High School Quizbowl and You

A place to discuss topics affecting quizbowlers as a community rather than quizbowl as a game.
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Sylvia Pankhurst
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High School Quizbowl and You

Post by Sylvia Pankhurst » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:50 pm

Once upon a time I was a high school senior who went to a Chicago practice. While I was there, I made a really dumb neg and was immediately yelled at for acting like a moron. Now, while this was said in what was, in retrospect, a friendly tone, I was completely intimidated, decided to never buzz again, and almost ran out of the room in tears. This was someone who had previously only moderated for me, and even though we were in a friendly environment, I still saw him as an authority figure. Now, I was much more sensitive than I hope most current high schoolers are, but I wanted to open this post with that anecdote because I don’t think we talk enough about the effect that the culture of celebrity that exists around the best college players implies for their interactions with high schoolers, both online and in person.

College/Open Players in High School Spaces
HSNCT happened recently, and since then there has been a stream of college players offering public, unsolicited advice on Discord to those who competed. This eventually devolved into grad students berating high schoolers for their aggressive play styles, and repeatedly informing them that they should have negged less. First and foremost, high schoolers are not your peers. You cannot and should not address them as you would someone who you had recently played against at ICT or Nats, as they are children and you are an adult.* Getting advice from a better player can be a fantastic way to improve! And I know you probably think that you’re helping them, but if they want your advice, they’ll ask for it. With the forums and the “Wholesome Wednesday” advice posts on the meme page, getting public advice from those with more experience than you is now easier than ever.

I don’t want this post to come across as me saying that older players can never be friends with high schoolers, or should never talk to them, as that’s ridiculous. But the goal should be making sure that our actions are those which would encourage high schoolers to want to continue playing in college, and I cannot imagine how what is happening at the moment would accomplish this goal.

High School Nationals are a high school space. This should go without saying. While it’s fun to get to see those who you otherwise only see at collegiate nats in a significantly lower pressure environment, (staffing vs playing), I have trouble putting into words how inappropriate I find openly drinking in front of high schoolers at the side events which take place at these national tournaments. It does not matter that side events are more informal than the main tournament of the weekend. You are still an authority figure. Act like one. Save the alcohol for after the event has ended and you can hang out with other staffers in a hotel room.

Additionally, if you are an older man, please think twice about sliding into the DM’s of a high schooler. While it’s understood that you probably mean no harm and just want to congratulate them on a great buzz you saw them make or offer help with a problem they’ve posted about publicly, when you do more than that, it can come off as slightly creepy. When I first began getting friend requests from players that I had heard of, my reaction was always along the lines of “OMG I can’t believe [whoever] knows my name!!!!” One off messages every now and then are fine, but attitudes like that can be incredibly easy to manipulate, and it can be really hard to tell someone you’ve looked up to for years that they’re making you uncomfortable, if they are.

High School Players In College/Open Spaces
Recently, there have been more and more high schoolers who have started to play Chicago Open and other summer open tournaments, which is really exciting. This does mean, however, that the behavior of older players should probably reflect that. Honestly, I’m genuinely conflicted about this. As it is a college/open space, I don’t think the same rules should apply, and drinking during a side event at an open tournament in front of a high schooler is nowhere near as problematic as doing the same thing at a high school national. I’m not sure exactly where the line is, though. There are absolutely still things that should be reserved for 18+ spaces, and I wonder where the community thinks that line should be drawn.

If you’ve ever been on one of the College top 25 players poll, regardless of how you think of yourself, you’re a role model. There are so many people whose names and nats finishes I knew of years before we ever spoke in person, and that can create a really weird power dynamic which I don’t think people are as aware of as they should be. When you’re talking to people after high school nationals, you’re talking to people who probably look up to you. Please keep that in mind and act in a way that you want people younger than you to emulate.

*And, honestly, even when you are talking to a peer this kind of endless unsolicited advice is almost never helpful, and is usually just a way to feed your own ego.
Lauren Onel
she/her/hers
UC Lab 2016
Kenyon 2020

WINNER -- 2017 ILQBM MEME OF THE YEAR

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Ndg
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Re: High School Quizbowl and You

Post by Ndg » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:32 pm

Sylvia Pankhurst wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:50 pm
While it’s fun to get to see those who you otherwise only see at collegiate nats in a significantly lower pressure environment, (staffing vs playing), I have trouble putting into words how inappropriate I find openly drinking in front of high schoolers at the side events which take place at these national tournaments. It does not matter that side events are more informal than the main tournament of the weekend. You are still an authority figure. Act like one. Save the alcohol for after the event has ended and you can hang out with other staffers in a hotel room.
Does NAQT have any policies regarding consuming or possessing alcohol in NAQT game rooms? Seeing as that's where side events usually happen. I would hate to see NAQT be held liable for any kind of alcohol-related incident.

Understand that I'm not suggesting that NAQT is solely or even primarily responsible for addressing this or any of the issues in Lauren's post, merely that such policies would be a good idea (or should be more widely known if they exist).
Andrew Nadig

Mannhiem Mannheim Manheim Township, 2005-11
Carnegie Mellon University, 2011-15

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Aaron's Rod
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Re: High School Quizbowl and You

Post by Aaron's Rod » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:49 pm

Ndg wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:32 pm
Sylvia Pankhurst wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:50 pm
While it’s fun to get to see those who you otherwise only see at collegiate nats in a significantly lower pressure environment, (staffing vs playing), I have trouble putting into words how inappropriate I find openly drinking in front of high schoolers at the side events which take place at these national tournaments. It does not matter that side events are more informal than the main tournament of the weekend. You are still an authority figure. Act like one. Save the alcohol for after the event has ended and you can hang out with other staffers in a hotel room.
Does NAQT have any policies regarding consuming or possessing alcohol in NAQT game rooms? Seeing as that's where side events usually happen. I would hate to see NAQT be held liable for any kind of alcohol-related incident.

Understand that I'm not suggesting that NAQT is solely or even primarily responsible for addressing this or any of the issues in Lauren's post, merely that such policies would be a good idea (or should be more widely known if they exist).
NAQT's updated staffer agreement says:
NAQT wrote: I agree to act in a professional manner while discharging my official duties and when unofficially interacting with or talking about tournament participants before, during, and after the event. Acting in a professional manner includes creating a safe, welcoming, and respectful environment. In addition to acting professionally myself, I will promptly report unprofessional actions by staff members and tournament participants to the tournament director (or his designee).
The side event policy is (rightfully!) very hands-off and mostly discusses the use of space and buzzers.

(I am personally of the opinion that behaviors that don't otherwise violate the staffer agreement should be an issue of cultural/community norms and not actual policy, given that I think NAQT is right to release itself from things that happen during side events. If you had issues with the way a specific staffer behaved, I'm sure NAQT would appreciate it if you brought it to their attention in the usual way.)
Alex D.
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Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant
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Re: High School Quizbowl and You

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:37 pm

I have to admit I was pretty mortified when I realised a nationals side event I was reading for a couple years ago that had alcohol present and a general adult-ish atmosphere had at least one team of high schoolers with a coach (I guess) in tow. They left early.
Farrah Bilimoria
Formerly of Georgia Tech and Central High School (Macon)

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Re: High School Quizbowl and You

Post by Here Comes Rusev Day » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:55 pm

I’m sort of surprised the open consumption of alcohol during a side event at a high school national, in front of high schoolers, wasn’t shot down more or directly addressed before Lauren’s post (Maybe it was, just that people seem to find hypotheticals or what-ifs for a situation that shouldn’t have to get so far). I work in tournament sales in the golf industry. Our policy for junior tournaments is to explicitly prohibit the sale of alcohol to bring on the course because there have been some really bad incidents as a result (Like HSNCT, this is a competition for younger players). There are specific establishments on-site or off-site to do this as Lauren has stated in her original post. HSNCT is a time for some of the most brilliant high schoolers to shine, and it should not be sullied by something as stupid as a staffer refusing to use their best judgement or common sense at a side event with no stakes whatsoever.
Zach Foster
North Myrtle Beach High School '09
George Mason University '13
University of Central Florida '15

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