Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many extracurricular activities have been forced to adapt and switch to an online setting. One such club is the “As School Match Wits” club, which has an upcoming tournament on March 3rd.
The contrast between this year and a previous, normal year started in the meetings. Other than the obvious of being online, they had to alter the format of meetings. “We’ve really looked up different ways for looking at trivia: we’ve done Trivia Crack where someone would share their screen and this platform that allows you to make your own Jeopardy questions. So then you can play online.” says member and Senior Wynne Dromey. However, she adds that a positive effect on the meetings is that “we’ve been meeting a lot more frequently than we did last year… every single Thursday instead of every other Thursday.”
While the meetings have experienced some change, the formatting of tournaments has seen much more drastic alterations. In previous years, “The whole point of as schools match wits was to go to the televised tournament,” says Junior Jake Weiswasser, “but in online competition, we did a much larger quantity of matches, maybe 10 to 12, over a several hour period.” The other main difference is the structure of the tournaments. “Now we use discord… and we switch between different rooms and then go up against different schools. And then from that, we would branch out whoever gets the highest scores, goes on to compete against other people. A question is asked, and then you type buzz into the chat and whoever types buzz first gets to answer.”
Other than dealing with issues that have become customary to us, such as glitches during zoom calls, Wynne Dromey says that one of the biggest disadvantages she feels that the team encounters is the inability to meet in person, “being together can be a lot more helpful because when you’re there together, you can really collaborate and think of strategies.” Additionally, she says that the challenge of “signing up for everything online and trying to figure everything out because it was a whole different way that they arranged it” was presented. Keely Kivel adds that “you can’t converse with your team at all… it seems like it’s not as much of a team thing.”
Nonetheless, many positives can be taken away from this experience. For example, Wynne Dromey believes that the use of technology allowed them to “explore that and find a lot more ways to study and a lot more different material. It was kind of beneficial because we were able to be open and forced to use all this new technology.” Furthermore, the new tournament format allowed for more opportunities to compete. For example, Keely Kivel states that “last year, I was an alternate, so I couldn’t even compete. But this year, we split up into different teams. Everyone had an equal chance to answer questions. And it was a lot more accessible. [Last year] for our last tournament we had to get permission slips. But this year, it’s more: log on to your computer, and get ready for the tournament.” She also says that “it gives more opportunities to buzz in… online, it’s way less scary to buzz in.” Lastly, Jake Weiswasser has seen that other clubs being canceled “has upped the number of people who come to the meetings because they’re all online.”
Though the experience wasn’t customary, it provided a different experience for students and could be used to improve the club in the future. One such idea is having the option for online competitions. Keely Kivel comments that “Our in-person tournament was hard arranging carpools… [if] one kid didn’t couldn’t get a ride then everything would have been messed up. So I feel like it’s a lot more convenient for a lot of schools to stay online.” Jake Weiswasser would also like to see this option, saying that, “we do [televised tournaments] once and then that’s it. So I do like the idea of doing more tournament online types of tournaments.”