Op-Ed: Why Quizbowl is a sport

Submitted by Carlos Gonzalez

I was one of many stunned by the announcement of an online NCF merchandise shop. While some chose to tease the shop for its offering of NCF-branded golf balls, apparel and barbecue equipment, I want to draw attention to the NCF “sports” shirts. Including such iconic teams like the NCF Basketball team and the NCF Soccer team, I was disappointed at the exclusion of one of NCF’s most successful sports teams: Quizbowl. Though we have been around for 6 years, a feat for any NCF club, it appears as though the case has not been made for Quizbowl to be in the same league as sports, not even at New College. Well, allow me to make the case.

Pictured is last year’s quizbowl team at an Early Fall Tournament.

First, the obvious: trophies. Go ahead, go to the trophy cases at the back of Ham Center, and look for all the trophies Quizbowl has won over the years. Yeah, there are a lot of them, and they don’t even include the books and individual prizes players get for scoring well (last year we had a tournament where five people got a book prize). So, in terms of bling: we got the bling. 

Ok, but surely Quizbowl does not practice as seriously as a normal sports team?  Well, I would disagree! With practices having been twice a week for the past three years, we have been putting in the time to learn all the ins and outs necessary to tackle those stuck-up normie university Quizbowl teams in tournaments. Of course, like other great sport teams, we do not take these practices super seriously or mandate outside studying. We love to have fun at practices and demolish teams from other schools using the insights from practices and random facts we remember from classes (you all remember the Taiping Rebellion). 

Well, like any rusty town in the Midwest, surely Quizbowl has faded away at the onset of the pandemic? No, in fact, we have boosted turnout because of it! While practices are not the same without the buzzers, Quizbowl has taken lots of steps to try to replicate all the other aspects of “normal” practices. To this, I must thank my leadership partners Miranda Clendening and Jack Sobel. Our meticulous planning over the summer has provided Quizbowl with a bunch of different practice styles that complement the online environment that COVID-19 has thrust onto all clubs. Through resources like Discord, Protobowl, and Online Packets, Quizbowl has managed to overcome the hurdle of online practice to continue providing an outlet for many students to come together to answer some academic trivia. Don’t take it from me though, first-time member Veronica Lee says that “Quizbowl has been a great way for me to connect with other students this semester” and that “it’s fun to hear about other students’ academic passions and to show off my own.” 

So Quizbowl has the competitive spirit, dedication and resilience of a sports team, but what of the monetary requests? (Un)fortunately, it appears as though Quizbowl may fall short in this regard. Through packet writing, early requests and transitions to online tournaments, Quizbowl can now ask for less money than ever to go to more tournaments than ever. We pride ourselves on not charging members to go to tournaments (a perk few other schools can claim), and this year it looks like we might be able to keep up this tradition while still providing members with a bunch of opportunities to academically flex on normie college teams. 

So, we may not have the fancy equipment or name recognition of the mythical NCF basketball team, but I believe Quizbowl’s longtime accomplishments warrant us to be classified with the other sports teams. More than once, we have represented New College at a National tournament (being by far the smallest school represented) and with a bunch of new members this year I am confident we will be able to continue representing NCF in large tournaments. The future of in-person sports may be uncertain, but Quizbowl has plans to continue having fun and crushing other teams in academic tournaments.  


President of the NCF Quizbowl

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Esther

    Quizbowl isn’t a sport. It doesn’t matter how many trophies you have, or how often you practice because those two thing don’t appear in the definition. A sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. There may be skill involved, but you lose any leg to stand on when physical exertion is thrown into the mix. I will though entertain your argument for arguments sake.
    You bring up the number of trophies you have won, but I could get a trophy from a science fair, spelling bee, or, if I were a famous actor, I may be awarded an Emmy. Scientists, spelling masters, and actors are not considered athletes.
    You say that you practice as seriously as other sports, but then only for two days a week. My high school band practiced for five days and it’s not even a sport. Golf at least practiced for three, but had mandatory practice over weekends and long breaks. Band and golf are no where near as intense as activities at the same school. Football owned you for three seasons out of the year. Lacrosse had a mandatory two month long conditioning camp before you could try out. Basketball would drag you out of bed on the weekends. Volleyball had the second longest practice time, at two and a half hours. Baseball owned you year-round. Soccer players were just insane and chose to practice every second they had. Track made short distance runners run at least two miles every day two months before the season started. Long distance runners were required to run at least twenty a week, but thirty was greatly encouraged. My school wasn’t even competitive on a state level in any sport, with the exception of cross country which had track’s schedule on steroids.
    As for comaraderie, that can be built playing Dungeons and Dragons. It also isn’t a requirement for a sport. I can run a mile with or without a teammate, their presence would change nothing.
    I understand the want to be recognized for your achievements, but if Quizbowl were to be recognised as a sport it would change nothing. At the end of the day people’s minds wouldn’t be changed, Quizbowl will still be that trivia competition to them. All that matters is that you enjoy doing it.

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