Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

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Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

I feel like i'm the only one with this problem, but i wanted to make a post about it just to see if others did as well and just didn't comment about it.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to count on all the players to attend our practice because of everyone's other activities. Now before i hear cries of "well they just might not like quizbowl enough" or "your practices must not be all that useful," i'll give further information and ask questions to any readers here.

In no particular order, these are the events, organizations, clubs, sports, and other activities that i have to fight with in the course of a year of quizbowl that at least one (usually more) of my kids participate in: TSA, FCCLA, Math League, debate club, Model Congress, marching band, two high school play performances, wrestling, baseball, swimming, softball, Latin club, Spanish club, French club, chorus, track, cross country, tennis, and i'm sure lots of other things i can't think of. I've tried to excuse it, i've tried to move practice around, but it seems far worse than year than in years prior... and this is the most ambitious quizbowl schedule we've ever had at CR (times 2 or 3).

It's cost innumerable amounts of practices for some very good players, who also don't have a lot of outside time to study/practice on their own.

I guess i'm just searching for validation. Do top teams have this problem? Do their kids simply not have any other activities at school? Or are they just expected to study on their own, attendance at practice be damned? I'm all for studying outside of practice, of course... i expect my kids to do so. But practice is valuable time that many of my players just aren't getting after school because of other commitments. I suppose i'm just wondering if other top-tier schools have kids with this many other commitments, or if they just dedicate more time to quizbowl and that's why they perform well.

To answer some questions i know i'll get...
Practices run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:10 til whenever, at least 5.
We only have 6 periods in a day at our school, so making a "quizbowl class" is not possible.
The fewest to attend practice this year has been about 5. The most was around 13. We brought 17 to the Maryland tournament earlier this year as our largest group we've ever had.
Mr. Andrew Chrzanowski
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

You are far from alone in this problem. I was the only one at practice Monday. Five is good for lately, on non-Fridays. We tend to get 8-10 on Fridays...

Anyway, a lot of quizbowl players also happen to be interested in Model UN, We the People, etc. Lately we've been missing one girl for Asian Assembly practices, and our A team captain never comes to Monday practice due to Boy Scouts. We've also lost people to swimming, volleyball, and others over the years. Having more than one extracurricular activity is just part of being in high school for a lot of people. It's really something you just have to deal with.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Cheynem »

It does not get any easier in college. Especially graduate school. Go away, 400+ pages of reading a week.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Strongside »

I think your problem is more common than you make it out to be. When I was in high school, I was involved in sports, and other members of our team were involved with speech, debate, theatre, etc. We generally had regular practices 1-2 times a week when school was in session from October to February. People would come and go as they pleased, and as their schedule permitted.

I would say it is a good thing that the people on your team are "well-rounded" in that they are involved with other activities, even if it is at the expense of quiz bowl. If you have at least five people at every practice, I think you are doing fine.

If some of your players cannot attend practice on a regular basis, you can give them material to study on their own if they have time, which sounds like what you are already doing.

Also, is it possible to practice during lunch?
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by sageorator »

You are far from alone here. We lose people to swimming, track, soccer, HOSA, ~4 theatre productions, piano, math league, debate, and forensics just off the top of my head. Typically people come and go as they please and we usually lose 5-7 people about halfway through practice. What is especially frustrating is that these don't just interfere with practice, but with tournaments and matches as well. We're just trying to get going on the circuit and attend what we can, and having to beg people to make quiz bowl their top priority is frustrating. VHSL states, though I acknowledge that it isn't a national tournament or anything, is particularly poorly timed as it falls the same day as states for swimming and HOSA, as well as the regional science fair. It's a mystery who will show up match to match and rarely ends up being our full A team.

As for a solution, I hold extra practices, give out as much material as I can, and beg and grovel to as many people as possible for them to show up.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Strongside wrote:Also, is it possible to practice during lunch?
No, our school is 2000 strong, so we have three lunches, and i teach from 11:27 to 11:54, then have lunch, then from 12:27 to 12:54... which all encompasses 4th period. So i would only be able to see students who have "B" lunch, which is only a small handful.

I'm taking this long weekend to start compiling a list of powers... information in pyramidal questions that seems to come up before the power mark. Hopefully they'll look over them and find some of their own as well.
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Caesar Rodney High School
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by cvdwightw »

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:I'm taking this long weekend to start compiling a list of powers... information in pyramidal questions that seems to come up before the power mark. Hopefully they'll look over them and find some of their own as well.
This does not strike me as a terribly efficient use of time, especially because most good pyramidal questions rarely repeat the lead-in or second clue. A better use might be making a somewhat shorter list of "these answers show up all the time and my kids don't know them", because that way you're encouraging them to learn about things on their own (and possibly get several powers/otherwise early buzzes) rather than take a flier on having them list-memorize a single clue for each answer, especially a clue that isn't likely to show up more than once or twice a year.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Yeah, I think just hearing/reading the questions on their own will solve that problem. As players see clues come up repeatedly for the same things, the good players will internalize them and learn. I do think that Dwight's idea might be a good kickstart for that process, since players can at least focus what they learn if they want to improve at the HS level. However, ultimately the onus falls on the players to learn the facts.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:However, ultimately the onus falls on the players to learn the facts.
I think this is the essential point. The fact that your kids want to do other activities too is healthy and something you shouldn't discourage. If they never come to practice, then complain that wins don't just fall into their collective lap, then there's something broken. But if they're coming to practice as much as they, deep down, want to, then there's nothing more you can or should do. Only when there's a disconnect between how much they want to win and how much they want to attend practice do you need to jostle them in the right direction.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

Normally, we don't have this problem simply because we're boring kids. I do absolutely nothing else, except a stage production that rarely interfered. We have a person also on the debate team, but normally, lunch practices are only ignored because someone needs to retake a test or talk to a teacher. Afterschool practice normally has everyone present, which I guess is so successful because it's on a Friday, when nothing else happens.
EDIT: Actually, recently, I was sick, two other guys were retaking tests, and our fourth was missing, and our coach cancelled practice because the four best players weren't there. But, the B team showed up, and the B team captain was apparently really pissed off about it. I can sorta see both sides to it... there's no point in determining team rank [which is half of what our practices accomplish] without the 4 best people, but the B team won't have a chance to get better if they can't practice without us around.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by scquizbowl »

Well, at our school, we have had to contend with people in several different clubs throughout the last few years. Our best player has had a part in the school play for the last several years, and he is also in NHS, takes 4 AP classes, and is in Amnesty International.

Another one is one of the leaders in our band, and is also in YDA (Young Democrats of America). Sometimes, the band and academic team conflict, and we have to bring somebody else for a tournament.

I am in Student Council, Junior Spirit, and I also do stats for the football games at our school, just to name a few things. Others have conflicts with band, swimming, and other sports.

The one story that was the best was Walsh Thomas's. He was one of the captains of the football team, and he played his last game against a region team, and there was a tournament in Aiken that Saturday. After the three-hour long football game, Walsh's dad drove him to Aiken for the tournament, and he did well the next day.

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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

I bring forth the example of Grant May, who was president of 6 clubs (Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, Debate, Newspaper, French, and German) his senior year. He managed to be insanely good at Debate, pretty good at quiz bowl and Science Olympiad, and produce a decent newspaper.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by chemqueen2 »

With enough will, it can be done. This year I'm DM in marching band, president of latin club, and vice president of mu alpha theta, along with being co captain of academic team/captain of science bowl team. I'm also in GSA and ecology club, and trying to restart chess club. With some creative scheduling, I've been able to make at least two of the three practices a week, and I spend plenty of time studying outside of practice (mainly on the bus somewhere for another club/class). My co captain is involved in as many clubs as I am, and we pull it off.

For the three tournaments we've attended so far this year, there has always been a football game the night before that the majority of the A team had to march at. Once we got to go home at midnight, only to return at 4:30. With enough caffiene, we still made the playoffs every time.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by naturalistic phallacy »

chemqueen2 wrote:With enough will, it can be done. This year I'm DM in marching band, president of latin club, and vice president of mu alpha theta, along with being co captain of academic team/captain of science bowl team. I'm also in GSA and ecology club, and trying to restart chess club. With some creative scheduling, I've been able to make at least two of the three practices a week, and I spend plenty of time studying outside of practice (mainly on the bus somewhere for another club/class). My co captain is involved in as many clubs as I am, and we pull it off.

For the three tournaments we've attended so far this year, there has always been a football game the night before that the majority of the A team had to march at. Once we got to go home at midnight, only to return at 4:30. With enough caffiene, we still made the playoffs every time.
It is inspiring to see this kind of dedication to quizbowl in you guys and gives me hope that you'll be able to figure out the balancing act that is college and still have time for quizbowl.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by cdcarter »

I get to go to practice like one a week, every other week. Practices aren't things we schedule any more, we just check around with the team if anyone can be in that day. We all study outside, some more than others, and we come together for tournaments. It isn't the best system, but half my team is on the newspaper, half are in comic book club, and I am the resident stage manager at South. We do our best.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by BobGHHS »

I think what has been said above is all in the right mindset.

The last couple years at GHHS, we had really good teams, and although I depended on Dan (Humphrey) and Joe (Wells), we had a few other people who stepped in and contributed a few points per game to help our success. Dan and Joe both were in numerous clubs and until their senior years, both played sports. On top of dealing with that, I taught 30 minutes away at a different school and coached junior high football and baseball, so in addition to the once in awhile we were able to practice in school together, our kids got together probably once a week and practiced together, and then along with some other area kids, did conference calls on skype, where they read packets to each other.

It can be done, it will just be slightly different in each situation and you have to find the right balance to make it happen, whatever that may be.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Self-incompatibility in plants »

I feel somewhat responsible for this entire thread. We, as a team, have an event coming up this week and I have several obligations that I must attend that prevent me from participating, which has prompted the wrath of Mr. C's whining, which I say with all due respect. I currently am active JSA, TSA, Latin Club, Mock Trail, Model Congress, History Club, Student Council, and of Course Quiz Bowl (far to much), but regardless of how active I am with other things, I always manage to maintain an exemplary attendance record in our practices, and almost never leave practice before 6pm, and I also study independently, so I don't think many complaints can be made to me about my dedication. What I do think though, is that my most recent inability to attend practice next week was only the breaking point. We have around 20 people in the club at our school, and we hope to bring at least 4 teams to any and all local tournaments. With that figure in mind, we can only expect around 10 people to attend any given practice. For many teams experiencing similar problems, this isn't an issue it seems because most people are willing to study at home. This is not the case for the members on our lower teams, who are, gently put, bad. This is why poor attendance is a major cause of Mr. C’s angst, and mine as well.

So here is my question. Simply enough, what course of action should we take? I have often contemplated various ways to curb this and no particular way that I have thought of seems all that appealing. One option I suppose is that we could just bring an A and B team to tournaments, which would create more competition for those 8 spots and thus would encourage more studying and increased practice attendance amongst those who want to attend our tournaments. Of course the major issue with this is that there will be people left out, which is something that we truly do not want. So what we are currently doing is just promoting better attendance (i.e. bitching at people that do not show up) and encouraging more people to study on their own (i.e. bitching at people to study more). So, keeping in mind that we want to bring as many people as possible to local tournaments, and do not want to reject anyone, what are some other more appealing proposals to solve the issue?
Caesar Rodney HS wrote:I'm taking this long weekend to start compiling a list of powers... information in pyramidal questions that seems to come up before the power mark. Hopefully they'll look over them and find some of their own as well.
This does not strike me as a terribly efficient use of time, especially because most good pyramidal questions rarely repeat the lead-in or second clue. A better use might be making a somewhat shorter list of "these answers show up all the time and my kids don't know them", because that way you're encouraging them to learn about things on their own (and possibly get several powers/otherwise early buzzes) rather than take a flier on having them list-memorize a single clue for each answer, especially a clue that isn't likely to show up more than once or twice a year.
He honestly was not looking for an efficient use of his time. We were talking Tuesday after school and he expressed how he was concerned with his Thanksgiving break plans (or lack there of) and I, in an attempt to provide a remedy for his fear of boredom over the 5 day break, suggested that he compile a list of powers. That is the major reasoning behind his doing it, and even if it is not the best thing for an efficient use of his, it still isn’t a bad idea. I don’t think at least.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by at your pleasure »

To be honest, once you get to a certain point where you've provided a environment that promotes sucess, you're going to have to accept that some people don't want to put in the time to get good. If the bad players are more casual, and don't mind not doing so well, that's acceptable. Now if they play badly and then complain about not doing as well, then there's a problem. Also, and the other posters have said this as well, if someone wants to put in the effort to improve, then there are ways they can do so without going to every practice.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Self-incompatibility in plants »

I thought about asking if we should just be content with the current situation, and accept that things won’t be perfect, but I decided that I would wait to see if anyone could offer an alternative, and I also did not want to concede that quite yet. I think at this point I have to though...

Just to be clear, I'm in no way including those take their own initiative in the causes of my angst.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by Captain Sinico »

I have two ideas to help those of you facing this dilemma (which, as has been noted is, if anything, exacerbated in college):
1. Host as much practice as possible. If you're running 20 hours of practice a week, even the most otherwise-occupied people will be able to attend enough to get their practice in (and maybe some crazy people will go to all of them and get really good.) You can run 4 or 5 short practices, or fewer long practices that people can pick-up at around whatever else they have to do. Obviously, that's a greater time commitment on your part than most can make, so consider recruiting some assistant coaches and getting them to run practice, or, better, get some of your players to do stuff on their own.
2. De-emphasize practice and emphasize outside study. This has already been sufficiently treated, I think.

I'd also stress that, as a team's leader, you need to understand that there's only so much a leader can do: you can tinker and inspire but, fundamentally, the impetus for work has to come from each player. One can only be meaningfully involved in so many things (though how many certainly varies widely from one person to another) and each player will know that. If a player decides that quizbowl isn't a priority for them by being involved in other things that prevent their putting in the work to excel (despite being offered every opportunity to do so,) you have to accept there's nothing really that you can do about that. You should keep such players around and encourage them to work at the game to the extent that they're willing, but you shouldn't chase them; you should rather invest your energies in the players who are putting the work in.

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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by David Riley »

My students also hav a lot of activities, and I try to work around them as much as possible. Some, however, are verboten for practical reasons; e.g. basketball season is simply too long and there are too many speech/debate conflicts. But even with the conflicts, I always seem to have a regular cadre of students who become dedicated to quiz bowl. I'm fortunate in having a very enthusiastic and dedicated captain this year, not to mention a group of freshmen who don't seem to mind being thrown to the varsity lions in order to get experience.

A colleague of mine does what Mike suggests: he has several practices a week, and his students come to several, though you might not have that much time. Continue to show them that you care about them as well as the activity and they will do their best to work around their schedules.
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Re: Quizbowl vs. Extracurriculars - The Neverending Battle

Post by kcommo »

Conflicts with other activities is a huge issue just about everywhere in Vermont these days, and here it goes beyond practice into the competition. Four of the schools in our league have withdrawn at least from the regional phase of our state tournament because they coudn't field enough players to compete, and that's with very flexible regional schedules that all the coaches get a say in making.

In a very small state (our league is typically 32-36 schools), losing so many teams in-season is a big blow. It's gotten to the point where this will likely be the top issue for debate at our winter board meeting, though as far as I can tell, opinion on what to do about it is all over the place.

My view is that we need to compete more and do so on a more predictable schedule to build a better niche for ourselves in students' schedules, but that would require someone else stepping to run tournaments, and that's an another issue entirely.
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