MIT Invitational 2015: Behind the Scenes

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kennethfriedman
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MIT Invitational 2015: Behind the Scenes

Post by kennethfriedman » February 18th, 2015, 6:20 pm

Hey all,

I'm on the SO@MIT planning committee that ran the MIT Invitational last month. If anyone's curious, here's the backstory on how we got started, and how we planned the invitational that had over 60 teams register from 14 states.

http://www.kennethfriedman.org/blog/201 ... -backstory

-Kenneth Friedman


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Re: MIT Invitational 2015: Behind the Scenes

Post by Skink » February 19th, 2015, 12:33 pm

Kenneth,

Thank you for sharing your experience. It's great to see how SO is in different parts of the nation and how nothing you said was too out of the ordinary! That's neat. What particularly caught my attention was how well-received the tournament was afterwards despite the hurdles on your end the day of (the logistical nightmare of communicating tournament delay twice to frantically running flash drives around to permit smoothly delivered awards amidst scoring system difficulties). If I may, was there a particular feature of your tournament that you believe helped shape this extremely positive experience for participants and their coaches? You had suggested that the 'perfect' tournament puts the least imposition on everyone attending as possible (participants don't get lost; coaches don't furnish event supervisors; event supervisors don't fetch materials or print their own tests). As simple as that sounds, I suppose that does it!

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Re: MIT Invitational 2015: Behind the Scenes

Post by Unome » February 19th, 2015, 1:43 pm

Skink wrote:Kenneth,

Thank you for sharing your experience. It's great to see how SO is in different parts of the nation and how nothing you said was too out of the ordinary! That's neat. What particularly caught my attention was how well-received the tournament was afterwards despite the hurdles on your end the day of (the logistical nightmare of communicating tournament delay twice to frantically running flash drives around to permit smoothly delivered awards amidst scoring system difficulties). If I may, was there a particular feature of your tournament that you believe helped shape this extremely positive experience for participants and their coaches? You had suggested that the 'perfect' tournament puts the least imposition on everyone attending as possible (participants don't get lost; coaches don't furnish event supervisors; event supervisors don't fetch materials or print their own tests). As simple as that sounds, I suppose that does it!
Right now I'm wondering whether you're still in Division B...
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kennethfriedman
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Re: MIT Invitational 2015: Behind the Scenes

Post by kennethfriedman » March 5th, 2015, 4:08 pm

Skink wrote:Kenneth,

Thank you for sharing your experience. It's great to see how SO is in different parts of the nation and how nothing you said was too out of the ordinary! That's neat. What particularly caught my attention was how well-received the tournament was afterwards despite the hurdles on your end the day of (the logistical nightmare of communicating tournament delay twice to frantically running flash drives around to permit smoothly delivered awards amidst scoring system difficulties). If I may, was there a particular feature of your tournament that you believe helped shape this extremely positive experience for participants and their coaches? You had suggested that the 'perfect' tournament puts the least imposition on everyone attending as possible (participants don't get lost; coaches don't furnish event supervisors; event supervisors don't fetch materials or print their own tests). As simple as that sounds, I suppose that does it!
I think we had positive feedback despite the hurdles was because the participants and coaches didn't really know about the hurdles. There was a "wall of separation" between competitors/coaches and organizers. From the competitors/coaches view, there were no problems at awards (even though volunteers were sprinting behind the scenes). The only really obvious things that competitors could tell went wrong were the fire alarms. But we were able to communicate the information about the delay so quickly, that it didn't really harm anyone's experience. I think we were able to have this separation because we had long discussions before hand about possible day-of-errors and how to correct them... but above all that, we had really incredible, quick-thinking volunteers that acted fast to correct any problems. The awards could be delayed a few minutes without notice because we had lined up really great speakers to "burn" some time.

However, even if are planning wasn't as good, and we had run into problems that were obvious (like a delayed award ceremony), I think competitors care more about good, difficult tests with event supervisors that have the correct supplies than they do about a well run event (though having both is clearly better).

If I were giving advice to someone running their first tournament, I would say that it is critical to get good event supervisors who write great tests, and who know the rules. That's by far the most important. And if that's all that can be done, the tournament will be good enough. If you have a planning committee (or organizers) who are willing to burn the midnight oil worrying about the details, that's what will make the tournament go from good to great. But all of those details are secondary to good event supervisors, and good tests.

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