Why Do Tournaments Start So Early?

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Mike Bentley
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Why Do Tournaments Start So Early?

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:24 pm

After hearing tales of how little sleep some of my teammates (and people on other teams) got for PARFAIT yesterday, it got me thinking as to why tournaments start so early.

Now, early is clearly a relative term. If you have a full time job, getting up at 6 AM can be a pretty regular thing. But for most college students, I imagine that the usual wakeup time is at least 9 AM, if not much later for some people.

So, my proposal is: Why not just shift the starting time of tournaments later?

Mild: 10:00 AM Start - Gives people some extra sleep in the morning, but won't really change too much. Most teams that were planning on driving home at night should be unaffected, but it may make it more feasible for some on the border to drive up the day of and thus save money on a hotel.

Moderate: 11:00 AM Start - Makes it more reasonable for schools from far away to get an early start, but makes it much harder for them to get home in one night. I think this could be optimal for schools in the 2-2.5 hour driving range, as it means that they can sleep in until something like 8:30, which is a pretty reasonable hour.

Extreme: 12:00 PM Start - Makes it feasible for just about every team coming to a tournament to drive up the morning of the tournament. Closer teams can get an almost normal sleep schedule. But it also makes it difficult for a lot of schools, even those in the 2-3 hour range, to get home after the tournament.

Another thing to worry about when you start later is a dinner break. For the 11 and 12 starts, it may be a good idea to not do any breakfast, and engineer the dinner schedule so that it coincides with the playoff break to save time.
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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:46 pm

As a very late sleeper, I endorse the above post. I've staggered through way too many tournaments after too little sleep.

But I doubt anything will change. Considering that people leaving early to get home at a decent hour seems to have become a major problem as of late, bumping back tournament start times will only make that worse. I guess we're stuck with going to bed earlier (ha) or serially drinking Red Bulls.

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Post by kactigger » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:17 pm

I have the exact opposite reaction: I wish tournaments would start earlier. 9 am seems to me to be the absolute latest a tournament should start. I have to admit this opinion is colored by the fact of driving to so many Chattanooga tournaments from central Florida, so we had to drive up the night before. Steinhice rarely started before 10:30, so it would often be 6 or 7 am Sunday before we would get home after driving back after the tournament- no fun.
I also think that the poster being from Maryland really misleads his understanding of quizbowl driving distances. While in the mid-Atlantic most tournaments aren't very far away, in other parts of the country a 5-8 hour drive is normal to get to a tournament.
12:00 PM Start - Makes it feasible for just about every team coming to a tournament to drive up the morning of the tournament.
This is simply not true in the southeast and in parts of the midwest.

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Post by Lapego1 » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:18 pm

I understand the merits of starting later for those driving in (in most cases the majority), but what about those that don't drive? For teams coming in by train (e.g. us and others for PARFAIT), we are limited by the schedule of trains, which stop running after a certain time in the evening.

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Post by Strongside » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:33 pm

The thing about tournament starting times, is that there is usually no realistic way to appease all teams in terms of tournament start times at most meets.

One thing that might be good, is if the tournament director would e-mail the teams before the meet and ask would what be the best starting time for them. If there is a strong consensus, then the tournament director could use that to set the starting time.
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Post by cvdwightw » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:42 pm

If tournaments ran on time, I would have no problem with a tournament starting later. But they don't. UCI now makes efforts by the driver of road trips to inform the TD prior to the tournament, and any associated staff of importance at the tournament, that we will not continue to play past about 7 PM, because we have a 6+ hour drive home and none of us feel comfortable driving in the wee hours of the morning. At 35 minutes a round with an hour for lunch, a tournament starting at 10:00 can get in 13 rounds + a decent awards ceremony and be done by 7:00. To put this in perspective, WIT started around that time, and we informed Paul at about 3:30 when we were waiting for re-seed results that there wasn't any way we could get the remaining 6 rounds done by 7:00 and were going to take off after the first reseed round robin; thus the tournament ended after round 10 at approximately 5:40, and awards went till about 6.

From what I understand, the West, Southwest, and to a smaller extent the Southeast and Midwest are dependent upon teams making a 5+ hour drive to and from the tournament in order to have a decent-sized field. In addition, the mid-Atlantic and Northeast circuits are somewhat dependent on non-automobile transportation for their tournament fields. Teams who either have long distances to drive back or trains to catch should inform the tournament director in advance of the latest time they feel (for either safety or train-scheduling reasons) they would be able to leave, and the tournament directors should take this into account when deciding the start time and schedule of tournaments.

In conclusion, the ending time of a tournament (determined by the travel constraints of the participating teams) should determine the schedule and starting time of the tournament. In my ideal world, tournaments would start at 10:00, have 12-14 rounds, and end by 7:00. I think this is a feasible goal if people make an effort to (a) show up on time (i.e. at like 9:30-9:45 to handle registration) and (b) keep rounds cut to 35 minutes. Since for whatever reasons neither (a) nor (b) happen regularly, starting earlier seems a better option to me than ending later or cutting down the number of rounds.

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Post by Bigfoot isn't the pr » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:47 pm

For the most part, I don't mind getting up that early. Having said that, the three/four earliest times I have gotten up in the last four months have been because of QB/TRASH tournaments. Now, having said that, I would prefer to have my weekend nights compared to my weekend mornings. I guess it really comes down the fact that I would rather have my saturday nights and I am willing to give up a few hours of sleep to have QB tournaments and an enjoyable saturday/sunday evening.
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Post by pray for elves » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:09 am

I've found that it's sometimes hard to secure rooms on our campus too late into the evening, so that's another factor to consider with start times.

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Post by vandyhawk » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:37 am

I think what seems to be the currently acceptable window of starting between 9:00 and 10:00 is pretty much the only way to go. Any time before 9:00 (hint to NAQT) is just way too early, especially for teams on the edge of being able to drive in the morning of vs. the night before. If you start after 10:00, which certainly fits the schedule of a typical college student much better, you're looking at finishing too late, which will make people leave early or have dangerous drives home. I like 9:30 myself, since that's about as much of a compromise as you can make either way. It's pretty much a given that you're going to be exhausted after a tournament, and it's just kind of part of the experience I guess.

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Post by First Chairman » Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:43 am

If you all don't mind ending a tournament at 10pm, I'd be happy to start an event after lunch. :razz:
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