2001 Berkeley Intramural Tournament

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A tournament run by the ASUC at Cal-Berkeley, which had never had any interaction with quizbowl at all before attempting to run this tournament, in which Steve Kaplan was apparently told he could participate and was described in the school's paper as a "professional" quizbowl player after leading his Killa Duo team to victory over a team known as Title IV in the championship game.

Although the tournament was "run" by ASUC's Jose Luis-Lopez and Noah Kagan, much of the organization, including figuring out tournament schedules and recommending a question source (ultimately provided by NAQT) was in fact done either by or on the advice of unnamed members of the Berkeley club. This led many participants to become confused as to who was sponsoring the tournament; in fact, the Daily Californian quotes one participant as questioning whether the event was a publicity stunt. It should be noted that the Title IV team consisted of most or all of that year's ASUC election committee, that Jose Luis-Lopez and Noah Kagan both ran for office in ASUC that year, and that the second-place Title IV team received prizes while the first-place Killa Duo team never received the promised prizes for winning, a combination that suggests the event may have been intended as some combination of publicity stunt and bribery for the benefit of Luis-Lopez and Kagan.

Event coordinator Kagan, noting that Kaplan answered several questions very quickly, questioned whether the Cal Quizbowl team had access to the questions before the tournament. Either the Daily Californian made minimal overtures towards contacting the club about the situation, or one of the club officers decided it wasn't worth club time to react to bogus accusations, since "The official team could not be reached for comment."

The Daily Californian also published edited versions of letters (see the "Bowled Over by the Quiz Controversy" link below) sent by three of Kaplan's friends. These letters contained over-the-top denunciations of Kaplan and the Berkeley Quizbowl Club, and were sent in as a joke. The Daily Californian held true to its high journalistic standards, publishing edited versions of the letters with the most outrageous statements removed to make them more credible. The excised passages included rhetorical claims that Kaplan might also enjoy "arm-wrestling 8-year olds" and participating in "second-grade spelling bees," and likening his actions to Andrew Jackson's treatment of Native Americans. The Daily Californian apparently made no effort to check Robinett's claim that he participated in the tournament (he didn't), nor did the person who edited the letters catch White's gaffe of linking Kaplan's actions to "a wider decline in moral turpitude." The Berkeley Quizbowl Club derived much amusement from the letters and briefly considered incorporating the phrase "a wider decline in moral turpitude" as part of a club motto.

External Links/Sources

"Questions of Team Legitimacy Detract from ASUC's Quiz Bowl", by Toby Barmeyer
"Right Answer, Wrong Quiz Bowl", in which Steve Kaplan defends himself
"Right Answer, Wrong Quiz Bowl", a response letter by Gaius Stern
"Bowled Over by the Quiz Controversy", letters sent to the Daily Californian