KSHSAA Scholars Bowl
Kansas State High School Activities Association Scholars Bowl is played in Kansas by high school teams. Kansas is known as the "North Korea of quizbowl" due to the draconian traveling and competition restrictions it places on teams, its overly rigid bureaucratic structure, and the poor question format and content based on the available examples.
Specific Examples of Bad Quizbowl Practices in KSHSAA
- Under KSHSAA rules, teams may not compete in events except during a competition season that begins the third week of October and ends in mid-February.
- Practice may not begin until Monday of the seventh week of school and must cease at the end of the competition season. Scrimmages between teams or with junior college/college teams are not allowed at all at any time.
- Players may only compete in eight events per year besides the regional and state tournaments. As of 2020, this rule changed to allow nine events per year if one's school hosts a tournament.
- No team can compete in tournaments beyond 500 miles of the border of Kansas. Out-of-state teams are only allowed to be invited to tournaments if express permission is obtained from KSHSAA.
National Championship de facto Ban
- Kansas teams are only allowed to attend national competitions that are listed in the NASSP event list and approved by KSHSAA, resulting in a de facto ban on Kansas teams competing at quizbowl national championships.
Questionable Appeal Mechanism for Question Content
- Coaches are not allowed to challenge questions or answers based on the content of the question even if the question is incorrect or misleading. Team captains may do so, but they are not allowed to discuss with audience members or their coaches.
Encouragement of Non-pyramidal Questions
- In the official guidelines, coaches are encouraged to avoid "obscure" information or any information that might not be in a textbook on a subject. "A lot of background information" is discouraged.
Other Examples of Practices Unique to KSHSAA
Fixed Order of Categories
- All matches take place with questions from the same categories grouped in the same order for every match.
3 PM Start Time
- Tournaments are required to start at 3 PM all across the state in most cases. Each player may only compete in a maximum of 2 tournaments that start before 3 PM.
Consultation during toss-ups
- According to the official rules, "team members may consult orally and in writing until a member of their team buzzes in."
Visual Cues in Questions
- Visuals are used during rounds and may be held up for teams to examine on 12x18 inch pieces of paper or posters. The moment a player buzzes, the visual must be put down.
- No individual students are allowed to win any awards besides medals; all plaques or other prizes must be team-based.
A Culture of Invitations
- According to the official scholars bowl manual, only select groups of schools are invited to tournaments and schools often expect reciprocal invitations from new teams before inviting them to tournaments.
- KSHSAA rules require the destruction of all physical copies of questions after regional and state competitions to "keep the questions valid." What this implies about the verbatim re-use of questions from year-to-year is unclear.
- "A disruption caused by a team member due to any sounds from communication devices will result in disqualification of the team for said round. The disqualified team will receive zero points for the round and remaining team will finish the round vs. empty chairs."
- Multiple mentions in the official rules of KSHSAA describe a ban on hats at all Scholars Bowl events. Additionally, all participants are required to wear accurate nametags throughout competitions.
In an interesting parallel to packet submission, KSHSAA requires that all Scholars' Bowl coaches to submit questions in order to participate in state sponsored events or else that team must pay a penalty. Scholars Bowl invitationals buy questions from several sources, and some tournament sets are house written. Questions must be submitted in specific categories and sometimes in specific structures. In 2017, KSHSAA claimed they received approximately 17,000 submitted questions that required 27 coaches several days to comb through. Given that all the question "validators" must be compensated with mileage, meals, and hotel stays, this is likely far more costly than simply using readily available, high-quality pyramidal questions from a certain Kansas-based company.