This post is something I discussed with Mike at NSC a bit and I'm pleased to see him bringing it up here on the forums. Two points that I'd like to add on to this:
Finding their specific motivation could help with a targeted approach.
I fully agree and want to emphasize how important local knowledge is to outreach. You need to get a good sense of the often very complicated history of the area and figure out who the key players are. Then, you do have to try to run things through the "official" channels for change--it sounds fun to just throw bombs from the sidelines, but you need to show up to league meetings, figure out exactly what the specific local objections are, figure out what coaches are the ones most respected and/or open to change, etc. to have a shot at changing them usually.
helping them to maintain a fiscal benefit [emphasis added] through showing how to run and organize good tournaments.
I've encountered a fair number of people now in various bureaucracies who oppose change because it directly affects their bottom line--sometimes up to thousands of dollars that they award themselves and their friends for protecting/creating bad quizbowl that otherwise could go to purchasing good questions or get invested back into the game with scholarships or trophies. This is the hardest bad quizbowl person to deal with since they have every incentive to keep the current setup and to try to shut down any attempts to change. I'm not sure of the best approach in these cases--perhaps this is one of those rare times where coordinated public action might be necessary.
Mike wrote:Maybe by working with them to improve question quality (ie. eliminating hoses from speed checks)
Ah, now this is the tough one. There are many, many people out there in bad quizbowl land who seem inherently opposed to 3+ line questions and who argue that in the vast majority of cases for their local league/show/whatever, the additional clues aren't helpful and just confusing. While I'd strongly disagree, I do think that well-written speedcheck quizbowl is much, much better than bad quizbowl and more likely to result in teams attending pyramidal tournaments. Plus, once the league/show teams agree to pyramidalish speedchecks, it might be easier to then get them to go to longer questions since they'd accept the basic principles and see how things panned out.
While of course I think that 3-4 line questions (at least IS-A level) are superior, if you can dislodge Academic [sic] Hallmarks or Questions [Hoses] Galore or whatever badly written local stuff from TV or the league, then you have a good shot at converting the teams to good quizbowl and make the TV/league experience much, much better for the students.
But this leads to another problem--there's almost nobody out there producing non-hose, quasi-pyramidal (3-4 clues in descending order of difficulty) questions except for NAQT with its speedcheck and TV series. Anytime these get brought up in the forums or IRC, it's usually someone yelling at how insufficiently pure NAQT's commitment to good quizbowl is because they produce these sets. It is my impression also that many of these leagues/TV shows want pristine questions, so it's hard for NAQT to produce enough of those sets at a low enough price point compared to the bad QB questions (many of which seem to be recycled from year to year).
Now is it worth producing more "Good Quizbowl Lite" sets and reaching out to bad QB leagues/TV shows to see if they'd want those kinds of questions? Is it worth it for good quizbowl advocates to explicitly point to NAQT speedcheck series as options for bad QB leagues they're trying to change? I'm not sure--I lean towards "no," mostly because I doubt that the lack of change is really due to the length of questions and not just inertia or something else, but I'd be open to seeing more evidence that it really just is the perception of long questions that's keeping them from implementing good quizbowl.
Current: Central Coast CA