Each state will be presented in the following manner:
State Name: 2017 grade, (2015 grade, with whether or not it rose or fell)
The basis for these grades remain the following three criteria, graded on a curve in terms of that area's potential (that is, the more people and schools that you have in your state, the higher number of teams you should have relative to states with fewer schools and smaller populations):
Breadth of Good Quizbowl
How many places across the state are running good quizbowl tournaments and competitions? Are all the major metro areas included? Are there rural schools participating or just metro schools? Are only a few areas active or is pretty much the entire state active? Could a new team get to a good quizbowl tournament in only a few hours drive or would every trip be basically an overnight all-day drive? Are there many AUK and NAC or other bad quizbowl-only participants that crowd out good quizbowl teams and tournaments?
Depth of Good Quizbowl
In the areas with quizbowl, how many teams compete in it? Is it just a handful of teams out of many possible schools or do pretty much all the major schools in the area participate? Are tournaments large with many teams and good quizbowl scheduling practices or are they small and single-elimination (or entirely double-elimination?)? Do schools normally just play one or two tournaments or do they play multiple tournaments over the year along with nationals?
Institutional Support or Opposition (including state championships)
Is there an official state organization that coordinates quizbowl and does that state organization support good quizbowl? Are there resources available for new teams to help build themselves and assistance for coaches (like a coach's association)? Does the state championship (and any local/regional championships) use good quizbowl questions and practices or bad? Is there a lot of AUK or NAC participation or leagues that use bad quizbowl questions and practices? Even if only good quizbowl is present in a state, a lack of institutional strength can be a negative.
The grades are NOT based on how highly-ranked the teams from a given state are in terms of quizbowl playing prowess; there are other rankings for ranking teams based on quizbowl skill and results. Instead, this post is designed to reward and recognize states that adopt good quizbowl practices and get more teams involved in playing quizbowl. There are 36,000+ secondary schools in the United States and only a small fraction of those have quizbowl teams. We need to be pushing for a world where quizbowl is as common an activity as debate, science fair, or football.
Rough Grading Rubric
A: Almost entirely good quizbowl tournaments; many teams from multiple areas around a state participate in those tournaments; a solid state organization (or confederation of local organizations) that supports good quizbowl and ensures a good state championship tournament
B: Mostly good quizbowl tournaments; some areas of bad quizbowl or a major lack of quizbowl; state organization is usually good, but may have some issues or the good quizbowl state championship may not attract that many teams
C: Some areas of good quizbowl, but often competes against bad quizbowl leagues or organizations; state organization is lacking in organization or indifferent to good quizbowl; may lack teams and competitions in many areas around the states.
D: Mostly bad-quizbowl tournaments and organizations, though perhaps without actively restricting participation good quizbowl tournaments. Also a lack of or near-complete lack of tournaments whether good or bad quizbowl
F: Active bad-quizbowl organizations that severely restrict and/or oppose good quizbowl participation to the point where there are no good quizbowl tournaments even offered. There may be one or two teams who want to play pyramidal in these states, but they are drowned out by the rest of the state and may face extremely long distances if they wanted to attend pyramidal tournaments.
Note that History Bowl and other single-subject tournaments are disregarded here--this is a ranking for all-subject quizbowl. This is also for high school quizbowl, not middle school or college, though the presence of college hosts for high school tournaments in an area is often a major part of the quizbowl circuit in an area.
I have gathered what information I could through Googling and other searches, but I am sure I missed some places. I am especially interested in information on states where there seems to be little quizbowl activity, good or bad, and areas where there may be local leagues that don't show up well on internet searches. Please feel free to post below if there's anything egregious I missed or if you have information on people in quizbowl-deficient states hoping to change.
Alabama: A- (down from A)
Alabama continues to sport a model state organization and plenty of pyramidal tournaments, but the growth of good quizbowl has slackened a bit and it still hasn't fully penetrated some tough areas in South Alabama and in some of the rural areas of the state (though AL does a much better job than the vast majority of states in rural participation). There's also an oddly stubborn contingent of NAC teams that seems to be growing in their resistance to true pyramidal quizbowl for reasons that remain unclear (there's not much of an excuse for choosing NAC over HSNCT when HSNCT is a 2-3 hour drive away in Atlanta). The debut of a good quizbowl TV show for the state is a positive sign and hopefully there can be some more progress within the major cities in the state as well as South AL to complement the strength of the circuit elsewhere.
Alaska: D- (no change)
A close reading of Alaska school websites reveals that extra-curricular activities are strongly encouraged with a number of activity coordinators at many schools in the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas. Unfortunately, quizbowl does not seem to be on the list, though the "Battle of the Books" and "Science Olympiad" as well as a few AcaDecteams (though still fairly rare) suggest that academic competition in general is not unheard of here. If any residents of the North Star state stumble across this, we'd love to help Alaska build a quizbowl circuit.
Arizona: C (no change)
Arizona doesn't suffer from a lack of tournaments--the Arizona Quizbowl Association runs plenty of pyramidal tournaments each year in the Phoenix area--but the field sizes are relatively tiny. The rise of some suburban tournaments is positive, but many of the teams in the West Valley League and the Moon Valley tournament don't seem to attend the AQA tournaments. There's still a huge amount of Sonoran State untouched by quizbowl, with Tuscon and Yuma both strongholds of AcaDec and some Knowledge Bowl going strong out in the far Central-East area. Somewhat worrying, the expansion to Flagstaff a few years ago didn't seem to last, as Flagstaff HS didn't attend any tournaments last year.
Arkansas: F (no change)
Arkansas has sunk deeper into a quizbowl hermit state with only one Arkansas team participating in any pyramidal national championship in 2017, a noticeable decline from 2016. You can count on one hand the number of times Arkansas schools that ventured out to play pyramidal tournaments in other states this past year and Arkansas teams seem to comprise an ever-increasing percentage of the NAC's base. This is a pity--few states are more enthusiastic about quizbowl in terms of statewide organization and support, with the state championships all aired live (with commentary and interviews!) on the statewide PBS affiliate AETN and plenty of invitationals each year. It's tragic that it's all done in the service of non-pyramidal questions and arcane rules; as of the latest rules edition available, the requirement for physically carrying reference books or CDs around to use in protests while denying anyone the use of the internet or consulting experts to resolve protests remains, along with a number of other needlessly punitive and outdated rules.
California: B (up from B-)
Northern California is clearly starting to live up to more of its potential, though the lack of team infrastructure and reliance on enthusiastic parents at some schools is a bit worrisome in the long term. SoCal is still going relatively strong and has been aided by the major flip of the San Diego City Academic League to full pyramidal questions and scoring. Yet Orange County, Los Angeles, and the assorted suburbs as well as many rural counties just have basically nothing or are overrun by Academic Decathlon. Until schools start to realize that supporting an extremely expensive overly bureaucratic memorization-fest isn't a good idea (or the LA Times drops its slobbering uncritical love affair with AcaDec), it's unlikely that Cal will be able to progress much further. There are some non-pyramidal leagues too like one in Ventura County that would be ideal additions to the quizbowl circuit, but unfortunately first contact seemingly hasn't happened. Some valiant outreach efforts have occasionally gotten new schools, but all too often they run up against experienced novices from traditional quizbowl schools with predictably one-sided results. The nationally-competitive strength of some of SoCal's powerhouse teams may actually work against outreach efforts in the area.
Colorado: C- (up from D+)
Things are looking up along the Continental Divide, but they still have a ways to go. The state Knowledge Bowl organization seems mildly encouraging of pyramidal experimentation, though given the dirt-cheap prices of AUK questions (see the state organization's 2015-2016 finances statement, which is admirably publicly posted, [ur=https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/364e3f_a ... 5765a.pdfl]here[/url]; if my reading of this is correct, the CO state Knowledge Bowl tournament of 60 teams paid $201 for AUK questions, which is about $3.35 a team) and the long influence of AUK-ful puns emanating from Durango, it seems doubtful that the state regionals and state KB tournament will change anytime soon. But with the UC-Boulder team hosting yearly pyramidal tournaments (and starting a useful resource website) and a number of small schools having discovered the delights of NAQT's SSNCT, we might be looking at some major positive changes in the future. CO is a state I hope to see major gains in for good quizbowl during the next few years.
Connecticut: C+ (no change)
Not much happening in the Nutmeg State. Yale's tournaments continue to quietly chug along with an occasional new team or three but overall there's been little change in the structure and institutions of the state's quizbowl scene. The Hartford area seems like a solid target for some expansion and it seems like the Darien Explosion could easily be repeated in a number of nearby towns, but until something changes at the institutional level in terms of a state organization it may be that CT is doomed to be a satellite to the NY circuit and, to a lesser extent, the Boston circuit.
Delaware: D+ (down from C+)
Yuck. No pyramidal quizbowl events were hosted in DE last year, though there were many within a somewhat short driving distance in SE PA and MD. Other than Charter, Newark Charter, and Concord, no DE school played a pyramidal QB tournament (or even any tournament for that matter). Graduation may have basically killed off all teams except for Charter. There are no official barriers to participation, but it seems most DE schools are just forgetting they ever had a quizbowl team. This circuit needs a massive shot in the arm to recover its glory days; can the UDelaware team and Charter hosting tournaments and doing outreach provide?
Florida: C+ (Up from C)
Very tempted to kick FL up to a B- here, but the near-complete lack of teams in a few metro areas like Jacksonville and the relatively shallow (though ever-increasing) penetration of good QB in the Miami, Tampa, and Orlando areas keeps it down. But what progress! Valencia being active now with outreach is excellent and the number of FL schools at HSNCT last year was great to see. It seems like word about quizbowl has been spreading throughout Florida and I hope that this momentum keeps up. At some point, there may be a reckoning with the state Commissioners' Academic Challenge (which seems determined to figure out a way to revive theirDISNEYWORLD tournament at some point), but for now there's sunny skies ahead quizbowl-wise for the Sunshine State.
Georgia: B (no change)
Georgia continues to produce an excellent variety of teams across the Northern Atlanta suburbs and has even made a few inroads into Atlanta itself. But the Macon area still Chips, the Savannah area is surprisingly dead (as is basically the whole Atlantic Coast for some reason), and South Georgia loses its anchor in Bainbridge's coach moving to PA this year. There are tons of tournaments in the ATL area, but not so much elsewhere. One good sign is that the RESA teams are now playing on NAQT questions, but it remains to be seen if they'll integrate into the larger QB circuit. Given that HSNCT is going to be in Atlanta for the next few years, this could be a golden opportunity to grow quizbowl all throughout the Southern Empire State.
Hawaii: D (down from D+)
Ain't nothing quizbowl happening here as best that I can tell. A few NHBB events in the past don't seem to have sparked anything pyramidal.
Idaho: C (up from C-)
Strong outreach efforts have helped keep Idaho afloat, though for now there are only a handful of teams. But there has been some progress thanks in great part to Colin McNamara's work and a few schools outside of the Boise area standbys seems to be interested now. As is true for many teams in the West, the massive travel distances make forming a circuit that can cover the whole state quite difficult, but it looks like things are pointed in the right direction, even if it's still rather fragile.
Illinois: A (up from A-)
With the triumph of pyramidal quizbowl writers as the writers and editors for IHSA in future years, pyramidal quizbowl now basically rules all of Illinois (at the high school level; unfortunately, the middle school circuit is a different story). Although the state format is still a bit wonky and the Chicago city schools for the most part still appear to be off in AcaDec land (outreach, pronto!), Illinois has--slowly but surely over the years--done it right. There are still pockets to improve throughout the state, but in terms of organization and breadth with hundreds of schools participating in not just leagues but also pyramidal tournaments, the Land of Lincoln is where to look for good quizbowl. Now to do something about the IESA...
Indiana: C- (down from C)
The more I search for information about quizbowl in Indiana, the more non-pyramidal leagues I discover. That ain't good, but it does suggest that there's a lot of untapped potential out there. Some of the long-running pyramidal programs like St. Joe's also seems to be in a state of hibernation. The real question here is whether or not the teams who have been introduced to the world of pyramidal quizbowl recently like Zionsville will help lead more teams to the pyramidal promised land. One of the complicating factors here seems to be that many of the Indiana leagues compete very late in the school year and so might not be able to qualify for national championships even if they switched to pyramidal questions. Some previous efforts to jump-start pyramidal quizbowl in Indiana seem to have fizzled out, but the emergence of the Purdue team at the college level and a stronger Notre Dame club might be able to help.
Iowa: C+ (up from D+)
An outstanding effort from Jay Winter at Waukee as well as other coaches in the Iowa Quiz Bowl League merits a tie for the most-improved rating in the country. There are now tournaments throughout East and West Iowa along with a functional state organization. And even more interesting, pyramidal TV tournaments [plural!] have helped get more schools involved not only from Iowa but also some of the surrounding states. But pyramidal quizbowl still competes with a number of local leagues and tournaments and while there is some breadth there's still a lot of work to be done on depth for good quizbowl teams. A major improvement so far, but much work lies ahead.
Kansas: F (no change)
The state of Kansas remains subject to the totalitarian bureaucracy of KSHSAA and its corresponding crippling effect on academic competition in the state, with all of its inane rules, non-pyramidal questions, and baffling restrictions on out-of-state competition. Yet there are a few tiny signs of hope (though not enough to appreciably raise the grade). A few plaintive cries for NAQT can be found on Twitter and a couple of Scholars Bowl tournaments this year actually used NAQT speedcheck questions. The QUEST TV tournament also continues to use NAQT. Are there more Scholars Bowl people in Kansas gaining awareness of good quizbowl? Hopefully so, but until there's some kind of institutional change Kansas students will be forced to answer 16 non-pyramidal speedchecks each round, in the same categorical order, while definitely not wearing hats, all within 500 miles of Kansas, during the prescribed playing periods of the year.
Kentucky: C+ (no change)
Quick Recall and the whole Governor's Cup are state institutions; they are not going to go away and do help foster academic teams at most high schools in KY, even in some of the most rural areas. The big question is whether or not Quick Recall can be reformed along pyramidal principles to help KY schools get more competitive nationally, but so far all signs point to "nope." It's good to see the expansion of Glasgow's tournament and the continuation of tournaments in the Louisville and Lexington areas, but there still remain a number of areas of the state largely untouched by pyramidal tournaments in the far east and west and many teams (although a declining number) still choose the NAC over other national tournaments. It was good to see Henderson County's run at HSNCT last year and hopefully other storied KY programs will follow.
Louisiana: B (up from C+)
Another happy (for the most part) tale of improvement. Thanks to the efforts of a wide variety of coaches and college players at local colleges, LA has seen a veritable Cajun Renaissance in terms of the quality of questions used and in the frequency of good quizbowl tournaments all around the state. Unfortunately, the rift between the two main factions in the state that emerged over the last year may hamper some of this expansion. Hopefully all sides will work something out and partner to keep advancing the Pelican State's quizbowl scene, which has a long and storied history worthy of a major circuit center.
Maine: D- (no change)
A few quizbowlers have now started at Maine colleges, but there doesn't seem to be much interest in getting a HS circuit going yet. Still plenty of potential out there and nothing that seems to directly stop the formation of a quizbowl circuit in Maine, though it's a bit of a hike down to Boston for the majority of New England tournaments. If NH can start getting more schools to host, that would open up additional opportunities for Mainers.
Maryland: B- (no change)
Pretty much unchanged from last year--if you want to do pyramidal tournaments, you can do so quite easily in MD, but It's Academic retains its stranglehold around too many teams in both the DC and Baltimore area. Johns Hopkins continues to put in good work expanding the Baltimore circuit though and some of the teams in NE MD have started to connect into the larger QB circuit. But the Eastern Shore is still bereft of pyramidal activity for the most part (along with the Western part) and there's just too much unrealized potential in the counties ringing DC to get this grade any higher. The lack of a statewide championship or organization hampers it a bit as well.
Massachusetts: C+ (no change)
While MA keeps producing a few very strong teams on average, the outreach efforts that helped get these schools into quizbowl seem to have stalled. Outside of Boston, there's almost nothing going on in the Berkshires and even in Boston itself there seems to have been little progress. Good to see that Harvard and MIT keep hosting tournaments as well as some of the local high schools, but so far not too much seems to have changed from 2015 here. While the High School Quiz Show has definitely raised the interest of some teams, it may also be so big that it dominates and keeps other schools who participate in it from playing quizbowl invitationals (though they should note that champions and runner-ups of it last year were both strong pyramidal teams).
Michigan: B+ (no change)
A few positive incremental changes in some leagues, but having to basically beg to keep the "official" state championship pyramidal is not a good sign for that tournament, though hopefully it will stay pyramidal. It's good to see though that DCC is working on building up several new circuits, including at the middle school level, which should be a positive development for the state as as whole. Overall, Michigan is fairly healthy and it's encouraging to see the continued work of the Upper Peninsula colleges in building up that circuit and introducing those teams to pyramidal questions. If a statewide organization emerged to help coordinate all the activity, it might be even better.
Minnesota: C+ (down from B-)
Honestly, I probably overrated Minnesota in 2015 due to the sheer number of teams (albeit often with 4+ teams per school) at the NAQT tournaments while ignoring the magnitude of the 290 schools who play the defiantly anti-pyramidal Knowledge Bowl. Knowledge Bowl is pretty much everywhere but parts of the the Twin Cities, which have a flourishing and strong pyramidal circuit within some of the suburbs. It's somewhat impressive how the anti-pyramidalists in the MN education service cooperatives have been so successful at keep their grip on the rural areas; in fact, they seem to have have an interesting way of encouraging schools to buy equipment for Knowledge Bowl, including the bizarre "pressure sensitive strips." Based on some other videos, it seems like there's actual hostility towards improving too. This, to put it mildly, is not good for good quizbowl in MN.
Mississippi: C (up from D+)
An impressive improvement in the Magnolia state thanks in large part to the hosting and outreach prowess of Chris Johnson at Itawamba in the Northeast and the major shift to NAQT questions (albeit still with some very curious bracketing practices) by the Ole Miss tournaments. Northeast Mississippi is starting to produce an every-increasing number of teams, but there's still a lack of participation by those in DeSoto County in the Northwest and the Gulf Coast area still doesn't have much. The Jackson area maintains the Murrah tournament, but not too much has changed for the main TV tournament or for some of the non-pyramidal tournaments in that same area. We'll see if the progress can be kept up and spread to other parts of the state in the future.
Missouri: B+ (no change)
Missouri keeps on keepin' on in solid shape overall. The revival of Truman State might help matters in the Northeast and the Springfield area seems to be slowly expanding. The Missouri River Valley remains as strong as every for the most part. MO is a good example of working to build up good quizbowl despite the unique format and parameters of the state tournament setup, but its accomplishments seem slightly less consolidated than, say, Illinois at this point, with some potential for backsliding without continual effort. Cautiously optimistic here.
Montana: D (no change)
Montana stays the same: Frenchtown hosts on pyramidal questions, the rest of the state doesn't do pyramidal. The big distances in the Big Sky State may be an impediment to cross-pollination with other circuits.
Nebraska: D (down from D+)
Outside of HSNCT attendee Creighton Prep, Nebraska seems devoid of any hint of pyramidal questions. Some tournaments in Iowa would be attendable by many schools, but the Omaha-area tournaments appear to still be AUKy and the ESU tournaments are also very insular, though they have the interesting wrinkle of featuring competitors standing up and have tournaments that go along with some of the state fairs. Again, a lot of teams here, so there's potential if an emissary could make contact.
Nevada: C+ (up from D+)
In the other major improvement in the ranking, there are now pyramidal tournaments in Nevada! It's great to see folks in the Las Vegas area quickly move to host tournaments and start a good quizbowl league, though the continued existence of Varsity Quiz seems to have kept many schools from making the change to pyramidal, so the field sizes have stayed small. Interestingly, some of the Reno-area schools are also competing on NAQT questions and might be getting plugged-in to the CA circuit. Again, it's remarkable how quickly this has changed and I hope with the emergence of some additional teams and tournaments that this ranting will continue to rise quickly in the future.
New Hampshire: D (up from D-)
Plymouth Regional hosting a pyramidal tournament is a good development, but when your state's official league admits to using recycled toss-up questions, runs 10-minute rounds for 2.5 hour tournaments, and justifies that by talking about "fun," it's going to be a long, uphill battle to get more NH students a better quizbowl experience. Hopefully it can happen though now that there seems to be movement towards more tournaments.
New Jersey: B (no change)
I was incorrect in my 2015 assessment of NJ: places like Atlantic City actually have tons of teams, they just all play non-pyramidal, often modified-Jeopardy! formats. In fact, there are likely more bad quizbowl schools in NJ than pyramidal schools--perhaps as much as a 2:1 ratio. Since so many pyramidal schools rush along the Mid-Atlantic rush to sign up for the tournaments that are held, hosts often don't seem to care too much about getting new schools (who do, in general, have a bad record of leaving early and seemingly not knowing what they're getting into when they do show up at pyramidal tournaments). The lack of any statewide attempts to organize for good quizbowl is also a contributing factor in knocking the ranking down here. Too much potential in NJ is going to waste, though there are a good number of pyramidal tournaments to attend and nothing but overly restrictive school board policies on extracurricular trips to prevent teams from going or hosting their own.
New Mexico: D (no change)
There really isn't much going on here and attempts to get tournaments and teams started in the area haven't really progressed beyond one or two schools. Perhaps middle school could be a route to getting more teams eventually set up in NM?
New York: B- (up from C+)
There's been some progress in NY, which merits the increase in the rating this year, but there's still a great deal of untapped potential here both in terms of teams and involvement by teams in pyramidal leagues in the regular circuit. Upstate NY's MasterMinds is pyramidal-ish, but still seems to struggle in translating those teams to pyramidal invitationals in general. One major positive development was the shift of the Long Island Regional Quiz Bowl league to NAQT questions and a few of those schools venturing forth to regular invitationals. But if you check the statistics, NY is still majorly undeveloped--in New York City alone, there is one quizbowl school (defined as a school that played at least one pyramidal quizbowl tournament last year) for every 1.1 million people. Chip leagues continue to remain strong in parts of the Hudson Valley and there's still a lack of high school invitationals upstate outside of Ithaca. It would be neat to see more college teams like Hamilton and Rochester host HS invitationals to help out their parts of the state.
North Carolina: B (no change)
NC marches along basically the same as before: good quizbowl in many areas, bad quizbowl in a few pockets, but overall despite some decent geographic diversity there just aren't that many schools playing quizbowl, though the number involved in NCASA's pyramidal competitions seems to be on the rise. Seems like a good time to be cautiously optimistic here, though I do hope we could see more teams out in Asheville and Wilmington for instance.
North Dakota: D- (down from D)
Some bad QB in the form of a local Knowledge Bowl still seems to be in existence thanks to bordering on the AUK-heavy Minnesota that I failed to pick up on last time, but mostly a whole lot of silence. Pretty far to drive to any good tournament too outside of Fargo to Minneapolis.
Ohio: B (up from C+)
Ohio's been improving by leaps and bounds and with several dedicated Ohioans now writing pyramidal questions for the OAC format, it's time to move OH up in the rankings. The Bossick Effect is still being felt all throughout Northeast Ohio as teams and leagues continue to proliferate there, but more broadly the whole state seems to have taken a step up in involvement with the emergence of Dublin Scioto, Miami Valley, and Beavercreek at the highest echelons of the game. It's good to see this progress, but there's still plenty of room to grow quizbowl in the Buckeye State.
Oklahoma: C (no change)
Not much has changed here, but there's a lot of bureaucracy for teams to navigate. One of the OK state associations seems far more interested in devising online tests instead of updating the game to meet pyramidal standards, but also doesn't seem inherently hostile to the presence of good quizbowl. There are always a few good quizbowl tournaments each year and teams who seem to prefer pyramidal, but the state format is decidedly non-pyramidal and has some great typos in their official rules including, "The moderator will say, “Are their [sic] any questions?” as well as "Boom boxes or any type of devise [sic] that plays music, sounds, or voices, and noise makers of any kind such as air horns, cow bells, etc. will not be allowed to function/operate."
Oregon: D (down from D+)
No record of any pyramidal quizbowl tournaments in OR last year. What's the deal here? I don't quite understand given that Westview (OR) has been a strong contender at HSNCT when they've attended. Unlike Washington, OR doesn't seem to have a statewide organization that stifles good quizbowl. There are, however, a few "Brain Bowl" competitions in Southern Oregon and even in Eugene that seem to be non-pyramidal quizbowl. This whole state is a mystery, though hopefully one that can be solved soon.
Pennsylvania: B+ (up from B-)
By most measures, PA has drastically improved in the last few years. Philadelphia is now well-populated with solid teams, more schools in the suburbs of Philly are starting to play pyramidal tournaments, and there are number of dedicated coaches who are helping to establish new tournaments and encourage good quizbowl in a wide variety of regions. Pittsburgh and the West have had less progress, but contact has been made and teams re-established in Erie plus there are still a decent number of rural schools venturing forth to regular tournaments. Though the official state tournament has switched to pyramidal questions, its format remains clunky and capricious. Perhaps the most encouraging thing though is the number of students willing to push for good quizbowl at board meetings and by talking to students on other teams. I have high hopes for PA, but also worries that we might have reached a ceiling at this point with the remaining non-pyramidal leagues being very reluctant to change.
South Carolina: B- (up from C)The 2015 State of Good Quizbowl Post wrote:Rhode Island: D [no change]
Brown seems an island of amid an Ocean State of quizbowl nothingness. There are driveable tournaments nearby and I'm sure Brown would love to host more high school events, but until something changes there ain't much here.
The upstate seems to have recovered its groove, anchored by Southside, Dorman, and some other tournaments being hosted (including a revived Clemson team) by nearby teams. USC and the Douglasses continue to preach the gospel of good quizbowl in the Midlands, with a small but steady number of teams heeding the call. There are also more leagues for "Academic Olympics" using NAQT questions. So there have been some clear improvements and there are tournaments on offer. But the strange lack of pyramidal quizbowl on the Atlantic Coast (which also includes FL, NC, and GA!) outside of a few leagues keeps a lot of the state fairly barren of quizbowl.
South Dakota: C- (no change)
The Sioux Falls tournament on NAQT continues, but that's basically it. Some Knowledge Bowl stuff seems to have seeped in from across the border and established itself in the Black Hills and there is occasionally a pyramidal tournament in the Sioux Falls area. But otherwise, quizbowl in SD seems deader than Deadwood. Perhaps Augustana College, one of themost-active college teams on Twitter, might be able to help host something too in the future.
Tennessee: B- (no change)
Let's start with the positives: East TN QB seems to have started rebuilding itself and both L&N Stem's tournament last year and Oak Ridge's this year seem very encouraging in terms of getting PBS Scholars Bowl schools involved in quizbowl, though there's still quite a ways to go. The Nashville area continues to be robust, though it'll be interesting to see which programs continue after some of the star players graduate. The world also wonders if the premiere university in the state will stop hosting open tournaments on the easiest novice question set of the year. And then there's my dear homeland of West TN which continues to circle the toilet bowl while making whatever noises a GREAT AUK might make. Bad-QB tournaments trump already-scheduled pyramidal QB tournaments because the Mid-South teams only want to improve for WREG Knowledge Bowl on TV. One might think after the Knowledge Bowl tournament had to nullify its championship match and declare co-champions last year due to repeat questions coming up that there might be a bit of reconsideration of flightless bird worship. But the AUK will not be deterred, much to my everlasting (since 2002) chagrin.
Texas: B+ (no change)
Texas Quizbowl is improving its geographic breadth, with tournaments in the Rio Grande Valley and Beaumont as well as more in the Dallas area. But there's still a lack of depth in many areas--Austin for instance doesn't have much outside of St. Stephen's and LASA while San Antonio seems to have stalled, if not regressed a bit. The widespread presence of both AcaDec and UIL both seem to distract from quizbowl in many places. El Paso continues to run pyramidal tournaments on its own and has now been sending more of its teams to HSNCT (with Coronado's impressive run a few years ago at HSNCT being a particularly highlight). There are still plenty of opportunities and a robust state organizational structure, but in addition to getting more teams in the cities I would also like to see more rural schools participating in quizbowl rather than the mostly-suburban ones currently playing now too.
Utah: D (no change)
The basketball-themed National Academic League seems to have control of whatever interest there is in academic competition in Utah, but there was one tournament this year that used NAQT questions. The Salt Lake City corridor seems like it could easily support a real quizbowl circuit and St. George's might be close enough to Las Vegas to get something going there. If rumors of the BYU team's revival are true, then perhaps they could host an inaugural HS tournament.
Vermont: A- (up from B+)
Did you know that one Vermont tournament attracted 70 teams last year? Neither did I until I started doing research for this post. That's more teams, I believe, than any invitational tournament in the Northeast outside of Centennial's. Vermont has quietly put together one of the more effective circuits out there that's adapted to the unique demands of a largely rural state. Though there's still some room for more involvement--not too many VT teams attend HSNCT or out-of-state tournaments and there could stand to be a few more invitationals over the course of the year--VT is definitely up there as one of the best-run states in terms of good quizbowl. Kudos to Kevin Common and Co. for their work.
Virginia: A- (up from B)
The improvement here is driven in part by the SW VA quizbowl folks who have done great work in expanding quizbowl into more rural areas of the state and going beyond just VHSL competitions. Where else would you find a billboard advertising a champion quizbowl team? The introducing of Battle of the Brains-style tournaments at VCU was a smart way to get a number of local teams around Richmond involved as well and overall VA looks fairly healthy. Unfortunately, NoVA for the most part remains as stubbornly wedded to It's Academic as ever and, apart from a few interesting new teams around Norfolk, the balance hasn't really shifted from the old crew of TJ-MW axis in the state. There are still some geographic gaps too in the South Central and Northwest parts of the state too that would ideally be improved in the future.
Washington: D+ (no change)
Little change from before. There are pryamidal tournaments at UW, but that's about it and the fields are stagnant and small. Knowledge Bowl and the state educational unit organization (this has been a common theme with many states!) continue without any semblance of reform. There's even a Hi-Q outpost there to add more bad QB to the mix. The Pacific Northwest as a whole still stubbornly lags behind the rest of the country in quizbowl and there are no signs of change of the horizon.
West Virginia: B (up from C+)
West Virginia continues to plug away towards progress with a growing number of small-to-medium-sized tournaments that maintain a fairly steady, if not too large, circuit. Though no WV team went to HSNCT this past year [EDIT: Actually there has been a WV team at HSNCT every year since 2014], they have attended in the past and ideally would be able to get to some more nationals in the future. WV teams have ventured out to PA and OH tournaments and overall the circuit seems small, but fairly healthy.
Wisconsin: C (up from C-)
The sleeping giant of Wisconsin still hasn't really awoken yet. A few more teams and tournaments have popped up, but apparently a good deal of AcaDec dominates the Milwaukee area and even Hi-Q (!) has migrated up here to the Peshtigo area. The Milwaukee area is surprisingly lacking in quizbowl and Madison hasn't really exploited its full potential either. Improving, but slowly.
Wyoming: F (no change)
Although there was a changing of the guard in who ran tournaments in Wyoming recently, the new leadership seems to have doubled-down on embracing the fuzzy extinct black-and-white oddity of the AUK. A lot of competitions at various community colleges (which is a really cool idea, especially as it often results in scholarship money), but no sign of pyramidal questions here and it would be a heck of a drive to get to a pyramidal tournament for any team.
Conclusion: The state of good quizbowl has improved noticebly across the country as a whole thanks to the hard work of many dedicated individuals and organizations, but it's still fragile in many places and will likely continue to be until we see "pyramidal consolidation" at the institutional level like we've seen in Illinois, Vermont, and Alabama where strong coach-led organizations keep pyramidal quizbowl strong. The one thing that stood out to me while doing this list this year compared to 2015 is that the main enemy of fair, intellectually rewarding academic competition is no longer washed-up game show hosts with gimmicky bells and whistles; it's a flightless, extinct black-and-white bird whose dirt-cheap rates and often swervy one-liners warm the cockles of many funn-loving education bureaucrats' hearts around the country. Good quizbowl will need to find ways into many of these more isolated states and circuits as the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest stand out as particularly weak areas in need of some extinct bird hunting.