College Bowl

From QBWiki
Revision as of 18:26, 4 November 2021 by Eric Yin (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

I think in December 2006 that people were still convinced that the war on CBI was going to be a long, hard-fought slog with CBI fighting to stay on as long as it could. CBI's sudden "suspension" of the program was the quizbowl equivalent of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
--Dwight Wynne, looking back on the end of College Bowl in 2011

College Bowl was an event run by the College Bowl Company. It was on radio and television as a regular show from the late 1940s through circa 1970, and briefly returned on a limited basis to radio from 1977-1980 and to television in 1984 (on NBC) and 1987 (on the Disney Channel). From 1978–2008, it provided questions for non-televised intramural and regional championship tournaments for colleges, as the sole supplier of questions and game rules to ACUI. From 1979–1983 and 1985–2008, the College Bowl Company also ran a National Championship Tournament directly (with only peripheral ACUI involvement). The two most salient points about College Bowl are that it is the ancestor of much of what is done in quizbowl today, and that it eventualy became what was considered to be of deplorable quality by the vast majority of quizbowl teams. In 2007, there was less than a 10% crossover between teams competing on the NAQT/ACF quizbowl circuit and teams participating in College Bowl or its affiliated products.

In June 2008, the College Bowl Company announced that it was "suspending the College Bowl campus program, effective immediately."

In November 2020, NBC announced a televised reboot of College Bowl hosted by Peyton Manning. It is currently booked for a 10-episode series, in which 12 teams "selected from schools of all sizes" will compete in a four-round tournament followed by a final between the top 2 teams. Richard Reid is notably listed as an executive producer.

Structure of College Bowl

Game format/rules

The official College Bowl rules are at

College Bowl uses a tossup/bonus format and a clock.

Each game is comprised of two 8-minute halves. Through the early 1980s, the match ended if 28 tossups were read; now, moderators are given more questions and the match cannot end until the clock goes off.

College Bowl rules allow the clock to play an even bigger influence in the game than in NAQT. On a tossup, if one buzzes in before the clock goes off, the answer may be given and evaluated; however, if the clock interrupts a bonus (or goes off between a correct tossup answer and the start of a bonus) then the bonus ends and the team loses the opportunity to gain any more points. However, teams may attempt to guess what further bonus parts will be and give all answers before time expires; as long as they are in the correct order, such answers will be accepted.

Tossups are scored with 10s and -5, as in ACF. There are no powers.

One of the most obviously unfair parts of the College Bowl format is the "variable value bonus." Bonuses are worth either 20, 25, or 30 points in College Bowl. Moderators start each tossup with "tossup for a __ point bonus", indicating the value of the upcoming bonus. In College Bowl, it is mathematically possible to answer more tossups than your opponent, never neg, and have better bonus conversion, but still lose the game due to getting predominantly low-valued bonus questions. This result actually happened in a Stanford-Princeton game at the 1995 NCT (source).

Bonuses may be one-part, one-answer; one-part, multi-answer; or multi-part, multi-answer.

College Bowl has several eligibility rules not found in collegiate quizbowl: Players are limited to six years of total intercollegiate participation. Teams may have a maximum of one graduate student (through 1992, two grad students). Teams with fewer than three players may not participate (this rule is not always enforced).

Annual competitive structure

Each school that participates in College Bowl is required to purchase at least 10 packets of intramural questions (at a minimum total cost of $600) and to run an intramural tournament, in which all players who participate at the intercollegiate level must play. As long as the money is paid, College Bowl has been notoriously lax about what constitutes an "intramural tournament," with a single game read to a single team without buzzers in a car on the way to College Bowl Regionals having been accepted as a valid intramural tournament on at least one occasion. However, at most customer schools, the intramural tournament is an actual campus activity. In former times, quizbowl teams who participated in College Bowl would take charge of running the intramural tournament at their campus in order to see that it was done as well as possible and use it as a recruiting vehicle, but this is now almost never the case at the remaining 22 (as of 2007) schools who participate in both quizbowl and College Bowl.

The purchase of packets for the intramural tournament is by far the largest moneymaker for the College Bowl program itself, and in turn appears to bring in far less revenue for the College Bowl Company than either Honda Campus All-Star Challenge or University Challenge.

For about half of the schools who purchase College Bowl intramural packets, their involvement ends at this point, and College Bowl is simply an on-campus activity provided by the student union or activities office with no orientation towards intercollegiate competition.

For the rest, a team is sent to College Bowl Regionals. This is sometimes an all-star team, and sometimes just the intramural champions. Regionals is where ACUI's involvement is the most pronounced. Teams are divided into the sixteen ACUI regions. Region 16, comprising all areas outside of the U.S. and Canada, has never held a tournament. Sometimes, two regions are combined into a single tournament due to low interest (regions 3 & 4, representing the upper Mid-Atlantic, in recent years, for example). The Regional tournaments are directed by student union personnel who are members of ACUI at the host schools, and staffed by student union volunteers who almost never have any previous experience with quizbowl-like activities. This leads to the expected amount of incompetence. Since 2002, the College Bowl Company has issued more firm suggestions on tournament formats and so forth to the Regional tournament directors, who previously had full latitude to experiment with strange ideas. College Bowl Regionals is often scheduled at the same time and place as other ACUI regional championship activities for intercollegiate activities, including bowling, billiards, and a poetry slam. The entry fee, usually around $150, is paid to the member schools and thus to ACUI, who contracts with College Bowl for the questions behind the scenes.

Each region produces a designated champion and second-place team. In most years since the early 1990s, the 15 regional champions and a "wild-card" second-place team, selected "at random," have been invited to a 16-team College Bowl Nationals field at this point. However, other formats have been used on occasion, including a 15-team Nationals with no wild card invited, "super-regionals" which winnowed teams down to 4 remaining champions, and "dual nationals" in which two separate nationals were held and the winners placed together in an overall championship match.

College Bowl Nationals usually does not charge an entry fee and also provides several perks such as on-site meals for free. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was sponsored by Ford, who sometimes also provided free travel, lodging, and per-diem money.

History of College Bowl

History of College Bowl to 1970


College Bowl is said to have begun "as a USO activity during World War II." Specifics on how the game worked at that time are unknown.

Its better-documented history begins in 1953, when Don Reid and John Moses created a radio show on the NBC radio network, which may have originally been known as "College Quiz Bowl." The radio show paired together two teams participating from their local NBC affiliate stations or from campus studios. They competed on questions read by moderator Allen Ludden, in a third location at NBC's flagship radio station WRCA. Players raised their hands to answer tossups, and "referees" stationed with each team judged who had the right to answer first and activated buzzers themselves. A system of telephone and radio connections allowed for multi-site participation.

The first match was on October 10, 1953, and saw Northwestern defeat Columbia 135-60. The first tossup, on Carl Hubbell, went dead, and the next tossup, on John Hay, was successfully answered by Columbia.

The magazine Good Housekeeping and the watch manufacturer Longine Wittnauer sponsored the radio show until it ended in December of 1955 due to the end of Good Housekeeping sponsorship.


Just over three years later, the responsored "GE College Bowl" debuted on CBS television, and ran about 30 new episodes each year from 1959 to 1970. The show was normally part of the Sunday night lineup, but was sometimes broadcast on Saturdays. It switched to NBC before the 1962 fall season.

The first episode was broadcast on January 4, 1959, and saw Northwestern defeat Brown (with Pembroke) 145-135. Allen Ludden hosted the show on CBS. When it moved to NBC and Ludden left to host Password, a news anchor from Utica, NY, Robert Earle, created an unsolicited audition tape and won the job of replacement host, which he held for the remainder of the show's run.

In 1963 and 1964, there was a spinoff show entitled Alumni Fun which had three-person teams, large cash prizes for the represented institutions, and famous alumni from the schools competing instead of current students.

GE College Bowl ended in 1970. Various contradictory explanations have been given as to why the show was cancelled. Richard Reid claimed at one point that it was too closely identified with General Electric and the sponsor expressed concern over the potential for College Bowl becoming involved in campus riots against GE's military manufacturing business. At other times, such as a 1982 interview with the Daily Oklahoman, he claimed that the show's popularity never recovered from pre-emptions for football coverage through 1967, despite lasting another three years after being moved out of competition with the NFL season.


According to an unverified IMDB post, these are the times at which the show aired:

  • January 4-April 26, 1959 CBS-TV Sunday at 5:00
  • May 3, 1959-June 16, 1963 CBS-TV Sunday at 5:30
  • September 22, 1963-June 4, 1967 NBC-TV Sunday at 5:30
  • September 23-December 23, 1967 NBC-TV Saturday at 5:30
  • January 7-June 9, 1968 NBC-TV Sunday at 6:00
  • September 28-December 21, 1968 NBC-TV Saturday at 5:30
  • January 5-June 8, 1969 NBC-TV Sunday at 6:00
  • October 11-December 20, 1969 NBC-TV Saturday at 5:30
  • January 4-June 14, 1970 NBC-TV Sunday at 6:30

All shows lasted half an hour. Note that the moves to Saturday coincided with the football season, which requires lengthy and unpredictable time commitments from broadcasters on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

Revival of College Bowl, 1977-1991

A 1982 interview claims that Reid incorporated the College Bowl Company in 1970 and made an agreement with unnamed parties to avoid running any competitions for the first five years of its corporate existence.

A March 1976 article in the State News discusses an intramural College Bowl-affiliated tournament at Michigan State that was intended to qualify teams for an "opportunity to to go to New York and appear on national television" which seemingly did not materialize. The event was run by College Bowl but contracted for questions with a company called The Answer Place.[1]

In 1977, the ACUI-affiliated College Bowl program began, which quickly emerged into the intramural-regional-national system. The tournament was revived after College Bowl officials noted the burgeoning success of the independent tournaments, such as the Southeastern Invitational, which had grown up in the Atlanta area since 1970. One of the people involved in that independent circuit, Mike Decker of Emory, was hired by College Bowl as their chief question writer, and maintained that position until the demise of College Bowl in 2008. For this reason, members of the 1970s Southern circuit often claimed that independent quizbowl had just as legitimate a claim to creating College Bowl in its modern form as College Bowl of the 1960s had to creating independent quizbowl.

Starting in the fall of 1979, the competition was packaged as a show for broadcast on the CBS radio network. A series of shows were recorded at a collegiate location to which several teams would be invited. The team winning a game continued to face another challenger. After a team won three straight games, they would retire undefeated and automatically qualify for the 1980 National Championship Tournament. The next game would feature two new teams. Eight spots in the NCT were reserved for radio winners. Because the season was short, there were not enough undefeated three-game winners. So two-game winners and sometimes one-game winners qualifed for the NCT by this method. Former Jeopardy! host Art Fleming was the moderator for the broadcasts.

The first part of the 1980 NCT consisted of a 16-team single elimination tournament held at Marshall, February 29-March 3. The field was composed of 8 radio qualifiers and 8 regional champions. If a radio qualifier won its regional tournament, then the second place team from that region would earn a bid to the NCT. All 15 games were broadcast. WUSTL won this segment, defeating MIT in the final. Whether a region was late in holding its tournament or a venue could not be found quickly enough, the second portion of the NCT was not held until June at WUSTL. The remaining 7 regional qualifiers and the wildcard team met in an 8-team single-elimination tournament with the winner to play WUSTL. Fresno State won the second segment and defeated WUSTL for the championship. It was followed by an All-Star Game where three players from the teams already there in St. Louis were joined by Townsend Reese of the University of Maryland to play Fresno State. Reese was flown in specifically for the game. The All-Star team defeated Fresno State. At least the final and the All-Star Game were recorded for radio broadcast.

The 1981 National Championship Tournament was run in a similar fashion with a radio regular season and playoffs. However, all 8 radio and 16 regional qualifiers were brought together to Marshall in March for a single 24-team single-elimination tournament. The radio winners were given first-round byes. The University of Maryland defeated Davidson in the final. The championship was followed by an East-West All-Star Game and a College vs. High School All-Star Game with the high school players coming from the Huntington, WV version of High School Bowl. Games from the quarter-finals on, including the two All-Star Games, were broadcast on radio.

For the 1982 National Championship Tournament teams could again qualify by winning on radio or by the regional tournament. The 24 teams were split into four separate tournaments called either Super-Regionals or Sub-Nationals. These were 6-team double-elimination tournaments and the top two teams from each qualified for the finals, held in New York City in April. The finals were an 8-team single elimination tournament won by the University of North Carolina who defeated Rice. It was followed by an All-Star Game. All seven matches and the All-Star Game were broadcast on radio.

In 1984, NBC broadcast the last two rounds of the single-elimination NCT as a one-hour special, live from the Ohio State University. Former "GE College Bowl" host Robert Earle was originally announced as the moderator, but Pat Sajak ended up hosting.

In 1986, a series of "Super-Regionals" was played to winnow down the Regional champions to a four-team field for "Nationals".

In 1987, 500 schools participated at the intramural level in an attempt to win a spot in a sixteen-team elimination tournament broadcast on the Disney Channel and organized by Don Reid and Richard Reid. Richard Reid said he located the original sound boxes from the GE show to use in 1987. Dick Cavett was the moderator of the televised matches.

From 1988 to 1990, Nationals was played as a double-elimination tournament with initial brackets determined by random draw. In 1991, a full round robin was played. Teams might have been more enthusiastic about the new format had the sixteen-team tournament not been played in only four game rooms.

College Bowl in the 1990s

College Bowl in the post-deaffiliation era

2nd revival of College Bowl, 2020–

With Capital One as a presenting sponsor, NBC revived College Bowl in the summer of 2021 and brought on Peyton and Cooper Manning as the hosts. The twelve schools fielding teams for this revival included: Alabama, Auburn, Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, Morehouse College, Ole Miss, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Xavier University of Louisiana. A number of quizbowlers ended up as participants on these teams, though each applied individually to be on the school's team for the show and were selected by the producers of the show. The format was changed to make it more television-friendly, with the addition of a timed "Two Minute Drill" round being the most notable change.

The problem with College Bowl

Segregation of HBCUs

The August/September 1999 issue of the Academic Competition Newsletter contained this story, which suggests that before August 1999 CBI did not allow historically black colleges to compete in non-CBI events like independent circuit quizbowl tournaments:


On 18 August 1999, CBI announced a change in their policies to permit the historically black colleges to decide for themselves whether to attend other quizbowl competitions such as invitationals or even rival academic competition organizations. Previously, the players from historically black colleges who attended non-CBI licensed events forfeited their right to compete in the Honda-sponsored competition. The top teams at Honda Bowl receive considerable financial scholarship prizes, so this effected a considerable bar to circuit participation. The official statement runs as follows: "Effective with the 1999-2000 season, each Historically Black College and University (HBCU) participating in the HCASC program is permitted to make its own decision as to its HCASC varsity team members' participation in non-CBCI licensed invitational tournaments."

General issues with question style and quality

"The subject matter is reflective of society," said Reid. "You'll see the same subjects (as before), but now there's more entertainment, sports, film. I feel the show has to be entertaining. The formula is to create questions where (the audience) could know the answers, should know the answers, and will recognize the answers when they hear them. We don't want the questions to be too esoteric. It's an entertainment program, it's not the kids showing off."

College Bowl believes that it is a good idea for its national championship to be decided on such tossups as the following:

"Richard Nixon came back from disgrace after Watergate to become a best-selling author. An even unlikelier comeback from even worse disgrace began in 2006 with the first English translation of -- for 10 points -- a newly discovered Gospel attributed to which Apostle?" (2006 NCT round 20, tossup 10)

"A 300-pound wood-seated toilet is, at 20,000 feet above sea level, the world's highest public toilet. It sits a little more than 9,000 feet beneath the summit -- for 10 points -- of what mountain?" (2006 NCT round 19, tossup 19)

"These sometimes rogue proteins have evolutionarily survived because, in their irregular form, they maintain the body's supply of stem cells. It's when their shape gets altered that -- for 10 points -- what infectious agent causes mad cow disease?" (2006 NCT round 20, tossup 19)

Lawsuit threat and licensure

The Winter 1989 edition of BUZZER newsletter contained this article:

CBCI threatens IBA, Independents

In the fall of 1988, the College Bowl Company began sending letters to hosts of prospective tournaments asserting that is has "the legal right to the College Bowl name and game format, both of which are protected under International Copyright and Service Mark law." Based on the research of BUZZER magazine at a U.S. depository library, CBCI holds only registered trademarks on the two word phrase "College Bowl" and what has been called "that fool assinine symbol" on the cover of thier rule book. Furthermore, the company claims that its company lawyers get involved with blatant copyright infractions and that schools have been banned from Regional and National ACUI competitions for copyright infringement. (It is rumored that the only banned school is Virginia Commonwealth which was banned not for hosting a tournament but for using the copyrighted questions of the company in their tournament without permission,) Also included in with these letters are six page licensing agreements that essentially concede that the College Bowl Company, in spite of restrictions of U.S. Copyright law that prohibit registering formats or systems, owns the format of two college teams getting together to play question and answer games. Furthermore, no information substantiating the alleged but "almost certainly fallacious" claims of the College Bowl Company to be the sole U.S. holder of any format copyright has, to the knowledge of this publication, ever been provided to anyone by the company. College Bowl Incorporated was asked to respond but declined.

1980 College Bowl Nationals Playoff

The 1980 College Bowl Nationals situation was brought to light after members of the hsquizbowl forums posted about a bizarre story told by Richard Reid at the 2004 National Tournament (see below for details of the speech). According to Charlie Steinhice and Craig Leff, the MIT team that was ahead at the end of the round robin was led by a very good player named Brian Clouse, while the Washington University team just behind them contained Kurt Wallenberg, Craig Leff, Mitch Goldman, Vik Chandhok, and Sally Fleming. According to the story, Brian and Sally fell in love over the tournament and went inner tube sledding together. Brian then broke his arm, allowing Washington University to win the next day playoff against MIT. According to Steinhice, the university paper ran a story celebrating the team's national championship.

But wait, there's more! According to various sources (Steinhice and Leff give conflicting accounts), either there was a concurrent Western National Tournament won by Fresno State, or Region 15 could not get its act together and run a tournament in time to send the winner to nationals, so College Bowl gave the winner of Region 15 a bye past the national tournament. Either way, Fresno State and Washington University faced off in a one-game playoff, which Fresno State won by about 70. Steinhice claims that this was due to Fresno State being "warm" and Washington University being "cold".

Cancellation of 1983 and 1985 College Bowl Nationals

Question recycling in 1988 College Bowl Regionals

The 1988 Regionals tournament featured a number of questions that were identical to those used in the 1982 Regionals. College Bowl apologized for the gaffe while expressing incredulity that any teams would still have questions on hand in violation of the 5-year rule (see below). Apparently it had not occurred to them that (a) in those pre-Circuit days the availability of questions for practice purposes was extremely limited (and that, therefore, some teams would practice for CBI Regionals by using CBI Regionals questions), and (b) several players who participated at Regionals in 1988 had also played in 1982.

The number of such duplicate questions was not quantified; probably between 5 and 10 percent of tossups were repeats. This led to situations such as:

Moderator: "Russians called them.." *buzz* Player: "Vikings" Moderator: "Correct" and

Moderator: "Sitting atop the.." *buzz* Player: "Reykjavik" Moderator: "Correct"

Further allegations of question recycling

Rule 8 of the College Bowl Rules Governing Participation for Campus Tournaments states that " packets may not be retained by participating schools for more than five years. Outdated game packets must be destroyed." This is in opposition to the policies of ACF, which is in the process of making their old tournaments freely accessible, and NAQT, which happily sells their old questions at a discounted rate. Reasons for this are unclear; however, almost nobody in mainstream quizbowl believes the given reason of "ensur[ing] that College Bowl questions are current", and the most widely held belief is that this rule is designed to allow College Bowl to recycle questions.

College Bowl is open about its recycling of questions within the same year's College Bowl and HCASC packets. This is part of the reason why teams cannot compete in both events. However, there is little effort made to prevent people from participating in one event and acting as officials or spectators at the other; it would be trivially easy for an ill-intentioned person to cheat in this way, and it is also unlikely that a more casual player is even aware that he should avoid doing this.

Allegations of favoritism or match-fixing

1997 College Bowl Nationals finals scandal and prize withdrawal

2004 College Bowl Nationals Diatribe

At a series of banquets at the 2004 National Tournament, Richard Reid rambled about the "Babe Ruth of College Bowl" and his apparent downfall at the hands of the "Mata Hari of College Bowl" due to an unfortunate inner tube sledding accident at the 1980 National Tournament at Marshall. Some details of the incident were easily disproven by a glance at the tournament literature, which said that Fresno State had won the tournament that year and that it had not been held at Marshall. See above for a description of what is believed to have actually happened.

At the same banquet, Reid denounced two members of the 1997 champion Virginia team, claiming one was "just a substitute teacher" (believed to refer to Brian Rostron) and the other was "by all accounts, deranged" (believed to refer to Andrew Yaphe).

Note that, despite allegations that Reid's words were being misreported in a game of "playing telephone" and should be excused "unplanned slips of the tongue" from people who were not there, Matt Weiner performed due diligence and confirmed that Reid had made the above comments with three primary witnesses, Scott Francis, Steve Kaplan, and Leo Wolpert, as well as with a third party who was (literally) telephoned by Reid a week before the tournament to confirm details, showing that Reid's comments were in fact calculated in advance.

Bathroom rule

At the National Tournament (since at least 2004) and possibly some regional tournaments as well, players are not allowed to leave a room after their game is finished until all such games have been finished, even to go to the bathroom. This can cause excruciatingly long delays when there is a protest (actually, College Bowl does not condone the word "protest"; instead, their official policy is that teams should request a review of a game discrepancy). While this does give players an opportunity to meet with their opponents outside of a game situation, this rule also has been alleged to treat players like five-year-olds.

Objectionable in-game rules

Codified in the Official Rules of Play

The following rules are directly from College Bowl Game Rules:

10. If the Moderator has read all 28 Toss-Up questions in a packet, s/he should go to a back-up packet. (NOTE: Unused questions can be gleaned from a number of packets for this purpose.)

  • At least at NCT, College Bowl discourages moderators from getting through 28 tossups, so that this rule is rarely in play. See here for an example of Richard Reid breaking the rule (it's also possible that the rule was not in place in 1979).

13. Every time a player answers a Toss-Up question correctly, their team, and their team only, gets the chance to answer a Bonus question (there is no Bonus question if the Toss-Up ends the half or the game).
26. If the half or game ends while the Moderator is reading a Bonus, the game stops there, without giving the team a chance to respond.
However, if the team has begun its answer, they may continue. If the question was read in one part, the team may complete the answer. If it is a Bonus with numbered, multiple parts, the team may complete only the part the Moderator has begun asking.

  • NAQT and most other timed tournaments allow for off the clock completion of tossup-bonus cycles if the tossup is begun before the end of the half. ACF has done away with the clock altogether to resolve this apparent unfairness of teams not being allowed to hear the rest of the question.

17. On a Toss-Up, an answer given before a player is recognized is considered incorrect. If it is the first team to signal, the question is turned over to the other team.

  • Mainstream quizbowl formats allow for answers to be given before recognition, so long as the player recognizes that the buzzer light indicating the signaling player is his. According to Sean Phillips, this practice comes from the days when College Bowl was on radio and the games were done via remote hookup. The recognition rule allowed both players and listeners to keep track of what was going on during the match, since neither group could see anyone else participating. [1]

19. If a player confers with a teammate on a Toss-Up question, the answer is disqualified, even if it was correct. Obvious non-verbal cues are considered conferring. Where applicable, the question is turned over to the other team.
40. A player whose conduct is unsportsmanlike or who disrupts game play will be warned once. This warning is in effect for the duration of the tournament.
A second violation will result in the player's ejection from the match in progress. The team may not substitute for this player during the match, but the player may rejoin the team for subsequent matches.
A third violation will result in a player's expulsion from the tournament. The team may substitute for this player in subsequent matches.
This pertains to conduct of the entire team (including the Coach) during the entire tournament (including at the hotel, etc.). Warnings may be issued by any Game Official.

37. The College Bowl team consists of up to five players (four players and an alternate). No more than four and no fewer than three may play in any game. If for any reason a team is left with only two players, they automatically forfeit the match in progress.

  • Kirk Nagy memorably claimed to have been shafted by this rule at an intramural tournament at Wayne State. Other schools have flouted this rule with varying degrees of ease at intramural tournaments.

Not Codified in the Official Rules

Despite the use of an official whose sole job for the vast majority of the game is to recognize the player who buzzed in on a tossup and then reset the buzzer system, it will rarely happen that the system will not be reset before the next tossup. At the 2007 Region 15 Regional, it was revealed that College Bowl's official stance on this situation is to throw out the tossup, even if only one person was attempting to buzz. In theory, a game official who had a grudge against the team that brought this problem to the officials' attention could furthermore give the team a -5 for conferring.

Although the Tournament Director's decision is final, in most cases at RCT and NCT, any procedural protests are met with a call to headquarters.

Wikipedia editing scandal

In the winter of 2005-2006, this account appeared on Wikipedia, editing articles related to College Bowl to present the group in a more favorable light. It was either the account of Mary Oberembt, a longtime College Bowl Company executive whose titles include "general manager," or a very carefully calculated parody, who made changes only College Bowl would care about, such as changing all the references to "prizes" won by Honda teams to "grants." After much fighting with the Wikipedia process, including being told that identifying the inherent WP:COI violation in having Mary Oberembt and David Tuttle whitewash articles about College Bowl was the unacceptable act of "identifying a user in meatspace," the quizbowl representatives abandoned the article to College Bowl and its falsehoods. This incident has been cited by some tournament directors as one reason why Wikipedia should not be used to write quizbowl questions. The original passages have since been restored.

Excised Passage #1

The first item excised by the putative Mary Oberembt account was the following:

In the 1987 and 1988 regional tournaments, College Bowl was accused of recycling questions from previous tournaments, thereby corrupting the results (questions for tournaments need to be fresh, or certain teams will have an inherent advantage). The 1987 National Tournament, on the Disney Channel, saw additional controversy, as a number of protested matches proved to strain the television format. In addition, the company claimed a copyright on the idea of quizbowl competitions, and attempted to extract a licensing fee from invitational tournaments; threatening to blacklist schools which hosted invitationals and did not pay the licensing fee. If the intent was chilling the invitational circuit, it failed, as these developments and the growing Internet community of quiz bowl players led to an explosion of teams, tournaments, and formats.

Excised Passage #2

The second item excised by the putative Mary Oberembt account was the following:

In 1970 modern invitational tournaments began with the Southeastern Invitational Tournament, and the circuit expanded through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. These tournaments increasingly made various modifications to the College Bowl format, and came to be known as quiz bowl. Earlier invitational tournaments, such as the "Syraquiz" at Syracuse University, had occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.

Altered passage

The other passage involved in the putative Mary Oberembt account was the following:

In 1976, the program became affiliated with the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), which continues to promote it as a non-broadcast event after the demise of the radio and television experiments.

"Oberembt" changed it to read:

In 1976, the program became affiliated with the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), which continues to promote it as a non-broadcast event.

Deceit and underhanded tactics used to keep teams away from quizbowl

Deceitful discussion practices


The College Bowl Company's business model may look strange, when one realizes that it provides questions for free to the Regional Championship Tournament (the company claims not to see a penny of the tournament entry fees) and does not charge teams to attend the National Championship Tournament. However, the company makes up for this by requiring that teams and players that participate in the Regional Championship Tournament play an On-Campus Tournament with questions provided by the company. For several years up to and including 2007, the College Bowl Company charged a minimum of $570 for a set of 10 packets, with small per-packet discounts for buying additional packets; "late" orders started at $600. In 2008 the company increased their prices to $600 for a set of 10 packets, or $700 for a "late" order. Bundles of 15 packets were available for the discounted price of $55/packet (or $63.33 /packet with late order), and 20 packets for the discounted price of $52.50/packet (or $60/packet with late order).

The staggering cost of College Bowl questions may be best put in perspective when one realizes that a team looking to compete at a national tournament can now purchase NAQT's most current set of 15 Intramural packets, send a team to SCT, and if it qualifies send that team to ICT for less than the cost of the College Bowl Company's set of 10 On-Campus Tournament packets. Alternatively, a team brand new to mainstream quizbowl could attend ACF Fall, Regionals, and Nationals, and purchase those NAQT Intramural packets, for less than the cost of the On-Campus Tournament. (As an added "bonus", 64 teams in two divisions qualify for NAQT ICT, while teams who wish to play ACF Nationals need only indicate interest and pay the tournament fee; thus, it is objectively easier for a decently competitive team to compete at one of these national tournaments than to qualify for College Bowl Nationals)

Field strength

Novelty questions

A 1990 regional qualifying tournament was held at the University of Windsor in Canada. Despite having no Canadian teams in attendance, the directors (of the region, not of Windsor) thought it would be appropriate to add in multiple Canadian content questions each round "just for fun". No other sites had these Canadian questions, which covered useless topics like Brian Mulroney's middle name (believe it or not, it's actually Brian). (from "Mind matchup no trivial pursuit for U.S. collegians" by Ellen van Wageningen in the Windsor Star, March 5, 1990)

See also

External links