Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

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Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by cchiego » Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:28 pm

Outreach is expensive both in terms of time and, too often, finances for TDs. It's expensive to give big discounts to new teams (though these discounts are key, in my opinion, to reducing the financial barrier for new teams) and such teams often require more hand-holding from the TD in explaining the rules before and at the tournament. Plus, under the current mirror-fee setup, new teams still cost the same as other teams and could end up being net losses. Many TDs are thus understandably content to stay with reliable, full-pay teams to maximize their revenue from a tournament and do not feel the need to attempt to engage in major outreach.

In the long run, perhaps, attracting new teams could benefit the host by establishing a larger circuit, but for hosts constrained by the number of rooms and moderators who simply want to maximize the revenue of a limited field there isn't any clear incentive to do much outreach. Quizbowl as a whole benefits, however, from getting into new schools and question-writers in particular profit from the continued expansion of the number of teams playing quizbowl.

What about a negative mirror fee for new schools on the part of question providers? Such a fee would be limited to one per school in a given year and that school would have to be "real" new school (i.e. had not played on pyramidal quizbowl in the last 3 years; thanks to tools like Harry White's DB search and NAQT's increasingly extensive records, this is very much possible). Hosts would then be financially incentivized--or at least not penalized--to try to attract new teams and the question-writing companies would reap the benefit in the long term by getting more teams playing on their questions and into quizbowl in general.

This approach probably makes the most sense for NAQT, but PACE could also choose a select solid a housewrite or two to sponsor and perhaps some other established housewrites like SCOP might be willing to do this as well on a more limited basis. The negative registration fee wouldn't have to be enormous--I'd say something like +$20--and it would only apply to the first team from a new school (2nd and subsequent teams would still be charged the regular mirror fees).

So, if someone in Utah then ran a tournament with 16 brand-new schools the question-writers would be out $320. But imagine the consequences of that! For $320, there'd be a pyramidal quizbowl tournament in Utah. Since there'd be no mirror fees, the hosts could charge (and perhaps there could be regulations requiring them to charge) a pittance and still make good $$. That's an amazingly efficient use of funds and source of contacts--you'd only need 2 more similar-sized tournaments to see a profit on that investment. If we think that our "product" of good quizbowl is strong enough (and I believe that it is) to get these first-time teams interested in playing more quizbowl, then the negative fee would almost certainly pay off in the long run for everyone. And even better, it outsources the outreach work for the question-providers to current and prospective hosts.

I don't think this would have to be a permanent project, but--if properly promoted and disseminated to all TDs (something that also needs work)--I suspect the number of teams playing and continuing to play pyramidal quizbowl would increase significantly compared to if this didn't happen.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by TheDoctor » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:28 pm

This entire post is amazing, and I do not mean that in a complimentary sense. The idea that 1) tournament directors don't already do (in many cases, aggressive) outreach for the purpose of attracting new teams, that 2) so many new teams can't get funding to attend their first tournament that they won't be able or interested in attending one unless their fee to attend is zero, and even further that 3) it is therefore the question writers' responsibility to provide financial incentives vicariously to teams to attract their business because 4) teams who can't get enough money to pay for a single tournament will definitely come back with full funding for more, making this a workable business model for even SCOP-level housewrites is, on a whole, one of the more misguided opinions I've ever read on this forum. Normally I would just sit back, crack open something nice to drink, and watch the drama unfold in front of me. However, in this case, I've been called out by name:
cchiego wrote:SCOP might be willing to do this as well on a more limited basis.
So here is why this idea is a poor one.

Let's start with the fact that I could see a modified version of this working for very large companies, but that it's completely unnecessary and a poor business model. NHBB, by far the most aggressive outreach organization in quizbowl, does make money off attracting new teams and cultivating new circuits, and they sure as heck don't do it by paying off the teams; they do it by cultivating a respectable veneer and then disseminating that view of quizbowl through direct personal contact with coaches. Despite your clearly very dim view of what tournament hosts do, local tournaments do much the same thing. Of the dozens of tournaments I've directed, not one has failed to involve sending emails or, in locations where local attendance has traditionally been low, physical letters to teams who have never attended one of my tournaments. Sometimes I've visited schools directly or spoken with principals when coaches could not be found. The returns are limited, and it's not because of funding; the barrier to entry that I've most frequently encountered is certainly not a financial one, but the absence of an already-overworked teacher who is able and willing to take up the mantle of coach and a general dearth of interested students who could attend unaccompanied. A free or nearly-free tournament would not have made a difference to any one of them. Even if it had, I would have offered them a discount out of the pocket of my organization (as several coaches who frequent these boards know) long before demanding that the question provider, an entity with only tangential relation to any element of my local situation, subsidize my outreach efforts.

However, even if there were any reason to think that a question provider has any responsibility to a local circuit outside her personal scope, the amounts listed in this post are astronomical to any but the best-funded question writing companies (NAQT, NHBB, and literally no one else). Consider that SCOP's operating budget for this year will clear maybe a couple hundred dollars once writing and editing fees are paid out. I plan our budget to allow us to pay writers while charging as little as possible and maintaining some room at the top to allow me to offer discounts to hosts who need them. Without going into too much detail, the discounts I've already given out this year (not counting those offered to tournaments that haven't yet run) amount to over $1,300. Considering my operating budget, that number is enormous and, frankly, does not leave me with enough money to subsidize any client-base expansions in the manner described. The outreach that I do do in the capacity of SCOP director is more traditional and almost certainly far more effective than the proposed idea of throwing money at teams until they start playing.

If you want to do more outreach than is already being done (and trust me, although you seem to be ignorant of it, there is a lot being done at all levels), then do what Dave Madden does. Get in contact with coaches or principals and personally encourage teams to attend your tournaments. Host tournaments specifically for new teams. If it pleases you, do so at a discount and take a slight loss to your program in the name of expansion. But don't tell question writers that they have a responsibility to expand quizbowl's client base at the expense of paying their writers a reasonable rate, which is exactly the trade-off that SCOP and, undoubtedly, other organizations would have to make to make this nightmare a reality.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:35 pm

I think this idea is flawed in a number of its assumptions and expectations.
Outreach is expensive both in terms of time and, too often, finances for TDs. It's expensive to give big discounts to new teams (though these discounts are key, in my opinion, to reducing the financial barrier for new teams). [...] Plus, under the current mirror-fee setup, new teams still cost the same as other teams and could end up being net losses.
It is expensive to give big discounts to new teams; this is why most tournaments do not give big discounts, and why many tournaments don't give automatic discounts of any size to new teams. Any tournament that does subsidize outreach by providing these discounts is surely smart enough to price them such that they don't lose money; the only consistent example that comes to mind, ACF, specifically says that they do not expect hosts to lose money on registrations via new school discounts. In addition, I agree with Kristin: "high entry fees" are not the primary reason that schools that are aware of quizbowl don't play; "lack of coach interest" is way, WAY higher up the list. So this proposal is trying to solve the wrong problem for nonsensical reasons.
In the long run, perhaps, attracting new teams could benefit the host by establishing a larger circuit, but for hosts constrained by the number of rooms and moderators who simply want to maximize the revenue of a limited field there isn't any clear incentive to do much outreach.
This is true, and doubly so given that the business model of most quizbowl clubs is to fund the year's budget, rather than pay the salaries of its "employees." It doesn't take much for a volunteer-run tournament to turn a profit -- it doesn't take much for a club to fund its year's expenses on a few middling tournaments -- and the marginal utility of those extra teams doesn't go anywhere important. (If you can already attend ACF Nats and ICT by running your pair of 24-team tournaments each year, what does running a pair of 30-team tournaments get you?) Outreach is very time-intensive and very usually unsuccessful; you need to contact many schools to get one bite. If one bite is only worth $20 via this program, I can think of many, many things that would compete favorably on a dollars-per-hour fundraising basis. "Selling chocolate bars in a dorm hallway" is pretty high up that list. If we're looking for incentives for hosts to do outreach, we'd have to do way, way better than $20 per school -- or we'd have to go with non-financial incentives, like "the understanding that the health of the circuit relies on it."

And if it's not financially interesting for clubs to take on this particular outreach incentive, why would a for-profit company bother asking them to do it?
So, if someone in Utah then ran a tournament with 16 brand-new schools the question-writers would be out $320. But imagine the consequences of that! For $320, there'd be a pyramidal quizbowl tournament in Utah. Since there'd be no mirror fees, the hosts could charge (and perhaps there could be regulations requiring them to charge) a pittance and still make good $$. That's an amazingly efficient use of funds and source of contacts--you'd only need 2 more similar-sized tournaments to see a profit on that investment.
As minimally useful as +$20/new school is to a tournament host, I've so-far ignored the question of whether $20 per successful school is a fair price for outreach; it certainly isn't worth it for any non-profit question provider, as Kristin described for SCOP, and I'm pretty sure David Madden, flying around the world, gets a better price than that. I don't know NAQT's financials, but turning a $16 IS-set mirror fee into negative anything can't be good for the immediate bottom line; I'm sure that expense would require a significant increase in mirror fees. Would it be worth it in the long run? Of course -- that's the point of outreach. But the short-term effects can't be ignored.


So, instead, for-profit companies like NAQT and NHBB engage in outreach the traditional way -- they pay their employees to make contacts at new schools and talk personally with them. There's no substitute for this that volunteers could accomplish without putting in the effort of a full-time job, and any volunteer seeking a financial incentive to do quizbowl work is barking up the wrong tree in the first place. (If you're interested in doing that much work on outreach, get hired by NHBB or NAQT or something!) With all that said, I could see PACE getting some results in creating a form of this proposal -- because it's charity work, not a financial investment -- but even for them, I'd still suggest doing something more productive, like paying someone an hourly wage to do standard outreach.
Brad Fischer
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by Cody » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:08 pm

Maybe this is a situation-specific thing, but I don't understand why this would have any effect on team retention or recruitment.

A host's incentive to recruit teams for a tournament always lies in (a) their registration fee for the tournament (b) repeat business. While I've never had to lure a team in with an absurdly low registration fee for a regular tournament (i.e. not a tournament specifically targeted at bringing in new teams), VCU has sent out physical mailers in the past (made much cheaper by collaborating with other colleges and organizations). But I've never thought to worry about the mirror fee, which is at most $16 / team, because it's incredibly small and made up 3-7x over for every future tournament that team plays. And since this hypothetical situation involves a school definitely sending at least 1 team to your tournament, it shouldn't be hard to convince them to come back at some point! (And is a school really going to be swayed by a $0 vs. a $20 registration fee?)

I don't see how a negative mirror fee would impact team recruitment because the payoff for team recruitment is the team coming to your tournament in the first place (and then hopefully future tournaments!). Barring your fields always being full to capacity (i.e. most of the tournaments run across the US), recruiting teams means you get more money. If your fields are always full to capacity, then..yes, there's no financial reason to recruit more teams, but I don't see how that changes with a negative mirror fee.

Moreover, what's the incentive for a question writing team to engage in this practice? All the money they make comes from mirror fees and they wouldn't see any benefit from doing this (in most cases, ever, given the way most tournament writing teams shift over the years). Since the host is the one who's going to see a[n immediate] payoff, shouldn't the host assume the responsibility of making up the difference?
Last edited by Cody on Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by alexdz » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:09 pm

Having done significant outreach work with MOQBA in Missouri, the best use of the funds we had available to offer discounts was in offering staffing discounts. It allowed our tournaments to be run efficiently with skilled staffers, tangentially gave a slight benefit to teams with smaller entry fees, and incentivized schools in some small way to train more effective staff. These schools can then run their own tournaments, thus increasing opportunity in the circuit. That is a much better use of host discounts.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by cchiego » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:25 pm

I had a much longer post get eaten, but I'll just address the major points raised and correct a few misperceptions:
"high entry fees" are not the primary reason that schools that are aware of quizbowl don't play; "lack of coach interest" is way, WAY higher up the list. So this proposal is trying to solve the wrong problem for nonsensical reasons.
This may be true for many potential teams, but for many others the cost is a real barrier to entry. This could be due to district regulations against having students pay, difficulty getting funding or official approval for a new extra curricular activity, or the inability of students to pay out of pocket (not often, but definitely true in some cases). I've also found, through nearly a decade of outreach work across multiple regions across the country via TDing over a dozen tournaments, that offering deep discounts does get more schools to come and that many of them who come for this reason stick around and become circuit teams and hosts. Offering the discount by itself isn't the whole reason, but as part of the standard package of best outreach practices it can be a very effective tool for getting new schools to come and then get hooked on good quizbowl.
If we're looking for incentives for hosts to do outreach, we'd have to do way, way better than $20 per school -- or we'd have to go with non-financial incentives, like "the understanding that the health of the circuit relies on it."
I agree that by itself a negative mirror fee won't make most hosts dramatically change outreach strategies, but it can at least help shift the balance overall (and hopefully be coupled with continuing changes in the perceived value of outreach).
And if it's not financially interesting for clubs to take on this particular outreach incentive, why would a for-profit company bother asking them to do it?
Because the larger company can reap much greater benefits from the expansion of the circuit in the long run. Not only would the company get mirror fees from later local tournaments, but it could also get more nationals attendees and additional prospective hosts. Over the years, this might add up to a much greater return before even accounting for the indirect benefits (i.e. saying you have teams from more metro areas/states). I agree that there's a short-term long-term trade-off, but this seems like a more systematic way to incentivize outreach without having to go all the way to the very expensive "full-time outreach staffers" level.
any volunteer seeking a financial incentive to do quizbowl work is barking up the wrong tree in the first place. (If you're interested in doing that much work on outreach, get hired by NHBB or NAQT or something!)
All hosts do outreach of some kind--even if they don't recognize it, they're representing quizbowl to schools in their area and it's important to encourage them to follow best practices and ideally pursue spreading quizbowl to new teams. Providing hosts with more of a financial incentive to do outreach well enough to attract new teams seems like a better option than making it more costly for them.
If you want to do more outreach than is already being done (and trust me, although you seem to be ignorant of it, there is a lot being done at all levels), then do what Dave Madden does. Get in contact with coaches or principals and personally encourage teams to attend your tournaments. Host tournaments specifically for new teams. If it pleases you, do so at a discount and take a slight loss to your program in the name of expansion. But don't tell question writers that they have a responsibility to expand quizbowl's client base at the expense of paying their writers a reasonable rate, which is exactly the trade-off that SCOP and, undoubtedly, other organizations would have to make to make this nightmare a reality.
I find the assumptions that went into this quote amusing for a number of reasons. But I agree that the question writers themselves shouldn't be the ones paying for this and that SCOP or any individual tournament by itself should not have to shoulder the burden. I'm also not saying that all tournaments ought to do this--rather, that it might make sense to pick a set or two for this, market it to hosts as an opportunity for encourage outreach, and see how it works in terms of attracting new teams and incentivizing new hosts. Or perhaps more generally think about ways to incentivize outreach and how to encourage better outreach practices for all hosts.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by alexdz » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:40 pm

cchiego wrote:it might make sense to pick a set or two for this, market it to hosts as an opportunity for encourage outreach, and see how it works in terms of attracting new teams and incentivizing new hosts.
Instead of placing this burden on the established writing companies, who have a goal to make some kind of money out of their arrangement, why not coordinate a volunteer-contributed set in the vein of CMST, let people who care deeply about this project donate their time, and let hosts use the set for free? That leaves plenty of room for hosts to let teams come for cheap or free and still make something from running the tournament.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by Cody » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:42 pm

So...NAQT States?
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by cchiego » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:46 pm

Cody wrote:. If your fields are always full to capacity, then..yes, there's no financial reason to recruit more teams, but I don't see how that changes with a negative mirror fee.
Sure, so recruiting a new team without a negative mirror fee and with a discount is more like a $70 (entry fee) -10 (mirror fee) -30 (new team discount) = $30 net. For a veteran team, that's $70-10 = $60 net. The idea here is to change the incentives so that you can charge the new team $30 and then get $20 from [insert hypothetical funding source here] to make up the difference. Perhaps this is too small to matter that much, but it could add up and at least makes new team discounts less of a loss for the host.

What's surprised me more here and in discussions in the IRC is the number of people who don't think that new team discounts are helpful in encouraging and retaining new teams; this goes against what I've experienced, but I'm curious what other TDs who have experimented with new team discounts have found and what teams who benefited from such discounts think.

And yes, I do think that NAQT states are in many states a missed outreach opportunity given the lack of mirror fees.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:58 pm

cchiego wrote:
And if it's not financially interesting for clubs to take on this particular outreach incentive, why would a for-profit company bother asking them to do it?
Because the larger company can reap much greater benefits from the expansion of the circuit in the long run. Not only would the company get mirror fees from later local tournaments, but it could also get more nationals attendees and additional prospective hosts. Over the years, this might add up to a much greater return before even accounting for the indirect benefits (i.e. saying you have teams from more metro areas/states). I agree that there's a short-term long-term trade-off, but this seems like a more systematic way to incentivize outreach without having to go all the way to the very expensive "full-time outreach staffers" level.
It's a matter of spending the money efficiently, and you've made no progress towards explaining why your method is a more efficient use of money than having a company's staffers do it. Your "paying teams $20 per new school and $0 per failed contact" method will provide little incentive to hosts to do the work themselves, as the quantity of failed contacts far surpasses the quantity of new schools you'll get; the status quo "paying employees their hourly wage" method provides the necessary incentive and has (at least for NHBB) provided plenty of bang for the buck.

More outreach is obviously necessary; spending money on this is obviously needed; companies like NAQT and NHBB are the only ones with clear financial interest in spending that money, as nobody else has a financial incentive in doing so. But I don't see how your plan is worth it as opposed to NAQT's and NHBB's standard efforts. (And as it's just spending money, this isn't something that can be done in addition to standard efforts; the outreach budget isn't infinite.)
cchiego wrote:
any volunteer seeking a financial incentive to do quizbowl work is barking up the wrong tree in the first place. (If you're interested in doing that much work on outreach, get hired by NHBB or NAQT or something!)
All hosts do outreach of some kind--even if they don't recognize it, they're representing quizbowl to schools in their area and it's important to encourage them to follow best practices and ideally pursue spreading quizbowl to new teams. Providing hosts with more of a financial incentive to do outreach well enough to attract new teams seems like a better option than making it more costly for them.
The financial incentive to using best outreach practices is getting more teams to register for your tournaments. We disagree on whether deep discounts is necessarily a "best practice," but this mere $20/new team is not going to be enough of a financial incentive to do anything. Like I said in my first post, if a team needs $20, there are many, many better ways to make that money.
What's surprised me more here and in discussions in the IRC is the number of people who don't think that new team discounts are helpful in encouraging and retaining new teams; this goes against what I've experienced.
This might well be a regional thing; we've gotten a fair shake out of standard outreach in Illinois recently without using new team discounts. I'm not averse to them at all; I just haven't used them recently. (I heavily used them in my first few years of running tournaments, when we were fighting the pyramidal and ACF-style bonus wars in Illinois, but then they were for "teams new to pyramidal," not "teams new to quizbowl.") I certainly don't think they're as important in retention as, say, running events professionally, but I feel like that goes without saying.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by TheDoctor » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:59 pm

cchiego wrote:[insert hypothetical funding source here]
The problem with this.

Even apart from the classic question of "where's the money come from?" (and I agree with Brad that this makes much more sense as a PACE-sponsored charity endeavor than as any kind of misguided attempt at "investment"), the number quoted would be astronomical if successful. However,
cchiego wrote:recruiting a new team
is, as many people have said here, very difficult. This is the kind of program that, if implemented, will be taken advantage of a handful of times for a couple of years until tournament directors realize that applying for the repayment for the one new team they managed to get to attend is more trouble than a measly $20 is worth.
alexdz wrote:Instead of placing this burden on the established writing companies, who have a goal to make some kind of money out of their arrangement, why not coordinate a volunteer-contributed set in the vein of CMST, let people who care deeply about this project donate their time, and let hosts use the set for free? That leaves plenty of room for hosts to let teams come for cheap or free and still make something from running the tournament.
This, on the other hand, would be useful, especially if implemented at the MS or Novice level; I'd like to have a solid set to recommend again to hosts who for whatever reason can't use SCOP. I imagine it would be very hard to get enough writers to come out to work on this, especially since we've got so many more options for writing for profit than we ever have before, but with solid leadership, this would be a nice thing to see around.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:08 pm

TheDoctor wrote:
alexdz wrote:Instead of placing this burden on the established writing companies, who have a goal to make some kind of money out of their arrangement, why not coordinate a volunteer-contributed set in the vein of CMST, let people who care deeply about this project donate their time, and let hosts use the set for free? That leaves plenty of room for hosts to let teams come for cheap or free and still make something from running the tournament.
This, on the other hand, would be useful, especially if implemented at the MS or Novice level; I'd like to have a solid set to recommend again to hosts who for whatever reason can't use SCOP. I imagine it would be very hard to get enough writers to come out to work on this, especially since we've got so many more options for writing for profit than we ever have before, but with solid leadership, this would be a nice thing to see around.
I disagree on the amount of quizbowl charity sets we need. CMST did good work while NAQT got its MS sets up and running; we still need more MS quizbowl -- there are teams playing QG in Illinois because they have dates to fill, and that's a shame - but we need an expansion of quizbowl, not more charity work there. I think between SCOP (which can be had for pennies on the dollar if you play your hosting cards right! It's still available for mirrors! Act now!) and NAQT States, I think there's a very stable pair of events, one usually fall, one spring, that provide cheap quizbowl to which new high schools can confidently directed. Anything more than that, and we start drastically undervaluing the work of question writing.
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Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by Cody » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:14 pm

In my experience, it's just slightly more even (even incl. a new team discount) because veteran times are more likely to claim discounts (buzzers is the big one, but travel too). But, honestly, yeah: I think that's too small to make a difference to most TDs (it wouldn't make a blip in our finances). And it doesn't cover the cost of outreach that didn't result in a team attending your tournament. (then again: PACE has outreach grants now, which does cover this!)

I think what should happen more often in areas with heavily saturated tournaments is that there need to be closer tournament sites on the same set on the same day, or hosts need to consider co-hosting with somebody to pool staff (something VCU and UVA did at New Kent HS in 2012), or both! This alleviates some pressure on hosts, allows more teams to play tournaments, and encourages hosts to do some real outreach.

I haven't needed new team discounts to attract new teams (probably because of Scholastic Bowl being run by VA's athletic org, so quizbowl has some more cachet for administrative funding), but they've always been pretty effective when I've seen them employed.
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VCU Tournament Director ‘13-‘17. HSAPQ President ‘15-16.
Hero of Socialist Quizbowl Labor (NSC ‘14). “esteemed colleague” of Snap Wexley, ca. 2016. Stats Hero (Nats ‘16).
Quizbowl at VCU

Joshua Rutsky
Tidus
Posts: 606
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:59 am
Location: Hoover, AL

Re: Incentivizing Outreach: A Negative Mirror Fee?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:10 pm

Personally, I think that the biggest obstacle to outreach has been mentioned -- the lack of a tourney coordinator in the locations where good quizbowl is iffy at best. Many coaches, who are your TD core, are intimidated enough by the giant mess of regulations involved in being a coach for a team and the paperwork involved, not to mention the massive difficulty of explaining to a spouse or significant other why you are pouring so much time, energy, and personal funds into something that has essentially no financial return and huge personal cost in time with family, to even contemplate hosting a tourney. I think it further adds to the problem when many of the newer coaches attend a major tourney (where they are more likely to get a discount), and end up seeing someone juggling 40 teams. Of course they aren't going to try that, unless they're completely daft.

Hosting a tourney requires three things -- staff, space, and a set. Of the three, the third is by FAR the least difficult to deal with. It should be basically impossible for someone NOT to make money on a tournament if they do their math correctly and charge reasonable entry fees. There's no way you host SCOP, which charges a minuscule fee, bring in 10 teams, and don't turn a profit. At least, you should sit down and calculate exactly what your entry fee SHOULD be to get you to $300, which IMHO is the bare minimum you should turn on a tourney in order to make it worth your time. Add selling lunch in, which is logistically annoying but only requires that you prepay for pizza and cokes which you are basically guaranteed to sell at a decent profit, and you're fiscally solid.

No, the real issue is trying to fight the space and staff game. Getting staff for a small tourney should be reasonably doable, especially if you get help from parents and players. Getting space can be harder, especially if you are a small school with a difficult principal, but it is also doable. Both, however, take TIME AND PLANNING -- and it really, REALLY helps to have someone you can call or ask for help.

Established TDs who want to help spread quizbowl are doubtless willing to help where they can. I know I have offered countless times to help with tourney planning or setup in my area. I would be happy to help anyone out who wants to call me and talk through the basics of a tourney, or who just wants to ask a question. Unfortunately, I doubt many of the people who need that help most are on this forum, and I don't know of any effective, national way to do something about that. I wish I could just arbitrarily found the "American QB Coaches Association" or something, and offer some sort of incentives like a toll-free hotline for coaching help, etc., but I don't know how to even start such a thing. Chris, you're an enterprising guy, and while you've taken some fire in this thread, I think that everyone would agree that you, like the rest of the active folks on this board, are seriously trying to make QB better in any way possible. Kristin has a ton of organizational experience with SCOP. We have ACE out there, with Nick Clusserath, my personal hero and QB visionary, and Eric Huff, who can make stuff happen by staring at it hard. Why can't this happen? Why can't we make it happen?
Joshua Rutsky
President, Alabama Scholastic Competition Association
Hoover HS Coach, 2007-2019
Member of the Qwiz Team!

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