Middle School Quiz Bowl
At the middle school level, quiz bowl is a competitive, academic, interscholastic activity for which players attend periodic practices and then represent their school at tournaments. Those tournaments may be based on the school’s athletic conference, school district, county, or state; they may also be open to all comers.
Quiz bowl questions range over the entire spectrum of the middle school curriculum and also include a certain amount of current events, sports, and popular culture. The matches feature a blend of individual competition and team collaboration, since no individual player is likely to be an expert in all subject areas. Quiz bowl can reinforce classroom lessons and also encourage players to go beyond their assignments to master other areas as well.
The two major aspects to a school’s quiz bowl program are practicing and competing at tournaments.
Teams will usually practice weekly, but more dedicated teams choose to do so more frequently, particularly in weeks leading up to major tournaments. Most practices consist of intrasquad games, but some may also include alternate activities to emphasize particular subject areas. Schools have complete latitude to schedule and arrange their practices as they feel is appropriate.
Tournaments that use NAQT’s eligibility rules are open to all middle school students (grades 6–8), including those from public schools, private schools, religious schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and so on. Those tournaments are also open to home school collectives with students of an appropriate age.
Nationwide, the most common form of competition is the so-called “Saturday tournament,” in which anywhere from 4 to 104 teams from different schools drive to a central location (the “host”) and play five to twelve matches, each of which takes about 30 minutes. Other types of competition include leagues, conferences, competitions run by television stations, and tournaments limited to a specific geographic area or political entity. League and conference matches usually take place on weeknights.
Some tournaments require the coaches of competing teams to assist as moderators or scorekeepers; others provide their own staff. Most tournaments have a registration fee of $40 to $100 that varies with location, length, and amenities. Some tournaments may provide trophies or other awards to their winners; very few, if any, will offer significant prizes.
Any middle school may choose to host a tournament; many high school and college quiz bowl teams also run middle school tournaments as fundraisers.