College Bowl Company

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The College Bowl Company is the corporate entity which did or does produce College Bowl, Honda Campus All Star Challenge, University Challenge, Zain Africa Challenge, High School Bowl, and perhaps other products along those lines. It is headed by Richard Reid, the son of its founder, Don Reid. It has several paid full- or part-time employees, including Reid, head question writer Mike Decker, Raj Dhuwalia, Tom Michael and Mary Oberembt among others.

Contents

Products

College Bowl

The former main product of the College Bowl Company was the eponymous College Bowl competition, which aired on television from 1959 to 1970 and was held on campuses (with sporadic television coverage of the NCT in the 1980s) from 1978 to 2008. This competition was essentially a break-even gambit financially, designed to keep College Bowl on the map in the hope of getting a new long-term TV contract. When it became readily apparent that this was never going to happen, College Bowl was discontinued.

Honda Campus All Star Challenge

HCASC is a parallel version of College Bowl run for historically black college and universities. Until 1996, participants in HCASC were barred by College Bowl from playing in any other quizbowl-like tournaments, on penalty of disqualification from HCASC. From 1996 until fall 1999, HCASC schools were only allowed to play in "licensed tournaments;" that is, events which signed a statement claiming that College Bowl had a trademark on intercollegiate academic competition. This rule was eventually dropped as well; the only restriction on participation by HCASC participants by 2008 was that HBCUs could participate in College Bowl or HCASC but not both. With the demise of College Bowl after 2008, there are no formal restrictions on participation in outside tournaments by HCASC schools. HCASC is fully and lavishly funded by Honda's American division and is presumably the chief revenue source for the College Bowl Company.

University Challenge

University Challenge is a British game show that pays to license its format from the College Bowl Company. It is unknown whether the Company is further involved in writing questions or other aspects of production or how much money changes hands annually.

Zain Africa Challenge

Zain Africa Challenge, formerly Celtel Africa Challenge, was a College Bowl clone run for English-speaking universities in Africa from 2006 to 2010.

High School Bowl

High School Bowl is a brand name for College Bowl-style questions marketed to tournaments and leagues for high schools. The only place that High School Bowl was known to run was in upstate New York, which now runs Masterminds on an NAQT set. It is not clear whether or not High School Bowl still is used for any tournaments or is still offered by the College Bowl Company.

Controversies

See also the main College Bowl page for the history and disputes surrounding the College Bowl campus program.

The four main issues that nascent good quizbowl had with the College Bowl Company were:

  • Its claim to hold a copyright on the idea of tossup/bonus based academic competitions, and resorts to legal threats and unenforceable exclusivity contracts in an attempt to destroy other quizbowl tournaments. As a matter of settled law, game formats are not copyrightable, period; as a matter of empirical research, no copyright filing in this matter has ever been discovered, and College Bowl has never found grounds to actually pursue legal action in the forty years that other organizations have been running tournaments.
  • Its insistence on segregating HBCUs from other institutions of higher learning in separate tournaments. As of the end of College Bowl in 2008, this no longer applies directly, though it should be noted that the practice tournaments for HCASC are often scheduled to conflict with SCT, which, along with ACF Fall, would be the most likely events for a team new to the mainstream circuit to attend.
  • Inferior-quality questions, biased or incompetent officiating, and other problems specific to gameplay or tournament organization. This issue was never resolved prior to the end of College Bowl and is still rampant in HCASC and other surviving products.
  • Historical oversimplifications vis-a-vis the origin of quizbowl. College Bowl was only revived as a result of independent tournaments in the Southeast in the 1970s, which provided a model for non-televised campus competition and were also the source of the entirety of College Bowl's writing staff. In the modern day, it is just as accurate to say that quizbowl is derived from College Bowl, as that College Bowl is derived from quizbowl.

Corporate history

The College Bowl Company for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000. No product offerings changed until 2008, which would indicate that the company emerged from bankruptcy and remains in an overall soluble financial state; further information is hard to come by.