I try to avoid this thread every time it comes up, but Eak asked me to explain a few things. . . .
First, the number of teams at Nationals varies year-to-year. The biggest influence on this is "the limitations of the most specialized room needed". This is almost always a chemistry room. For logistics and scheduling reasons, college labs are the same size and capacities, and whether "in kind" gift or actually rented, hosts find the first multiple of # of labs that covers every state that wishes to go. The extra slots go, by SO population, to become second slots. That's why the numbers change.
The bulk of Nationals costs are borne by the state organization and/or sponsoring host. It's easily six figures. Even if it's "free", colleges still assign a budget of how much "free" stuff can be donated. This is known as "in kind" giving. We can't just run up a tab. The one and only time I went over budget all these years was with Mission in '08; I had to cut a LOT of stuff less than a week before. Embarrassing.
Anyone recall a string of years where a state would (almost) mis-send the wrong team, and that State would send the aggrieved team as extra? The whole thing ended a few years ago when hosts complained about the incredible extra costs. Anyone who says, "How much work is it to send ONE more team? It can't be that hard-- or expensive" has simply NOT taken part in the festivities. I've pitched in more than once, throwing out 10,000 + copes of schedules, routes, maps and other paperwork and collating the new stuff at 2:00 AM.
Now, if you take these considerations and apply them to an all-star competition, you're going to have them multiplied by 15 or more. Good luck getting the best in every event to somehow fit into a group limited to 15, or even 20 or 30! They have to travel with parental supervision (even if 18 (kind of)-- there's that lovely foggy ground between school corporation liability and 18 y.o. adulthood that nobody wants to mess with). Also a schedule nightmare-- How would you like to be the one person from East Nowhere High School to qualify and then have to choose between two events, leaving the other one behind, while someone from Always At Nationals HS being able to do all 5 of hers? Wanna ride a team bus for 32 hours with a full load of kids from Perpetual Opponent HS? Finally, just exactly how many students are going to be served at this huge expense, measured in "cost per student that we kept from quitting"? After all, few "almost there" teams and students actually quit.
With so many obstacles, it's now wonder that the states that are trying to fix the "one tournament and we're out" problem focus on invitationals and the like.
On a PERSONAL note, I find it amusing every year to see the various proposals that are written with the aim of guaranteed benefiting the team the proposer is on. One thing I noticed, one of the louder squawker teams didn't make a peep that recent year they DID get to go to nationals; apparently the system worked to their satisfaction quite well that year. Next year, whine, whine, whine.
Uncle Fester, Maker & Fiction Science Writer
The Misadventures of the Electric Detention
The Revenge of the Electric Detention
The Curse of the Electric Detention
>> Three full-length adventures, 26 short stories and counting!