Cult of PPG

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The Cult of PPG is a term coined in 2020 and quickly adopted in the high school Discord server and affiliated spaces to describe and criticize the tendency to hold players with high PPGs in unreasonably high esteem. It describes an application of the halo effect to quiz bowl - in this case, perception of someone as "good at quiz bowl" leads others to view them as "good" at various other things.

The tendency to distill people's essence into the numbers central to the game is natural, but should be avoided through deliberate, conscious effort. In recent years, there have been concerted efforts to create structural assurances of equity through things like open calls for writers.


The cult of PPG is a new name for an old phenomenon: there is a long history of top scorers and other "prominent" members of the community being assigned responsibilities like team captaincy or positions like editor, writer, or tournament director because of their reputation or name-recognition. The result of this is that quiz bowl is far from a meritocracy - those with potential are rarely given opportunity and those with talent often unrecognized, pushed aside by others with inferior ability but more points per game. This does not mean that every player with lots of points is intrinsically incompetent (and indeed, many are not); rather, they are simply afforded more chances and more second chances.

"The cult" has highlighted and exacerbated existing gender imbalances in quiz bowl. Individuals who have received preferential treatment have been largely (but not exclusively) male/masculine-presenting. It is rarely just that a lead scorer is assumed to be the leader of team, but a male lead scorer. Non-men have described feeling alienated from the community because they "didn't score enough points".[1]

A major negative consequence of "the cult" is that misconduct of various natures and severities is tolerated or (worse) ignored because of a person's tournament performances. This ranges from throwing writing implements/chairs/notebooks during games to flaking on various writing and editing commitments to serious incidents of interpersonal misbehavior.


  1. Re: Y'all need to pay attention to your own community by Couch's Kingbird » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:25 am