Slate posted last night a fascinating story about the quiz bowl, a national academic competition that took place two weeks ago at the University of Maryland, College Park.
To its devotees, quiz bowl is less a trivia contest than an arms race. On one side are the keepers of the game, who calibrate their questions to reward true knowledge. On the other are the contestants, who pore over old tests in search of ways to beat the system. This back and forth between the shortcut eliminators and the shortcut seekers has made the game fun and challenging for aficionados. At the same time, it has likely warded off newcomers, those who prefer an occasional round of pub trivia to heated, internecine debates about what constitutes real knowledge.
Held two weeks ago at the University of Maryland, the Academic Competition Federation’s annual quiz bowl finale took place in the basement of an academic building. There was a Bring Your Own Buzzers policy, and the most valuable prize was a $40 plastic trophy. For most of the weekend, it sat next to a case of Pepsi.