What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Post by bluejay123 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:49 am

Lately I've been contemplating a lot of stuff related to quizbowl. Quitting has been one of them. And it's not due to the people. Rather, it's due to the mentality it reinforces into an individual. It pits you, a fallible human being, against perfection, or someone else's writing. And in a sense, at least in my opinion, it's humbling to the point of exhaustion. It tells you you'll never be good enough until you first line tossups or thirty bonuses left and right. Although I understand that one will never conquer the whole canon, I can't help but feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel sometimes.
Please note this is all my opinion, and disagree as you please. I hope this isn't that burdensome, but I'd love some insight into the following questions.

1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?
2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by gettysburg11 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:16 am

Well, you're definitely not the only person to ever wonder this. Heck, even all-time greats like Matt Bollinger and Andrew Hart have done the same.

As far as my own answers to your questions, I'll write my honest opinions as opposed to waxing eternal about quizbowl's many virtues. Not that there's anything wrong with that, there isn't. It's just not generally my style, that's all.

1. There's multiple things behind this for me. One is that I do genuinely enjoy being with many of the people I've met in both high school and college quizbowl. Another is that it's a challenge in the good sort of way, in that there's always something else to go on and learn and do. When I get slaughtered in a game, I don't look at it in terms of me being a stupid person, I look at it in terms of "OK, here's something I don't know that much about, I should go do that." I've always had a competitive streak and been academically-oriented, so quizbowl naturally fit my interests for an activity. The jump from high school to college quizbowl in my case was in many ways a following of that competitiveness. My team went to HSNCT my senior year, my only year in high school of playing pyramidal quizbowl, and we went 5-5 with two separate 5 point losses. I didn't want my quizbowl story to end that way, so I went to Gettysburg and said I will do what I have to do to get this together. Lots of moving parts there, and there have been a couple times where I too have wondered about why I do what I do, but that in general would be my answer.

2. Honestly to me, quizbowl is one of those things where the journey is more important to me than the end result. Would I love to win a nationals or something one day? Absolutely. But at the same time, I enjoy the process of learning new and random things. A good example of that would be someone in another thread's mention of a clue about Ulysses S. Grant being appointed to perform as Desdemona in a Mexican War production of Othello. And as I said before, I like the people too. Just yesterday I staffed at a high school tournament, and having a little time to sit around and talk shop as it were with people was incredibly fun for me. So yeah, as Miley Cyrus would say, it's the climb.

Also, other people who have been around far longer than me have answered the same sort of question here.

Hope this is helpful to you!
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by SpanishSpy » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:08 am

To answer directly:

1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?

It's the challenge of it. It drives me to learn more and to know more. It makes me more versatile and more knowledgeable. Given my hobbies and friends, this is never a minus.

2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?

It's to enrich myself and to have a good experience. I have made friends and been to interesting places through Quizbowl, and I don't regret it at all.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by CaseyB » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:21 am

1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?

I keep doing quizbowl the same reason I started doing quizbowl: I love the competition and learning random knowledge. But I also keep doing quizbowl because of all the people I've met playing quizbowl. I'm now playing at my 3rd different university, and while my experience has been different at each school I've been at, in all cases my teammates and opponents alike have made quizbowl fun and have always made me eager to have a buzzer in my hand. And that's also how I get through getting blown out. Because whether you expected to get blown out or not, you can turn to your teammates afterwards and know that you all went through it together and be able to move on and not feel so bad about it afterwards.

2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?

This may not be what you wanted to hear, but for me personally, there is no end result. There is no purpose to amassing all of this random knowledge except that I wanted to. I found it interesting and I still do. And I will continue find random bits of seemingly trivial knowledge to be interesting, even after I'm no longer playing quizbowl.

To sort of tie these two questions together and touch on some other things you mentioned in your original post, you used the word mentality, and I think really that's what it's all about. There are some who would advocate studying for quizbowl like you would a class in order to get better at it and would argue that it is necessary to do this. And there's nothing wrong with that. But, personally, I don't subscribe to this view, or at least, I don't practice it. I have never studied for quizbowl. At least not in the sense of trying to learn a specific part of the distribution just for quizbowl. I have on the other hand, heard interesting clues on followed up them later, read random Wikipedia articles, watched random youtube videos, simply because I thought the topics were interesting, and have later found the information to be useful in quizbowl. But that's been the extent of what anyone could call my studying for quizbowl. As I said before, I keep going at this game because I find random bits of knowledge to be interesting and that is what shapes my mentality towards the game. Now, could I be a better player than I am now, in terms of things like PPG, if I had truly sat down and studied for it? Sure. Have other players surpassed me because of it? Probably. But while from time to time I might worry about these things, ultimately, I'm okay with it, because to me it's more about the experience than about winning titles. First-lining tossups and getting 30s on bonuses should be impressive, not the expectation. I watch the finals at ICT and ACF Nats and I am in awe of the ability of the players on the stage, and that's the way it should be. I'm not trying to diminish the competition aspect of the game. I like winning as much as anyone else does, and there's nothing like the thrill of winning a close match. I'm just trying to say that no one expects perfection, and that to me, quizbowl is more about the experience than the outcome.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by wcheng » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:39 am

1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?
This is something that I've thought about before, and for me, the answer is being part of a team where I feel like I can accomplish something. Back when I was playing high school quizbowl, it often felt like I was swimming against the current when I was studying for quizbowl. There were times when I felt like was the only person really trying to improve at quizbowl, and when some of my teammates seemed less than completely enthused about playing difficult questions against good teams, but to my teammates' credit, that wasn't always the case. The overall effect on me was disheartening, since I felt like I would not be able to accomplish anything personally unless my team as a whole made a collective effort to improve. Now, this probably wasn't the best attitude towards improving at quizbowl (or any kind of team activity), since it impeded me from putting in more effort myself to compensate, but it was the attitude that I had at the time.

After my four years in high school quizbowl, I felt pretty burnt out, and was almost at the point where I was considering quitting. Then, after I started college at Maryland, I found that I was surrounded by people who were genuinely passionate about quizbowl and wanted to get better at the game. Being in that environment made me enjoy playing quizbowl again, even though I was mercilessly clobbered practice after practice in my best category at that time (history) by none other than Jordan Brownstein. While that might have been a disheartening experience for some, it inspired me to continually improve at quizbowl, since I was able to see how good someone could become with (a massive amount) of dedicated study. In addition to this, the social aspects of being part of a college team made quizbowl much more enjoyable for me, since I hang out with my teammates at Maryland far often than I did with my high school teammates.
2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?
Primarily, I see quizbowl as a competition, and therefore my personal end result is to do well at tournaments, however you might want to define that. Additionally, I'd like to contribute to the quizbowl community through writing questions, which is something that I enjoy as much as playing them. Of course, all the knowledge that I've acquired in pursuit of these goals has its own uses, since it has greatly expanded my perspective of the world and has made me far more aware of current and historical issues. For me, though, this is more of a side-effect than the goal.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:44 am

I do not think you have identified issues unique to quizbowl. Instead, I think you have identified issues that are a fundamental part of the human condition.

Humans are fallible beings. None of us have achieved perfection at anything. Even those of us who work hard typically end up failing to accomplish the greatest possible accomplishment in our field - and if we do we typically end up being unable to sustain it or replicate it. And as for the knowledge we amass, we end up forgetting it as we age and being unable to apply it to the super specialized roles that most of us will end up in on the job market. And then we die and most of us are forgotten within just a few years of our death, giving credence to those philosophers who say that our existence is ultimately meaningless and our accomplishments fleeting.

Personally, as I hurtle rapidly towards oblivion, I choose to do things I enjoy. And for a big chunk of my life I enjoyed quizbowl. Why? Because answering a tossup feels good, winning feels good, and the process of getting good at quizbowl (reading stuff) is something I enjoyed doing even independent of the quizbowl benefits. And if I am soon going to die and be forgotten, I figure I might as well do stuff that feels good along the way. And hey, the QBWiki article about me will probably continue to exist for centuries, and the men of the future (the machine men) will be able to read that I was on a team that won Michigan MLK in 2006.

If quizbowl makes you feel good, go ahead and do it. If not, find something else that does. If you decide wrongly, don't worry - in a blink of the geological eye you will soon either cease to exist as a conscious being (at which point you won't care about quizbowl anymore), or be subject to eternal bliss or eternal punishment in the afterlife (at which point the highs and lows of a quizbowl career will presumably no longer seem significant).
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by bretthogan43 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:16 pm

bluejay123 wrote: 1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?
For me, it's that in quizbowl I am a team leader, someone that people are looking to to guide the team through adversity faced in our competition, a role I have nowhere else in life. I have always succeeded at quizbowl (just my thoughts) and therefore studying and preparing has always been fun for me. And yes, my team sucks and we do get slaughtered quite often, but it drives me to learn more of what I otherwise would have never known before.
bluejay123 wrote: 2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?
It depends on how you look at what all you've accomplished after everything is said and done. Knowledge is a powerful thing to possess, and what you learn in quizbowl will more than likely pop up at some random point in your life much later.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:04 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:be subject to eternal bliss or eternal punishment in the afterlife (at which point the highs and lows of a quizbowl career will presumably no longer seem significant).
Well, if I remember the Inferno correctly, the 6th circle of hell is a badly written, poorly run, very hard quizbowl tournament that goes on for eternity.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by bluejay123 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:48 pm

CaseyB wrote:
2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?

This may not be what you wanted to hear, but for me personally, there is no end result. There is no purpose to amassing all of this random knowledge except that I wanted to. I found it interesting and I still do.
There isn't a wrong or right answer, I feel. And what you mention makes perfect sense in my mind--knowledge is a really cool thing to have, and quizbowl makes learning knowledge possible. But do you learn knowledge for quizbowl or knowledge for its own sake?
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by bluejay123 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:51 pm

wcheng wrote: Back when I was playing high school quizbowl, it often felt like I was swimming against the current when I was studying for quizbowl.
Yeah, I guess this is kind of what I mean. Lots of input, little output in the sense that although you may win points, tossups, or games, you still feel like your feet are stuck in quicksand.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Fuddle Duddle » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:08 pm

Conversely, were I to start to firstline tossups or 30 bonuses left and right, that would be when I'd quit. That's why I lobbied for our team to go to HSNCT rather than :chip: my sophomore year. Every competition has the asymptotic nature you describe. The key is to realize there's no light at the end of the tunnel, then to realize that it's actually a pretty nice tunnel.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:44 pm

bluejay123 wrote:1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?
This answer varies depending on what you're getting out of quizbowl in the first place. If you're there to win, it's getting better and winning that keeps you going. If its learning, then learning new things keeps you going. If it's social interaction, it's the camaraderie that you build with your teammates that keeps you going.

For me it was trying to beat various people named Matt. And to win a national, so for 30 seconds the constant heads-up display of quizbowl clues in my head would stop.
bluejay123 wrote:2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual?
Sitting at the end of your career, your binary associations fading, your reflexes dulling, your trophies gathering dust, watching the next generation take the battlefield with all the passion and drive and emotion that you had when you started.
bluejay123 wrote:What is all the knowledge one amasses for?
Parties.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:29 am

This is possibly more of a serious answer than you wanted, but I'm in kind of a pensive mood lately.

I am not a particularly outgoing person. When I moved to Minneapolis more than eight years ago for graduate school, it was the first time I had really lived away from family and friends. It was a strange city and a tough graduate program. I didn't have any friends. I had played high school quizbowl, found out Minnesota had a quizbowl team, and decided it would at least be a way to have some fun a couple nights a week. Shortly after, I made the fateful decision to go on a tournament and I got hooked.

Quizbowl insured I would have a circle of friends that I could count on and rely on during my time at Minnesota (at the risk of sounding melodramatic, losing that circle really hurt me after I moved out of Minneapolis). More than that, I made friends across the country.

Tournaments are wonderful, winning tournaments is wonderful, beating Eric Mukherjee is wonderful, but my lasting memories are the moments outside the game. I remember a weekend last year where I returned to Minneapolis--I had lunch with guys like Shan Kothari and Sam Bailey, ate a dinner of Chinese takeout with Andrew Hart while watching basketball, and topped it off the next day by watching WrestleMania with Carsten Gehring and Erik Nelson. Those are memories that seem simplistic or superficial on paper, but when you're feeling depressed or unhappy about your life, they really pick you up.

I've told this story a lot, but after my final ACF Nationals, I remember how enjoyable the post-tournament experience was. We were killing time before going to the airport, but it was raining so we didn't want to get out of the car. So we read really awful questions in the car in a parking lot in College Park to each other. You had to be there, but it was fun. On the flight home, I was sitting next to Andrew Hart, my teammate of four years. I will say that I hope everyone has a good teammate chemistry at some point in their career because you can do things like just talk about quizbowl, your future, your life. There's good-natured mockery of other teams, lamentations about what could have been, cackling about big victories. That's what I loved about the game.

And so winning or losing, doing well or not doing well, I truly play because I love the game.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by bluejay123 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:26 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual?
Sitting at the end of your career, your binary associations fading, your reflexes dulling, your trophies gathering dust
If I may politely disagree a bit with this comment for a minute--If quizbowl just gives you books whose pages are left unopened, trophies that gather dust, and knowledge that just will be lost sooner or later (credit to an above poster), what is the point of it all? I know this may seem petty or like playing the devil's advocate, but at what point does quizbowl not become fun anymore? At what point is it just to "win a national" or some tournament whose results will be forgotten in years after? At what point do the "good times" and memories manifest themselves in a way that drives you away from quizbowl?
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:42 pm

Well, this is just a special case of the fundamental question of existence. What is the purpose of anything when all things apparently pass? I don't know. I suggest that you do what you enjoy, in the way that you enjoy it, when you can. If quizbowl is one of those things, all the better!
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:42 pm

bluejay123 wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual?
Sitting at the end of your career, your binary associations fading, your reflexes dulling, your trophies gathering dust
If I may politely disagree a bit with this comment for a minute--If quizbowl just gives you books whose pages are left unopened, trophies that gather dust, and knowledge that just will be lost sooner or later (credit to an above poster), what is the point of it all? I know this may seem petty or like playing the devil's advocate, but at what point does quizbowl not become fun anymore? At what point is it just to "win a national" or some tournament whose results will be forgotten in years after? At what point do the "good times" and memories manifest themselves in a way that drives you away from quizbowl?
One day you'll be old and it'll make sense.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:13 am

bluejay123 wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual?
Sitting at the end of your career, your binary associations fading, your reflexes dulling, your trophies gathering dust
If I may politely disagree a bit with this comment for a minute--If quizbowl just gives you books whose pages are left unopened, trophies that gather dust, and knowledge that just will be lost sooner or later (credit to an above poster), what is the point of it all? I know this may seem petty or like playing the devil's advocate, but at what point does quizbowl not become fun anymore? At what point is it just to "win a national" or some tournament whose results will be forgotten in years after? At what point do the "good times" and memories manifest themselves in a way that drives you away from quizbowl?
To sort of counter the other ancient relics who've been glumly fatalizing the place up (and to bolster Andrew's point), here's what's worked for me. I've never stopped really loving the simple act of playing quizbowl, and to a lesser but still significant extent the acts of writing questions and staffing tournaments. I've given this advice before, but it bears repeating since it's pretty simple: focus on what's enjoyable for you, what gives you pleasure, and do what you can to avoid or mitigate burnout. Other than in the cases where you're obligated to do something to particpate at all (writing questions for a packet submission tournament, staffing your club's big tournament as a condition of getting to travel, that sort of thing), you should feel free to pick and choose the ways of interacting with quizbowl that appeal to you most**. There have been plenty of periods where my enthusiasm for playing, writing, or staffing has dimmed somewhat, so the thing I've done when I'm feeling that is to just pull back and take a break. You can decide to come back to any of it any time you want, or not, and it'll be okay. Much better that than to force yourself into a state of intense focus such that when you do get tired of it the thought of return seems abhorrent, or such that you damage or don't develop the friendships or sense of community that an activity like this can provide.

**A personal example: very rarely has rote, organized "studying" ever particularly appealed to me. I'm sure my career probably could've included a couple more national or CO championships if I'd really sat myself down and taken a more analytical approach to learning stuff explicitly for quizbowl, but it never seemed fun in the way that playing questions (at tournaments, at practice, with friends, whenever) did, and definitely seemed like a shortcut to intense burnout, so I decided on a personal level that the trophies or whatever wouldn't be worth doing something I wouldn't fundamentally enjoy. I think I benefited, both as a person and as a player, a lot more from activities like (1) writing lots of questions, which can teach you not only clues but can help hone your instincts as you learn how questions are constructed, and (2) reading about whatever caught my interest, in quizbowl or out, but with a game-honed sense of how to fixate on important details.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Cheynem » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:31 am

We did have to study to win ACRONYM though.
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Re: What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:32 am

I did say "very rarely"!
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:25 pm

bluejay123 wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:
bluejay123 wrote:2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual?
Sitting at the end of your career, your binary associations fading, your reflexes dulling, your trophies gathering dust
If I may politely disagree a bit with this comment for a minute--If quizbowl just gives you books whose pages are left unopened, trophies that gather dust, and knowledge that just will be lost sooner or later (credit to an above poster), what is the point of it all?
You're asking a more fundamental question that can be applied all the way to the impermanence of human existence; this is a question you have to answer based on your philosophical [+/- religious] beliefs. I can give you my answer, which is that I find fulfillment in the fact that I've contributed to a larger continuity of the game by editing, mentoring, and playing. I hope that the people who I've affected will continue to affect others, and in turn that this game can have a positive influence on other people's lives.

This is what I meant by watching the next generation; I genuinely enjoy watching younger players scale the canon now, because in some small way (or in a slightly bigger way, if I wrote for or edited the tournament they're playing), I've contributed to that.
bluejay123 wrote:I know this may seem petty or like playing the devil's advocate, but at what point does quizbowl not become fun anymore?
When you no longer enjoy it, plain and simple.
bluejay123 wrote:At what point is it just to "win a national" or some tournament whose results will be forgotten in years after?


All accomplishments will be forgotten eventually.
bluejay123 wrote:At what point do the "good times" and memories manifest themselves in a way that drives you away from quizbowl?


I'm not sure what this means
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Re: What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Post by ProfessorIanDuncan » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:09 pm

I know this thread has extended quite a bit past the OP, but I'll try to answer the original two questions from my own experience.
1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?
I never think about quizbowl as solely about winning. If you do, there are upsides and downsides. The upside is that you're winning more games, learning more things, and putting a lot of time into getting better at something. The downside is that you'll run into these kinds of questions and get burned out. Rather I think of quizbowl in terms of games that will very likely be won, very likely be lost, and ones that can go either way. So the key for me has always been try to win as many of the close games as possible. Most of the time when I'm on a team that is getting slaughtered, I can console myself with the fact that our opponent was gonna beat us anyway. If you ask anyone who has ever played on a team with me they will tell you I'm quite intense while playing, but I'd like to think that once the day is over any miserable experiences will have been mostly forgotten. I think if you can find a balance between getting results and still enjoying yourself, you'll find that any angst or misery will disappear. Obviously this varies for different people. For people like Eric, I assume he would be much more miserable having given up on not winning Nationals as opposed to studying as hard as he needed to so that he could win. If you're feeling burned out, take a break from studying and try going to tournaments without the burden of needing to do better. What keeps me doing quizbowl is seeing my friends from other schools, the excitement of winning some games, and learning things along the way. If we get slaughtered a few times along the way so be it.
2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?
I've been doing quizbowl now for a long time. I can't really imagine how different my life would be without it. I've read things I wouldn't have otherwise, I've asked questions I wouldn't have otherwise, developed at least a mild interest in things I wouldn't have otherwise. I've met people I wouldn't have otherwise. Knowledge isn't just cold hard facts. Knowing that some guy designed New Amsterdam (just a random example that may not even have any basis in fact) doesn't really stick with you. But say maybe the strategies used by random Dutch guy and which ones persist to this day and which have fallen out of vogue will probably stick with you (again not sure how much of this is based in fact). The end result of quizbowl isn't necessarily the knowledge amassed, hopefully it's more than that. But even if it's not, hopefully quizbowl works as feedback loop, where knowledge is rewarded and as a result inspires you to pursue certain subjects with a greater vigor. I don't think that quantifying everything you've studied for quizbowl is the best way of thinking about what you've gotten from it.

I know that what i've said is based only off my experiences may not be helpful at all. But hopefully there amongst this thread you've found something that will help you stick with quizbowl. Every time I've thought about quitting, I just remember how much I enjoy playing in the moment. While certainly there are tangible benefits to quizbowl, by far the most attractive thing about it is that I enjoy playing. And losing, even badly, is sometimes just part of it for me. Even the best players lose from time to time. It's how they got that good to begin with.
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Re: Quizbowl?

Post by bradleykirksey » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:48 pm

CaseyB wrote:1. What keeps you doing quizbowl? Rather, what keeps you going, even in the face, say, getting slaughtered in a game?

I keep doing quizbowl the same reason I started doing quizbowl: I love the competition and learning random knowledge. But I also keep doing quizbowl because of all the people I've met playing quizbowl. I'm now playing at my 3rd different university, and while my experience has been different at each school I've been at, in all cases my teammates and opponents alike have made quizbowl fun and have always made me eager to have a buzzer in my hand. And that's also how I get through getting blown out. Because whether you expected to get blown out or not, you can turn to your teammates afterwards and know that you all went through it together and be able to move on and not feel so bad about it afterwards.

2. What's the end result of quizbowl for an individual? What is all the knowledge one amasses for?

This may not be what you wanted to hear, but for me personally, there is no end result. There is no purpose to amassing all of this random knowledge except that I wanted to. I found it interesting and I still do. And I will continue find random bits of seemingly trivial knowledge to be interesting, even after I'm no longer playing quizbowl.

To sort of tie these two questions together and touch on some other things you mentioned in your original post, you used the word mentality, and I think really that's what it's all about. There are some who would advocate studying for quizbowl like you would a class in order to get better at it and would argue that it is necessary to do this. And there's nothing wrong with that. But, personally, I don't subscribe to this view, or at least, I don't practice it. I have never studied for quizbowl. At least not in the sense of trying to learn a specific part of the distribution just for quizbowl. I have on the other hand, heard interesting clues on followed up them later, read random Wikipedia articles, watched random youtube videos, simply because I thought the topics were interesting, and have later found the information to be useful in quizbowl. But that's been the extent of what anyone could call my studying for quizbowl. As I said before, I keep going at this game because I find random bits of knowledge to be interesting and that is what shapes my mentality towards the game. Now, could I be a better player than I am now, in terms of things like PPG, if I had truly sat down and studied for it? Sure. Have other players surpassed me because of it? Probably. But while from time to time I might worry about these things, ultimately, I'm okay with it, because to me it's more about the experience than about winning titles. First-lining tossups and getting 30s on bonuses should be impressive, not the expectation. I watch the finals at ICT and ACF Nats and I am in awe of the ability of the players on the stage, and that's the way it should be. I'm not trying to diminish the competition aspect of the game. I like winning as much as anyone else does, and there's nothing like the thrill of winning a close match. I'm just trying to say that no one expects perfection, and that to me, quizbowl is more about the experience than the outcome.

I think I'd like to endorse pretty much all of this. I didn't see this till now, but I think it's really true. I've been in the circuit for a while now and I've never been very good. I'm not sure if I like the social aspect of quiz bowl more as a result of that, or if I never got good because vice versa. But having you around was a ton of fun, Casey. And I definitely remember things like the time we all did a media blackout for the Oscars and waited till Mickey got off work to watch them at 3 AM or the never ending packets on those never ending car rides as the high points and low points more than winning or losing certain games. I'm sure I would've quit a long time ago if the whole draw was "push a button and feel smart about myself" since I'm not too good at that. But people like you and the Ians and Mickey and everyone else involved along the way made it worth it through the frustrating bits that sometimes made me want to quit.

I've studied very little for QB, but since this is most likely my last chance at all of these tournaments, I'm starting to more, even though I'm sure you remember me teasing of Mickey and Ian for doing it back in the day. I guess I get the whole "mentality" thing, and there's nothing wrong with that. But for me personally, I think exposure is the more tangible benefit. I've gotten introduced to a lot of my favorite books, movements, artists, and philosophers through quiz bowl, even though I'm sure I never would have bothered reading them if even hearing of a few of them if not for quiz bowl. And even if I never get a single point off of it (like when they decided to stop tossing up 100 Years of Solitude because I decided to read it) I think being a more educated and well-rounded person is a perfectly fine "end goal" even if I never get there.



Also, Nick, you forgot the part where in this sixth circle, every round is right before lunch
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Re: What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Post by 15.366 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:40 am

Two reasons --- I speak as someone who has quit, come back, and is almost certainly older than the median age of this forum and has considered how my perspective has changed over the years.

(1) As I mentioned elsewhere, a 20/20 quizbowl game is forty miniature conversations about things someone may like.

That is what makes it fun for me, and encompasses both the love of learning that others have mentioned (conversations are fun when they are on a topic you like) and the social aspect (conversations are fun when they are with people you like). Watch how people converse at parties, throwing interesting facts at each other as currency. Quizbowlers just happen to have gamified this.

(2) High-level quizbowl slows down subjective time as almost nothing else I've experienced does. I can feel my brain going into overdrive, scanning through enough alternate answers, associations, flashcards, dimly recalled childhood books --- and sincerely believe this game has already been going on for hours, only to hear "Tossup three..."

For what I allow are completely my own neurotic reasons, I am a bit terrified of the well-documented symptom of aging that subjective time speeds up as one grows older --- that it will seem that weeks and years go by in a flash. Some of the theories as to why this happens claim that we judge subjective time by how much information we've processed in it (hence, time slows down and "your life passes before your eyes" at crisis moments) and as we get older, we absorb less new information, assuming we've seen it before. Quizbowl is my antidote, since I don't have the cash, fitness, or risk tolerance to skydive.

Admittedly, intentionally putting myself through simulated time-slowing crises every tournament and practice is often not great for my cortisol levels, but win or lose, I do not come back from practice or a tournament thinking that this evening was just another evening. I get the sense, won or lost, that I have lived this time to its full value. And in the long run, that matters to me more than winning.
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Re: What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Post by marnold » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:25 pm

*ctrl+F "spite"*

You guys are missing the truest motivation of all!
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Re: What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Post by Scipio » Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:10 pm

The reason I started playing - waaaaaayyyyy back in high school, in 1990 - was because for some reason, learning things had always been something I enjoyed, which I'm guessing is hardly unique ("Oh, so you liked learning things? You don't say!"). I especially enjoyed learning not-entirely-practical, anecdotal things, like the fact that John Quincy Adams was once compelled to give an interview in the nude, or that Aristotle allegedly committed suicide when he couldn't figure out a certain set of coastal tidal patterns. I discovered that I liked sharing these, but found that most people weren't particularly interested in hearing about them. In quizbowl, though, one could not only be rewarded for this sort of thing with points (which was good), but it could also often lead to really awesome brief conversations. I still enjoy that, and even though I get something like it by going to conferences, it isn't the same pleasure. Thus, that enjoyment keeps me playing intermittently despite the expense, and despite of age, family, and scholarly commitments.

I will say, though, that age and decline of powers has reduced my desire to go to high-level tournaments. I used to be a fairly regular attendee of the Chicago Open, for example, although I haven't gone in something like four years (?). Partly that is because tastes change, and entire categories of things I know well have become increasingly less and less popular (military history, Greco-Roman history, mythology); I used to rail at that, but a more mature response is to acknowledge that it will occur as new people influence the game, and they want to write/hear questions about different things. Partly this is because what I "know" has become canalized - and often, into the above categories - and my "quizbowl knowledge" had dropped off precipitously. It still makes me smile when I can remember a "quizbowl fact" (at a used bookstore this weekend, I saw a hardback copy of The Newcomes, and it pleased me that I remembered Thackeray, though of course I had to double-check the author's name), but I remember fewer and fewer of them these days.

To answer your second question: I find that quizbowl knowledge helps enormously in the classroom. If I can drop in a salacious fact about Sophocles, Attila the Hun, Richard Coeur de Lion, or Juana la Loca (and, of course, I can), my students eat it up and, significantly, remember it for examinations. I happen to have found a profession where my quizbowl proclivities serve me very well.
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Re: What keeps you doing quizbowl?

Post by dtaylor4 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:22 pm

Like most in this activity, it was an outlet for precociousness that did not exist elsewhere. From the first time I attended a practice and realized how many answers I knew, I was hooked.

I was very fortunate in that I had great coaches in middle and high school. When things hit the fan in the classroom and at home, I still had quizbowl to look forward to. In college, I discovered that helping to run tournaments was just as challenging and rewarding as playing the game (and also paid decently, at least around here). Even after college, I found staffing tournaments, writing, moderating, and so on as a way to give back to the game that has helped me get to where I am. In many ways, I would not be where I am without it, and anything I can do to help players, coaches, my local circuit, and so on is the least I can do.

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