Quiz Bowl season carries on despite COVID pandemic


Mack Stevens, Veena Koneru, Jefferson Snedegar, and Nathan Sevey compete against Amboy High School.

   In any high school, some teams and clubs are well-known, while others are often overlooked. Quiz Bowl is a team that meets that description. 

   Many students don’t know about Quiz Bowl, but in fact it is an IHSA competition team, just like football or basketball, and the Viking team has a strong tradition of winning events. The Quiz Bowl team competes on television to answer questions about a wide variety of topics such as world events to popular culture. 

   “…the questions cover such a broad range of material,” said Mr. David Lynch, Scholastic Quiz Bowl Coach. “I learn a lot just from being the coach. I hope the players are learning it too, or they hear a question or interesting fact that piques their interest to find out more.”

   Quiz Bowl is also a very popular activity among its participants.

   “I love the community,” said Jeff Snedegar, senior. “Practicing at Guilford and playing against schools from all over the area has introduced me to interesting people I’d never get to meet otherwise.” 

   However, ever since the pandemic hit, the Quiz Bowl season was in jeopardy. A regular season would start the first week of November and then stop at winter break. After break, there is a conference tournament in January. The season would finish up in March with the IHSA State Series. However, a not-so-normal year calls for a not-so-normal season. At the beginning of the year, the NAQT, the company that supplies the Quiz Bowl questions, delayed giving the queries so that the schools could come up with proper and safe protocols. 

   “As coaches, we rearranged our season schedule to accommodate the delayed start,” said Mr. Lynch.

   On November 30th, the NAQT announced that they are not going to supply questions for any in-person competitions for the year 2020-2021. 

   “We could find a different supplier of questions,” said Mr. Lynch, “but after asking the IHSSBCA (Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association) for recommendations, we learned that the other question companies have mostly gone out of business or have very poor reputations for accuracy and fact-checking of their sets. They also tend to be quite a bit more expensive.” 

   Another solution proposed would be to hold the season virtually. However, the problem with this is that the rules and format would have to be changed drastically. There would also be many tech issues that come with a virtual Quiz Bowl because students in surrounding areas still use dial-up internet connections.

   “The preference among most schools in the conference is to still hold an in-person competition purchasing one or two ‘tournament sets’ of questions and using them in a tournament of our season,” said Mr. Lynch. “We must select the tournament writers to use, get their permission to use the sets in this way, and purchase them.  Further complicating matters, there are schools in our conference that have indicated they are unlikely to allow in-person competitions – even if the ‘go-ahead’ is given from the governor’s office and the IHSA. All of this leaves our season ‘in limbo.’”  

    The pandemic has had an impact on everything, and the Quiz Bowl is no exception. However, the Quiz Bowl participants are not letting the pandemic get in the way of trying to have fun as a team.

   “We started off this year doing in-person practices, and being a full-time remote student it was one of the only times I would be able to get out of the house and interact with other students,” said Mack Stevens, sophomore. “Now that we have switched to virtual practices, I find that the experience is still enjoyable, but I miss being able to have interactions with other students.”