When is F/S not F/S

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When is F/S not F/S

Post by mrgsmath » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:38 pm

During last weekend’s PORTA F/S invite there was a question raised about whether it is appropriate for a freshman or sophomore individual, who normally starts on the Varsity team for a school to be played down for a Fresh/Soph tournament. The individuals in question ranged from extraordinary to some who are varsity starters simply because the school is in a rebuilding phase. The meet was run on a NAQT “A” set and while the numbers posted were quite good for the persons in question, the overall conversions among the population were also good just more evenly distributed.

The mix of teams ranged from schools with less than 100 students to ones with well over 1000, so many good players from large schools were not at issue since the competition for Varsity spots is more intense. And the students in question were mostly from the mid range schools.

In addition most of teams with the individuals submitted two teams, so players were not denied the opportunity to play because of the addition.

The tournament is promoted as an opportunity for younger players to get some tournament experience while also providing a glimpse of what future teams will be like in 1-2 years.

As TD should I set parameters, and if so what parameters could I set that would be fair to all.

My concerns:

1) That a player who plays an unassuming role on Varsity due to the teams needs would be denied an opportunity to showcase his or her talents among their peers.
2) Does denying some player’s availability allow for a misrepresentation of who has the better F/S team?
3) Does allowing these players to participate prevent others in the tournament to gain some recognition?

We had 28 teams from 22 schools participating and in all other regards the players and coaches present found the experience exciting as well as challenging. The form of play with 3 part bonuses read and rebounded one at a time and reduced time limits was particularly well received. The only issue was the one raised above. I am open to your constructive discussions, and suggestions.
Mark Grant
Coach - PORTA H.S.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:55 pm

When tournament directors make the choice to have grades be the sole determining factor for eligibility in an event, it is then going to simply be the case that they should expect very good freshmen or sophomores to play their tournament. I see nothing wrong with allowing people who are excellent to play something they are eligible for.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by the return of AHAN » Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:10 pm

I remember taking my team to Loyola's F/S tournament 3 years ago and getting crushed in the semifinals by a Stevenson team composed of Zach B. + 4 others (including a decent, but not great yet, Kevin M.). It was common knowledge that Zach was already considered varsity material, but it never occurred to me to complain. And it still wouldn't. If a team has better freshmen or sophomores than you do? Too bad. As Jonah would say, "Go learn things."

TL/DR; What Charlie said.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by mrgsmath » Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:18 pm

Moving Day wrote: If a team has better freshmen or sophomores than you do? Too bad. As Jonah would say, "Go learn things."

TL/DR; What Charlie said.
This tended to be my opinion as well, but I wanted to hear other views from outside the bubble.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:07 pm

Illinois is starting to come around on the issue of "easy tournaments" with the advent of Fall Novice and SCOP Novice, as well as lower divisions at regular tournaments. In time, I'm hoping we'll see an elimination of F/S tourneys in favor of "novice" tourneys, so that this very question can be solved.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:34 pm

I actually disagree. I think there is something to be said for tournaments that delineate by age because 1) it's impossible to argue with the eligibility criteria, and 2) it lets good young players get more of a chance to see how they fare against their future opponents. I have nothing against "novice" events as well if they use appropriate criteria, but I don't see any problems with fresh/soph events inherently. The problems seem to arise when people confuse the two types of events and expect good freshmen and sophomores who might not be eligible for a truly novice tournament to not play tournaments they are eligible for.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Mike Wong » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:46 pm

styxman wrote:Illinois is starting to come around on the issue of "easy tournaments" with the advent of Fall Novice and SCOP Novice, as well as lower divisions at regular tournaments. In time, I'm hoping we'll see an elimination of F/S tourneys in favor of "novice" tourneys, so that this very question can be solved.
I actually agree with this a lot. The grade level in which a player is in does not represent the quizbowl experience. I would say that there is positive correlation between grade level and intrinsic knowledge as this naturally occurs with higher studies.

Speaking on behalf of IMSA, we accept students out of 8th grade (known as "'shmen"; it comes from for fre"shmen"). This moniker carries with the student throughout their entire career. Would TDs allow a Junior (of sophomore age) compete at their F/S tournament? I've heard many answers but different ones. Is it fair to strip a student's eligibility from play because they have skipped a grade, but having less quizbowl experience overall?
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by mrgsmath » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:02 pm

styxman wrote:Illinois is starting to come around on the issue of "easy tournaments" with the advent of Fall Novice and SCOP Novice, as well as lower divisions at regular tournaments. In time, I'm hoping we'll see an elimination of F/S tourneys in favor of "novice" tourneys, so that this very question can be solved.
How does one define "novice"? If a player attended the SCOP Novice or the Fall Novice is s/he no longer a Novice? Is it the TD or the team's coach that makes the determination? Will teams with less resources be unable to find places for their younger players to be competitive, if larger schools start sending 2nd string varsity as novice teams? Should I break out big schools from small schools into separate divisions? At 28 teams I am almost at the limit of PORTA's capacity, if I go to separate divisions it will mean reducing the fields. I presently hold the F/S and Varsity on separate dates for that very reason. Not complaints, just some problems I am struggling with.
Mark Grant
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by jonah » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:08 pm

One problem with extant frosh/soph tournaments in Illinois is the questions used for them. The only f/s tournaments that have ever used anything approaching good questions, so my knowledge, are Loyola's Davey and Goliath (which doesn't exist anymore; it used Aegis and then IS-A sets), Carmel's tournament (IS-A), and the most recent edition of the Wheaton North tournament (housewritten, edited by Greg Gauthier). All the others use Platypus, Questions Galore, and similar crap.

Obviously this isn't a theoretical problem with frosh/soph tournaments, but more of a practical one. If this doesn't change—and knowing Illinois, it won't—we're better off with novice tournaments and lower divisions of regular tournaments.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:16 pm

I feel comfortable saying that any FNT bid made from Illinois that uses the fresh/soph eligibility rule would be allowed. Would it be possible to encourage people running those events in different parts of the state to use FNT?
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:18 pm

There have been many arguments over the years in Illinois over this very issue, since we have had Frosh/Soph Tournaments for a long time. I would recommend to anybody hosting a Frosh/Soph Tournament, or Novice Tournament for that matter, that they be very clear in the invitation and confirmation letter as to what the restrictions are. Even stating that all Freshmen and Sophomores are allowed to play at a Frosh/Soph Tournament, which to some people is obvious, is important, since some people believe that Frosh/Soph excludes outstanding students.

If you do decide to disqualify some students, and that's a decision entirely up to the host which can be justified either way, then you need clear criteria, and for reasons stated in the original post disqualifying people because they have any experience playing Varsity is a bad idea. You could try something like disqualifying people who have played at least 20 matches on their Varsity A Team or answered at least 50 tossups playing for their Varsity A Team or something along those lines.

As long as you are clear about what you are doing, you can tell anybody who complains that you look forward to seeing their ideas implemented at their tournament.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by jonah » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:53 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:I feel comfortable saying that any FNT bid made from Illinois that uses the fresh/soph eligibility rule would be allowed. Would it be possible to encourage people running those events in different parts of the state to use FNT?
We contacted the hosts of all pre-winter-break frosh/soph tournaments about that, and no one was willing. One person said he might have considered it but had just signed the contract with his writer.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by the return of AHAN » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:06 pm

Mike Wong wrote: Is it fair to strip a student's eligibility from play because they have skipped a grade, but having less quizbowl experience overall?
If a 9th grader skipped a grade in Barrington, should he be allowed to play for my Station Campus MS team? Of course not. If nothing else, it sounds like you would like to see an age-restriction like you have in club sports. That would make things very complicated for tournament hosts, to say the least.

I remember a few year back when a Naperville school was asked to return a trophy from the Fremd Frosh/Soph tournament because they had used a junior on their team. Apparently, they allegedly thought it was a JV Tournament. At least that's the explanation I heard.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Mike Wong » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:25 pm

Moving Day wrote:
Mike Wong wrote: Is it fair to strip a student's eligibility from play because they have skipped a grade, but having less quizbowl experience overall?
If a 9th grader skipped a grade in Barrington, should he be allowed to play for my Station Campus MS team? Of course not. If nothing else, it sounds like you would like to see an age-restriction like you have in club sports. That would make things very complicated for tournament hosts, to say the least.

I remember a few year back when a Naperville school was asked to return a trophy from the Fremd Frosh/Soph tournament because they had used a junior on their team. Apparently, they allegedly thought it was a JV Tournament. At least that's the explanation I heard.
Definitely difficult for the TDs. I am referring to how a student, who has skipped a grade to attend IMSA, would be referred to as when they returned to their home school. I know students that have left IMSA who skipped their freshman year but returned to their home schools to repeat their sophomore year, even though they technically have had their sophomore year at IMSA.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Coach G » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:05 pm

Jonah, I am saddened to see that you did not include Auburn's Knights' Challenge among the frosh-soph tournaments using good quality pyramid-style questions. I will not take it as a slight, but rather will attribute the "forgetfulness" to the stress you are under as you finish preparing for this Saturday's tournament. :wink: I sincerely hope you do not group our questions with the other "crap", to use your word for it.
When we started the tournament in 2000, we were not writing pyramid-style questions - I don't think anybody in Illinois was writing that style for high school tourneys then. We gradually evolved to pyramid-style toss-ups and have written them that way since 06 or 07.

Re the frosh-soph/JV/"novice" varsity distinctions, I have had some discussions with my team members and other coaches about this during the past few years, and no matter which one(s)of the three terms are used, there can be, although there does not have to be in the case of frosh-soph, fuzziness in the definition. For many years in Illinois, frosh-soph meant just what it says - any players who were currently freshmen or sophomores. JV generally meant any players in any grade (9-12) who were not on the starting varsity team. They could be JV because they simply weren't as good as the starters and/or because they were in their first year on the team, so had little or no experience; someone on the JV team at the start of the year might move up to varsity during the season. The term "novice" varsity is fairly new, and to my mind, not yet well-defined. When do players stop being novices? When does a whole team stop being a novice team? How do other activities (chess or debate, for example, to avoid the use of sports for comparison) define "novice"? Is the term used for players in their first year only? Or players with fewer than X number of rounds played? For teams that are new to the activity, that is, in schools that have not had a team before? For teams that are in a rebuilding year? I don't know.

To come back to the issue of frosh-soph events and the question of should a 9th or 10th grader who starts on the school's varsity team play in them, I'll share some thoughts on this from our school's current and former team members, as well as my perspective as a coach.
For several years I had any 9th/10th graders who were varsity starters play in at least some frosh-soph tournaments each season, as did other Illinois schools with active programs. Due to the IHSA 18 date restriction, they didn't/couldn't play in all the frosh-soph events we entered, since they were also playing varsity level. The reasons I had them play in at least some frosh-soph tourneys are (1) I wanted to see how they matched up to the other teams' players in their own class in school, and (2) I wanted them to get competition experience playing with teammates who would probably be starters on the varsity team with them in the future. A few years ago some of our players asked if they had to play any frosh-soph events at all; they didn't really want to because they felt they didn't learn anything by playing in them. In a few cases it was because of the style and/or quality of the questions, but even when the questions were well-written pyramidal ones, these players' knowledge already went beyond most of the first clues. This made me re-evaluate the situation, and we stopped playing any regular varsity starters at frosh-soph events, as did some other Illinois teams at about the same time. Last year in the invitation to the Knights' Challenge, we requested that coaches not have any 9th or 10th graders who are varsity starters play in the tournament; and this year we have a frosh-soph division (for teams composed of 9th and 10th graders who are not varsity starters) and a novice varsity division (for teams composed of players in any grade 9-12 who don't have a lot of experience yet). I'll be interested to see how it goes, and what, if any, the differences are in the stats.

As we have more "novice" varsity tournaments, I think there may need to be a consensus on what actually constitutes a "novice" player (or team). For now, I think we're all just doing what Coach Reinstein suggested above - make it clear in the invitation what your definition of the term is. As to who decides this, to answer Mark's question, yes, the TD/host school coach and team should decide.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by jonah » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:11 pm

Coach G wrote:Jonah, I am saddened to see that you did not include Auburn's Knights' Challenge among the frosh-soph tournaments using good quality pyramid-style questions. I will not take it as a slight, but rather will attribute the "forgetfulness" to the stress you are under as you finish preparing for this Saturday's tournament. :wink: I sincerely hope you do not group our questions with the other "crap", to use your word for it.
You are exactly right: I forgot about Knight's Challenge. I have never actually seen any KC sets, but knowing the question-writing skills of several Auburn team members over the last several years, I give them the benefit of the doubt. And if you would like to send me those sets so I can be sure, that would be awesome.
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Re: When is F/S not F/S

Post by Scott » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:25 pm

I think it is perfectly fine for novice high school tournaments to coexist with f/s high school tournaments. In fact, using ability/experience to determine entry can be very helpful for the moral of not only young players but also juniors that are just starting the activity. I also think the f/s tournaments are great to allow students to compete against others their age/grade. I see no problem with letting excellent freshmen and sophomores play compete with those whom they will compete against as seniors.

However, the tournament director must do a good job advertising with the tournament is novice or f/s. To me, novice tournaments are more about getting experience and boosting morale, while f/s tournaments are for letting teams practice and see how the field will develop in the following years. I would like to see a greater distinction between these two types of tournaments and believe we will as time goes on.
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