Online Tournament Guide
This section of NAQT’s online tournament guide contains specific advice for coaches and chaperones at online quiz bowl tournaments.
As with the rest of this guide, this page assumes the tournament is following NAQT’s recommendations for videoconferencing technologies, game format, rule changes, and tournament policies.
NAQT strongly recommends that tournament directors require every high school and middle school team to have a chaperone. (Tournament directors may permit one person to be the chaperone for multiple teams.)
This document lays out NAQT’s recommended requirements for chaperones, but individual tournament directors may deviate from them. If you are a team’s chaperone, be sure to ask its coach whether your responsibilities differ from what’s listed here.
The chaperone should be an adult who will be available during the time of the tournament in case there is an issue that requires urgent action. NAQT recommends that players (even those who have turned 18) do not act as chaperones unless the tournament director and the parents/guardians of their teammates have explicitly agreed.
- The chaperone is responsible for their team’s (or teams’) players’ behavior and will serve as a link between the tournament director and the players’ parents and/or schools in case of a problem.
- The chaperone does not need to be the coach or to have any formal affiliation with the school represented by the team. (But in most cases the coach will also act as the chaperone, which is why this page covers both roles.)
- The chaperone must be available by email and phone from the official start time of the tournament until the team has finished competing and any final, end-of-tournament tasks are taken care of. In general, allocating 30 minutes past the scheduled end time of the tournament should suffice.
- The chaperone’s contact information must be provided to the tournament director during registration or check-in. (NAQT’s registration system collects this information automatically and reminds teams that have failed to provide it).
- The chaperone is welcome to watch online quiz bowl matches as a spectator (by joining the appropriate Zoom meeting). They may also actively coach (if that is appropriate given their experience with quiz bowl and their relationship with the team). It is not required that a chaperone join game rooms in this way. A chaperone could be at home grading papers so long as they can be reached quickly.
- The chaperone need not be experienced with quiz bowl, but if an issue arises that requires such expertise (e.g., discussing a protest resolution), the tournament director need not wait for a different adult advocate to be found.
- The chaperone should be able to recognize the players on their teams by sight, be able to reach players’ parents/guardians, and be familiar with players’ special needs (if any).
- It is strongly recommended that a chaperone have the ability (computer, environment, equipment, knowledge) to enter a Zoom meeting to spectate a game (in case there are concerns about a team’s behavior) or to join a group discussion. This ability is not required, but if a chaperone does not have it, the tournament director may proceed with resolving the issue without waiting for another adult.
Coaches (Before the Tournament)
- Read the tournament announcement (and any subsequent communications) carefully to make sure you understand how the tournament will be structured and run. Ask any questions you have at least one week in advance so you will have time to prepare your team. Tournament directors may add to, omit, or modify policies in this guide.
- In particular, make sure you know the chaperone policy (and communicate this to chaperones), the videoconferencing requirements for participants, any nonstandard gameplay rules, and whether coaches will be expected to act as staff.
- Make sure you know the time zone that will be used for the tournament. If this differs from your own, make sure your players know how to interpret any posted times that lack an explicit time zone.
- Buy, install, and test any videoconferencing equipment that you will need, and make sure your players have done the same for their equipment. Even if they’ve played in online tournaments before, ask them if they have changed any of their setup since the previous tournament.
- Download and install the Zoom Client for Meetings (or the appropriate Zoom Mobile App). This is free, and you do not need to make a Zoom account. Do not use the Zoom web client (which has worse audio and video quality and limited features).
- Help your players organize a “test session” in which somebody launches a (free) Zoom meeting and everybody logs in to check each other’s sound quality and Zoom configuration. Make sure everything is working well before the tournament. The person who launches this meeting will need a free Zoom account.
- Arrange with your family, colleagues, and/or roommates for you to be alone in the room in which you’ll be sitting during the upcoming tournament (and for relative quiet in the rest of the building).
- Arrange with your family, colleagues, and/or roommates for them to minimize network use during the upcoming tournament.
Make sure you know…
- how to enable/disable your video feed
- how to mute/unmute your microphone
- whether your audio setup will require you to use “push-to-talk” mode (see below), and if so, how to use it when muted
- how to change your Zoom display name
These requirements are for coaches acting as coaches (choosing substitutions, lodging protests, etc.) during a match. Coaches may also merely spectate, for which the requirements are looser.
- Tournaments will use the Zoom videoconferencing platform. You do not need to make a Zoom account at any point in the process (unless you are also acting as a moderator). There is no separate charge to you (or your school) for using Zoom. (A charge for creating Zoom meetings will be paid by the tournament host.)
- In the context of online tournaments, a game room will be a Zoom meeting that lasts for an entire day of gameplay and has a specific URL.
- Every coach needs to be signed in to Zoom under a distinct display name (and to have their own video feed).
- You must use your “usual name” as your Zoom display name. NAQT is intentionally not specifying “legal name”; use the name you generally use at school and at quiz bowl tournaments (and that matches the name used on the tournament registration). In particular, you may not use an alias that obscures your identity.
- You must enable a video feed during the match. This video feed must show your entire face. You may not use Zoom features (including virtual backgrounds) that alter your video feed.
- You must have a working audio feed to interact with the moderator. You may choose to interact with your own team by Zoom chat (during breaks in gameplay) if you wish, but the chat messages must be visible to all meeting participants. You may not interact with your team through other channels during gameplay.
- You must use Zoom’s “push-to-talk” feature if you are not using either (a) a headset or (b) a combination of headphones/earbuds and a (quality) external microphone. If you have one of those setups, you are encouraged to use standard voice triggering for your audio (unless background noise is a problem).
- NAQT strongly recommends that you use a headset to participate in online quiz bowl. We understand that headsets aren’t free and have no analogue for in-person tournaments, but they offer a significant improvement in the all-important audio quality of a game. Headsets dramatically reduce background noise and feedback.
- No coach (or other participant) may record matches (in part or in whole, for any reason).
- You may not be simultaneously signed into multiple game rooms at the same tournament (even if you are coaching multiple teams).
- In general, the tournament director should distribute schedules indicating which teams will compete in each game room in each round. There are multiple ways in which these schedules could be distributed; if they are only sent to coaches (but not players), make sure to forward the information to your team(s). Here is a sample schedule showing what such a document could look like.
- All game rooms will use a “waiting room” so people joining a game room are not immediately admitted. The moderator will be in charge of admitting people as they show up. This is partly a security measure and partly to prevent people from “barging into” a room when another game (besides the one the person is trying to enter) is going on.
- A tournament schedule will designate one team in each room as “X” and the other as “Y”. This designation is unrelated to the use of letters to differentiate multiple teams from the same school. For instance, Central C could be the “X” (first) team in its Round 1 game, while Academy A could be the “Y” (second) team in the game.
- If your name is “Pat Doe,” set your Zoom display name to
[X-coach] Pat Doeor
[Y-coach] Pat Doewhen joining a game room (depending on whether your team is “X” or “Y”).
- Upon joining a game, enable your video feed. If you are not using either (a) a headset or (b) a combination of headphones and a (quality) external microphone, mute yourself. Open the chat window and set your chat target to “Everybody.” Assuming the game hasn’t yet started, confirm that other participants can hear and see you.
Games will use BuzzIn.Live to simulate a buzzer system.
The moderator will distribute the game code or URL for the BuzzIn room via Zoom chat.
It is not required that you sign in to the game’s BuzzIn room; if you do, use the same nickname as your Zoom display name (i.e., including
- In general, chat is not used for gameplay. You may choose to use chat to communicate with your players when gameplay is not going on, but chat messages must be sent to all participants. You may not communicate privately with participants during gameplay (in any way—via chat or otherwise).
- Unlike players, you may have additional windows open during gameplay.
- There are a few rule changes for online play. Make sure you’re familiar with them. These mainly relate to answering bonuses and handling connection issues.
More Things to Know
Please also read…
- NAQT’s policies on handling technical problems during games
- NAQT’s technical and behavioral suggestions for improving the online quiz bowl experience
- NAQT’s comments on cheating and anti-cheating measures in online quiz bowl
NAQT wants to hear about your experience with online quiz bowl—write to firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions, questions, complaints, or any other comments.