After lunch, announcements are read over the publicaddress system at my school. When the teacher comes to "Quizbowl in room212," I erupt, "Yea, Quizbowl!"
Do not get the wrongimpression - Quizbowl is not an important or even a well-liked organization. Infact, compared with the majority of activities, it is at the bottom of the list.Those who advocate Quizbowl are often shunned, and I am the leader of theseoutcasts. But to those who are members, Quizbowl is hard-core, unadulterated fun.As captain, I have thoroughly annoyed many high-ranking school officials on itsbehalf. As one teacher proclaimed, Quizbowl is my baby.
In order tounderstand fully my role in Quizbowl and how this intellectual experience givesme such satisfaction, an explanation of the game is required. Quizbowl is, simplyput, a mind game. Our battlefield is (usually) a table, and our weapons are ourbrains. It is best described as "Jeopardy!" with teams. Teams buzz inanswers with points awarded per question, and occasionally teams lose points forearly, incorrect answers. Depending on the tournament, there may be one or twoopponents, bonus questions, different types of questions in different rounds andmany other idiosyncrasies. The captain's job is not only to lead the team, answerquestions and delegate responsibility, but also to inform teammates of the rules,when they should and should not guess and what strategies to take.
Thereare two reasons this intellectual activity gives me so much satisfaction. First,it is not very popular, and the fact that I have helped cultivate interest andmotivate members is a serious accomplishment. The other is that we did fairlywell this year; at one tournament we placed higher than we have in manyyears.
The lack of support for the team does surprise me, for I findQuizbowl as exhilarating as a basketball game or tennis match. Fans who watchedus play at our high-placing tournament were in for a treat. There, three teamsplayed at a time, with each guaranteed three matches. The first-, second- andthird-place teams received three, two and one point(s), respectively. Normally ateam needs a score of six to advance. In our first match we were in last place,down by five, with time running out. While the last question was being read, oneof the other teams buzzed in incorrectly and early, getting a 5-point penalty. Ibuzzed in, receiving an awkward look from the moderator. His face seemed to say,"Hey, kid, they just got it wrong. I am going to read the whole question foryou. What are you doing?" My answer, however, was correct, which brought usinto second place and in contention for the hallowed afternoon rounds. We placedsecond in our second match, which included the challenge of playing last year'schampions. Our third match was like our first, a nail-biter to the finish. Weended up in exactly the same situation - no time left as the last question wasread. One of my teammates buzzed in, and from that point on my memory replays inslow motion. He declared his answer in that slow, deep, wave-like voice one hearsat a suspenseful juncture in a movie. He was correct, we received a bonusquestion (which we also answered correctly) and we won. How can that not be asexhilarating as hitting a home run at the bottom of the ninth with the basesloaded? Our team earned seven points and placed 34th out of 80 schools.Unfortunately, only the top 32 teams advance.
Teddy Roosevelt once saidsomething along the lines that there is nothing in life more satisfying thanworking hard at something worth doing. That is why Quizbowl is so important to meand such a great intellectual experience. The team has overcome adversity notonly in competition, but also in its lack of support. I am proud to say that, tosome extent, I am responsible for this.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.