Nationals Bid Discussion

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Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby dxu46 » April 10th, 2019, 9:10 pm

So I just had an idea about a possible solution to the bid problem. Because schools in states where the winner usually gets top 10 at nationals (cough cough California) rarely get to see nationals, there needs to be a way for those schools to be able to attend nationals for once without having to beat a national powerhouse. My solution is this: The top 10 finalists at nationals will automatically qualify to the next year's tournament, and they will only compete at their regional and state tournaments to win medals, not team awards. The bid system will work the same way as it currently is, assigning bids based off of state size. However, because the team exempted from states is exempted, that gives another team a chance to go to nationals.

For example, schools A, B, and C are in New Jersey. A is the clear best, but B and C are no slouch either. Because A is a powerhouse team that regularly places at nationals, B and C can only fight for the 2nd place spot, which doesn't qualify them to the national tournament. But with this system, school A automatically qualifies for nationals, leaving B and C to fight for the 1st place nationals bid.

Another example: Schools W, X, Y, and Z are in Illinois. W and X frequently place in the top 10 at nationals, and Y and Z are good but not that level. With this system, W and X (granted they place top 10) are exempted and instead the two bids are for Y and Z to take.

I think this is a good solution (but correct me if I'm wrong) because most importantly it helps further Science Olympiad's goal to spread science. By giving more teams the opportunity to compete at high level tournaments, this system would do exactly that. Secondly, it would allow more deserving teams (more, not all - nothing's perfect) to attend nationals, allowing for the competition to more accurately portray the nation's best sciolyers. Finally, it provides an incentive to do well and do well consistently at nationals (if there's not already incentive to begin with.) There are no competitions after nationals, so why try your hardest? After all, nationals is really fun to go to. But with this system, schools have to maintain their presence in the top 10 - otherwise they would have to return to state and fight for the top spot(s) again. To add on to this, teams that have experienced a slight decline (like Winston Churchill) will still have an opportunity to regain their balance with another competition. Not only is this fair, but it also achieves what Science Olympiad is trying to do - which is the most important thing.

I can really only see one problem with this - space. This would add 20 more teams overall to the competition, which may or may not be plausible. I'm guessing that nationals will expand eventually, so why not now? Especially when this system would benefit the whole of Science Olympiad in a multitude of ways.

Opinions? Thoughts? Comments? Feel free to respond - I'm interested in finding out how others view this system.

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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » April 11th, 2019, 5:55 am

Moving to a new thread so it doesn't hijack an existing thread.

As far as my position on this, it's about the same as my response to any other suggestion that includes merit-based spots or the addition of bids; it's a nice idea, but it misses the mark of the intent of nationals. First and foremost, the intent of nationals must be established:

Nationals is for the best teams in each state, not for the best teams in the country.

Events such as the Parade of States and the Swap Meet put emphasis on the diversity of teams. The fact that teams are representing states is a primary focus throughout the weekend. Without addressing the logistical concerns of adding 20 teams to the tournament, it's important to address the possible long-term implications of such a setup, where you could end up with 3 teams from a state finishing in the top 10, and then they get 2 extra bids on top of that. You could see 5 or more teams from the same state clogging up top-20 spots, and it pushes other states down. It's understandable that those teams from that state would want to have a chance at nationals, but it would come at an expense to the diversity that the national tournament has sought to cultivate. I feel for teams in competitive states, obviously; nationals is a great experience and naturally teams want to have a chance at it. But until geographic diversity becomes less of a priority for NSO, any suggestion that could result in more than 2 teams from a state qualifying for nationals is probably not going to happen.

I do want to address the logistics of adding teams to the tournament. Obviously, space is limited, and the tournament has been fairly stable at 60 teams for some time now. If an increase is going to happen, it'll happen in small steps, not a big jump. My current thinking is that nationals should seriously evaluate what it would take to increase the national tournament number to 63 in each division, which would allow the time slots to alternate between 10 and 11 teams. Right now, the number of teams with two bids is much lower than when the national tournament first expanded to 60, which is decreasing opportunities for some states that may deserve two bids, and even a modest increase to 63 would help. It also serves as an intermediate step where, if it proves to work, an increase to 66 is possible in the future. I'm not demanding it change immediately, but I hope NSO is seriously considering it, and not dismissing it, as it's the easiest and fairest way to give more teams shots at nationals.

Last point: I consider DC an exception to my position on the current bid allocation system. The Virginia champions tend to be in the Washington metro area already, and several top teams in Maryland are also in that metro area. Because of this, having a DC champion represented at nationals doesn't really do much to increase the geographic diversity at the national tournament, as opposed to states like Vermont. In my ideal world, DC hosts its own regional to crown a champion, and that regional serves as a qualifier for the state tournament at Maryland or Virginia, but I don't see them losing their spot anytime soon.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby nicholasmaurer » April 11th, 2019, 6:24 am

Nationals is for the best teams in each state, not for the best teams in the country.
This has certainly been the traditional view of the national organization. Whether or not this should be the focus is up for debate. I have also been told the existing bid system, which rewards the states with the highest registration, is intended to serve a motivational purpose. It is the only current mechanism the national organization has to encourage/reward state programs to expand. Again, whether this has a meaningful effect in practice is up for debate.
I can really only see one problem with this - space. This would add 20 more teams overall to the competition, which may or may not be plausible. I'm guessing that nationals will expand eventually, so why not now? Especially when this system would benefit the whole of Science Olympiad in a multitude of ways.
My current thinking is that nationals should seriously evaluate what it would take to increase the national tournament number to 63 in each division, which would allow the time slots to alternate between 10 and 11 teams. Right now, the number of teams with two bids is much lower than when the national tournament first expanded to 60, which is decreasing opportunities for some states that may deserve two bids, and even a modest increase to 63 would help. It also serves as an intermediate step where, if it proves to work, an increase to 66 is possible in the future.
I do not think it is likely that the national tournament will expand the number of competing teams. The issue is not the number of teams per timeslot. Many large invitationals (MIT, Solon, etc.) have repeatedly demonstrated it is possible to successfully run 11 or 12 teams per timeslot. The greater concern is that it is already incredibly difficult to identify willing host sites with sufficient dorm space and awards seating. Increasing the tournament attendance, even by a couple hundred people, would make this even more challenging.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » April 11th, 2019, 6:35 am

Nationals is for the best teams in each state, not for the best teams in the country.
This has certainly been the traditional view of the national organization. Whether or not this should be the focus is up for debate. I have also been told the existing bid system, which rewards the states with the highest registration, is intended to serve a motivational purpose. It is the only current mechanism the national organization has to encourage/reward state programs to expand. Again, whether this has a meaningful effect in practice is up for debate.
That's interesting to hear, although I see the intent. I do think that it should most be on state organizations to conduct outreach to schools to assist in expansion, especially in the current setup where state orgs have most of the power and NSO just generally oversees them.
I can really only see one problem with this - space. This would add 20 more teams overall to the competition, which may or may not be plausible. I'm guessing that nationals will expand eventually, so why not now? Especially when this system would benefit the whole of Science Olympiad in a multitude of ways.
My current thinking is that nationals should seriously evaluate what it would take to increase the national tournament number to 63 in each division, which would allow the time slots to alternate between 10 and 11 teams. Right now, the number of teams with two bids is much lower than when the national tournament first expanded to 60, which is decreasing opportunities for some states that may deserve two bids, and even a modest increase to 63 would help. It also serves as an intermediate step where, if it proves to work, an increase to 66 is possible in the future.
I do not think it is likely that the national tournament will expand the number of competing teams. The issue is not the number of teams per timeslot. Many large invitationals (MIT, Solon, etc.) have repeatedly demonstrated it is possible to successfully run 11 or 12 teams per timeslot. The greater concern is that it is already incredibly difficult to identify willing host sites with sufficient dorm space and awards seating. Increasing the tournament attendance, even by a couple hundred people, would make this even more challenging.
I'm just curious at how much NSO has seriously considered the option. I would hope that they are at least bringing up the topic with potential future sites, to see how many sites really would be willing to host 60 teams but not 63. I just ask that exploration for expansion is a yearly discussion, as there are definitely deserving teams in the largest one-bid states.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby Unome » April 11th, 2019, 8:54 am

It's amazing how often people say they have a new idea, yet that exact same idea has been posted here many times in the past.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby Riptide » April 11th, 2019, 9:33 am

It's amazing how often people say they have a new idea, yet that exact same idea has been posted here many times in the past.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby primitivepolonium » April 11th, 2019, 1:39 pm

I mean, it all really comes down to the goal of SciOly versus the goal of the people competing in SciOly. SciOly as an entity is extremely outdated (just look at some of the events) and just overall jank. A decent handful of Nationals events are poorly run, nepotism is (reportedly) rampant in the National org, and there is a lot of inconsistency across the board in general. Changes are happening, but they won't be immediate.

A lot of the people competing in SciOly would probably choose to prioritize team skill over team diversity, especially if said team diversity is based on state quotas, which are universally agreed to be one of the dumbest forms of diversity quotas whenever they're applied (especially in college apps or summer program admissions). In particular, top teams are trained to be good so that they can outcompete other top teams in dodging this quota.

However, Nationals clearly does not feel that way. It's ultimately their competition so they can do whatever they want even if we don't agree with it. Until they decide to rearrange their priorities, which might happen either when they evolve (l o l) or when they all get replaced, we just have to stick with it. It's also worth mentioning SciOly has a rather different purpose than other STEM comps, which contributes to its current structure. SciOly focuses on spreading STEM as much as it does on selecting for excellence.

I'm also unsure of how well say, a "region" based States tournament where multiple smaller states compete would work. As much as I enjoyed SciOly and still do SciOly, SciOly isn't really a very high profile science tournament in prestige or college admissions (speaking objectively), and if you're working with states that have low interest in SciOly to begin with, the costs of longer traveling and hotels may just turn people off competing all together.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » April 11th, 2019, 2:01 pm

I mean, it all really comes down to the goal of SciOly versus the goal of the people competing in SciOly. SciOly as an entity is extremely outdated (just look at some of the events) and just overall jank. A decent handful of Nationals events are poorly run, nepotism is rampant in the National org, and there is a lot of inconsistency across the board in general. Changes are happening, but they won't be immediate.

A lot of the people competing in SciOly would probably choose to prioritize team skill over team diversity, especially if said team diversity is based on state quotas, which are universally agreed to be one of the dumbest forms of diversity quotas whenever they're applied (especially in college apps or summer program admissions). In particular, top teams are trained to be good so that they can outcompete other top teams in dodging this quota.

However, Nationals clearly does not feel that way. It's ultimately their competition so they can do whatever they want even if we don't agree with it. Until they decide to rearrange their priorities, which might happen either when they evolve (l o l) or when they all get replaced, we just have to stick with it.

I'm also unsure of how well say, a "region" based States tournament where multiple smaller states compete would work. As much as I enjoyed SciOly and still do SciOly, SciOly isn't really a very high profile science tournament in prestige or college admissions (speaking objectively), and if you're working with states that have low interest in SciOly to begin with, the costs of longer traveling and hotels may just turn people off competing all together.
I would say that running events and tournaments well, and introducing new blood into NSO, should be much higher of a priority than messing with the bid allocation system. I honestly would prefer to have teams from Wyoming and Alaska qualify rather than have six teams from California, four from Ohio, and three from Texas. As you say, in smaller states, SO doesn't have a very high profile, and moving to a model where some states may not be represented at Nationals could kill SO in those states altogether.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby Rossyspsce » April 11th, 2019, 2:38 pm

Seeing the proposed bid system may not work with top ten but maybe narrowing it to top 3 or even just national champion, though I say champion hesitatingly as that will just favor SoCal and Ohio, in order to determine an auto entry to next years national tournament. This the practice in F1D where the world champion can either choose to make it through qualifiers or accept admittance to the following years tournament

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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Postby kate! » April 11th, 2019, 2:49 pm

I honestly feel like the main source of all this controversy about bids comes from three states: California, New Jersey, and Texas.

First of all, Texas (division C). Though the state hasn't been focused on as much this year because the three powerhouse teams seem to be relatively weak compared to 2018, we can't forget about the outrage over the removal of their 2nd bid. Texas C has previously been one of the most competitive states, comparable to the big 3 of New York C. Last year, people were calling for a solution, saying that NSO should have intervened with the situation. Before last year, the two Texas teams would often place in the top 10 nationally, and the state competitions were always very close. Removing one of the Texas bids had at least some effect on the competitiveness of nationals, considering that one powerhouse team that medaled in a significant amount of events was no longer competing. This issue also brings up the topic of the diversity of nationals that East mentioned before, and the argument for merit-based bids. Firstly, removing a Texas bid did allow the teams that would have been below them to place higher, and allowed for less competition within events. That effect aligns with what East is saying, as it let smaller states have slightly more of an equal chance to do well. And although the bid removal was simply due to number of teams, the majority of people on the forums most likely agree that it was abrupt and not the best way to do things.

Secondly, merit-based bids. Within this argument, New Jersey can be brought up. A lot of those who argue towards merit-based bids use New Jersey as an example because of the teams from that state that attend nationals. For over 15 years, Community has won states in division B, and though they deserve to go to nationals as they are an exceptional team that frequently places in the top 10, is it really fair of them to take away an opportunity from the 2nd place schools? I don't think Montgomery or Grover will end up beating Community in the foreseeable future, but they are certainly strong teams that could end up excelling at nationals if given the chance to go. While I personally don't think merit-based bids are a good solution to the problem, they would absolutely benefit a state like New Jersey. I'd also like to bring up the topic of Florida, because Florida does have 2 bids, but their teams don't often break 30th (with the exception of Boca Raton). Although I'm not saying the 4 teams don't deserve to go to nationals, I am asking whether it's fair that they're essentially taking away an opportunity for a team from another state. But again, the point of nationals is not to do well, it's to represent the best of your state. However, since it is a competition, after all, should we promote teams that do better, or should we promote inequal opportunities for the sake of diversity?

At this time, I can segue into my last point: the complexity that is California's situation. As we all know, Troy has dominated the SoCal C state competition and the national competition for over 20 years. Other teams from SoCal C may see states as hopeless, because the ultimate goal of any team is to do well at their competitions, but an underlying motive is definitely the goal of making nationals. This is kind of impossible for anyone in SoCal C. Not that I don't think a team can eventually beat Troy, but it's been 22 years and they have won by a large margin every year. What's the point of anyone else competing when Troy is always there, the undefeatable obstacle? And in SoCal B, every state competition since Muscatel's team retired has been an unbelievably tense bloodbath between several powerhouse teams, resulting in a different winner every year. The situations in both divisions of NorCal are similar to SoCal, but less dire (Mira Loma has shown that they are able to be beaten, and Kennedy and Churchill have never been truly equal in strength).

Anyway, my point is, when we talk about this "situation", the problems with the national bids, who are we really talking about? If Texas C was given their second bid back, if DC was moved back into Maryland, if New Jersey was given two more bids, if NorCal and SoCal were finally recognized as separate states within NSO, would we finally be appeased? We say "teams" but we mean three states (and sure, there are other states that could be focused on, but these are the main three). We devise all these elaborate systems to fix the problem, but I think that we're thinking too broadly. The majority of complaints about inherent problems could be completely ceased if we just focused on specifics. And although I brought up several questions directed towards the motives of NSO and what nationals is truly about, I honestly feel like we wouldn't be having this conversation if we simply got 6 more bids for the states I talked about. Yes, those questions brought important topics into play, but we talk about the entirety of Science Olympiad instead of thinking about the specific states that are most affected by the bid situation.
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