The Future

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The Future

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:43 am

I'm looking for ideas on the improvement of Scholastic Bowl/Quizbowl in Illinois. Start with the assumption that things will get better over the next 3-5 years, and let me know how it gets better. The two questions are what will change and how will it change, and feel free to answer either question or both.

Just to be clear, suggestions from people outside the world of Illinois Scholastic Bowl/Quizbowl are welcome.
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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:54 am

I think what needs to happen to ensure the long-term development of Illinois quizbowl is integration. Though I don't really have the experience to back it up, it has always felt like there is two divided camps, split by opinions of what constitutes a good tournament/format/questions/whatever. The real goal should be to merge these. You might think that 'bad quizbowl' is bad, but the truth is that without the support of these organizations, what has been built would mostly collapse. We need to work on shaping the IHSA and Masonic programs, instead of just doing our own thing. There's a reason barnstormers cannot last forever. If we can unite the passion that has led to a more reformed competition with the money supplied by well-meaning organizations, it will improve the state. Not to mention that there's far more teams playing what we would term 'bad quizbowl' than not. IHSA is something that we can work with to actually make fun to play.
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Re: The Future

Post by David Riley » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:31 am

I don't disagree with what you want to do, but how you suggest doing it. The use of good questions is non-negotiable. Several of us have worked long and hard to improve the question quality in Illinois, and I do not want to see this aspect of bad quizbowl (especially) integrated in any way.

I'm not sure the two camps will ever see eye to eye, and I think in many ways it's a question of philosophy. One camp sees quiz bowl as an academic competition, with teams striving to answer the best questions, employ the best practices, and learn information in the process of doing so. The other sees quiz bowl as a variant of Trivial Pursuit or similar games.

Outside of quality questions, I think the main thing that needs to happen is the expansion of the canon as Illinois has traditionally known it. I'll agree we've come a long way in the past several years, but topics such as fine arts, philosophy, and economics need to be more prominent, and we need to get rid of categories such as spelling and driver's ed, which may be valuable in their own way but not as a part of quiz bowl. There needs to be more academic questions and less pop culture. I'll probably have more to say later, but that's it for now.
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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:57 am

But the problem we must face is that players of good quizbowl and others have a different conception of the function quizbowl serves. To outsiders, it's more of a performance, an exhibition of what our society is capable of producing. They look at it like they look at movies. They think we learned all of this at school, for pete's sake. It's hard for people to understand the depth that we find in this activity. To Joe Schmoe, it would seem like a bunch of pedantic crap.

To make this what we want, it's necessary to stop thinking we're better than them. At least a little bit. The ideological boundaries must be lowered a bit to allow the others to cross. They need to be convinced that this is something worth arguing over, but to do this, we must first compromise.

And realistically, there are worse things than bad questions. Just because it's stupid doesn't mean it isn't worth it. Until my freshman year, I knew nothing of how good this could get. My middle school experience was short-sighted, but my ignorance blinded me to that fact. Would I have gotten more out of it if I were one of the kids at Barrington Station? Probably. But I still think it had value. It was better than not playing at all. Just because it's stupid doesn't mean it is bad for you.
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Re: The Future

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:20 pm

If something isn't up to the desirable standards, how is saying, "Eh, just let it go, who really cares?" going to accomplish anything?
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Re: The Future

Post by MLaudermith » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:24 pm

thyringe_supine wrote:They need to be convinced that this is something worth arguing over, but to do this, we must first compromise.
I'm still confused on what you mean by "compromise". Do you mean that more competitive teams should continue attending (or return to) tournaments run on poorly-written or non-pyramidal questions? I suppose this could help build trust between the different quizbowl camps in Illinois, but I know a lot of the players wouldn't like it. If I gave my players a choice, they wouldn't choose to go to tournaments run on bad questions.

It seems to me that our biggest problem in Illinois is not antipathy towards good quizbowl, but general indifference. We need to convince coaches to bring their teams to more events, period. It still shocks me to hear of teams that don't get organized until after winter break. There is a sadly large number of teams/coaches in our state who are content to play in their conference, go to Regionals (and maybe Masonics), and call it a season. I don't think that's due to disdain for good quizbowl or its advocates. I'm sure some of those teams have legitimate reasons for not doing more: no money for transportation or tournament fees, no tournaments nearby, players unwilling to do weekend events, etc. But what about the rest? How do we convince those coaches to start traveling to more tournaments?

In five years, I'd like to see us have a circuit where "500 teams" doesn't mean 500 for one day of the year, but 500 teams actively participating from October to March.

I'm sure I'll have more to add later.
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Re: The Future

Post by garciaja » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:46 pm

I agree with James from Carbondale in the sense that quiz bowl should be more accessible. I don't agree with dumbing it down, nor do I think he was suggesting so. However, we could do things to make scholastic bowl more mainstream.

One idea for accessibility is to have some IHSSBCA sponsored weeknight quadrangulars. I am less and less likely to take my teams to tournaments on Saturdays as life circumstances change, and as the tournaments get longer. My players end up overly-tired and so do I. If we lessen the tension on an already full Saturday calendar with some weeknight competition that could make life easy for teams which already do this, teams which compete on Saturday, and those teams with coaches who don't want to spend entire Saturdays criss-crossing the state in a cold bus. This does mean less matches, however.

Another idea for accessibility to create a master database for quiz bowl learning materials, such as powerpoints, other learning guides, canon "lists", lectures, and more. Reading mounds of questions is a nice way of learning information, but its definitely not the only way. Such a database would make quiz bowl less intimidating for newer players, coaches worried about their teams being crushed, and schools with new quiz bowl programs. A strong program such as Carbondale, Auburn, or IMSA also might benefit from creating these sorts of study guides in the same way that writing questions does.

My last, and worst idea is to organize the state into conferences of some sort, done by the IHSSBCA. The Big 12, Central State 8, and other athletic conferences already exist to foster competition, but I think they do a poor job with quiz bowl. Creating our own conferences might help open up some schools to quiz bowl on other levels or might make the NAQT state series seem more legitimate to current outsiders. I agree that this conferences idea is probably infeasible and could be a bad idea for schools in the Chicago area.

Overall, I like where Illinois is headed currently. I think we've got arguably the best state for quiz bowl in the country, but looking to what other states do might give us some perspective as well.
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Re: The Future

Post by dtaylor4 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:08 pm

garciaja wrote:I agree with James from Carbondale in the sense that quiz bowl should be more accessible. I don't agree with dumbing it down, nor do I think he was suggesting so. However, we could do things to make scholastic bowl more mainstream.

One idea for accessibility is to have some IHSSBCA sponsored weeknight quadrangulars. I am less and less likely to take my teams to tournaments on Saturdays as life circumstances change, and as the tournaments get longer. My players end up overly-tired and so do I. If we lessen the tension on an already full Saturday calendar with some weeknight competition that could make life easy for teams which already do this, teams which compete on Saturday, and those teams with coaches who don't want to spend entire Saturdays criss-crossing the state in a cold bus. This does mean less matches, however.
James does have a point regarding the weekend warrior aspect. Back before the 18-date rule, the best teams had matches and tournaments from September to May. The 18-date rule must be abolished for this to work, however.

Laudermith highlights the elephant in the room: the disparity between the 500-team IHSA and Masonic tournaments, and the maybe 10% of teams who are active most weekends. We are not done improving the circuit until we get that kind of participation on most weekends.

How does that happen? We as a circuit need to ask the players and coaches who are not active. For several players, having fall sport conflicts is a legitimate and frequent issue, especially in smaller schools.

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Re: The Future

Post by Guile Island » Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:05 pm

I feel like an issue with getting teams to go to more good quizbowl events is commitment not only from the administration, but from the students, as things like IMEA, ICTM, Speech, and countless others take up Saturdays for students that could be spent going to tournaments. It's pretty much impossible to work around these events, however. For some teams, IHSA, conference (which is on Wednesdays for us), and maybe Masonics are the only tourneys that a school can field a committed team of kids to. I think that greater outreach in some form would help improve overall attendance, but I'm not an expert on that matter.
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Re: The Future

Post by David Riley » Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:51 pm

Dylan's point is not only an issue with small schools, where clubs and activities fight for students, but large schools where--despite evidence from college admissions directors to the contrary--students feel that they have to join n activities or they won't get into a good college. I'm not sure if there is a "one size fits all" solution. In my own case, I finally had to tell incoming freshmen (and remind them later on) that certain activities (e.g. speech, basketball) were off limits if they wanted to participate in quiz bowl. Eventually I had dedicated teams, and I'll add here that it was THEIR idea to play a tournament every weekend (possible under the 18-date rule since we weren't in a league). I'm afraid many coaches and students simply don't want to give up their Saturdays, and quadrangulars for them might work on a school night provided they end at a reasonable hour (which ours did not, which is why we eventually left the league we had been in).
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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:58 pm

Golden-bellied Starfrontlet wrote:I feel like an issue with getting teams to go to more good quizbowl events is commitment not only from the administration, but from the students, as things like IMEA, ICTM, Speech, and countless others take up Saturdays for students that could be spent going to tournaments. It's pretty much impossible to work around these events, however. For some teams, IHSA, conference (which is on Wednesdays for us), and maybe Masonics are the only tourneys that a school can field a committed team of kids to. I think that greater outreach in some form would help improve overall attendance, but I'm not an expert on that matter.
This is a pretty bad excuse, though. You have to learn to prioritize. I have had multiple IMEA conflicts, I'm missing Jazz Ensemble Fest to go to scobol. You just have to make your decision, and if you don't choose to go to big tournaments and as a result never become a good player, then boo hoo.

But, to develop these teams that only show up at Masonic/IHSA events, how far would it be necessary to go? Are we to assume that the only thing preventing these hundreds of teams from good competition is funding? I seriously doubt this is the case. As activities go, quizbowl, to my mind, is pretty cheap. Pretty much all it is is tournament fees, buzzer systems, gas money, and maybe camp fees. Really, I think enlightenment is the issue that needs to be tackled. Perhaps convincing more coaches and players to get on this board could get it started.

Also, what I really meant to say earlier is that it seems to me that it's stupid to expect bad teams to get better if they never interact, as equals, with good teams, that would have to abandon their hipsterish preconceptions. And I don't even mean just through playing them. We need to recognize that Team Illinois is all of us. We're all on the same team. We've got to teach them how to do it right. The question remains, though, how are we to interact with these guys if we don't go to tournaments they do? We really can't, can we? So, in order to make our brand of this activity understandable to them, we need to get as much time around them as possible, so we can rub off on them. Unfortunately, this could translate to having to participate in events we normally wouldn't, but I think it's the only way to get the job done. Don't get me wrong, I don't like conference play. C-dale is in the middle of quizbowl no man's land, in essence. When we play, people ask me my IQ. I routinely get death stares. Frankly it makes me feel guilty for beating them so bad. The 'good quizbowl' community needs to make itself attractive and appealing to these guys, to convince them that you don't have to be special to do well at this.
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Re: The Future

Post by Windows ME » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:05 pm

Yeah Illinois is totally the middle of quiz bowl nowhere
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Re: The Future

Post by tintinnabulation » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:24 pm

fourplustwo wrote:Yeah Illinois is totally the middle of quiz bowl nowhere
You try living in"southern" Illinois. There definitely is a quizbowl nowhere.
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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:43 pm

yeah, southern il has . . . very little to offer, qb wise
unless you mean qb as in football
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Re: The Future

Post by David Riley » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:13 pm

James, one of the problems with your suggestion is that there are very few bad (to our definition) tournaments left. Without mentioning any names, I can only think of four Saturday tournaments off the top of my head that would qualify as such, and mainly by the use of bad questions. No competitive team of my acquaintance is going to waste their time by voluntarily playing on sets of bad questions.

And why should you feel guilty for doing well at quiz bowl? If they don't like losing then they should GO LEARN MORE THINGS!!!

To interact with competitive teams, shouldn't these teams rise to good qb standards, rather than vice-versa?
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Re: The Future

Post by dtaylor4 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:35 pm

Carbondale is 2 hours from St. Louis, 3.5 hours from Springfield (IL) or Champaign, 4 from Columbia, MO, and 5 from Chicago or Lexington, KY.

Going to big tournaments is not a requirement to become a great player, but it certainly helps.

I understand wanting to make the game appeal to others within the state, but you have to draw the line in the sand. If they do not want to meet halfway, I do not want them involved. If you are willing to compromise what distinguishes good quizbowl from bad (better questions, more games, fairer tournament formats, etc.) in order to try to up participation, you are seeking to do more harm than good.

You know how you do well at this game? You put in work. Athletes get better by practicing, hitting the gym, and eating right. This game is no different in that you have to devote time and energy in order to become a better player. It is that simple, and there is no way around it. Yes, some teams can tap into more resources, but that is no different than any other sport. The extra resources can be a great boon if used properly, but they are no substitute for hard work.

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Re: The Future

Post by Kouign Amann » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:39 pm

tintinnabulation wrote:
fourplustwo wrote:Yeah Illinois is totally the middle of quiz bowl nowhere
You try living in"southern" Illinois. There definitely is a quizbowl nowhere.
Sinan currently lives in a much more desolate "nowhere" than you do. I think the point he was gently trying to make is "hey, at least it's not Alberta."
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Re: The Future

Post by tintinnabulation » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:37 pm

We have active scholastic bowl leagues in the Peoria area (Peoria Area League, Central Prairie League) but we play Questions Galore/some strange question provider who is too ashamed to put their name on their questions. I've already tried (and failed, as far as I know) to get our leagues/the tournaments that our school runs to use HSAPQ questions. As far as I can see, community-wise, we have a lack of awareness and/or possibly a lack of interest. There are a couple teams around the Peoria area that I think would play real quizbowl and be decent at it, if given the chance.

Within my own team, I believe that apathy for real quizbowl arises from a number of things. If I suggest going to X Decent Tournament, usually to person I'm asking will ask about the questions/format. I'm not sure that there are any inherent problems with format, but they think that NAQT format is bizarre and I have heard numerous complaints about the new IHSA rules, especially regarding bonuses. They also hate those "long/hard/stupid" questions.

"Long" comes from our always playing one-liner/two-liner questions. "Hard" comes from the fact that the questions we usually play have no canon (thus studying is difficult and has a spotty payoff) and the answers that are similar do not require intensive quizbowl-like studying (the clues are FTP/obscure/irrelevant/too general), so even if we've studied, we're unprepared. "Stupid," paradoxically, comes from the fact that we're used to our lack-of-canon questions and anything we haven't heard of before (Proust, Malinowski, PCR) that has a bunch of long clues in front of it is obscure and stupid.

There is no motivation to work hard and improve because we have a mindset that scholastic bowl doesn't take much effort and is kind of a thing to make fun of anyway. We--speaking of the area now--don't get to see good teams play a good game on good questions. Many, if not all, of the above problems are self-perpetuating but no matter how much we push quizbowl, no one's going to want to get good at it if they don't feel motivated to.

I think that a possible solution to these problems is, as James suggested, getting good teams to play less-experienced-at-quizbowl teams, but not on bad questions. If we can get good teams, middling teams, and new teams to play together on good questions (IS, A-set, HSAPQ) and the new teams see good teams play and have a good experience, I think we can make headway. One compromise might be format. The odd, confusing mix of IHSA and NAQT rules that the Springfield Invite uses seems a possible way to transition newer teams from IHSA format to NAQT/ACF formats. If experienced coaches can contact the new-to-quizbowl coaches and invite them to tournaments, encourage their team's potential, the coaches will be aware of tournaments and be more likely to go to them. (This has already happened and already made my coach more open to going to that tournament) Sorry to harp on this again, but having more tournaments farther south will help (e.g. NAQT State at Bloomington, which I think I have a decent shot at convincing my team to go to since it's close.) If some teams catch the quizbowl "bug," it might be enough to grow a real community in central/southern Illinois.
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Re: The Future

Post by Guile Island » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:27 pm

thyringe_supine wrote:
Golden-bellied Starfrontlet wrote:I feel like an issue with getting teams to go to more good quizbowl events is commitment not only from the administration, but from the students, as things like IMEA, ICTM, Speech, and countless others take up Saturdays for students that could be spent going to tournaments. It's pretty much impossible to work around these events, however. For some teams, IHSA, conference (which is on Wednesdays for us), and maybe Masonics are the only tourneys that a school can field a committed team of kids to. I think that greater outreach in some form would help improve overall attendance, but I'm not an expert on that matter.
This is a pretty bad excuse, though. You have to learn to prioritize. I have had multiple IMEA conflicts, I'm missing Jazz Ensemble Fest to go to scobol. You just have to make your decision, and if you don't choose to go to big tournaments and as a result never become a good player, then boo hoo.
The thing is, not everybody is as committed as you or myself or has quizbowl as their first priority. Teams that don't go to as many things are more likely to have more casual players that would probably have some of these events at a higher priority than quizbowl.
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Re: The Future

Post by Dominator » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:45 pm

tintinnabulation wrote:Sorry to harp on this again, but having more tournaments farther south will help. If some teams catch the quizbowl "bug," it might be enough to grow a real community in central/southern Illinois.
I've tried that for two years now. We haven't even gotten Peoria Christian to attend, let alone the "unaffected" Peoria schools.
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Re: The Future

Post by Mewto55555 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:01 am

tintinnabulation wrote: Sorry to harp on this again, but having more tournaments farther south will help (e.g. NAQT State at Bloomington, which I think I have a decent shot at convincing my team to go to since it's close.) If some teams catch the quizbowl "bug," it might be enough to grow a real community in central/southern Illinois.
So I mapquested; Peoria is 2:45 from St. Louis (which really means like, 2:30 if you go at a reasonable if slightly-over-speed-limit pace) -- there's usually like 5+ tournaments here a year which would be valuable to go to if you're short stuff in the area, or a Chicago-area date doesn't work for you, and that time means you can easily make the drive the morning of the tournament.

Also, if there's not enough stuff in your area, then host! Or convince another team to host!
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Re: The Future

Post by tintinnabulation » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:14 am

Dominator wrote:
tintinnabulation wrote:Sorry to harp on this again, but having more tournaments farther south will help. If some teams catch the quizbowl "bug," it might be enough to grow a real community in central/southern Illinois.
I've tried that for two years now. We haven't even gotten Peoria Christian to attend, let alone the "unaffected" Peoria schools.
I'm pretty much the only one trying to get involved and I only discovered the boards and related last year. I know that during last year's IMSANITY at Bloomington we were hosting our frosh/soph tourney and couldn't be there. In saying that, I aware that we in all likelihood would not have been attending for lack of persuasive abilities, if that is any excuse. That's why I am reluctant to ask for people to pander to those who will likely reject chances to compete anyway.
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Re: The Future

Post by tintinnabulation » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:34 am

Mewto55555 wrote:
tintinnabulation wrote: Sorry to harp on this again, but having more tournaments farther south will help (e.g. NAQT State at Bloomington, which I think I have a decent shot at convincing my team to go to since it's close.) If some teams catch the quizbowl "bug," it might be enough to grow a real community in central/southern Illinois.
So I mapquested; Peoria is 2:45 from St. Louis (which really means like, 2:30 if you go at a reasonable if slightly-over-speed-limit pace) -- there's usually like 5+ tournaments here a year which would be valuable to go to if you're short stuff in the area, or a Chicago-area date doesn't work for you, and that time means you can easily make the drive the morning of the tournament.

Also, if there's not enough stuff in your area, then host! Or convince another team to host!
Since I am a typical selfish human being, when something is hard for me (convincing! teammates! coaches! parents! to go! places!) I want somebody else to try and fix it, which is in essence what I've asked. St. Louis is about as close as Chicago, and I've checked into some St. Louis tournaments. My school hosts quite a few things every year, but on badly written questions. I've attempted to get that changed, but to no avail.
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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:24 pm

Sorry you're Canadian, my friend.

@Dylan
Point taken, but seriously, what is to be done about it? I don't agree, however, that small/unknown schools fall prey to this more often, neither do I think we let who's available design our season. I mean, every team suffers from this in a more or less equal fashion. Not to bash him or anything, but Srinivas could've been a better player if he had been able to go to more stuff. I mean really, he missed NTV to go to Australia last year. He said Australia was cool, but it was his/his parents decision to do miss the tournament. I'm pretty confident that if he had been there we could've at least jumped up a place. You shouldn't be so gung-ho to try to fix other people's problems when they're totally capable of fixing it themselves. You can only do so much with your high school years, and that's a big part of what makes them special. If these smaller schools aren't putting the game as their priority, then we shouldn't try to rearrange everything so they can get away with it. Doing that won't change anything, except for showing them how pliable and easy to push around the community can be. They must be convinced that it's worth missing other stuff to come to this.
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Re: The Future

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:04 pm

I think people choosing to go to Australia over a quiz bowl tournament probably isn't a real problem.
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Re: The Future

Post by Aaron Goldfein » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:28 pm

Part of the problem may be that teams don't have a lot of reason to get better. Say you're a student on a mediocre team in the Chicago suburbs. Odds are, no matter how hard your team studies and no matter how many good tournaments you go to, you'll probably never have a chance at being one of the top teams in the state before you graduate. So why study? You're never going to win IHSA or Masonics or probably even a Saturday tournament.

My proposal, then, is that some body (say, the IHSSBCA) grades each team in the offseason by its competitive abilities into three grades. After the initial gradings are done, between seasons, teams can submit requests to be regraded, and most of the time the grading body would only move a team if they both requested it and deserved it. However, the grading body would ultimately have jurisdiction to move teams as it sees fit. A process could be in place to move teams during a season in exceptional cases. Then, tournaments would be encouraged to adopt three separate divisions at each of their tournaments, crowning a Grade One champion, a Grade Two champion, and a Grade Three champion. Tournaments with fewer teams could combine certain grades (say Grade One/Two and Grade Three, or whatever is appropriate). Tournaments should also allow teams to "challenge up" if they want, or need to fill out fields in certain ways. If the IHSSBCA were the ones doing the grading, then getting all their tournaments to adopt the separate divisions would be a good start to the system.

This is similar to the current trend of dividing teams into self-selected divisions (used by places like NIU and New Trier, and, shameless plug, starting this year the Jan 5 Niles West tournament which you should all register for), but I think it's better because just working to get graded higher would be something a lot of teams would be interested in. Ideally, being able to go to a tournament on any given Saturday and being competitive for the title, even if that title is "Grade Three Champion," would, I think, be very motivating to lots of teams.
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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:02 pm

Fred wrote:I think people choosing to go to Australia over a quiz bowl tournament probably isn't a real problem.
It isn't like I'm saying "Jeez, man, why did you decide to put dumb ol' Australia ahead of the tournament." The point is that there is a consequence. Sure, it's a great opportunity, but you always lose the other experience, which also would've been beneficial. I mean, some conflicts are unavoidable, but vacations are something you schedule yourself. This year for different reasons, there's a good chance we won't be able to attend that tournament at all. That sucks.
David Riley wrote:James, one of the problems with your suggestion is that there are very few bad (to our definition) tournaments left. Without mentioning any names, I can only think of four Saturday tournaments off the top of my head that would qualify as such, and mainly by the use of bad questions. No competitive team of my acquaintance is going to waste their time by voluntarily playing on sets of bad questions.

And why should you feel guilty for doing well at quiz bowl? If they don't like losing then they should GO LEARN MORE THINGS!!!

To interact with competitive teams, shouldn't these teams rise to good qb standards, rather than vice-versa?
Personally, I don't get this notion of how bad questions are worse than no questions at all. Is it demeaning? I mean, in most competitions your equipment can enhance your training, but just because it isn't the very best doesn't mean training won't be effective. Kids in third-world countries use whatever they can find to play soccer, and eventually they might join a major club. Questions are our "equipment". They're just accessories. It's great when they're the best they can be, but if they aren't, that shouldn't give someone the right to violently ragequit.

And it makes me feel guilty because flogging them so severely makes me feel like a bully. And saying that they should learn more is just like saying that a kid who is getting physically abused by his parents should start working out. We have one of the best programs in the country.

Bad teams won't spontaneously get better. A laissez-faire attitude isn't going to work; that's what we've been doing, more or less, and if it was working this thread wouldn't be getting so many replies. There's got to be something actively trying to lessen the gap.
Aaron Goldfein wrote:Part of the problem may be that teams don't have a lot of reason to get better. Say you're a student on a mediocre team in the Chicago suburbs. Odds are, no matter how hard your team studies and no matter how many good tournaments you go to, you'll probably never have a chance at being one of the top teams in the state before you graduate. So why study? You're never going to win IHSA or Masonics or probably even a Saturday tournament.

My proposal, then, is that some body (say, the IHSSBCA) grades each team in the offseason by its competitive abilities into three grades. After the initial gradings are done, between seasons, teams can submit requests to be regraded, and most of the time the grading body would only move a team if they both requested it and deserved it. However, the grading body would ultimately have jurisdiction to move teams as it sees fit. A process could be in place to move teams during a season in exceptional cases. Then, tournaments would be encouraged to adopt three separate divisions at each of their tournaments, crowning a Grade One champion, a Grade Two champion, and a Grade Three champion. Tournaments with fewer teams could combine certain grades (say Grade One/Two and Grade Three, or whatever is appropriate). Tournaments should also allow teams to "challenge up" if they want, or need to fill out fields in certain ways. If the IHSSBCA were the ones doing the grading, then getting all their tournaments to adopt the separate divisions would be a good start to the system.

This is similar to the current trend of dividing teams into self-selected divisions (used by places like NIU and New Trier, and, shameless plug, starting this year the Jan 5 Niles West tournament which you should all register for), but I think it's better because just working to get graded higher would be something a lot of teams would be interested in. Ideally, being able to go to a tournament on any given Saturday and being competitive for the title, even if that title is "Grade Three Champion," would, I think, be very motivating to lots of teams.
I would think this could have the opposite effect, though. Doing OK in a lesser division wouldn't be as powerful motivation as would getting your face stomped on in a one division tournament. One of the main reasons I decided to get better at quizbowl was because there were people better than me. Wouldn't splitting teams into grades hide the fact that frankly, they suck?

EDIT: Wait, I think I'm contradicting myself. Oh well.
Last edited by Emil Nolde on Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Future

Post by Charles Martel » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:08 pm

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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:34 pm

So, wait, I've never heard of that team. I'm not sure whether your post corroborates mine or not. I hate it when that happens. If you're being sarcastic, please, next time, post more than a hyperlink. Do it for me.
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Re: The Future

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:42 pm

For the record, the entirety of the Quizbowl Tribune is sarcastic.
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Re: The Future

Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:18 pm

thyringe_supine wrote:Personally, I don't get this notion of how bad questions are worse than no questions at all. Is it demeaning? I mean, in most competitions your equipment can enhance your training, but just because it isn't the very best doesn't mean training won't be effective. Kids in third-world countries use whatever they can find to play soccer, and eventually they might join a major club. Questions are our "equipment". They're just accessories. It's great when they're the best they can be, but if they aren't, that shouldn't give someone the right to violently ragequit.
This analogy is not apt. Bad questions can also impact a game like a biased or horrible referee can impact a sporting competition.
thyringe_supine wrote:And it makes me feel guilty because flogging them so severely makes me feel like a bully. And saying that they should learn more is just like saying that a kid who is getting physically abused by his parents should start working out. We have one of the best programs in the country.
To quote Herman Edwards, you play to win the game. This is academic competition. To get better at quizbowl, you put in work. There is no way around this.

thyringe_supine wrote:Bad teams won't spontaneously get better. A laissez-faire attitude isn't going to work; that's what we've been doing, more or less, and if it was working this thread wouldn't be getting so many replies. There's got to be something actively trying to lessen the gap.
Great strides can be made if enough people put in work and make sure the effort is passed down. The annual turnover at the high school level means that the efforts must be made by the underclassmen to learn from the senior players. Within Illinois, Rockford Auburn is the best example of how a team relaods instead of rebuilds.

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Re: The Future

Post by 4nay » Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:59 pm

A problem that isn't exactly widespread but has debilitated quite a few schools from attending tournaments beyond conference and perhaps Masonics (no matter their talent) is their respective team budgets (or lack thereof). My school (and other schools in our area) are in a nasty predicament - as a part of a district move to cut school spending, our team's budget has been completely slashed (we have very little to work with). Whatever team fees charged by the school are now mainly collected by the school itself, and what's leftover is only enough for conference costs (meaning a potentially lackluster season). This isn't a call to arms against our district, don't get me wrong (things happen when a district is ~$7 million in debt). It's just schools in similar situations have little to actually use toward NAQT/ACF tournaments. Pursuing those tournaments has already shown to be a difficulty for our team with the amount of fundraising we'll have to do independently. A potential solution (that will be both difficult to implement and met with criticism, I know) that may help create a surge in the participation of "higher quality" quiz bowl tourneys in IL is an expansion of IHSSBCA grants. A stimulus, à la the Obama administration, if I may. If the organization can create greater outreach and further diversify their portfolio of members along with advertising the prospects of helping partially subsidize a team's expenses, that'll rake in greater participation in IHSSBCA endorsed tourneys from schools that otherwise wouldn't be able to consider many NAQT/ACF tourneys in their season (much like mine). Raising the money will be hard, but compared to a meager school lacking in support from their district, an organized body like IHSSBCA may find more success in pooling funds. A slight bump in membership fees for longtime members, donation drives, other things of that nature may help for that. I know it's a stretch to even consider the possibility of grant expansion, but a hindrance facing many schools (including North) is money, and any solution that can ameliorate that will most likely result in greater school participation.
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Re: The Future

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:59 pm

4nay wrote:Whatever team fees charged by the school are now mainly collected by the school itself, and what's leftover is only enough for conference costs (meaning a potentially lackluster season). This isn't a call to arms against our district, don't get me wrong (things happen when a district is ~$7 million in debt). It's just schools in similar situations have little to actually use toward NAQT/ACF tournaments. Pursuing those tournaments has already shown to be a difficulty for our team with the amount of fundraising we'll have to do independently.
Another way to address this problem, although I would bet there may still be resistance on this from administrations/bad coaches, is to say "Okay, since our budget's been cut, we're gonna drop going to these conferences instead of dropping going to tournaments that use good questions or double our efforts to get conferences to use good questions since we know we're not going to get to see them elsewhere." I am not doubting this has been done before or that expansion of grants would not help and actually think that is a good idea that should be done if possible, and I am not all too familiar with this situation since I have luckily been fortunate enough to go to schools where bad coaching and budget problems have not been issues, but perhaps it is possible that budget cuts can be used to gain leverage to go to good quizbowl over bad quizbowl because it makes the choice of which tournaments to go to much more important since you can only go to a limited few and you can use this to foster discussion about which criteria should be used to decide what tournaments to go to. Effectively, there is a good chance that the "Well, this is the way we've always done things and I see no reason why that should change" response of some bad coaches/administrations to kids wanting to attend different tournaments/drop from their bad conferences has been largely taken off the table - this should force coaches and administrations to be more open to discussion. I would try to capitalize on this if I were you, as clearly you are in a situation where there are at least a few kids who feel strongly about good quizbowl that does not exist at many of these schools.
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Re: The Future

Post by mrgsmath » Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:18 am

While it seems simple to suggest not going to a Conference meet or play conference games, Conferences operate on a contractual basis. Our conference for example requires that we participate in certain activities or drop from the conference, which means that if we have Scholastic Bowl (or Quiz Bowl) we cannot just drop out of the Conference in it without also dropping Football, basketball, and all the rest. While some conferences are structured differently, to drop out of Conference Scholastic Bowl would mean the School Administration would defund us entirely. What several of us coaches have done is worked within the Conference and this year, with the help of recent IHSA rules changes, we are moving to NAQT as the offical supplier of questions for at least the next two years, and hopefully many more to come.
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Re: The Future

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:32 pm

Thanks for all the responses. It's interest and thoughtfulness like this that makes me optimistic for the future (unless there is a mass migration to Australia). Since I am responding to a lot of posts, this post will be quite scattered.

We are hoping that in increase in integration takes place. Hopefully, this will be eased now that the IHSA and Masonics are using the same bonus structure as sets written for national audiences, but reaching out to other teams is a constant effort, and I hope it is something we get better at. Personally, the last thing I would want to compromise would be question quality--I've seen too many questions that were just too far from decent. We host a set of tournaments on an A Set and another set on SCOP, both of which give any team little chance to complain about all the impossible clues that go on and on forever.

We also need to figure out how to strengthen different regions of the state. Chicagoland got better when several hosts decided to improve their tournaments. Thanks largely to Greene, Fischer, and Strey, that Chicagoland region stretches out to Dekalb and Rockford. There are now good tournaments in several locations far from Chicago, but it is difficult to get within an hour of every school in Illinois, and Carbondale in particular has had trouble getting lots of teams to attend its tournaments. We have Kickoffs in seven locations, and I still sometimes have coaches tell me that they wish we had one near them.

I myself am not a big fan of canon expansion, and I am happy to focus on the big three categories with the hope that lots of teams already know some things in those areas and can get better. There have been times in the past that we have focused on the distribution, but I don't know whether or not that will continue to be the case.

Our organization generally has focused on Saturday competitions for the most part, but it may be time for us to accept the reality that a lot of teams only play on weeknights so that we can talk about improving those experiences. I would love to have somebody on our Steering Committee reaching out to conferences to find out what they are doing and what would help them improve.

I don't think that the development of learning materials is handled well by a state organization, or even by a state. Hopefully, ACE and NAQT will continue to develop their resources, and it wouldn't hurt if HSAPQ or PACE did such things as well. Of course, I get the fact that it is difficult to set aside the many hours required to put together something decent. I hear rumors that writing and editing questions take a lot of time.

To throw some numbers out, there are a little over 500 schools that participate in IHSA. This should be the first year that Masonics goes over 300. Our Kickoffs last year drew about 180 teams, though that includes B or C teams from many schools. There really is very little excuse not to play in Masonics--entry is free, and about a third of the teams win money. If transportation is a problem, get together six rooms and six moderators, and they'll pay you to host a Sectional. (A great out-of-state tournament is a good excuse to miss Masonics, but that's not why 200 schools with teams are missing it.) When teams report their records to the IHSA at the end of January, there are fewer than 10% that have played no matches, and most of those teams play some matches in February before Masonics and IHSA.

I don't think that being unable to compete for a state championship is much of a reason to avoid Scholastic Bowl. Play it because it is fun and exciting. Play it because it helps you learn important things. You can set goals based on PPG or PPB or a certain number of wins or a certain finish in your conference or getting seeded or any number of things. In fact, a whole lot of teams already do so. I don't like sports analogies, but a whole lot of people play sports without any hope of winning a state championship. We already offer Turnabouts, Novice, and many tournaments with regular divisions, and there are a good number of tournaments using sets that are accessible to novice players. I don't see how the effort that goes into grading every team would help get a lot more teams to attend tournaments.

As far as our grants are concerned, last year we got no grant requests at this time. We got a small handful this year, largely from teams whose coaches attended SchoBowlFest in Carbondale, where we encouraged them to apply. We always get a handful at the end of the year that are requests for teams attending nationals or sending a student to ACE. Keep in mind that this is a program that we publicize in our newsletter mailed out to over 200 coaches and on our website, including testimonials in our newsletter from coaches who have gotten grants in the past. We tell coaches repeatedly that we will give them money if they ask us for it and justify its use. Free money. Very few teams are interested.

The conference contracts vary from conference to conference. Some of them allow for exceptions, and some of them only apply to athletics. Coach Grant's point, however, holds for a lot of schools.
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Re: The Future

Post by Dominator » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:49 pm

I think any solution involving the IHSSBCA taking on more work is not viable. The IHSSBCA cannot even nominally fill all of its positions, and several of its positions are not producing what they should be. If the IHSSBCA cannot get enough people to handle its current load and has been having trouble keeping the people it does have, then it should be narrowing its scope rather than expanding.
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Re: The Future

Post by 4nay » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:56 pm

Leucippe and Clitophon wrote: As far as our grants are concerned, last year we got no grant requests at this time. We got a small handful this year, largely from teams whose coaches attended SchoBowlFest in Carbondale, where we encouraged them to apply. We always get a handful at the end of the year that are requests for teams attending nationals or sending a student to ACE. Keep in mind that this is a program that we publicize in our newsletter mailed out to over 200 coaches and on our website, including testimonials in our newsletter from coaches who have gotten grants in the past. We tell coaches repeatedly that we will give them money if they ask us for it and justify its use. Free money. Very few teams are interested.
Color me surprised. That's quite interesting -- thanks for shedding light on the issue.
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Re: The Future

Post by Emil Nolde » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:35 am

Out of curiosity, were these grant applicants teams in the SIAC?
Perhaps Carterville or something?
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Re: The Future

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:09 pm

We don't name grant applicants. None of the pending grants are from SIAC. Three of the four are farther south than Springfield.
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