2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

O'Dorney wrote:A statement is either true or false
At least he still has something left to learn, apparently. Damn you, Kurt.

Are you sure he's a Berkeley student? Math circles are just kind of informal group meetings, in my experience, though they're very educational. I read that as "he's home-schooled and lives in Berkeley, CA where he gets his math education from a math circle."

Or maybe one of those youtube links would have confirm/denied for me.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by AKKOLADE »

cornfused wrote:
jbarnes112358 wrote:
ReinsteinD wrote:Speaking of USAMO Proofs, congrats to Greg Gauthier for making Honorable Mention.

ditto for Palmer Mebane of Maggie Walker Governor's School A
And, jeez, Evan O'Dorney wins the Clay and ties for the high score? This kid is brilliant - 9th grader slash Berkeley student, spelling bee champ - but just a teensy bit awkward.
hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaa

I totally forgot about this.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Tegan »

Did we get the "All-American" team yet?

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by BobGHHS »

The ones I remember:

Dan Humphrey, Ohio (Garfield Heights)
Nick Clusserath, South Carolina (Dorman)
Greg Gauthier, Illinois (Wheaton North)

The other three I'm not familiar with.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Tegan »

Thank you Coach Kilner!

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by BobGHHS »

No problem, we did take a video of Dan asking for his drawing back btw. Once I get it from Liz, I'll send you a link.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by BobGHHS »

All-Star #4 was apparently in one of my pictures, Kevin Quinlan from New Jersey.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by kcommo »

The other two were from Wyoming and Montana, but I didn't write down names, unfortunately.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Youse Da Force »

Kechara wrote:
BobGHHS wrote:In pretty much my last official act as coach of GHHS, I want to congratulate Dan on becoming an All-American as well as Greg and the others whose names I didn't write down.
What about congratulating Dan for being the artist of the day? Or is that the wrong Dan?
No, it's the same me.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Tegan »

kcommo wrote:The other two were from Wyoming and Montana, but I didn't write down names, unfortunately.
Thanks coach!

I'll get them eventually ..... just trying to update the wikisite. I appreciate the effort!

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Stat Boy »

I am more confused than ever as to how All-Americans are chosen.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by cvdwightw »

Auroni, if you end up reading this thread, would it be possible to enlighten me (and by extension the rest of the board) how the California representative is chosen? Every year I can recall a California representative it's either Torrey Pines or San Dieguito. Does the San Diego Board of Education have some kind of exclusionary contract?
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

Stat Boy wrote:I am more confused than ever as to how All-Americans are chosen.
Field is divided into geographical regions.

High scorer in the first game from each region gets All-American.

That simple.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by BobGHHS »

High scorer in the first game from each region gets All-American.

That simple.
This isn't completely accurate. Maryland put up 510 points in round 1 and was in our region. There is no way Dan put up more points than Daichi that round. They have three AA judges, one looks at points, one looks at leadership qualities and one looks at sportsmanship and how the players handle themselves. The fourth ranking comes from the coaches' prior to the tournament, who rank their players from 1-whatever. So, a big part of it is personality and how you carry yourself.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by First Chairman »

BobGHHS wrote:
High scorer in the first game from each region gets All-American.

That simple.
This isn't completely accurate. Maryland put up 510 points in round 1 and was in our region. There is no way Dan put up more points than Daichi that round. They have three AA judges, one looks at points, one looks at leadership qualities and one looks at sportsmanship and how the players handle themselves. The fourth ranking comes from the coaches' prior to the tournament, who rank their players from 1-whatever. So, a big part of it is personality and how you carry yourself.
Bob has it right from what I remember. The coaches have an input on what the three judges should look at in each room. So yes, there is a lot more subjectivity in the selection process than just how many points contributed by the candidate.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

Hmm, OK. That's not what I was told when I was in the PAC, but I believe you guys a lot more than I believe myself.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Tegan »

I have never been involved in the coaches input part, even when I coached (this part was done before I became coach), but as I recall, it does involve the coach "ranking" their players, so, unless a player has an unbelievable round, hte coach likely takes half of their players out for consideration right off the bat.

It is pretty much as far as you can get from being a good system. I remember talking to our coach about players who were identical in "ranking" ... even when that was true, the coaches still had to rank them, and it put the #2 player at a disadvantage .... or worse, if #2 has a slightly better day than #1, but someone else's #1 has almost as good a day, that other #1 who scores less could sneak in.

PACE and NAQT have the better idea on how to do this.

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Youse Da Force »

cornfused wrote:
Stat Boy wrote:I am more confused than ever as to how All-Americans are chosen.
Field is divided into geographical regions.

High scorer in the first game from each region gets All-American.

That simple.
In her speech, Peggy Harrod said that there are three rankings, the coach's ranking, and two by judges in the room, one "objective" and one "subjective". She didn't elaborate.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by kcommo »

cvdwightw wrote:Auroni, if you end up reading this thread, would it be possible to enlighten me (and by extension the rest of the board) how the California representative is chosen?
Overall Panasonic policy is to allow states that have state tournaments to chose their representative as they see fit, and most put forward state champions or all-star teams. Teams from states that don't have state tournaments are permitted to send in applications and the team the tournament staff considers the most worthy is chosen for the spot. Whether they are recognizing the San Diego league as a 'state tournament' or not, I have no idea.

The first time I went to PAC in '97, Fallbrook was the California representative. But it's been San Dieguito or Torrey Pines I've been down there since.

As for the All-Americans there's a huge degree of subjectivity involved. I'll be the first to admit I was surprised by a couple of the choises this year, but considering that they stick to geographic regions, only base the objective numbers on one round and that anyone can answer on any buzz by the team (three other issues onto themselves), I don't envy them the task. It's got to be really hard to distinguish objectively, especially in a region like ours (VT, NH, ME, NJ) where no team produced a statement score.

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Tegan »

Just to put up a bit of a counterpoint, we (in Illinois) were always told the decision was up to the state Board of Education or equivalent. Our state coaches association has always gotten permission from them to pick the team. The Board has never directly interfered in this process. We have never been asked to name the "State Champion". Our Board has made "gentle suggestions" in the past, but we have ignored them to good result.

After years of having the coaches association pick the team, David Riley approached Peggy, begging her to just stop going to the Board of Ed, and send the forms directly to us. She politely refused.

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Matt Weiner »

In light of the last few posts, this is the semi-regular reminder that Panasonic is terrible and everyone should stop going and use the money to send teams to NAQT and PACE. Not NAQT "or" PACE, because for the cost of Panasonic you can send at least one team to both and probably have some left over to purchase delicious cake.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Matt Weiner wrote:In light of the last few posts, this is the semi-regular reminder that Panasonic is terrible and everyone should stop going and use the money to send teams to NAQT and PACE. Not NAQT "or" PACE, because for the cost of Panasonic you can send at least one team to both and probably have some left over to purchase delicious cake.
What kind of cake? Because if it's a bad kind I think they should stick with PAC.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Siverus Snape »

Panasonic has its merits, and I would hate to see it disappear. I would never, in a million years, make the claim that our (Team Illinois) victory means much in the realm of actual quiz bowl, but the Panasonic tournament can provide other benefits that regular quiz bowl cannot as a largely insular, community-based affair. The sponsorship and endless product placement can get kind of annoying, but I had one of the best long weekends I can remember down in Florida. It's great to be able to spend time with and get to know a variety of people from across the country, which doesn't really happen that much at real quiz bowl nationals considering the necessary fast pace. Disney World is also pretty awesome. I suppose my situation is a bit different, because Auburn was able to attend both NAQT and PACE thanks to fundraising. If I had to choose just one, it would definitely be PACE. But still, it doesn't mean that we all need to blacklist the PAC just because it's outside the realm of our normal experience.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by BuzzerZen »

Or we could all decide to spend an extra day in Chicago or DC next year and still save money. Disney World is fun, but Chicago and DC have museums with actual culture in them.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

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BuzzerZen wrote:Or we could all decide to spend an extra day in Chicago or DC next year and still save money. Disney World is fun, but Chicago and DC have museums with actual culture in them.
Are you saying a guy in a duck and a mouse suit in front of Cinderella's castle isn't actual "culture"??!!

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by cvdwightw »

Tegan wrote:
BuzzerZen wrote:Or we could all decide to spend an extra day in Chicago or DC next year and still save money. Disney World is fun, but Chicago and DC have museums with actual culture in them.
Are you saying a guy in a duck and a mouse suit in front of Cinderella's castle isn't actual "culture"??!!
The obvious compromise solution to this problem is to host HSNCT in the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Orange County area one year, where the people who like culture can visit museums with "actual culture" (e.g. Getty, LACMA, Discovery Science Center?) and people who like "fun" can go see guys in duck and mouse suits (or, if they prefer, people in Snoopy suits and the pretense of having once grown berries). Of course, since public transportation sucks, this would require teams to each rent a car, which might not be feasible.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Here's a question.

If you were a team that qualified (or COULD qualify, since no teams went from Delaware and we would have been able to be that team) for the PAC... but not qualified for anything else (NAC, PACE, or NAQT)... should you still not go?
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by cvdwightw »

I think it's a question of what your overall goal in attending nationals is. If it's to measure your team against the best in the nation, then no. If it's to reward your kids for a good season and just have fun, and you don't care that the questions are terrible (PAC doesn't have the same baggage as NAC), and you have the money, then sure. But if you're good enough to do this, I don't know why you couldn't just apply for a wild card from PACE.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Stained Diviner »

Dwight makes a good point. If you don't qualify for PACE, find out if your team is willing to practice hard for it, especially non-seniors who could make more than a one-time effort, and ask the PACE people nicely.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Here's a question. If you were a team that qualified (or COULD qualify, since no teams went from Delaware and we would have been able to be that team) for the PAC... but not qualified for anything else (NAC, PACE, or NAQT)... should you still not go?
If wild card PACE isn't an option, I might just buy that year's HSNCT for practice questions and use the rest of the money to drive 1500 miles and play competitive bar trivia in like a dozen different states. I know of a good bar and grill in Rockford, IL, for one.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by aestheteboy »

I don't think those of you who are saying "PAC sucks, don't go to it" quite understand the situation. The 80-90% of the teams at PAC are one of the following: 1. an All-star team (therefore, not paid for by the individual teams), 2. a team with enough financial resource to attend PACE, NAQT, and PAC, 3. a team that doesn't care about good quizbowl and simply wants to enjoy an end-of-the-year trip.
I go because being on the all-state team sounds like a good thing to put on my resume and more importantly because it's a free trip to the Disney World. Again, I enjoy the trip and that's enough of a reason for me to go. I've been saying that competition between states on real questions would be interesting. If anyone wants to see PAC disappear, it would be both more constructive and more effective to organize such an event. If such an event occurs, I'm willing to lobby my coaches to go to it instead of PAC, organize a team and pay from my pocket, or both.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Matt Weiner »

aestheteboy wrote:I don't think those of you who are saying "PAC sucks, don't go to it" quite understand the situation. The 80-90% of the teams at PAC are one of the following: 1. an All-star team (therefore, not paid for by the individual teams), 2. a team with enough financial resource to attend PACE, NAQT, and PAC, 3. a team that doesn't care about good quizbowl and simply wants to enjoy an end-of-the-year trip.
But, money has to come from somewhere. My point is that Illinois and other states that sponsor all-star teams need to take that money and just send their state championship teams to the real nationals.
I go because being on the all-state team sounds like a good thing to put on my resume and more importantly because it's a free trip to the Disney World. Again, I enjoy the trip and that's enough of a reason for me to go. I've been saying that competition between states on real questions would be interesting. If anyone wants to see PAC disappear, it would be both more constructive and more effective to organize such an event. If such an event occurs, I'm willing to lobby my coaches to go to it instead of PAC, organize a team and pay from my pocket, or both.
It's certainly an interesting idea, but I don't know if there's enough space in the schedule or overall interest to do such a thing.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Tegan »

Matt Weiner wrote:But, money has to come from somewhere. My point is that Illinois and other states that sponsor all-star teams need to take that money and just send their state championship teams to the real nationals.
I'm sure one or two or three coaches in Illinois have made that exact same suggestion. One of these days it will happen.
aestheteboy wrote: If anyone wants to see PAC disappear, it would be both more constructive and more effective to organize such an event.
I think that there will not be a need for this. The PAC looks to be dying. They did not draw 30 teams this year. The cost is not going down, and I am thinking that unlike Chip, they are not going to be giving out grants any time soon (note: this does not apply to Virginia, they may get a grant). For many states, it is a long haul. The very nice Peggy Harrod retiring does not help.

The only way this trend possibly reverses (aside from the points made above) is if they lift the number of potential teams from each state, and eases how the teams get there (too many states need to go through the Board of Ed .... and is not worth the red tape). Even then, I think their life clock is starting to blink.

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Stained Diviner »

IHSSBCA has had some discussions over the last few years about whether or not this is a good use of our money, and those discussions, though they are somewhat divisive, are getting more serious. We had a sponsor last year (The Chicago Tribune Foundation), which allowed us to send a team while keeping our costs in the triple digits, but that was a one-time deal and several other attempts to find sponsors have been unsuccessful.

When we first made the decision, almost every state was participating and PAC's sponsors did a better job of keeping the costs low. Also, PACE and NAQT were in their infancy, and we were happy to find a tournament that didn't ask a ton of Pop Culture questions. We also thought that more states would send All-Star Teams, making this a unique opportunity, rather than a chance for our All-Star Team to beat school teams. Reality has shifted, and our policies have not. We are looking into options, and at this point I don't know whether next year will be the same as this year. (I'm the Chair but not the Dictator.) If I had to guess, I would say that next year probably will be the same, but I'm not sure, and the future is much less certain than it was a few years ago.

The idea has been brought up that we should be encouraging more of our top teams to participate in HSNCT or NSC, though we've never gotten to the point of discussing details as far as how a state organization would most appropriately do that. (I think our members understand that we spend money for an All-Star Team at PAC because IHSSBCA is the only entity that could organize the team well, but they might not appreciate us giving lots of money to mainly suburban schools so that they can send a team to DC.) I am also starting to initiate contact with the people who run PAC to find out if any of their policies are flexible and if there are ways for them to keep costs down, though the person who has pretty much always run PAC is now retiring and I don't know who is replacing her.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by harpersferry »

Matt Weiner wrote:But, money has to come from somewhere. My point is that Illinois and other states that sponsor all-star teams need to take that money and just send their state championship teams to the real nationals.
Note that my team, Auburn, the state champions this year went to NAQT and PACE. Also note it is not a totally free trip for Team IL, but it is substantially (and generously) subsidized by the IHSSBCA. Finally note that Siva and I from said state championship team also attended PAC.

I have very mixed feelings about Panasonic.

First, I am absolutely biased by the fact that I got a cheap trip to Disney World, and for 3 rounds of coloring and calculating and chance, got a nice chuck of change.

There are several things I enjoyed about this tournament. I like that they spend a lot of time giving out free stuff and bending over backwards for the students. At least their hearts are in the right place. They also give us a lot of time to have fun with each other. While seeing everyone shoved in the halls at NAQT and chatting here and there at PACE, Panasonic does give you ample time to meet other teams, have meals together, practice with each other, play outside, etc. This is nice sometimes. I also appreciated that they had lots of judges on hand for every round. Knowing that at least here, there wouldn't be issues like having to throw out a question due to the math answer being incorrect. They also take care of challenges fairly, in my opinion, allowing students to explain why they believe the protest should be upheld. Better than Chip who calls his "Science expert" and bans anyone from speaking. Also I think having all-star teams is the one thing that makes this tournament more interesting. We know which schools have played the best together during the year. It's pretty hard to compare states, on the other hand. That said, their ways of choosing a team are quite varied from Academic Decathalon to simple tradition of "we go every year" to state tournaments of varying legitimacy.

Second, I think it is non-quizbowl, and they are upfront about that. I'm okay with winning a non-quizbowl national tournament. I would not be okay with winning a fake quizbowl tournament, which is what NAC is. That said, I also understand that this argument (w/e it's not quizbowl so don't worry about it) has been made to defend bad quizbowl before and has been attacked before on the grounds that it draws time and financial resources from legitimate contests (for my purposes HSNCT and NSC). I think this is totally understandable, but I'm not sure of the actually number of cases where a decent team that could have qualified for a legit Nationals decided not to go to said legit competition and instead to Panasonic because of financial issues or a scheduling conflict. I'd like to see evidence of these teams, if so.

Looking at the teams in the finals of Panasonic this year: IL included two who attended both, one only PACE, and one only NAQT; FL had one that attended NAQT; SC was Dorman, so they (almost) all were at both; KY had three at NAQT from two different schools; TN (Ezell Harding) attended neither, but I believe at least one was due to schedule conflict; California (Torrey Pines) attended NAQT. Other teams (by my estimation) who were of normal national caliber include: Ohio (Garfield Heights) who attended both NAQT and PACE; Pennsylvania (State College) who attended both; Maryland, two attended both and two attended neither. Therefore, by my count (feel free to correct me), one entire team and a handful of players representing a handful of schools who attended PACE and probably could have attended the other nationals did. This isn't enough, in my opinion, to say that it shouldn't exist. I don't think we should say that Guam or Iowa or Maine shouldn't come to this tournament because it's not quizbowl. They simply couldn't compete at PACE or NAQT.

Third, I found at this tournament the most frustration of any of the three national tournaments. I like to describe it as a three-ring circus. It uses gimmicks almost continuously (coloring, rhyming, microviewers); it gives each team next to no playing time; it uses constructed buzzer races. It is simply not possible to write a matching question that is not a buzzer race between at least two of the six teams on the first syllable of the third numbered choice. They also provide so little leeway on a blitz that it is often next to impossible to answer before that time. Finally, the superficiality in some categories (literature=titles+authors+i*character+nightmarish grammar) in opposition to the depth in others (math especially) is frustrating. Part of the superficiality must come from an underestimation of the field. They must think that we could never have heard of anyone outside the high school curriculum because they keep feeding us "Tell whether the given work was written by Flannery O'Connor or Carson McCullers" and so on. Sometimes I wanted to tear my hair out.

Fourth, I know many people have a problem with computation. I do too in regular quiz bowl. I also have a problem with cheating non-computational mathematics in a distribution because computation is so dreaded (PACE). I don't have a problem with computation in a non-quizbowl format that even eliminates the "I'll lose to some human calculator" argument by giving everyone calculators.

My final conclusion about the whole thing is that unless Panasonic decides to update, I believe it will decline into a collection of teams from places that don't have good quizbowl. I think this is an opportunity for this community that supports good quizbowl to reach out to the boonies states that don't have circuits. I think that it could be transformed into something that pushes forward for high school. There is nothing inherently wrong with their format (the 5, 10, 15 point rounds and team activities). It's all about the questions.

Mr. Riley in Illinois runs the Ultima on Panasonic formatted questions with adaptations that I think make it at least palatable to the wider quizbowl community. For instance, allowing short one liners in the 5 point {meaningless} round but replacing them by the 15-point round with pyramidal questions. Also, his matching tend to contain a harder choice in the first three so that there is a smaller chance that two teams will be buzzing on the third clue and using process of elimination to get the fourth. Instead, the better team will be able to buzz on the third choice and the worser will have to wait for the fourth choice to be able to get the three matches necessary to complete the choices.

Does anyone think that Panasonic could be open to changes? Does anyone think some teams will return with them?

@Reinstein, they did name a tournament director for next year, but I don't recall her name.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Matt Weiner »

I don't think having six teams play at once and having matching questions and one buzz allowed per tossup are redeemable features of the Panasonic format. The scaling value of tossups or the idea of allowing conferring, sure, whatever. Those two things aren't the issue.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by harpersferry »

Matt Weiner wrote:I don't think having six teams play at once and having matching questions and one buzz allowed per tossup are redeemable features of the Panasonic format. The scaling value of tossups or the idea of allowing conferring, sure, whatever. Those two things aren't the issue.
I completely agree.

I'll also add that some of the reasons they themselves cite for having one buzz per tossup are moot. For example, they claim this allows different question formats such as true/false. The solution to this is not to write true/false questions. I think they have written fewer recently. I heard only one in the three rounds I played. I honestly can't think of any other question format that requires one buzz per tossup.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

ReinsteinD wrote:Dwight makes a good point. If you don't qualify for PACE, find out if your team is willing to practice hard for it, especially non-seniors who could make more than a one-time effort, and ask the PACE people nicely.
We'll have one senior this upcoming year, and no seniors graduated this year. And for the first time in CRHS history, i'm making the kids write questions over the summer, 20TU and 20B each. And we're going to try to get to as many tournaments as we can.

Now, will we qualify for anything? I certainly hope so but i would say there's no more than a 50/50 shot, probably. But they could impress me in October when we play on trying to go to 3 tourneys in 3 weeks (again, for the first time ever - actually i think it'll be the first time CRHS has gone to multiple tourneys in the fall ever).

That said, i will indeed ask nicely anyway. :)
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by kcommo »

ReinsteinD wrote:I am also starting to initiate contact with the people who run PAC to find out if any of their policies are flexible and if there are ways for them to keep costs down, though the person who has pretty much always run PAC is now retiring and I don't know who is replacing her.
Lisa Rawls, who has served as Peggy's assistant the last couple of years, is slated to be the new tournament director. I didn't talk to her directly so I don't know how receptive she'll be to change, but if it's going to happen, now would seem to be the time.

Our board of directors in Vermont sent Peggy a list of our suggestions a couple of years ago, and while she was polite about it, she made it pretty clear the current format wasn't going to change. At least now, the door might be be open a bit more.

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Matt Weiner »

I suppose that talking someone into going to more pyramidal questions is always a possibility, but eliminating other fundamentally unacceptable components of the tournament, such as the six teams playing at once or the math questions, seems unlikely to happen. You're basically talking about getting people to admit that the previous 20 tournaments they ran were illegitimate, by making such drastic changes.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by Stained Diviner »

My complaints are not the same as yours, Matt. I don't have a problem with computational math (which I realize makes me a minority here), six teams playing at a time (though it would make more sense if they eliminated some of the teams on the bottom near the end of the match), or only allowing one buzz per question (which is necessary because there are more than two teams, unless you get a buzzer system that recognizes which team buzzes first, second, third, and so on). My complaints are with the high cost, small number of matches, and question quality (specifically matching, multiple choice, gimmick, and single clue questions that often don't measure depth of knowledge). I am of the belief that taking questions from ICT or ACF Regionals/Nationals and using them in the PAC format would make for a good tournament, and the format (theoretically six teams all made up of the top students in their states in the same room together) could be used to justify the use of very difficult questions. That's all theoretical--it does not describe the current state of the tournament.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by First Chairman »

The game format is significantly different enough that they way they do math questions, it's not a big problem the way it is done. I grant I have not been to the most recent tournaments to know whether there have been any differences. However, I doubt I would see any change unless there is a significant uprising among the Florida schools. Given that FL has made the finals most of the years they have run the national, I doubt there is any political reason to change horses and develop a format that the brass might consider less advantageous. (Of course, I am going totally on conjecture, and I can counterargue all of this.)

But it is interesting to note that everyone from student player to state program administrator has an issue with PAC. I know I have had lots of difficulty finding anyone to sponsor an all-state team for North Carolina because of the cost. I also know that training students to prepare for this format could be very frustrating for those less used to buzzer-race questions. We can wax philosophical but heck...

I doubt that you will see much change, but the fact they got < 30 and no Virginia team should signal a few flags among the administrators there. Maybe they would be more amenable to change... I don't know.

As for previous comment, I know that when I have constructed PACE, I have wanted more time to have teams socialize and get to know one another. I recognize more people want to just "play more games" and I can understand that. But PAC has always been nice enough to get enough downtime to have coaches and students really get to network among themselves. That is something I try to keep in mind when we have our Saturday evening meeting, and while a lot of people think I take a lot of time with the meeting, I always can consider the worse alternative of just having everyone do some wacky icebreaker as if it were like a quiz bowl camp [though I have never been to ACE camp to know]. :)
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge updates

Post by STPickrell »

I seem to be what passes for a contact in Virginia. I'm not sure if the letter sent to VA Department of Education goes straight to File 13 or not.

I am not so enamored of PAC that I will lobby to obtain $5k funding from the state, VHSL, whatever, to allow Virginia to send a team. That, and I have a wife, daughter, day job, and side business, to care about.

If any team is of a non-embarrassing class and higher and wants to go next year, just contact me. I won't recommend a team that went 0-12 in their VHSL season and refused to do anything else. A team that made it to regionals and finished above .500 at one or more regular tournaments ... sure, why not, as long as they know what they are getting into and are open to allowing good players from the rest of the state to join them.

Virginia was offered a grant equal to (I think) two people going so VA would only need to pay 2/3 of the cost. I am not sure if other notable non-attendees were offered this grant.

As for changes -- if we are going to demand changes, we need to have something concrete to offer the tournament like states returning. Who are the leading states other than VA where pyramidal quizbowl is played that did NOT attend PAC?

I think if they are told, 'If you switch to this style of question, (fill in 5-6 states) will return' might get some favorable response, much more than, 'I won't go to this tournament but can you switch your style fo questions?'
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

Post by Byko »

I'll say this again: PAC is NOT quiz bowl, nor does it make any efforts to be. It is academic competition, and yes, there most definitely is a difference. So, while it is not quiz bowl, that does not mean it is without merit. In fact, some of its greatest merit may be opportunity for teams and players from areas of the country where there is no quiz bowl. PAC has to be doing at least something right in being able to get teams from New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming year after year. Granted, these may not be bastions of academic prowess, but they are teams who enjoy coming and who, in the last couple of years, have had some better seasons (Wyoming made it to semifinals for the first time ever this year, and Idaho and Montana were both in the semifinals last year). The PAC staff has been able, in some small way, to do what the numbers of us in the quiz bowl community have thus far been unable to do: reach out to these less well-represented areas.

Now I'm about to drop the bomb as I know it along with some things that may or may not be true:

Known truths:
1. Peggy Harrod is retiring at the end of this calendar year. Her assistant, Lisa Rawls, will be taking over. The first was made clear on Sunday morning while the last was announced during the banquet Tuesday night.
2. Panasonic is re-evaluating its involvement in PAC as well as all of its educational/academic-oriented initiatives. Penny Joseph, who has been at PAC as Panasonic's representative the last two years, announced that as part of her speech at the banquet on Tuesday night.
3. It is possible that Panasonic may not be a sponsor next year. Granted, this was somewhat obvious from Penny's speech on Tuesday, but even as I watched one of the games on Monday, the reader was imploring teams and coaches to send letters of appreciation to Panasonic and other sponsors, and she said that Panasonic may not be sponsoring it next year.

Statements of unknown certainty:
1. Panasonic may have already pulled the plug. This is a report I've gotten from a couple of coaches, most particularly Lorena Thompson at Grand Junction in Colorado, who has been coming to this tournament for about 13 years. Talking with other coaches from Wisconsin and Tennessee, both of whom have been in attendance at PAC for a long time as well, this seems quite believable. Along with this, apparently any letters of appreciation that are sent (and cc'ed to Peggy and the PAC team) would be used in any efforts to gain another sponsor.
2. It is possible that there has been discussion with Exxon as a sponsor. Again, this is very much rumor from the same source as #1. Then again, considering our current economy, Exxon is one of the few companies that's actually doing well enough right now to have money to throw around, so I could believe it.
3. I don't know how Lisa Rawls will do following in Peggy's footsteps. I've been down to PAC four times now in the last five years, and this is probably the first time I've heard her name that I can recall. She hasn't been a high-level person among tournament staff like readers or judges, so I really don't know much about her.

So, yes, PAC is definitely in serious trouble. Without Panasonic, the cost would only go up. Right now, it's $375 per person for registration, and Panasonic picks up the just over $200 per room per night cost of the hotel (for up to two rooms for four nights). It would be out of reach for anyone to be able to come except for maybe one or two very well funded states, I would imagine, without that room allowance.

For those of you who say that the money should go elsewhere, let me provide one case study that I know about. In Maryland, the team is funded by the school board of Montgomery County (since, usually, the entire team is from there), often with some assistance from various individual schools or school principals. Were there no PAC, I have little doubt that this money would not be spent on academic competition but rather on other budgetary needs, probably focused away from student academic activities, in the county. So, at least for us, it generally is a "use it or lose it" situation. It's unfortunate, but it's sadly not surprising in this day and age.

Do I think it would be unfortunate if PAC were to go away? Yes, I do. Again, I do not say this at all for the benefit of the quiz bowl community because, again, PAC is not quiz bowl. But it is a worthwhile experience for another group of students that will never really be part of quiz bowl because they haven't had the opportunities presented to them that many of us have. Granted, I realize that this board is probably not the place to find much of a receptive audience to my line of thinking, but I figure I might as well at least make it clear for those who are interested. I will try to do my part to make sure that this opportunity can still exist for players down the line. If you happen to feel the same way, please e-mail me--my address is in my signature following this post. I don't have a plan, but maybe if enough people feel the way that I do, perhaps we can do something together.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

Post by Stained Diviner »

Thanks for the info, Byko. Additional costs of over $1000 would make it easier for us to stop sending a team or it would cause us to raise the fees for the students. We already charge students $300 plus airfare to be on the team, and we still end up paying a few thousand dollars out of our own fund.

I too would be willing to put in some effort to see PAC continue, so put me on your mailing list, but that could get very messy. The two main problems are:
1) If PAC raises their rates but still holds their tournament, then any new tournament would be competing against them and probably would have the most trouble attracting teams from the states you are most interested in attracting--the ones that are not knowledgeable about quizbowl but come to PAC every year out of tradition and a desire to go to Florida.
2) You would have to get a group together that has a shared vision about what PAC should be. Should it be similar to HSNCT and NSC but with only one team per state, or should it maintain certain aspects of the PAC format? Probably even more difficult--which specific aspects of PAC are worth keeping?

These problems are compounded by timing--it's difficult to make any decisions until we find out what is going on with the sponsors, and we have no idea when we'll find out. The other problem is questions--I don't think any of us wants to start a new national tournament unless we can line up several highly regarded writers and editors, and many of those people are already doing a lot of writing and editing.

As an aside, and maybe I should keep my mouth shut to avoid opening up a can of worms, I don't understand the argument that "it's not quizbowl". You have a bunch of students with buzzers trying to be the first one with the correct answer, and you have questions about academic subjects, so it seems like quizbowl to me. The team activities are a little different, but they are not the main part of the match. Some of it replicates bad quizbowl, since you often have several people trying to buzz in at once and/or people making guesses based on non-unique clues at the beginning of a question, but that's still quizbowl. There's more computation than most of you are used to, but that's still quizbowl as it is played (to varying distributions) in most of the country. There is actual teamwork on tossups, which is a difference, but is that really such a big deal? Though there is a good amount of unpredictability/randomness in match results, a really good quizbowl team will beat a really horrible quizbowl team in PAC.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

Post by BobGHHS »

Exxon is one of the few companies that's actually doing well enough right now to have money to throw around, so I could believe it.
According to Rush Limbaugh or some other political commentator on the radio today that my friend had on, Exxon-Mobil is getting out of the gasoline business in the U.S. citing the fact that its not profitable enough. That said, would they be willing to sponsor something in a country they are not operating in, if they do leave. Just hypothetical... I found it interesting.

Hopefully Panasonic stays involved, but who knows what they are thinking. If they do pull the plug, Lisa has a hell of a job ahead of her.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

Post by Tegan »

ReinsteinD wrote: As an aside, and maybe I should keep my mouth shut to avoid opening up a can of worms, I don't understand the argument that "it's not quizbowl".
I waver on this ...... to some most folks here .... quizbowl requires the following:
1. two teams head-to-head; not three or six, or some other number
2. toss-up bonus format in shape or form
3. both teams hear the same questions.
4. written bonuses = bad (though there may be less resistance to this, provided that #3 is adhered to)
5. four players-per-team = four buzzers-per-team

I'm missing some stuff for sure, but I think these are a few of the basics. Others may extend to "computation = non-quizbowl".

While it is true that there is no universal definition, I think there are many people who believe there is.

I've had a number of problems with PAC, many of which have been brought up. I'll even go in to say that their "judges", while a good idea, often have something to be desired ..... they sometimes can't tell the difference between "personal convention" and "universal truth of the universe".

I think Matt et. al. are saying: if it isn't quizbowl (by their definition), then any money being spent on it is wasted. I can appreciate that stand. I appreciate Byko and Downtown John Brown bringing up that:
1. Attendance at PAC does not make it impossible to attend the two good quizbowl nationals. and
2. In some cases, the money being spent would likely not have the option to be spent going to good quizbowl. Given the choice of giving some DEd a raise or sending people to PAC, I'm glad the money is being spent in DisneyWorld.

In the end, it appears that PAC's death may be closer than I even thought. I have been one of the coaches that has argued against sending a team to PAC. When the team won last year, I accepted and supported the argument that a champion has an obligation to appear and defend its title, and I will support such an argument this time as well.

I have been pushing for the past 4-5 years gently and then more forcibly to start using more money to get Illinois' better teams to NAQT or PACE. I hope that in future years that will come to pass, unless there are some significant changes made at PAC.

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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

Post by First Chairman »

Tegan wrote:
ReinsteinD wrote: As an aside, and maybe I should keep my mouth shut to avoid opening up a can of worms, I don't understand the argument that "it's not quizbowl".
I waver on this ...... to some most folks here .... quizbowl requires the following:
1. two teams head-to-head; not three or six, or some other number
2. toss-up bonus format in shape or form
3. both teams hear the same questions.
4. written bonuses = bad (though there may be less resistance to this, provided that #3 is adhered to)
5. four players-per-team = four buzzers-per-team

I'm missing some stuff for sure, but I think these are a few of the basics. Others may extend to "computation = non-quizbowl".

While it is true that there is no universal definition, I think there are many people who believe there is.
I can move this thread to Theory if you wanted. Some of us older folks have a much more inclusive definition of what we would consider "quiz bowl." But "quality quiz bowl" I think adheres to the above. That is not to say that alternative forms should not exist, but in terms of the final gold standard of determining the best high school academic quiz team out there, pyramidal questions offered to two teams head-to-head is close to the gold standard. We also have expectations for a national tournament to have a set number of games larger than 3, and perhaps situations where teams are ranked on paper but not tiebroken on paper.

I would say that Panasonic format is not standard quiz bowl, just as Academic Decathlon is not quiz bowl. It's just another academic game where we test knowledge instead of problem solving (Odyssey of the Mind) or details/minuitia (Spelling Bee, Geography Bee). But is this particular game fun? Maybe.
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Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

Post by Dan Greenstein »

BobGHHS wrote:
Exxon is one of the few companies that's actually doing well enough right now to have money to throw around, so I could believe it.
According to Rush Limbaugh or some other political commentator on the radio today that my friend had on, Exxon-Mobil is getting out of the gasoline business in the U.S. citing the fact that its not profitable enough. That said, would they be willing to sponsor something in a country they are not operating in, if they do leave. Just hypothetical... I found it interesting.

Hopefully Panasonic stays involved, but who knows what they are thinking. If they do pull the plug, Lisa has a hell of a job ahead of her.
ExxonMobil is merely getting out of the retail gasoline business. They are selling the ~2000 company-owned gasoline stations, which accounts for approximately 15% of their 11000+ branded stations. They will no longer manage the stations directly or indirectly, only receive revenue from the gasoline sold. The Exxon and Mobil branded stations are going nowhere with the exception of the standard attrition and brand switching of individual station owners. ExxonMobil itself is going nowhere.

Back on topic. I am going to use a Dreaded Sports Analogy to my impression of what PAC is: the NBA All-Star Game, Slam Dunk Contest, Three Point Contest, and Freshman-Sophomore Game blended into one freaky event. Imagine such a horrifying chimera. Is it NBA basketball? No. Is it basketball, loosely defined? Yes.

I am indifferent toward the continued existence of PAC for several reasons. For one, it is not a direct competitor of the two national tournaments considered legitimate by most people of these forums. The format is wildly different. It is quizbowl with a lowercase q. Not only is the game format different, so is the team format. It is one team per state. Many of those teams are all-star teams. Teams are not competing to see which school is the best; they are competing to see which state is the best.

Furthermore, the funding and time location of PAC is significantly different from the two legitimate national tournaments. In most cases, tournament fees are not paid by individual schools, but by a statewide body. PAC does not conflict time-wise with the two legitimate national tournaments. It does compete the same weekend as NAC, which is kind of funny in that members of teams at NAC cannot play PAC.

The main reason I am indifferent about the continued existence of PAC is I am not familiar with any major allegations of unfair treatment or ethical issues with this tournament. Compare that to NAC, where it seems questionable activity on the part of the tournament direction occurs every year and is being increasingly documented. Although the tournament fees are high compared to the two legitimate national tournaments, there is no indication of fraud or other unseemly activity on the part of the organizers of PAC.

However, given that PAC relies on corporate support for its continued existence, I am skeptical that it would have the staying power of formats whose organizers have a non-monetary stake, which is the case of the two legitimate national tournaments, whose organizers were and still are players on the circuit. There are two scenarios to consider. The first involves Panasonic pulling its sponsorship and no one steps in to replace them as a corporate sponsor. The tournament is now named the American Academic Challenge. Does this tournament now have the same prestige as it previously did? Would the powers that be in each state be willing to continue to fund teams to attend a tournament at Disney World previously sponsored by a consumer electronics company? Even the fact that a corporation pulled their funding of such an activity would likely be a downer to the decision makers since they can no longer name drop.

The second scenario goes further. Just as in the first scenario, Panasonic ceases its sponsorship. As is rumored in previous posts in this thread, ExxonMobil assumes sponsorship. The tournament is now known as the ExxonMobil Academic Challenge (EMAC). Consider how oil companies are often demonized in this day and age, that politicians are often the ones leading the demonizing, and that members of school boards are elected officials. Ask the same questions as in the first scenario: Does this tournament now have the same prestige as it previously did? Would the powers that be in each state be willing to continue to fund teams to attend a tournament at Disney World previously sponsored by a consumer electronics company...and now sponsored by an "evil" oil company?
Daniel Greenstein
University of Maryland (2000-2004)
Eleanor Roosevelt High School (1998-2000)

evilmonkey
Yuna
Posts: 964
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:23 am
Location: Durham, NC

Re: 2008 Panasonic Academic Challenge: Illinois wins!

Post by evilmonkey »

Back on topic. I am going to use a Dreaded Sports Analogy to my impression of what PAC is:
Analogy of what it should be:
HSNCT/PACE = Champion's League
PAC = World Cup
Bryce Durgin
Culver Academies '07
University of Notre Dame '11
Texas A&M '15

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