. "We don't discourage feedback, but here's a long diatribe against anyone who would issue feedback" is also a great rhetorical trick; anyone who takes issue with the characterization of TRASH critics as angry nitpickers can just be pointed to the part where he says that TRASH doesn't think that instead of being given an actual explanation of why it does.

TRASH isn't going to change. They're more interested in providing old-person questions for their old-person audience than in finding out what college-aged players know or what style of questions they prefer. Which is fine; if old people want to play bad questions, then they ought to be able to do so, and I suppose it's better for TRASH to exist and cater to that market than for said people to try to make NAQT or ACF change in their favor. I just wish those old people would stop taking over college programs, like an alien symbiote taking over Peter Parker (see? I care about trash), and that TRASH would stop being so dishonest about who its audience is, what kind of questions it produces, and what it really thinks of people who have even a slightly different conception than the TRASH leadership of what quizbowl should be.
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Re: The Business of TRASH

Post by grapesmoker »

JamesDinanProxy wrote: The first allegation is that there is a double standard where TRASH is impervious to criticism, while academic tournaments are criticized to the gills. This is a free country, and TRASH is open to criticism as much as any organization in the country. Frankly, TRASH WANTS CRITICISM, and we’ve never done anything to suggest that we want to suppress it.
With all respect to James, I think this is a mischaracterization of the statements made here.

The point is not that TRASH is "impervious" to criticism. No one, that I am aware of, has made that claim. The claim that has been made is that the people who go out of their way to criticize ACF for various shortcomings are silent when it comes to similar shortcomings on the part of TRASH. So really, this has nothing whatsoever to do with TRASH's leadership.
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Post by cdbarker »

Matt Weiner wrote:I just wish those old people would stop taking over college programs, and that TRASH would stop being so dishonest about who its audience is, what kind of questions it produces, and what it really thinks of people who have even a slightly different conception than the TRASH leadership of what quizbowl should be.
Matt, could you please cite specific examples of "old people" taking over college programs? I am curious about this because I am not familiar with this phenomenon and would like to know more about it.

Thank you.

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Post by Matt Weiner »

cdbarker wrote:Matt, could you please cite specific examples of "old people" taking over college programs? I am curious about this because I am not familiar with this phenomenon and would like to know more about it.
Georgia.
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Post by AuguryMarch »

I just want to clear things up about my affective state (given that I am said first poster)

I was not having a bad day. For that matter, I may have come off as "angry and upset", but I was pretty deliberative in coming to the point of posting (its subject was something discussed among myself and several friends for some time). I agree with the criticisms of some that comparing Fall and Regionals may not have been valid, however, my core point is still quite valid.

My core point being that the basic values and direction of TRASH is something that is never discussed openly with the community as a whole. In that sense, they are elitist. Moreover, some of the criticisms about insularity, age, and difficulty apply more to TRASH than ACF despite stereotypes that persist. I'm not asking that TRASH people be less happy or complain more; I'm just suggesting that the preponderance of ACF criticism of a certain type speaks to the prejudices of many (regardless, I might add, if Mike Sorice is indeed an asshole).

Furthermore, the issue about whether TRASH is more "pop" or "cult" seems like it should be something that the community should have some opinion on. So why not discuss it openly? Same goes for pyramidality. I am glad to see the fruits of the other threads bringing some of these points across.

Regarding the kinds of players that compete on TRASH.. just because anyone can play does not mean that the community of TRASH is not insular. Anyone can walk into an orthodox synagogue too (provided you are willing to split along gender lines), but I wouldn't call that an open community.

If TRASH wants criticism, then why doesn't it want them vetted out? Why can't people have a statement of what TRASH as an organization believes in, in terms of question content, philosophy, etc.? Even NAQT, whose debates often resound only within its Jedi Council (see, I too like pop culture) offers glimpses into their motivations and philosophy. I think TRASH owes the community the same.
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Post by cdbarker »

Matt Weiner wrote:
cdbarker wrote:Matt, could you please cite specific examples of "old people" taking over college programs? I am curious about this because I am not familiar with this phenomenon and would like to know more about it.
Georgia.
So, one program a trend makes? Georgia's case is an unfortunate example, but it also shows the importance of letting all players in a program experience the range of formats and make a fair and informed decision as to what format(s) they like the best and want to play.

I would also like to point out for the one case of an "old person" taking over a program in this manner, there are dozens of us "old people" working to help to continue to make the circuit better, whether through writing, coaching, or volunteering our time as readers and editors for tournaments. The circuit obviously would continue without the "old people", but I like to think that those of us who have gone before continue to do our part to help out because we love the game and also want to make it better.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Now, you know I don't have a problem with chronological elder statesmen helping out or playing. I mean people who are not students or barely students hijacking a program's resources and completely killing its participation in academic events in order to divert money to bring themselves and their trash buddies to trash events.

Overall, you're right, it's not a major problem. But the temptation wouldn't be there if TRASH wasn't so overwhelmingly skewed away from college-aged people. As stated in other threads, the great irony here is that there is a demand, even among ACF partisans, for well-written trash tournaments aimed at college players, and TRASH is failing to meet that demand, out of both inability and unwillingness to do so.
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Post by cdbarker »

Matt Weiner wrote:Now, you know I don't have a problem with chronological elder statesmen helping out or playing. I mean people who are not students or barely students hijacking a program's resources and completely killing its participation in academic events in order to divert money to bring themselves and their trash buddies to trash events.
Matt, yes, I likely knew that, but I wanted to make sure we were on the same page. And in the specific case you cite, yes, if true, then that is wrong and should not be stood for by any program. I'd also like to think that by your citation of this issue, it will hopefully prevent this from happening in the future.

(edited for clarification.)
Last edited by cdbarker on Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by NoahMinkCHS »

Matt,

I appreciate what appears to be your sincere concern for the well-being of our program, a concern you share on this board at least, what, twice a semester? But as an actual young'un playing in the program, and one of only a couple such persons who are active members of this board (and has been for about three and a half years), I feel I'm somewhat qualified to comment.

So, it's too bad you didn't ask me, or one of the two dozen or so undergrad players (not kidding) about the demise of the Georgia program. You'd hear a different story from the one you've been telling.

I'm not sure exactly what you're alluding to by "hijacking a program's resources and completely killing its participation in academic events in order to divert money to bring themselves and their trash buddies to trash events." I haven't seen our finances, I'll be honest, but I think the general sentiment is we compete in as many academic events as we care to. We did NAQT Regionals last year and did OK (despite lacking our best player) and I would not have been surprised if we had attended ACF Fall this year, as there was some interest. So why didn't we? Was it the big bad TRASH geezers stealing our money? Nah... it was the same weeked as our biggest home football game of the year and it would have been nearly impossible to put together a team under those circumstances. (A couple UGA-related groups DID go to TRASH Regionals, as I understand it, and I don't know who paid [though I doubt the college team did]. That's their call as individuals, though, and -- as far as I know -- has no bearing on what our core team does.)

As far as old barely-students destroying our program? I don't see it. We have, maybe, one guy who fits your criteria (as far as being older than most collegians and not being a full-time student), and it's not like he's much older than you are. And yeah, he's pretty much in charge of things. Do we youngsters agree with every single thing he does? Of course not -- what leader pleases everyone all the time? But we usually do. Personally, I'm glad we have someone with the experience and the desire to help run our program. I doubt we'd host as many events as we do if he didn't spearhead things, and there would be a steep learning curve if only our active playing undergrad members had to run everything. Could we do it? I'm sure... but, with the current situation, there's less work for everyone, and fewer wrinkles to smooth out (there are still some, of course!).

I don't know where you're getting your information, but I think the fact that we have something like 15 to 20 players we didn't have last year -- and who are still around in November -- speaks volumes about the direction of our program. If you (or anyone else) have any more questions, I'd love to answer them in this forum or by e-mail. Let me know before you post any more of these oft-repeated, seldom-researched allegations.
Last edited by NoahMinkCHS on Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Until you actually play in a tournament, you have 0 "players." You may have 24 people who are interested in playing academic events, but your team's propensity to not attend such events will surely drive them away if Robin doesn't kick them off the team for not liking trash first. The fact that you think "we went to NAQT last year and nothing else" is an argument in favor of your claim of a vibrant program, rather than my claim of a program far declined from its former state of frequent attendance at academic events, says something.

Also, please tell us about losing school funding because you let a non-student run your program.
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Post by wd4gdz »

Noah (or anyone else affiliated with UGA),

I was just curious...how many academic tournaments has UGA been to this year (that weren't held on the UGA campus, that is)?

Thanks,
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Post by ugadawg »

Matt - thanks again for your concern. Would you believe that I'm in charge of the team this year? I guess being a grad student qualifies me as an "old person" despite the fact that I'm only 21. But you've never been much of one for facts when an agenda is at stake, so why start now?

When I say I am in charge, I mean just that - I run practice, set agendas, administrate the team and manage finance. Unfortunately, as a full-time student and newlywed who also works 25 hours a week and goes to a football game every weekend in the fall (regardless of where said game may be), my time is a little crunched - luckily, I have a willing and knowledgable resource in Robin who can shoulder some of the burden. In fact, were it not for his willingness and connections at Cedar Shoals HS it is doubtful that we would be able to facilitate so many HS tournaments, something which we feel is very important as a flagship university.

Football hampers much of our fall tournament schedule, and frankly most of the available weekends are spent hosting. Because of that we don't compete much. If a group from UGA wants to go to TRASH or anywhere else for that matter, be they students, alums or neither, that's no problem here and hardly anyone else's business. Is it really a bad thing for current and former players to get together for such circumstances? Off the top of my head, UGA has only been to one tournament period this semester because of these circumstances (to answer Billy's question).

Yes, the funding situation is unfortunate, but we will be ok. If anything it gives us an excuse to host more events as fund-raisers, plus we have previously received generous gifts from various organzations and departments within the university in the past and will likely again.

And Matt, please let me know who was kicked off the team. Feel free to email me if you want to keep it confidential. I have a feeling you're getting some bad info, but I really do want to know what you're talking about. For the record, not only have Robin or I or anyone else never kicked anyone off the team, but if it had happened, don't you think I would know about it? I guess if you repeat it enough, it becomes true, right?

This is not a flame, but a very puzzled inquiry/apologetic.

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Post by Matt Weiner »

Didn't we go over this when it came up the first time? Robin says "people were asked to leave" because they didn't "see eye to eye" with the rest of the team. I think we all know what that means in context. Someone didn't like the fact that the Georgia program doesn't actually attend academic quizbowl events anymore and that was just too much for you guys to bear. Yeah, hosting high school tournaments is great, but somehow other schools--even schools with football teams--manage to both host high school tournaments and attend college tournaments.

All this indignant defense of the "Georgia program" is pretty weird given that an outside observer would conclude that there is no Georgia program. The reason I'm so invested in it is that Robin threw a fit when I suggested that hosting "hybrid tournaments," tournaments on resort islands, and other such nonsense was not only a bad idea in itself but a radical reorientation of the team which he, as a no-longer-student, had no real right to impose. He grandly proclaimed that I was in error and he was still a student. When I later found out that, according to the University of Georgia administration, I had been right and Robin had been less than honest (although his not-really-a-student status hadn't kept him from playing in that one NAQT tournament you went to, ahem) I was less than happy at someone's attempt to discredit me by posting in a less than honest manner.

Also, regardless of all the back and forth about football or high school tournaments or who is running what, the fact remains that Georgia used to be a frequent and competitive presence at academic events, and now isn't, despite what you claim is a massive increase in your pool of available players. That just isn't good.
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Post by UFeng »

Didn't we go over this when it came up the first time?
Yes, and now you're rehashing it Matt.
All this indignant defense of the "Georgia program" is pretty weird given that an outside observer would conclude that there is no Georgia program.
They're indignant because like they said, its a twice a semester occurance that Matt Weiner decides to get out his UGA bashing stick. You've made your point in the past, its been discussed in this forum and the Yahoo board, we GET IT! EVERYONE KNOWS YOU DONT LIKE ROBIN! Good for you.

I bug Robin aplenty, but between seeing him at a tournament and seeing you and your holier than thou, I know exactly how every format should be run attitude, I'll take Robin any day of the week. And between being in an organization run by you or him that's an even easier choice.

Now, next weekend when I see Robin, I'll speak to him about encouraging UGA to come to SSI next semester. See, that's called doing something constructive.

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Post by wd4gdz »

If Napier is defending Robin, the Apocalypse must be near.
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Post by Howard »

Matt Weiner wrote:I can see from the post and the comments what TRASH really thinks about anyone who dissaproves of their questions. This whole post reminds me of talking to Republicans. "Why are you so angry" is just a way of sidestepping complaint by implying that there is something wrong with anyone who would complain. "We don't discourage feedback, but here's a long diatribe against anyone who would issue feedback" is also a great rhetorical trick; anyone who takes issue with the characterization of TRASH critics as angry nitpickers can just be pointed to the part where he says that TRASH doesn't think that instead of being given an actual explanation of why it does.
I saw the original post not quite the same way. To me it seemed little more than a rebuttal of several criticisms they found to be not true. I'm not really in much of a position to take sides on the overall issue of TRASH, how it's run, and the quality of its questions, but I did notice the lack of inclusion of other criticisms that have been made. I think all they're asking is that if criticisms are made, that they be valid. While it's obvious there's disagreement on the validity or focus of some of the criticisms in question, these are items which can be discussed and explained further, as has partially happened already above.
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Post by cdbarker »

cdbarker wrote: So, one program a trend makes? Georgia's case is an unfortunate example, but it also shows the importance of letting all players in a program experience the range of formats and make a fair and informed decision as to what format(s) they like the best and want to play.
It has been brought to my attention that there are people who feel that my statement was unfair. I apologize for any misstatement or misunderstanding, I should have said "If true, Georgia's case is an unfortunate example."

My failure to qualify the statement is my own personal mistake and mine alone. Thank you for your time.
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Post by ugadawg »

Matt Weiner wrote:Didn't we go over this when it came up the first time? Robin says "people were asked to leave" because they didn't "see eye to eye" with the rest of the team. I think we all know what that means in context.
The problem with that statement is that it never happened. Again, until you can present any proof other than some quotation marks, it appears that your pet complaint about the UGA program is nothing more than something you created. I mean, c'mon Matt, how stupid would somebody have to be to do something like that? We may go to a southern public university, but we at least know enough to not do something that blatant (We also know how to count to four, unlike Reggie Ball).

As for Mr. Napier's post, the fact that Matt Weiner can unite Dawgs and Gators in opposition to his own bombast speaks for itself.
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Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox »

Matt Weiner wrote:TRASH isn't going to change. They're more interested in providing old-person questions for their old-person audience than in finding out what college-aged players know or what style of questions they prefer. Which is fine; if old people want to play bad questions, then they ought to be able to do so, and I suppose it's better for TRASH to exist and cater to that market than for said people to try to make NAQT or ACF change in their favor. I just wish those old people would stop taking over college programs, like an alien symbiote taking over Peter Parker (see? I care about trash), and that TRASH would stop being so dishonest about who its audience is, what kind of questions it produces, and what it really thinks of people who have even a slightly different conception than the TRASH leadership of what quizbowl should be.
Huh and this packet set you didn't play on happened to skew younger and piss off more old people...WHY? By the way when you criticize "old people" for taking over programs bear in mind that the bloom is going to fall off your rose any year now bub.

Seriously, you can go through virtually any of these threads on this "message board" and find elitism in all the formats. The haters just go after that they happen to like the least.
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Post by setht »

allythin wrote:By the way when you criticize "old people" for taking over programs bear in mind that the bloom is going to fall off your rose any year now bub.
I'm not sure I understand your point here. If Matt Weiner wants to criticize an old person for doing something objectionable, what difference does Matt's age make? If Matt were to become old and do objectionable things, he would be hypocritical in making such criticisms, or if he were to criticize old people for being old, he would be hypocritical, but I don't really see either of those things happening here.

On a related note, if there's only one incident in which an old person is said to have done something objectionable (and it doesn't seem clear that something objectionable did, in fact, occur), I don't think Matt's use of the phrase "I just wish those old people would stop taking over college programs" is justified. Perhaps there is such an epidemic, in which case that phrase is justified, but again, I don't really see it happening.

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Post by First Chairman »

Geez... I really ought to moderate this board better. I have no clue what is true in this thread, but obviously you all are walking the line and not sending me into "banning" mode.

As a bonafide old person, I recognize how hard it is to get the younger folks to actually take the mantle of leadership. But I also make it clear I don't try to criticize other teams' decisions when it comes to who they want as teammates or leaders. It's hard to keep an organization together, and it's difficult for those of us who work so hard to build up a team to see three to four years of effort go down the drain.

I do my best to keep the team together, to make the game fun, to encourage my kids to go to events, and to get them to do events so they can appreciate the experience. I suggest comps to attend based on how well they perform in practice, but I advise them on what they want to do otherwise. I would love to run a comp on an island retreat, and if I had people willing to do the work, hey... as long as it doesn't completely blow the budget.

But older non-students aren't destroying programs... at least those of us who are still around. For many of us, we just want to be sure the programs don't implode.
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