San Diego Academic League

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Goofy Evanescence Vine
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San Diego Academic League

Post by Goofy Evanescence Vine »

With the 2015 San Diego Academic Leauge season coming to a close in a few weeks, I think we should all take the opportunity to mock it as relentlessly as possible. The quality of questions has begun to improve slightly, but are still almost entirely terrible, and often wrong. The best strategy seems to be to memorize every question, as it will invariably appear again in the next few games. In fact, one bonus was read in all of our games but one, and all of them have been reused from last year. The only possible explanation for some things is that the questions are randomly generated and never proofread, because that is the only possible explanation for two questions on Theodore Dreiser in the same round (both using the same clue), a tossup on Thomas Mann being followed by a bonus on Thomas Mann, and this bonus:
1. What is the multiplicative identity ?
2.What is the additive identity?
which was followed on the next tossup by this bonus:
1. 1 is which identity ?
2. 0 is which identity ?
Other interesting questions include ones that say the title of Roman Emperors was Caesar, that Andrew Johnson was his own vice-president, that Nigeria is majority Muslim (which has not been true since 2009) and that Korea was partitioned in 1948 (which has never been true). Also, this was the Thomas Mann tossup:
In 1889, Mark Twain wrote about his career as a steamboat captain in Life on the Mississippi. Who wrote Death in Venice?
And these are just the terrible questions. Other problems include ties being broken by coin flip, coach written questions, and this description of moderators,
Moderators will need a sense of humor with which to control a tense
and tension-building situation. More than anyone else involved, the moderator
must be able to sense problems and anxieties and be able to put contestants at ease
without showing favoritism to one team or the other. Moderators must be
“performers” for the spectators, while at the same time representing authority to the
contestants and knowledge to everyone
just to name a few of the countless other terrible things which I will post as soon as I find a copy of the notoriously elusive rules
James Malouf
La Jolla '17
UC Berkeley '21

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Amizda Calyx
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Amizda Calyx »

These remind me of Knowledge Bowl questions, such as the one at 2009 State that insisted that the current currency of Italy was the lira.
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by cvdwightw »

This is a fine time to bump this thread and remind the younger posters of the first time we had fun at Academic League's expense.
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Goofy Evanescence Vine
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Goofy Evanescence Vine »

I just remembered another atrocity committed by the San Diego Academic League. In our final novice game of the season, against our perennial rivals Bishop's, SDAL reached new heights in question recycling. The match used the same questions, repeated verbatim, in the same order and with the same bonuses as our game the previous year. At least there are now rumors of a change to NAQT supplied questions next year and put an end to these dark ages of San Diego quizbowl.
James Malouf
La Jolla '17
UC Berkeley '21

Vito Corleone
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Vito Corleone »

While Academic League tossups are necessarily easier relative to pyramidal ones due to their one-line nature, there is a tendency towards "swerving" in questions which does not reward blitzing (several examples follow):
"A heroine tells one story each night to a king in the Arabian Nights. Name that heroine."
"The Kulturkampf was promoted by Otto von Bismarck. Which state has Bismarck as its capital?"
"The Big Dipper contains two "pointer stars" indicating the position of Polaris. Name either."
In all of these cases, the "first association" with the first words is mentioned in the question, which then goes on to either loop back to the opening pronoun or diverge entirely in its subject.
I have also heard of the proposed switch to NAQT questions, and I would fully support this change.

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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Goofy Evanescence Vine »

Vito Corleone wrote: "A heroine tells one story each night to a king in the Arabian Nights. Name that heroine."
"The Kulturkampf was promoted by Otto von Bismarck. Which state has Bismarck as its capital?"
"The Big Dipper contains two "pointer stars" indicating the position of Polaris. Name either."
My personal favorite is
San Diego Academic League wrote: When the moon is increasing in size, it is called waxing. What is it called when it is decreasing in size?
The great thing about the question reuse is that it has allowed me to neg this tossup multiple times. Some other interesting quirks include a tossup on British colonialism that only accepts "United Kingdom" and a tossup asking what country David Lloyd George was from that only accepts "England", not the United Kingdom (or Wales, for that matter).
James Malouf
La Jolla '17
UC Berkeley '21

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cchiego
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by cchiego »

The post Dwight referenced above is a classic. Also check out the Ken Jennings post that was the source of considerable embarrassment at the time to AL.

Eddie Kim and I did a pretty comprehensive breakdown of all the flaws of the AL questions here and here and here a couple of years ago. At this point, the leadership of all the leagues and ITV are well aware of pyramidal questions and why they're better. They're happy to just keep the current setup though for mostly inertial reasons (and possibly some other more interesting ones).

Only in the South Bay area was there strong enough coach support to get the questions changed a few years ago and only the coaches can get this changed in the other leagues. It's going to take more support than just the coaches of the QB regulars to make it happen (which is why it would be nice to see more outreach to these teams during the year and less "let's hold 14-16 team tournaments consisting of teams from the same schools all year long!").

Don't assume that change is going to happen just because it's being talked about. There's been much talk and little change in the past. If you know people on other AL teams, you might want to contact them to contact their coaches to ensure that A. the coaches will actually attend the league meetings (apparently at some earlier attempts many of the good QB team coaches were just not there!) and B. the coaches will push for good quizbowl (and not be content to just bring up the idea as has happened many times in the past without amounting to anything).
Chris C.
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Goofy Evanescence Vine »

I know that previous attempts at change have failed, but I am still hopeful. At least according to my coach, many of the other coaches have either realized the superiority of pyramidal quizbowl or are just fed up with Academic League's terribleness and are also trying to change the question source to NAQT. Academic League has a new commissioner(?) this year, so hopefully the new administration is more receptive to change. The number of hoses, repeats and other hallmarks of bad quizbowl seems to have increased in the last few years, and with the expansion of good quizbowl in SoCal, there is really no reason for SDAL to exist in it's current state.
James Malouf
La Jolla '17
UC Berkeley '21

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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Vito Corleone »

While we are on the subject, I found an interesting contradiction in the current Academic League rulebook:
Under "Admission Fee", the following stipulation is included:
No admission fee shall be charged for any competition of the San Diego City Academic League.
But later on, one finds the following regulation:
For a school to be eligible to compete, each coach is responsible for the following:
a. Fees. Ensuring that his/her school sends an annual $60.00 check made out to San Diego Education Fund, Account 2150, to the GATE office for Academic League prizes, awards, and moderators. Fees are due to the Gifted and Talented Education Department at Madison High School, Bungalow 6, 4833 Doliva Drive, San Diego, CA 92117 by Jan. 16, 2009. If a school’s fee is not received before the first match, its Academic League teams must forfeit each subsequent match until dues are paid.
I am curious as to how any (current or former) Academic League staff would explain this discrepancy.
Thomas Freedman
Torrey Pines '18
"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." - Keyser Soze

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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by cchiego »

The admission fee rule applies to "spectators." The $60 that the city league charges for a school to compete is actually a lot less than what some of the other leagues charge.
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Captain Sinico »

Vito Corleone wrote:While Academic League tossups are necessarily easier relative to pyramidal ones due to their one-line nature, there is a tendency towards "swerving" in questions which does not reward blitzing
For the record, these are called "hoses." A hose is a question in which the earlier parts have little or nothing to do with actual question. The reason you don't know that term is probably because it's dropped out of currency as almost nobody hears such horrid garbage these days. Someday, neither will you!
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Kyle »

Captain Sinico wrote:
Vito Corleone wrote:While Academic League tossups are necessarily easier relative to pyramidal ones due to their one-line nature, there is a tendency towards "swerving" in questions which does not reward blitzing
For the record, these are called "hoses." A hose is a question in which the earlier parts have little or nothing to do with actual question. The reason you don't know that term is probably because it's dropped out of currency as almost nobody hears such horrid garbage these days. Someday, neither will you!
"Swerve" is actually the British word for "hose."
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Captain Sinico »

Whatever makes you wacky Epicurians happy, I guess!
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Red Panda Cub »

Kyle wrote:
Captain Sinico wrote:
Vito Corleone wrote:While Academic League tossups are necessarily easier relative to pyramidal ones due to their one-line nature, there is a tendency towards "swerving" in questions which does not reward blitzing
For the record, these are called "hoses." A hose is a question in which the earlier parts have little or nothing to do with actual question. The reason you don't know that term is probably because it's dropped out of currency as almost nobody hears such horrid garbage these days. Someday, neither will you!
"Swerve" is actually the British word for "hose."
Hose has become the predominating term on the student quizbowl circuit. I don't know what the older people who sometimes play quizbowl call them nowadays, though.

Edit: It might have been unclear initially, but this post was meant to describe the state of the quizbowl lexicon in Britain.
Last edited by Red Panda Cub on Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Deviant Insider »

Old people call them hoses.
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage »

Biff shows Happy a rolled-up hose he found in the cellar, while Willy Loman swerves off the highway intentionally to crash and provide his family life insurance money in Death of a Salesman. For 10 points, who wrote Life on the Mississipi?
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Kyle »

For what it's worth, I successfully enlisted Edmund's help to prove to Joey that British quizbowl vocabulary was different before I adulterated it. Here's the evidence:
2009 Oxford University Quiz Society 'Quiz About Quiz' wrote: It is beloved of University Challenge question setters, but even more so of Quiz About Quiz question setters, as an example even caught out Ian Bayley in 1999. This type of question is often called a "hose" or "angle" question in the US, as the desired answer angles away from the question! Spell "swerve question."

answer: S-W-E-R-V-E Q-U-E-S-T-I-O-N
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Captain Sinico »

Angle! Now that's a new one to me.
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by Vito Corleone »

Updating the list of SDAL flops, a new champion for "Best Hose":
What pressure is present when water diffuses| in plant cells?
| represents my buzz of "osmotic pressure"; for the record, the answerline gave "turgor pressure". The question was deemed "not protestable" by our coach.
Anyone's thoughts on the uniquely identified answer based on the first clue or the question in general would be appreciated.
Thomas Freedman
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Re: San Diego Academic League

Post by cchiego »

Thanks to the tireless efforts of coaches and players who stood up for good quizbowl, the City League (where La Jolla plays) has now switched to NAQT questions. This is a good reminder to people around the country that positive change can come to even the seemingly most entrenched leagues with enough effort and a little luck.

Bask in the glory of good quizbowl results (and a more standard scoring system than the old AL system). I would encourage all good quizbowl advocates in the San Diego area to redouble their efforts at recruiting these newfound pyramidal-playing schools to weekend tournaments and aiding them in developing their teams next year, following the model of Rancho Bernardo's Bronco Bowl in having separate novice and varsity divisions.

That's two San Diego leagues down and two to go, plus the county playoffs. Ironically (or perhaps not?), the one league with the largest number of regular pyramidal teams (North County) still uses non-pyramidal questions.
Chris C.
UGA '09, UCSD '12, UPenn '19
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