Explaining to my friends how I spend my Fridays is often difficult. “Wait so why can’t you play ball at 5 again? Quidditch? Oh, quiz bowl. Alright, have fun at practice nerd.” While we both know that they’re just joking around, it isn’t difficult to discern that most people at my school don’t know, let alone care about the quiz bowl team at our school. This is the sad reality of a high school quiz bowler.
Quiz bowl itself is difficult to describe, as the activity itself goes by various names in schools across the nation. In middle school, it was Academic Bowl. In Kansas, it’s Scholar’s Bowl. Others call it an Academic Challenge, and a few, Knowledge Bowl. Quiz bowl, at least as I know I know it, can best be described as Jeopardy!, except you play in teams. And you don’t answer in the form of a question. And there are no categories for you to see. And you don’t win money. And there is no Alex Trebek (albeit there is a moderator who reads the questions and keeps the score).
For those not familiar with how a quiz bowl match goes (i.e. most people), here’s what happens: first, a tossup is read to two teams, each team consisting of four players each. If a player on either team buzzes in while the question (which is usually multiple lines long, consisting of multiple “clues”) is being read, their team will receive an extra five points if they’ve buzzed in early enough (in addition to the ten points that a tossup is worth). If the answer that they give is wrong, then their team will lose five points and the moderator will finish the question, which the other team has the opportunity to answer. If a player gives the correct answer after the question has been read (or near the end of the question), then they will receive ten points. After the tossup, the team whose player got the tossup right is read a series of three bonuses – three questions also worth ten points each. If neither team gets the tossup right, then the bonuses are skipped and the next tossup is read. After twenty tossups have been read, the team with the highest number of points wins. Sound like fun? Well it is (well at least to me).
But regardless of how cool or uncool others think that quiz bowl is, regardless of whether or not I’ll ever get a letter jacket for being on the Varsity Quiz bowl team, or the countless hours I have invested into quiz bowl, my love for quiz bowl has never waned. For I’ve learned from my quiz bowl experiences not just how many books Harper Lee wrote in her lifetime (just one), but that learning isn’t about memorizing all the parts of the lymphatic system and promptly forgetting about them after I take the test. Quiz bowl has fostered a love for learning, an intellectual curiosity, in me – every tossup that I get right allows me to see the significance of my education outside of the classroom.
Even when my hair has turned white and my knees are no longer able to sustain my athletic pursuits, I know I’ll find a way to remain committed to quiz bowl, whether that’s eating at every restaurant that has trivia night or attending my grandchildren’s games. I will always remember the moments of ecstasy after getting that one tossup right, the team camaraderie, and the dogged competition that brought the best out of me, despite the fact I will eventually have to leave these things behind. These memories will remain ingrained in my mind with the fact that William Henry Harrison was in office for only thirty-one days. Because to me, even the goofiest, most “worthless” fact brings me joy. And so, if this sounds like something you might enjoy, make sure to see if your school has a quiz bowl team; if not, you can always make one. Hope this got you buzzing with excitement for quiz bowl!