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Some thoughts on interstate competition around St. Louis 
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Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006
Posts: 4134
Location: Columbia, MO
Post Some thoughts on interstate competition around St. Louis
After a long, much-needed break from worrying about Missouri quizbowl, I have found myself lately mulling over some different ideas about what I'm seeing go on in Missouri. I live in New York City now, so it's entirely possible that I'm missing something here, but I wanted to just get the discussion going to see what happens.

I've recently been in touch with a good friend in MOQBA to just sort of keep up on how things are going since I've moved away, and I can't be more impressed with how great of a circuit is currently going strong in Missouri. On all ends of the spectrum, there are so many teams doing great work that I can tell from the statistics, every major tournament has an extremely competitive playoff bracket, but there are so many other newcomers and teams who may not be the absolute best but who still understand that the way to be a good quizbowl team is to go to all the tournaments you can reasonably attend. All of the field sizes for tournaments seem to be stabilizing at much higher numbers than they used to attract, and lots of high school coaches are making sure run good tournaments. Most importantly, all of these events I'm seeing use the highest-quality quizbowl sets from around the country. Those of us who were around a decade ago understand how massive a shift in the ocean this is. I couldn't be more excited to see that the good quizbowl circuit in Missouri is clearly here to stay.

However, now that we have this situation, there is one particular problem - Central Missouri is by far the best place to be a competitive quizbowl team. It's not that all of the best teams are there, but that the most good tournaments are there, and that the best teams have to come out to play things like Mizzou's tournaments if they want to make sure to have as competitive a schedule as possible. St. Louis is perfectly good circuit too, where places like Wash U, Orchard Farm, and Oakville are doing some great work running tournaments, but from what I can see there are fewer tournaments in St. Louis every year than in Central MO, and a lot of local schools with fine teams don't always go out to everything, and they certainly don't venture out of the city very far. There is no reason why a large city like St. Louis can't have a circuit of at least 10 local tournaments every year, and a culture where every one of those tournaments can be filled to the brim (say, 32 teams) with metro-area teams.I think everyone from St. Louis can understand the benefit of this kind of circuit - having to spend the time and money traveling to Columbia for anything other than the state championship should be a luxury, not a demand for a serious team.

With that in mind, I think I have figured out at least part of the reason why St. Louis hasn't achieved it's full potential yet - there's a huge part of the city that isn't in Missouri who has mostly been ignored! The populations of St. Clair and Monroe counties in Illinois add up to almost 500,000 people, and they have teams like Dupo, Alton, Freeburg, Mascoutah, and O'Fallon who definitely are already active in the Illinois circuit because I found their results in the Masonic State Championship. Southwest Illinois is in a rather unfortunate way, with a circuit that seems to not be especially serious. However, there is no reason that we can't convince these teams to venture out on the Missouri side - O'Fallon used to come to WUHSAC regularly. Local hosts in Missouri absolutely need to compile a list of all the teams in the Illinois side of St. Louis and vigorously recruit them to Missouri tournaments. The only proven method to convincing anybody to become more serious about good quizbowl is to show them good quizbowl tournaments. It won't be overnight, but if in the next few years you can convince more and more of these teams on the Illinois side who are currently not active enough to come join the St. Louis circuit, then that makes it possible to convince some of them to start hosting their own great tournaments which will be a 20-minute drive away from your schools. Your tournaments will fill more easily, and your teams will get even more diverse options for competition. This will also be a mitzvah for the advocates of good quizbowl in Illinois, who have had a lot of trouble convincing this region to become more active.

But what about MSHSAA? Well, all it takes to invite these teams is filling out a form on their website a month in advance. It's a very small waste of your time in return for an investment in making your local circuit much better. And whenever you decide to take the plunge and go to a tournament in Illinois, all you have to do is ask them to fill out a similar form and then you should be able to attend without any hiccups. This is one area where MSHSAA will present you no problems.

I also think that, in pursuit of this goal, somebody from Missouri should get in touch with the Illinois equivalent to MACA (called IHSSBCA), and convince them to advertise our tournaments and maybe even attend their convention to try and make face-to-face connections with the kinds of teams we want to attract.

I really think doing this might be the next frontier for MOQBA in St. Louis, because in central Missouri, there is pretty much no area not participating in the good quizbowl revolution, unlike this untouched region of St. Louis. However, if you are from a school in St. Louis that takes good quizbowl seriously, that means it is time for you to also participate in this process by deciding to host a tournament. There is no way to make a greater impact on the health of your circuit, and to make your team a bundle of cash to pay for all the other tournaments, than hosting your own, and right now St. Louis is so close to having a great circuit, independently of the rest of Missouri, but is being held up by not having enough good tournaments in the city. Let's try to make this happen.

Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:31 pm
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Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006
Posts: 1392
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Post Re: Some thoughts on interstate competition around St. Louis
ashkenaziCD wrote:
I also think that, in pursuit of this goal, somebody from Missouri should get in touch with the Illinois equivalent to MACA (called IHSSBCA), and convince them to advertise our tournaments and maybe even attend their convention to try and make face-to-face connections with the kinds of teams we want to attract.

This seems like a job for me. :)

Sun Feb 28, 2016 2:35 pm
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