Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Unbalanced Tournaments

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #31
    Plymouth Djinn

    With all due respect, I think this response still fails to address the key issues weíve been discussing (I canít testify to whether you have missed the point, internally as that would be speculation). You can say as often as you like that there is nothing untoward happening here, but the statistics are what they are. So let me take the time to address the things you have said one by one.

    1. AMTA cannot balance the tournaments as we have suggested because of constraints related to hosts (i.e. we donít have enough hosts in various regions to accommodate the number of top schools in those regions).

    This at least somewhat addresses Adevans questions about why the DC region is so hard compared to the rest of the country, but it does not explain the imbalances that occur on *within a region.* The Hamilton and Geneva ORCS are within the same region. They are very close to each other. Many schools can easily get to either of them, and in fact some top schools who went to Geneva were closer to Hamilton. So the difficulties finding hosts doesnít explain why there was an imbalance there. The same thing holds for the Geneva/Lancaster situation the previous year.

    2. Sometimes school requests for particular weekends mean that a particular school has to go to a particular tournament and this can lead to imbalance:

    This still doesnít explain Hamilton v. Geneva because those tournaments were, as I pointed out, on the same weekend.

    3. Miami canít have anything to do with it because you werenít on the committee.

    You might not have been personally on the committee, but there have regularly been people closely related to Miamióalums, former coaches, etc.óon the committee in the past few years.

    4. There is no sexy conspiracy narrative where people have backroom meetings.

    Probably not. I doubt there is anything remotely that dramatic. But, as is frequently pointed out in trial, bias, even implicit bias, is always relevant. So, the fact that there are a lot of Miami affiliates on both the board and on committee combined with the stats about Miamiís schedule over the last few years is concerning.

    5. You donít know what happens in committee.

    Thatís precisely the point. I donít. You donít. The rest of the board doesnít. The rest of the AMTA student community doesnít. Any time an organization uses a non-transparent and subjective system to do something important, the results should be subject to strict scrutiny. Given the fact that, by all of the objective measures AMTA claims to be using, the midwestern tournaments are coming out uneven, thatís something to talk about.

    6. Those of us who care about such things should just join the board/committees and get involved.

    Hereís the thing. Right now those of us who are current competitors donít really have a way of doing that. The actual board and committees specifically bar students from being involved. The student advisory committee was disbanded. AMTA has no formal and public way of submitting online feedback, concerns, or proposed motions from student members. Sure, the board meeting is open to *observers,* but thatís not really to the point. And even if there were an active role we could play in said meetings most of us canít afford to get there in the first place.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by TheGhostofChaseMichael View Post
      Plymouth Djinn

      With all due respect, I think this response still fails to address the key issues weíve been discussing (I canít testify to whether you have missed the point, internally as that would be speculation). You can say as often as you like that there is nothing untoward happening here, but the statistics are what they are. So let me take the time to address the things you have said one by one.

      1. AMTA cannot balance the tournaments as we have suggested because of constraints related to hosts (i.e. we donít have enough hosts in various regions to accommodate the number of top schools in those regions).

      This at least somewhat addresses Adevans questions about why the DC region is so hard compared to the rest of the country, but it does not explain the imbalances that occur on *within a region.* The Hamilton and Geneva ORCS are within the same region. They are very close to each other. Many schools can easily get to either of them, and in fact some top schools who went to Geneva were closer to Hamilton. So the difficulties finding hosts doesnít explain why there was an imbalance there. The same thing holds for the Geneva/Lancaster situation the previous year.

      2. Sometimes school requests for particular weekends mean that a particular school has to go to a particular tournament and this can lead to imbalance:

      This still doesnít explain Hamilton v. Geneva because those tournaments were, as I pointed out, on the same weekend.

      3. Miami canít have anything to do with it because you werenít on the committee.

      You might not have been personally on the committee, but there have regularly been people closely related to Miamióalums, former coaches, etc.óon the committee in the past few years.

      4. There is no sexy conspiracy narrative where people have backroom meetings.

      Probably not. I doubt there is anything remotely that dramatic. But, as is frequently pointed out in trial, bias, even implicit bias, is always relevant. So, the fact that there are a lot of Miami affiliates on both the board and on committee combined with the stats about Miamiís schedule over the last few years is concerning.

      5. You donít know what happens in committee.

      Thatís precisely the point. I donít. You donít. The rest of the board doesnít. The rest of the AMTA student community doesnít. Any time an organization uses a non-transparent and subjective system to do something important, the results should be subject to strict scrutiny. Given the fact that, by all of the objective measures AMTA claims to be using, the midwestern tournaments are coming out uneven, thatís something to talk about.

      6. Those of us who care about such things should just join the board/committees and get involved.

      Hereís the thing. Right now those of us who are current competitors donít really have a way of doing that. The actual board and committees specifically bar students from being involved. The student advisory committee was disbanded. AMTA has no formal and public way of submitting online feedback, concerns, or proposed motions from student members. Sure, the board meeting is open to *observers,* but thatís not really to the point. And even if there were an active role we could play in said meetings most of us canít afford to get there in the first place.

      Comment


      • #33
        Hi all. My name is Adam. I am the chair of the subcommittee in charge of regional assignments and how they will feed into ORCS. I've served in that position since 2010. Before that, I was on the committee for two years. I am a former competitor (Maryland - 1999) and helped found two mock trial programs as both an assistant coach and head coach. This thread was brought to my attention today and I am glad to answer your questions. Like in the tab director thread - I am posting this in my individual capacity to tell you about how the subcommittee works in my time as the chair. Each chair brings their own personality and beliefs to the table so long as they are consistent with AMTA's educational mission and competitive rules. Also, some of stuff I touch on in this post relate to how tab rules affect pairings and how site locations affect pairings. But TAB and site selection are different committees or subcommittees, but I address them to the extent there is some overlap with my sub-committee's work.

        Every single year, regional and ORCS assignments are started from scratch. I do the initial layout and I am subject to criticism by a panel of coaches, non-coaches and people who are familiar with the issues - such as our Tab director who, like me, has not coached in a longtime. We do not use previous years as a starting point though.,..if we made a team travel very far one year, we do try to avoid it again where possible. We begin by laying out the projected ORCS. This is a process that begins way before the case comes out and well well before any invitationals are held and before many teams even register for the year. This is a "if everything goes according to plan" layout that assumes alot. For starters, it can't possibly account for open bids. It can't account for the resurgent team, or the upstart team, or the team that doesn't register, or the surprises out of regionals. It doesn't account for requests by teams, or conflicts, or other issues such as regional cap space. For those of you wondering, my committee tries to grant every single request that is made at the time of registration - be it the LSAT, be it students having other interests that conflict or be it as simple as "we feel we have bad luck at this site, would you mind giving us a different assignment." Requests made at time of registration, before anyone could possibly know where they are assigned because things are only in the draftiest of draft forms are usually honored unless other factors prevail.

        It is a misnomer to say that the goal is to power balance all regionals - while the idea of power balancing is 100% true, it is a bit of a misnomer because what we are actually looking to do is power balance in a reasonable manner consistent with geography. If the case committee doesn't like a fact, they can change it. If the rule committee doesn't like a rule, they can change it. But if we don't like geography of a school, we can not change that. As our tab director explained in another thread, before any assignment is made, we have to factor in distance in mileage, distance in actual travel time, tournament capacities and dates, schedule conflicts, host assignments, requests, conflicts and C/D/E/F team assignments as constraining factors of the puzzle. Of course, a huge part of the puzzle is tournament caps. Some sites use courthouses, which only have a finite number of rooms. Some sites use buildings that are relatively isolated or have to jump through hoops to get more classrooms, some have to worry about the number of judges they are capable of recruiting. We also have to look at other factors - for example, on paper, that drive to Buffalo is 3 hours - in reality, we would be asking teams to drive through mountains where snow comes heavy and often, and ice comes heavy and often, and in mid-to-late February. While the ideal world is one where every site can hold 26-30 teams and have three judges per round in sunny weather climates, that simply isn't the case. Some sites can be great one year and then not-so-great the next based upon any number of factors such as who they make tournament coordinator and staff....some years your team unexpectedly makes the Super Bowl, some years a big convention is coming to town that no one would really have reason to know about. We try not to put more than one team that finished in the top 10 at NCT's the previous year in the same site. Where that is impossible, which happens all the time, we try not to put more than two.

        We don't generally look too much at invitational results. For starters, much of our drafting work gets done in July, August and September. October we are moving things around, trying different things, trying to be open minded about every position. The early invitationals make for relatively lousy information to rely on. In some cases, teams have barely had the case for a month, they are trying new attorneys and new witnesses - some competing for the first time - many teams aren't stacked yet. When one team shows up as A.,...is i their actual A or the team designated as A for that site?....and the same is true for their opponents. Obviously, there are a few exceptions, particularly in late October/Early November, where we know teams take them very seriously and are more likely to be sending their better teams and in those cases, we do look at those. But even then, teams improve. That time between ultra-competitive tournaments is a time for enormous growth...for even the most experienced competitor, but definitely for the less experienced ones. We also do account for C/D/E teams that have power. If a program qualifies more than two teams to ORCS, we assume that their C team has power consistent with the other teams that make it to ORCS but are less-likely statistically to advance.

        It is a big mistake to over rely on TPR for analyzing ORCS balance. For starters, using UVA as an example - they field two teams, both of which are at (or near) the top 10. When we put both teams in the same field, the TPR is through the charts, yet it only has two "power teams" and the site essentially becomes their site....which is one of many issues we try to avoid. Also, its not fair to compare TPR's of teams in the Northeast, where we can divide the power amongst 3-4 ORCS sites with teams in the midwest that really only have one ORCS site in reasonable geographic distance (if that). Likewise, once you get to the middle of the pack TPR wise, there is a wide range of teams....some are teams coming off a great year....some had a great year three years ago and its left them with a possibly inaccurate power level, some had one great year randomly out of the blue....some lost a ton of people to graduation or study abroad. When you get towards to lower-power teams, the ones with 1-10 TPR, that becomes even more speculative. In fact, some of those teams, arguably, aren't as good as some of the teams below them, but because of where they are geographically, the luck of the draw and various other factors - they have "power." So you can't just look at the TPR - particularly once beyond the top power teams. And even then, you have to dig deeper into the TPR....its not just a number....you have to look at how they got to that number and where they got to that number and how they got to that number at the tournament itself. For example, a team at ORCS could got 2-4 through round 3 and find themselves in an out bracket facing a 1-5 team.....lets say they take two ballots - is it fair to compare those 4 wins to the team that went 3.5-2.5 through round 3 and then draw a 5-1 team and end up at 3.5? How did they get to 2-4? How did they get to 3.5? I would argue that no two situations are comparable. Others might disagree. Likewise, those top teams....if your team was in a top round in round 4 of the NCT and you won 2 ballots and dropped 3....are those three wins less valuable than the team that had won two ballots in the first three rounds combined and then crushed a lower-level opponent in round 4? TPR doesn't account for how those ballots were won or lost...so even the top team's TPR's aren't very reliable.

        Then there are other factors that haven't really come up yet in this thread - such as the true meaning of "power". This thread is a very "haves" thread....the comments seem to be very one-sided with only good teams or better in the discussion. There are 276 "ranked" teams this year. 3 of those are ranked because they made it to ORCS sometime in the past three years but finished with no ballots won. There are 714 teams registered this year meaning there are 438 teams with no ranking - 62% of AMTA's membership. They are just as important to AMTA as the top teams. And, keeping in mind that we have 192 ORCS spots, 84 of those "power teams" weren't a power team last year. And then another chunk of them weren't in the year before's ORCS either. Many of those unranked....and many ranked teams... don't have the infrastructure, support, resources, consistency to be a power team....many are trying to create that....they are trying to become a power team. Often times, those teams aren't given any chances - the top teams won't scrimmage them, they don't get invited to most invitationals ....they all hope for success....most strive for it. We try to build regional fields in a way that respects the fact that they are just as important. So other factors we look at include # of power teams v. # of teams in the field. And the overall strength ratio where we look at total TPR divided by number of teams in the field.

        There is also common sense. For example, we try to avoid NCT finalists in the same tournament. We don't want Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU and UPenn all at the same site. We don't want a team within 45 minutes drive of a site driving 4 hours past the site to go to a place 5 hours away if we can avoid it. Sometimes, we ask teams to travel further than the rule....those teams almost always get a phone call from me and we talk about it and they are free to, and often do, say no. Many also say yes and that helps. We also have other systems of checks and balances such as alternative measurements to compare field size. There are other factors not discussed in here. For example, some teams have a great reputation but its an old reputation or other factors, such as the split sites that will feed into two or three different ORCS. There are factors tough to compare....for example, some tournaments may be very top heavy but then there is a big drop in power. In other cases, the power up top is comparatively light but there is a big pack in the middle where they will have to duke it out.

        So, it is true, not all regionals are balanced. They never will be. Even if we had a crystal ball, no team's fate is determined...and even then, the random first round pairings and power matchups in round 2 and 3 can ruin even the best teams dreams (thats a whole different discussion, of course). But we strive every year - me personally spending easily over 100 hours - let alone the rest of the committee - to strive to make them reasonably geographically balanced comparatively to sites within driving range and beyond to try to get them that way. We try every year to make them as balanced as possible - so that the 438 teams with no rankings feel like they have a shot....so that the teams in the middle pack can say "hey, we have a chance to do this" and so the top teams don't get a free pass. And we make them as balanced as geographically possible...obviously there is less we can do for the isolated tournament where the next site is literally 8-9 hours away. We try to stay proactive and add regionals where we can. For example, I'd love to find another host in the Tennessee/Arkansas area where we could send some teams from the Dallas/Jackson/St. Louis/Oklahoma areas. I'd love to have another site in California, and in the northeast and I'd love to have a 9th ORCS if we get the volunteers - of course that is assuming we keep the hosts we currently have and that the hosts are able to provide what the students need to make the site great. The more tournaments we have that can serve the geography the better.

        We also do extensive post-hac analysis - marking off which teams qualified for ORCS, received open bids for ORCS, were in the "in bracket" at ORCS, qualified for NCT, would have qualified for NCT, how they finished at NCT, how they arrived at that mark.....but of course, its all subject to geography. We have had many instances where teams have volunteered to go to a tournament far away....and we grant those where it helps AMTA balance regionals. In fact, while rankings for the following year come out a few months after the NCT, our committee has those rankings tabulated the same night that the NCT results are tabulated and we are already trying to figure out where we need more sites or where we have to replace sites. It is an endless task that takes months and months to do and we are at the mercy of volunteers.

        Power is a funny thing in that it can be circular, but it can also be quite unpredictable. The only thing we can actually predict is geography. One thing I can tell you....if you take the time to lay out all of the 27 sites and nine ORCS side by side, and group them into subcatergories such as "NCT top 10 last year", "TPR greater than 30", TPR greater than 25, TPR greater that 15....etc. (for example).....you will see a very transparent process, as hard as it may be to explain. It is hard to make this particular aspect more transparent other than to say: You can reach out to me at anytime. My name, email and phone number are all on the AMTA site, or you can email the addresses on the regional page and they will make sure I get the message. There is not one decision on there that cannot be explained....but as you can see from this post...there are a lot of factors. There are some things we don't go around advertising - like we don't publish site caps (in large part because we constantly beg hosts to take more teams) but schools that have been to these sites over the years likely figured it out. We don't advertise requests and conflicts - but I openly tell you that we try to grant any made at time of registration. And the one other thing I can really do is to open and responsive, which I am glad to do. You can reach out to me anytime and I'm glad to talk you through any decision. Every placement, from the power team to the newest team that registered untimely and wonders if the same person can do all three crosses - is addressed on a team by team basis, from scratch, every year. Over the years, we have tried different approaches....believe it or not, before 2010, we didn't designate A, B, C teams etc. and some fields would be comprised of four teams from the same school. There are instances, and I bet some perjuries posters among them, where teams have suddenly poor or outstanding results and I've actually called them to ask for their honest self-assessment.

        We are always looking for fresh ideas and perspective. All comments and suggestions are welcome....as are all critiques...we have a thick skin. Feel free to PM me....and now that I've been made aware of this thread....I will try to check back in to see if you have any questions. Hope I answered many of your concerns. I also want to reiiterate what was said above by someone else: get involved. AMTA only exists because of the volunteers who love AMTA and who can balance the competing goals and issues. Unfortunately, the only feedback we ever get is someone who sees their own regional as too hard and whose solution is to conveniently move out that top power team. I've never heard anyone say "Alright, we got the easy regional." There have been some people I've met or come across - current and former competitors who have demonstrated the ability to look beyond the TPR and look at the overall structure....in those cases, I've actually reached out to some of them privately and asked if they would like to get involved....so far no one has taken me up on the offer though. AMTA serves over 5000 students a year from over 350 colleges, all of which are in set geographic locations...we do the best we can to give them all a sporting chance of getting bids....the rest is up to them and the luck of the draw with pairings and judges. I don't have a dog in the fight other than I know that - in ten years - I want you all to look back and see AMTA for the amazing experiences and friendships and memories that it facilitated.

        Forgive the typos....I have to go back to my day job now!
        Last edited by GooglyMoogly; February 7th, 2018, 12:23 PM.

        Comment


        • #34
          GooglyMoogly , I am sure I speak for many when I say thank you! I think that it is sometimes lost on us all that AMTA does and how much time and energy is given by volunteers. I found a lot of what you said to make a lot of sense, and it helped clear up a lot. I do have a couple lingering questions that I hope you could address.

          1) can you speak a little more to how the regional selections are determined. Essentially, do you take each team and look at how they performed last year and this invitational season to determine how you think they are going to do, or do you focus more on dividing up "power teams" and then just use other teams as fillers? -- I am not meaning to imply that those other teams are not given as much thought, but just realistically, it is understandable to not be able to spend as much time thinking about where to place a team that has gone 0-8 the last few years than the Yale and UVA types.

          2) Why do you sometimes put A and B teams together and other times pair A/C and B/D or A/D and B/C, etc. to me, I feel like the A/C, B/D makes the most sense just to prevent the B team for getting an "easier" draw by not having to play their A team thus making a tournament much easier for them. (For example, Miami B has a fairly easy tournament in Cincinnati since the only other top 200 ranked teams they would have to play are Cincinnati A/B and Xavier. Since they can't play themselves or their A team, they have a fairly safe region, whereas if Miami C was there and Miami B went to Toledo, it would make Miami B have a much more well deserved bid if they made it.) It is done almost half the time where A/B are together and half the time where A/C are together, I was just wondering what the rhyme or reason was.

          3) How do you define a "power team" you mentioned sustaining success for a long period of time, but can you be more specific? Is a team that makes ORCS 3 years in a row a power team? Do they need to be making nationals? Take Rochester for example, the fact that their B team hadn't made ORCS two years ago but made it three years ago then made Nationals last year, does that make their B team a power team? Do you consider "power programs" like UCLA, Florida, Rhodes or other teams where their C/D/E teams are often getting bids to ORCS and dominating regionals?

          Again, thank you for the clarification and for all the time you spend on this.

          Comment


          • #35
            Glad to try Adevans. Your questions are great - as are many of the concerns raised in this thread. The answers are long and take a really long time to write out but I am glad to do it if it means alleviating some of the concerns expressed in this thread. As you likely see, regional and projected ORCS assignments are not done haphazardly - there is a long, deliberate process. I admit transparency is an issue, and I am wide open to ideas to solve it. As you can see, listing out every consideration, factor, move....its impossible. We can't post assignments real time as we discuss them....the one thing I can do is try to be responsive to inquiries like these. Mock Trial Confessions is a fun little facebook page, but it is decidedly not the forum to have a discussion such as these. So I am happy to try to clarify....

            1) It starts off simple enough. As soon as the site-selection subcommittee provides a list of the next year's sites for regionals and ORCS, we lay them out in what can only be described as a very daunting, massive, overwhelming spreadsheet with more subsheets than you can imagine. It has every power ranking, it has the year before's power rankings and the year before that. It has the geographic location of every single school and team. It has the previous years assignments and the year before that. It has last years ORCS results. It has last years site by site list of the teams that got bids to ORCS, open bids to ORCS and bids to the NCT.

            My first step is to assign teams into what I affectionately call "tiers." For example, and this is just for illustrative purposes, if a team has been to NCT three years in a row and averaged winning half their ballots or more in that time, I consider them to be the very top of AMTA....they are a rock of consistency in the AMTA world....anything short of being a team to beat at NCT would be a disappointment for those teams. But this "elite" category might also include other teams. For example....if your team has only been to NCT the past two years but both years saw your team winning the equivalent of 60% of ballots both years - I would likely group them in as elite (subject to the 8000 caveats I listed above such as how they got to that win total - were they competitive in top rounds or were the feasting on the bottom dwellers?). I also emphasize that this a starting point, not a final point. The reason I use it as a starting point is because I don't want the teams perceived by the community to be the best to be stockpiled in one location. I want them spread out as much as possible. Even if their TPR numbers are dubious due to bottom feeding, perception is an important factor we consider. In an ideal world, if we had say, 10 teams that fall into this category, no ORCS should have more than 2 and no regional should have more than one. Sometimes you can't help that because of geography and you need to adjust the rest of the field accordingly. Again, this is just a starting point because, hey, you need to start somewhere. Keep in mind that a vast majority of students do mock trial one year, two years....maybe 3 and then in rarer cases, but plentiful, four or five. So when we are talking about TPR, which goes back three years....well....usually....half the current competitors don't even know the names of the people on the team three years earlier....so most recent year takes on the most importance for a variety of reasons.

            Keep in mind, at this stage, we don't always know what regionals will feed into what ORCS. For example, we know that teams in Pomona are going to feed into LA because its right there. We generally know that teams assigned to St. Paul will likely end up in Geneva if there is no Minneapolis ORCS because the next closest ORCS is 12 hours away. But then you look at sites like Baltimore, where Lancaster, Wilmington and Central Islip are not that far away and we aren't 100% sure which site those will feed to. That evolves as we get further along. Let me give you an illustration. In past years, we had a regional site in the Maine/New Hampshire area, a site in the Boston area and a site in New Haven. The Boston metro region has a ton of schools that would easily fill up both the New Hampshire and Boston site, so some schools would have to be sent to New Haven. In that instance, New Haven had many many teams that were from Boston, so it made the most sense to have New Haven feed into the same ORCS as the Boston sites. This year, we only have one tournament in the Boston area due to a lack of volunteers, so New Haven, in essence became Boston's second site. But New Haven has about 10-15 teams in its immediate 25 minute area - almost none of which carry "power," and all of whom plan to commute back and forth to the site each day....so New Haven couldn't handle all of the extra Boston area teams. The result was that some of these teams got pushed down to Princeton....so suddenly Princeton was a good candidate to group together with the Boston and New Haven site as feeders. But that meant adjusting our power distribution..,..so lets say I had Harvard A tentatively assigned to Boston, Yale A tentatively assigned to New Haven, NYU Assigned to Princeton - well, I can't do that....AMTA would revolt. It would make that ORCS grossly top heavy and teams would show up thinking they have no chance....so that resulted in a power team shift so that only 2 of those 3 would be at the same site. But that power shift had repercussions on all of the surrounding sites. You can't just switch NYU A into an ORCS field that also includes UVA A, Columbia A, GW A and so on....so that causes more ripple affects. And you have to follow those ripples and keep making adjustments. It is not uncommon...in fact, its more often then not, that a simple power team swap could result in the need to redo an entire section of the country or ...in some cases....a total redo. Every year, I go through 5-10 drafts of just the teams with a TPR over 20. When one site has two top power teams from a TPR perspective, I try to avoid putting any other major powers there. When one site has no top powers, I stop and look to see if I can move one there subject to the 8 billion factors I listed above in my prior post. If I can't I compensate by making the tournament more middle-of-the pack focused. Then sometimes, we realize X move won't work and then we try changing up the feeders....and you can't just change a feeder....you need to look at it, dissect it, see who you have there, see where they can go. Sure, Kansas City may be a straight line to Hamilton - but are the highways? Are the schools in the field? In this case, the answer was no.

            I spread out teams based upon general groupings. First I'll assign those elite teams....then I will look to assign the teams that finished in the top 10 of their NCT division the previous year - again taking into account how they finished in the top 10. Like I said in the other post....I do not consider a team that was 2-10 through round 3 before finished 6-10 to be equal to the team that was 6-6 and squeaked out two ballots against another 6 or 7 win team in the ultra competitive final round to be equal....so we look at that. Then we look to the TPR....what teams have a TPR over 30 that aren't already assigned - ok, lets look at them....how did they get that TPR ranking? Was it off the strength of this year? last year? Were they in the thick of things at NCT or at the bottom? What ORCS did they come out of....how did that ORCS do at NCT as a whole? Each team, one by one, case by case, fact by fact. And then where can they reasonably geographically be placed. For example, look at Chicago where you have 20 strong teams before you even begin....I can't put Northwestern, U. Chicago and whoever else in one place - that would look bad to our students. So who can I move? What teams can go to another site? How do the rest of the teams in the field look? How do the fields in surrounding regions look? For example, there are some schools out there where their power is not a fair representation. Hillsdale might be a good example of that.....they have been awesome several years in a row and that is not who I want my kids to draw in round 4 with a bid to NCT on the line. If there is too much power,...whose power should I move out? Again, case by case, school by school, team by team. And I stop after every subgrouping and see where we are at....how do these sites compare when looking at all of the teams with a TPR over 25? Ok, how about when I add in TPR's over 20? Over 15? All the while, invitationals are starting. Like I said above, I will open every single tab summary and look but I don't give the average invitational that time of year too much stock for the reasons stated above...but then their are certain tournaments like CUBAIT, GAMTI, etc....where the fields are relatively elite and I look at those pairings and results and how they stack up with assignments and then adjust. Again, sometimes that adjustment means 2 moves, sometimes it means 10 moves, sometimes it means a total redo.

            In your question, you reference UVA as an example. Well, in the past, they hosted the D.C. ORCS, so I had to keep them in a site that fed into the D.C. ORCS. Then there was one year in there where they didn't host an ORCS but instead hosted the NCT. That year, UVA was placed in a southern regional instead and fed into (If I recall, Greenville? maybe it was Decatur?....it can all become a blur :-)). Since that time, we've seen the emergence and then reemergence of Florida State, the emergence of Georgia Tech, the already strong UGA, Florida.....in other words, at the time, the Southeastern ORCS could use some power comparatively to the northeast ORCS so we did that. Today, I can't do that because that area of the country is stacked with power teams. So then, lets say Greenville for example...maybe Decatur last year is a better example...I stare at it for hours...I start wondering...who can I get out....how can I make it so that site is not so dramatically stacked compared to the others. Again, geography comes into play, again, last years results come in to play, again, how they achieved those results comes into play.....and again, every move has a ripple affect and a simple power move in Richmond could end up resulting in changes to the Columbus field, the Toledo field, the Cincy field, the Chicago field....

            That is the short answer.

            2) The second question is how do we decide how to pair 2+ team programs together. As you have seen, its all over the place. Some view that as bad....people like hard and fast rules. But hard and fast rules take out the human element, several realities as to dates and caps, how different programs are set up, their budgets, their friendships, their conveniences....etc. And over the years, we try different philosophies. For example, a few years ago, when the two team cap was passed, we tried splitting up the A and B teams near uniformly so that the school's first and second best teams aren't in the same site. The Board at that time was big on "the purity of the pairings" which I can go on about for another 10 pages... But what happened was, teams would drop their C team....and then they'd say "We want to consolidate our teams since we only have two." Now, there are many in the AMTA who would say no to that request. Frankly, they aren't necessarily wrong. But, in my time in the position, I have chosen that - in order to balance of AMTA and the schools - it is not in anyone's best interest to send out two teams on different weekends to different sites....its expensive, it shows little respect for the members of the school or program, their budget....etc. So then we tried pairing off the A and B and C and D....and that failed for a ton of reasons - usually because of the concerns you expressed in your question. So then we tried A/D and B/C....but for every positive, there was a negative. Eventually we ditched the one size-fits all general rule and started subjecting the C and D teams to all of the same criteria.....is that C or D team the caliber of an ORCS team? If so, should we assign them fictional power. For example, Rhodes and UCLA routinely qualify 4 teams and may students fear their D team and much as there B....how do we account for that? Some schools make requests....for example, one team assigned to a five hour drive might have a D team with no drivers...in which case they want to be assigned to a place where the D team members can ride with the A team members. Some schools host and need their A team to run the tournament so they will ask that we send their A team away and keep their B/C teams together or vice versa. Sometimes we know that a C team will add considerable power to a field - we account for that....and of course that is more likely with a C team than D team. Then we look at dates of tournaments, their caps. For example, this year, Cedar Rapids, Joliet, Topeka, Kansas City - much to our chagrin, chose the same weekend to host. That is within their province as volunteer hosts based upon their schedules, what they think their judges can do, when they can book the rooms, when their semester starts...etc.

            You cite Miami B for example. Miami is a great AMTA program....has been for decades. A team is a perennial national championship contender. If my recollection serves me....I don't have it in front of me....but Miami B didn't get to ORCS in 2017. And if Miami B didn't get to ORCS....why should we assume Miami C will? As a result, their ranking dropped over 100 ranks. Miami B is a great example of a team with a reputation that exceeds its most recent success. And of course, most recent success means more to me than the success 3 years ago. Now, again, going off memory, there is a truth that they were top 50 before that. ...but that was two years ago...different coaches to some extent...different leadership and different results (Sorry, Miami). They have three teams above them at that site (Cincy A, Miami A and Xavier A). But thats only a small fraction of considerations. For example, the ratio of power to number of teams in Cincy is 4.8, while it is 6.22 in Toledo, and 6.34 in Joliet - primarily because of how the top power teams of Michigan, Ohio State and Miami played out....much of which had to do with other power moves shook out...which again goes to conflicts, requests and the reality of how they got there - and as you will see below....how to set up the power structures in St. Paul, Cedar Rapids and Topeka played a huge role (again illustrating the ripple affect). There is also apples and oranges issues. Your question was....did putting the A and B together make the tournament a little easier for one power team and one team that didn't make ORCS last year? Yes, possibly.... but overall Cincy has fewer lower power teams compared to Toledo and Joliet. (And thats only because the power ranking include results from three years ago)(thats another issue for another day too). I believe Cincy has two teams with a TPR under 10 while Toledo has 6 and Joliet has 5. Those two tournaments will be much more of a blood bath in the middle compared to Cincy, but then look at geography....much of that Joliet blood bath will be teams within minutes of the site or coming over from Wisconsin...so Toledo and Cincy weren't really options for them. Cincy isn't geographically close to the east coast from a travel time standpoint....most of the teams in Columbus have to pass Columbus to get to Cincy and Columbus is on LSAT weekend. Miami B worked there. While your question is specific to Miami - it ignores the bottom 2/3rds of the field....the ones with no ranking, little history of success, little budget. While this may be an "easier" site for Miami B.....Miami B, in the view of the committee, is beatable. And frankly, beating a power team that didn't make it to ORCS last year is the type of team those no-power teams need to take ballots from if they want to change that position. I also admit that I am kinder to no-power teams....I try to avoid making them travel further where feasible and I try to put them in a chance to succeed. Every program started off young, new, inexperienced, no budget....they got that chance and so do these teams. If we put too many non-power teams in a site, that skews things. If we don't put enough, that skews things. The key is to find that balance so that 2/3rds of the field is representative of the AMTA population. Again, I can say over and over....its so easy for the non-ranked teams to be forgotten and we refuse to let that happen. And I think that AMTA's growth this year and in recent years can be attributed partially to the fact that they feel its not a waste of their time to compete.

            The thing about the puzzle is that there are a handful of correct solutions and a whole ton more bad solutions. If we put Miami B in Toledo, that would add to a field with Ohio State A who asks to not be assigned to Columbus because they run their regional there....if we put Ohio State someplace else, that would cause another chain reaction, and another.....

            As you can see, its tough to give an answer here because so much depends on this site, or that site, or this conflict, or that conflict or that power move. Every single change has a ripple affect....particularly this year where we saw record growth and a record low number of drops and where at one point, every tournament but the two most remote sites were at or over their cap. I can second guess every move....I can start again today and the power distribution might look very different....but in the end the overarching theme is flexibility and geographical reasonableness. Geographical reasonableness is the only hard and fast rule that we have. We had the three hour rule (in terms of max travel time) which we changed to the five hour rule this past summer. Does fairness of competition trump the fact that you all are students who have classes on Friday and on Monday?....or that you might have a flight to ORCS coming up....or that you might have a flight to NCT coming up? And budgets? And weather? And ...you know....a life outside of mock trial? We take them on a case by case basis. For example, there are a few schools that have reading days, or fraternity/sorority rush that we would be doing a disservice to their program by assigning them to a weekend where they know they will have half their team drop? Likewise....is their A team assigned to an LSAT weekend....because seniors are more likely to be on A teams and seniors are more likely to be taking the LSAT. We ask every team at time of registration: do you have any conflicts? Then we separately ask: do you have any requests? Then we ask, if you have more than two teams...can we assign them to the same weekend? (You can only imagine how many issues that particularly questions caused this year with Topeka, KC, Cedar Rapids and Joliet all on the same weekend).

            I wish there were cut and dry answers...but there isn't which is what gives these tournaments the feel of unbalanced. But the problem is....they are balanced using a variety of factors, one of which is competitiveness, and chiefly competitiveness, but there are 1000 other balancing acts unrelated. We look at every piece of data we can find in that regard that is reliable. There is no right answer....but there are alot of wrong ones, and a whole lot of long ones. I wish there was a way to make it more transparent, I genuinely do. The only solace is my absolute certainty that every single team from champion to 0 wins at regionals gets individual attention and consideration and that I can answer these, frankly, difficult complex questions knowing that all of these issues are addressed ....in detail...at nauseam.

            As for question 3.....I might be able to write a small novel about that....but I've got to go home and do work eventually. I will try to come back over the weekend and type a response but you can probably gather the answer from my manifesto posts. But the key here is that using the TPR isn't cut and dry, using invitational tournaments isn't cut and dry and the key is to be open-minded and to consider all possibilities. There are more factors than we can possibly write or articulate in a perjuries post....that we could spend a year debating and that the next subcommittee chair disagrees with. The only real way to see it is to list it all out by subgroupings...side by side.

            I also want to briefly address the alleged Hamilton/Geneva conspiracy. This year, we had an interesting issue. With Minnesota not serving as an ORCS this year because its hosting an NCT, we saw a necessary shift. St. Paul had to feed into Geneva, there was no place else for those teams to go. Cedar Rapids had to go to Geneva....there was no place else to go. Dallas had to feed into Memphis....there was no where else to go. Last year, we had Jackson feed into Decatur to try to make Decatur more....geographically reasonably balanced, but this year Decatur was replaced with Greenville which made the long trek from Miss. even longer...too long...especially with Memphis so much closer. So right off the bat, two of the three feeders for both ORCS sites at Memphis and Geneva were spoken for. That still left Topeka and Kansas City as needing to feed somewhere. We considered Kansas City feeding into Hamilton but the make up of the field didn't allow that happen. Plus, we had split sites in Seattle, Columbus and Colorado...those teams had to go somewhere. This caused a massive shift east for the teams in the Wisconsin, Chicago, Indiana schools. This caused a series of issues because we still try hard to keep teams close to home. Like I said, I did not want that school only AMTA teams have heard of traveling 6 hours when there is a regional right there. For another example about A, B C's etc. are split up: U Chicago and Northwestern both agreed to send teams on 6 hour + treks in treacherous february conditions, so I tried to keep their other tournaments close. Chicago made a request that we keep certain teams together for their own reasons related to how their program is structured and I granted that request as a thank you for agreeing to take two teams on a potentially difficult drive. As you likely know, AMTA has a rule that says if your A team gets a bid to one feeder and your B team gets a bid to the other feeder, they consolidate in the site of the A team. However, the same rule provides that if A gets a bid to one feeder and B and C get a bid to a different feeder, then the B and C bid controls. So that also affected how we dispersed some A, B and C teams in that area of the country. I have to wonder if the posts that started this discussion took into account the bid consolidation rules and the addition of teams from the split regionals in Colorado and Columbus. Most of the top powers in Columbus are earmarked for Lancaster or Memphis. Colorado is not exactly a power hub this year and only has 5 bids (at the moment) as we embark on our first attempt at what I call, affectionately, a half-regional. When you factor in the split sites and the feeder site rule, lets just say the numbers I have are different than what has been claimed. Not far off, but different enough that the sites are anticipated to be more even. The idea behind a "half-regional" is that we have too many teams in the area to not have a tournament and too few teams to give 7 bids. We did not want one tournament to have a 50% chance of getting a bid while the full fields had a 25%-33% chance. But we also didn't want to lose a quality host and we wanted to encourage growth in that area so that it can some day soon have a full 7-bid regional. There are a few pockets of the country that can use more space....but thats a different issue for a different time. If you look at Colorado, and this is not meant to disrespect any Colorado team (I am actually an attorney in Boulder, though I have no team affiliation since I moved here after my coaching days), no team will really affect Geneva's power ...in fact, relying on last years results, the CO teams will likely hurt Geneva's number and make the field a little weaker than it appears. But again, thats how it appears on paper with simple math....when you delve deeper, thats not the case. Geneva, for many many years before the time tracked in the post that started this thread, was the power hub. We had fewer regionals there, fewer ORCS and the field was a blood bath. In recent years, the "bloodbath" site had moved to D.C. where American emerged, Richmond emerged, GW Howard GT and Maryland were all still great, Delaware was emerging, Penn was dominating, Penn State was growing. Then last year, it was Decatur that everyone was afraid of - for good reason. Arguably, California is always a bloodbath.

            It is an ever changing puzzle compounded by a zillion factors. And we try earnestly to balance those factors to give you all the best experience possible. I appreciate that the original poster is so passionate about these issues, as are many other people. As an organization that trains people to think like attorneys, you are achieving our goal. The tougher the questions and scrutiny, the more important it is that we explain the process. Like I said in the first post, I have no skin in the game. I don't care who wins or loses - I just care that AMTA did the best it reasonably could as it tries to balance a billion factors coupled with a billion limitations coupled with record growth, coupled with record low number of drops, coupled with trying new concepts such as the half-regional I mentioned above, coupled with the respecting the 360 colleges that we serve each year while simultaneously expanding the number of sites we have and trying to find new hosts who care about these issues as much as I do and as much as you all do. In the end, I am not trying to change anyone's mind: if you think your site is much harder, I'm sorry. If you think your site is much easier, I'm sorry too. But what I did want to put to rest is that there is some biased coach pulling favors for their friends. That is flat out incorrect. This is primarily the work of a former competitor, former judge, former coach of a large program, middle size program and small program subject to the critique, review, dispute of the TAC Chair, TAB Chair, President and several others on the board who has seen and experienced virtually every issue there is and who has no connection to any team other than he wants to make sure we do our very best to keep the system reasonably geographically balanced. There are multiple levels of checks and balances, months of dos and redos, conference calls, review periods, and much much more. One thing I wont tolerate on my subcommittee is bias. But I don't fault anyone for caring....you care about your experience and your teammates and there is no faulting you for that. But, hate our assignments or love them, it is important to me that you get at least a small snapshot into all of the factors we consider and how deep we delve into this.

            Hope all of this is helpful. Now my fingers hurt.


            Side Note: "GooglyMoogly" is the dumbest name ever....what the heck was I thinking when I created it 12 years ago???
            Last edited by GooglyMoogly; February 7th, 2018, 11:14 PM.

            Comment


            • #36
              GooglyMoogly Thanks for the detailed responses and for making this complex process a little more understandable! As a current competitor and AMTA nerd, it makes me very happy to learn more about the work that goes on behind the scenes.

              Comment


              • #37
                Seconded^ I appreciate your detail and thoroughness, you have definitely assuaged my concerns, and I really appreciate what you explained. I would be really intrigued to hear who you expect to break out of each regional. My understanding of the "week 1 thoughts" and so on, were that they were by other students who were doing the same thing you were doing. I wonder how close they were to what you, and the rest of the committee, were thinking.

                Comment


                • #38
                  ^Thirded. I not only want to thank you for taking the time to explain all this to us, but more importantly I want to thank you for all the hours you've put into ensuring we all have a fair chance and a quality regional. It's people like you who make all this possible and people like you who will go on to make our college years memorable ones.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    ^Fourthed. (Iím not sure ďfourthedĒ is really a word in this context, but Iím going to run with it). I want to start by thanking you for doing this. It means a lot that you are taking the time out of what I am sure is a very busy schedule to help clarify things for us, especially after all the time you already spend working out the regional/ORCS assignments. And I hope your fingers are feeling better (Grant: perhaps a hand massage booth in Phily).

                    I guess Iím still somewhat hung up on how the Geneva/Hamilton ORCS situation ended up the way it did. So I made a chart of the subcategories that you said might make things a bit more transparent in your first post. It still looks pretty unbalanced to me.
                    ORCS Geneva Hamilton Average Across All ORCS
                    Nat top 10 2 1 2.5
                    TPR>30 6 2 3.75
                    TPR>25 8 4 5.5
                    TPR>20 10 6 8
                    TPR>15 15 11 12.25
                    TPR>10 19 11 15.125
                    TPR>5 21 16 17.875
                    Geneva has more teams in every category than Hamilton, except teams between a TPR of 5 and of 10 (and teams with a TPR below 5). Hamilton doesnít have a collection of really top teams (except Miami). It doesnít have a collection of mid-level teams that need to duke it out for the last bids. It just has Miami and a huge collection of lower level teams.

                    Or, if we want to ignore TPR all together, we could look at the various non-TPR categories you have mentioned. So, we could look at historical national performance the way you did when you were determining the ďelite schools.Ē
                    ORCS Geneva Hamilton
                    ďElite TeamsĒ (>50% avg over three nationals or >60 avg over last two) 1 1
                    Teams that had been to the last three Nationals 3 1
                    Teams that had >50% avg. over the last two nationals 2 1
                    Teams that had been to the last two Nationals 4 2
                    Teams that went to Nationals the previous year 9 2
                    Geneva still looks much stronger.

                    We could also look a little farther down the competition (because, of course, itís not just the number of top teams you have, the number of mid-level teams also really matters). So, I decided to take a look at where the teams from each ORCS won their ORCS ballots the year before. (Did Hamilton, for example have a ton of teams who played tough competitions the year before and ended up just barely on the losing side, which would depress their TPRís a bit? Did Geneva have a bunch of teams feeding off the bottom dwellers in the out bracket?). Since the number one thing that can cause weirdness in how many ballots a team wins at ORCS is round the 4 power protection, I decided to look just at how many teams from each ORCS were in what brackets after R3 at the previous yearís ORCS:
                    ORCS Geneva Hamilton
                    ďIn bracketĒ 2016 14 11
                    ďOut bracketĒ 2016 4 3
                    Not at ORCs 2016 6 10
                    There doesnít seem to be anything significantly explanatory here either. They have roughly the same number of out bracket (bottom feeding) teams. Geneva has more ďin bracketĒ teams (who will have to fight for the ballots they win). The big difference is that Hamilton has a lot more f teams who didnít even make it the year before.

                    Now I understand that Geneva was an odd situation, in that it ended up being the overflow site when Fresno filled up and so some strong West Coast teams that might have originally been slated for Fresno ended up there (Iím thinking specifically of Arizona and USC). It might have made more sense from a strict balance standpoint to send those teams to Hamilton, but I get that Geneva may be easier from a travel standpoint (itís really near Chicago, so teams can fly through OíHare). In order to take that into account, we can remove those teams and get a chart that looks like this:

                    ORCS Geneva Hamilton Average Across All ORCS
                    Nat top 10 2 1 2.5
                    TPR>30 5 2 3.75
                    TPR>25 6 4 5.5
                    TPR>20 8 6 8
                    TPR>15 13 11 12.25
                    TPR>10 16 11 15.125
                    TPR>5 18 16 17.875
                    (The charts for the non-TPR-based categories look basically the same as the original ones, so Iím not going to recopy them)

                    Things are looking a little closer to parity now, but theyíre still fairly unbalanced, especially at the top end. (And this chart is, of course, somewhat misleading, because the Geneva numbers are now missing 3 teams which would have to have been replaced by someone.) Itís also the case that, even if West Coast overflow fully explained Genevaís difficulty, it still wouldnít explain why Hamilton was so easy in comparison to all of the other ORCS.

                    And in, fact, Hamiltonís overall weakness stands out even more sharply in light of a factor you pointed out about TPR. You pointed outówith the UVA hypotheticalóthat one power team can raise a tournamentís TPR by a whole lot without really making the tournament that much harder. No matter how good that one power team is, they are still only one team. That was something we had discussed a little bit here, but your comments threw it into sharper relief. But in this case, Hamilton is actually an ORCS where we see such a phenomenon. Miami had an incredibly high TPR last year at 53. There was over a 20 point drop off before you hit the next team (Cincinnati at 32.5). This would suggest that the ORCS was easieróand, thus, farther away from being balancedóthan its TPR sum would initially suggest.

                    So, I guess hereís my question: is there an objective metricóor a speculative metric, for that matteróunder which Geneva and Hamilton can be considered evenly balanced. If yes, what is it? If no, why did they end up the way they did? I understand that there is a lot more going on than just ďtake the sum of the TPRís and make sure they balance out.Ē I also understand that TPR isnít the only way of predicting how good a team is going to be (before I wrote my initial post, I tried analyzing things using tons of different metrics to see if there was some other factor that I was missing). But none of the factors Iíve tried, and none of the factors that have been discussed here, seem to work. If TPR isnít whatís making these two tournaments balanced, something else has to. And Iím still at a loss for a metric or set of metrics on which things works out. What am I missing?

                    On another note entirely, you mentioned using a few of the top invites to help in forming your evaluations of teams. How heavily do you weigh invites as compared to past performance? How do you determine whether a team is stacked or not at an invite? (I know, for instance, that many of the Northeast programs go into tournaments like CUBAIT, GOT, and GAMTI unstacked.)

                    Thank you again for taking the time to answer all of our questions! Itís really, really illuminating.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      TheGhostofChaseMichael I think the answer is that it's nearly impossible to balance tournaments given the small amount of information we have about teams' quality that year and the other factors that influence where teams go. I applaud your analysis and 100% believe AMTA needs to be looking at this type of data to try and balance tournaments as much as possible. But I think this issue is always going to exist given the constraints discussed by others. The numbers in your first post show the volatility from year-to-year in which ORCS was 'hardest,' and I suspect that volatility will remain.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Great questions TheGhostofChaseMichael. I wanted to give you a short answer:

                        Geography. I need you to take your head out the numbers for this particular question(s) and its a great example why we can't rely on numbers exclusively.

                        Take a long look at the top power teams in St. Paul, Cedar Rapids and Kansas City. They are Chicago A, Northwestern A, Indiana A, Cornell College A, Iowa A, Kansas A, Loyola A..... Are any of those schools in that area? Not really . Cornell, Iowa and Kansas yes. All of the others are going on very very long drives to get there. Why are they there then? They aren't naturally in that area....we are shipping them in. Three of the top three teams (intended to) feed into Geneva don't really belong at any of the St Paul/Cedar Rapids/KC sites. But if we left the most powerful team in the whole area as 20 TPR Cornell....where is that power going to go? Hamilton? Ok...what about the Ohio schools? Michigan schools? Some pennsylvania schools? That is a power hub....they can't go to one place....so where do we send them? East? To the overloaded east coast sites? Now look at how many power teams we shipped out of that area: none. The reality is that area of the country is in a down cycle right now from a "top team" perspective. Hamline is not as great as they once were. Macalester, not as great. Iowa? not as great. Cornell College? Not as great. All good teams....just not as great. So we had to essentially, for lack of a better term, "artificially power" these sites....and whenever you artificially power a site, it will almost always be weaker or stronger...because you are at the mercy of who and where the schools are that you are looking to use to artificially power. We used to artificially power Florida believe it or not, and artifically B power Buffalo by bringing in Michigan some years (who needed passports to drive through Canada to get there), or Columbia last year, or Yale before that or NYU before that or Penn State....this year we artificially powered it with Wesleyan, coming off a stellar year and with every member returning. And lets not forget, when we artificially power a section of the country- the teams in that part of the country are still there. They still have to have to go to their closest regional. Its not like we can just say "well, we do have 40 teams in the Minnesota/Iowa/Wisconsin area....but there isn't much power there right now so we will replace that tournament with our non-existent volunteers in Indiana." (And thats not a fair example because Notre Dame was a great host for years and years and years). We still have to service those members of the community....power or no power.

                        Now, look at the power teams in Hamilton feeders. Michigan is 9+ hours from St. Paul, Cedar Rapids is 5 hours past Joliet....literally passing Joliet. Ohio State is 8 hours+ from Cedar Rapids. Northwood? same boat as Michigan. Miami A? Even further. So who does that leave to sent out to St. Paul, Cedar Rapids and Kansas City (and Topeka, where the students from Rhodes A surely curse my name in effigy 1000 times on their drive)? The answer is the Chicago schools.

                        So then the question becomes....can we mix and match some of the sites so that some of the more powerful sites feed into Hamilton....but look at 85% of the field of St. Paul....can we really justify sending them to Hamilton? No. Same for the other sites. We looked, long and hard....and this is the best solution we could find this year. Had we two more months, we might have been able to do better. Do I love the power structure of Geneva v. Hamilton? No. Did I try to do everything I could to not have the regional in Chicago not feed into the Chicago ORCS? Of course I did. And some of the regional fields reflect how I tried to make that up to the teams. But I had no other place to feed St. Paul, and no other place to feed Cedar Rapids...and Memphis wasn't an option for both Kansas City and Topeka....especially when you factor in that the isolated schools in Colorado and the Pacific NW have to go somewhere. Could you imagine what LA ORCS would look like if we sent Berkeley, Wash U and Oregon there?

                        Now, its true what has been discussed in this thread, we can't go around adding students and active competitors to the committee with ease. But one thing you can do to help AMTA, and I am glad to help you do it, is to find ways to create different metrics we can use that can truly be called objective. While I didn't expressly say it in my posts above, reading betweent he lines, I'm surely suggesting that I do not believe TPR to be objective or ...frankly trustworthy. I think TPR is fun for everyone, but not so much reliable. However, it becomes more reliable when we delve into how they got that PPR, how they got into the top 10, how they got that record at ORCS, how long ago.... Developing metrics like that is not in my skill set....I am but a humble spreadsheet dork who exhausts my limited knowledge of technology to provide you the best experience (reasonably) possible. But I bet you can. I bet you all can and in many different ways....and I'm glad to help you by making suggestions or telling you why something might not work and suggesting alternatives. I also welcome your input about transparency. I would love to make it more transparent if I could figure out how. Maybe you can help with that? Maybe we can open up the door for students to present alternative layouts that we can consider...though, again...most of our work is getting done during a time when its really hard to tell.

                        You asked about how much we use invitational results from the top tournaments. The answer is "not very heavily." I discussed invitationals quite a bit in my posts above so I won't rehash. I will use invitational results to see if a couple of programs are consistently kicking butt wherever they go to make sure we didn't knowingly ignore anecdotal evidence that a ORCS or regional isn't too much stronger than its peers. But the ones where we know to have fields that tend to be stronger....GAMTI being a great example...occur days before the release deadline. So, we don't put too much stock in invitationals.

                        Again, I hope that helps. From a purely statistical analysis, your work is great. I would love to chat with you more about it....but the questions you raised looks at power in a bubble and it looks at geography in a bubble. As you can see....we operate with no bubble....balancing many factors to the point that a simple request in Georgia can cause a series of changes. No one factor of everything I wrote out is dis positive of controlling. For example, for teams in the D.C. to Boston corridor....we are not as geographically focused, because there are many options there. For Chicago itself - again, not as geographically focused but far more than we are for D.C. to Boston. For places that are under-served in terms of number of tournaments nearby, geography is king. Like I said above - I can explain every move and decision - but thats not to say I can explain it to your liking. Thats ok...reasonable minds can differ....and perhaps the next chair will be more numbers focused than I. We can debate for a while....but the point is we can debate....and being argumentative (not to suggest that you are....you aren't) is something people in mock trial do very well. Without knowing what schools any of you in this thread are from, I can tell you all that I will be one of the AMTA reps in Pomona and Memphis this year. If you are there, come find me, lets talk, I'll show you more. If not, email me....I'm the only Adam on the board and my email address is on the AMTA website.

                        Side note for debate: if you were a coach, can you really look at a tournament that has Michigan A, Miami A, Cincinnati A, Ohio State A, Hillsdale, Chicago B (which means potentially Chicago A as well under the consolidation rule), Northwood and more and tell me you wouldn't rather Geneva?

                        Second side note: Sorry Adevans, I don't even attempt to speculate as to who is going to get out.....If I let myself go down that rabbit hole, it can hurt objectivity. Subjective objectivity...but objectivity nonetheless.
                        Last edited by GooglyMoogly; February 9th, 2018, 02:44 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by GooglyMoogly View Post
                          We looked, long and hard....and this is the best solution we could find this year.

                          Side note for debate: if you were a coach, can you really look at a tournament that has Michigan A, Miami A, Cincinnati A, Ohio State A, Hillsdale, Chicago B (which means potentially Chicago A as well under the consolidation rule), Northwood and more and tell me you wouldn't rather Geneva?
                          I think we may be talking past each other a bit here. Iím not talking about Geneva v Hamilton *this year*. I certainly agree that the Hamilton ORCS with Michigan A, Miami A, Cincinnati A, Ohio State A, Hillsdale, and Chicago looks to be a strong one.

                          My questions, and my stats, all concern Geneva v Hamilton *last year* (when Michigan A, Michigan B, Chicago A, Northwestern A, Cornell College, Wheaton, and NIU were all at Geneva, along with fly-ins from Arizona and USC).

                          That's my fault. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.

                          I do see how some of the same principals you explained might apply to last year too. I get that it doesnít make sense to have any of St. Paul, Cedar Rapids, Joliet or the Midwest feeding part of Colorado Springs, feed into Hamilton when you have Louisville, Columbus, and Cleveland right there. I get that that basically forces you to put some of those top schools listed above into Geneva because you were shipping them in to make those regionals (particularly Cedar Rapids and St. Paul) reasonably balanced (and to break up the crazy Chicago Power Cluster).

                          But I guess my question is why, given that all of those top schools were feeding into Geneva, were one or two of them not diverted to the Ohio regionals? Either one/two the Chicago Area Schools could move over (They are as close as the NYC area schools are to D.C. and we send the NYC schools to D.C. all the time), or Michigan could move over since they are closer to either of the Ohio sites than they are to Joliet (where they ended up going). Iím aware that means displacing a school from one of those regionals. But there were a number of other (less powerful) southern Michigan schools who were sent to those regionals and they could be switched to Joliet in Michiganís place. For some of them, it would even mean a reduction in drive time.

                          The other question I have from your response is what the feasibility would be of a system where AMTA balances the ORCS after Regionals? It sounds like one of the big problems you keep running into is trying to weigh the need to balance out the regionals with the need to have the end result produce balanced ORCS through all the feeders. Do you think it would be too much work in a short period of time to have the committee assign teams to ORCS after Regionals and not have regionals specifically feed into one ORCS? If that would be too much, what would the feasibility be of having a system where the committee is more able to reassign teams post ORCS (I know that reassignments for balancing purposes sometimes happen, but could the practice be increased so that the committee could rebalance when situations like the above arise)? Presumably this would occur after regionals but before Open Bids are assigned (so that you would move top teams into easier PRCS which is good for them, but you would be trading them with open bids so that nobody with a direct bid to one ORCS gets moved to a harder ORCS).

                          With regard to your more reliable metrics question, I wonder if there is a way of weighing the ballots that we use to calculate TPR using CS? It seems like your primary objection to TPR (at least on a team by team basis) is that some teams earn their TPR by playing a very easy schedule and some earn it by playing a much harder schedule and TPR doesnít really distinguish. If we factored in CS that might help mitigate the problem. Has the analytics committee tried something like this? Would it be something you think could help solve the problems you see with TPR?


                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by GooglyMoogly View Post
                            especially when you factor in that the isolated schools in Colorado and the Pacific NW have to go somewhere. Could you imagine what LA ORCS would look like if we sent Berkeley, Wash U and Oregon there?
                            As I understand it Berkeley, Wash U, and Oregon do feed into the LA ORCS? In fact just last year all three teams were in fact at the California ORCS? Am I misunderstanding the regionals that will feed into LA this year? -Concerned West Coast Mocker

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              TheGhostofChaseMichael - my bad, I misread. If time allows, I'll come back at a later time to discuss last year. I'll have to go back and try to get my head back into last year...right now I'm fixated on this year. But the answer to one of your questions is travel. If we waited until regionals were done and essentially reseeded, that would take time...it couldn't be done overnight. By the time it was finished, some teams would have 10 days or less. Travel costs go sky high when booking within two weeks of travel...many airlines charge penalty fees now, hotels are more likely to fill up... more importantly, schools are notoriously difficult to get funding from. Many pay for their trips out of their own pocket and many have to do many fundraisers. We are even seeing stuff like GoFundMe pages popping up alot. While there are many teams that have an operating budget, there are many many teams that are at the mercy of their school to fund them as needed....it takes time....they have to ask their advisor, who has to ask the assistant dean of department, who has to ask the dean, ....versus the current system where we try to give me advance knowledge so they can plan for the best. We try....try being a key word....to make the split sites earlier sites for that reason. Even in Colorado, which is later, we tried to be upfront on the assignments page and in a memo released with the assignments that our intent is to send those teams to Chicago....but for that to happen....some bids will have to become open. If not, we gave them our backup plan....again....so they can start planning now. Especially when flights are involved, you can't just throw that together in 10 days.

                              rick_rawl - last year was a bit of anomaly....Los Angeles was the NCT, Fresno replaced it as an ORCS and we had zero volunteers to replace them (and before we go down the road of how we get hosts - site selection is a different subcommittee with different members and chair - its alot of work and too much for any one human to handle assignments, site selection, etc. - there have been many times where we've had to literally beg schools to host and still get shot down - which is part of the reason why we are creating a flood of rules to encourage teams to host for AMTA that was discussed somewhere earlier in this thread.). The result of no replacement for Fresno as a regional was that I personally called UCLA, USC, ASU, Arizona and Fresno and essentially begged them to let me send 1 or 2 of their teams to Colorado Springs. Frankly, if those schools didn't say yes, we might not have been able to fit every California team into west coast sites. - those schools absorbed enormous expense to help every other CA team because they saw the problem and realized they were in a position to help and I'm so grateful.....and it can't be said they gained a strategic advantage either....after flying to Denver and taking another flight to Colorado Springs (or driving for like 2 hours....I think it snowed that weekend, UCLA A didn't even get a bid out of CO!) Then Washington, served as the third feeder to Fresno instead of, well, Fresno....what other site would? Dallas? All of those teams were far too east to make that trek. Even if the ORCS were in LA, thats a ridiculous trip for the schools that got out of Dallas. And the schools in Washington - while a less-than-ideal-drive....it was more doable. So for last year, power distribution remained very important, but it was secondary to getting every team that wanted to compete a spot. And I'll add a comment that can be debated from a ton of different perspectives: last year was a down year for the west coast. Is that saying west coast was weak? no. Is that saying that there weren't many quality teams in the west coast? No. It was just, overall, not as strong as past years. Many schools were rebuilding, many schools had changes at the the top that I think make west coast stronger this year than last. But we shall see. And some of the power teams in Colorado went to....and I'm sorry this is a blurr now...I want to say Geneva? or was in Memphis? 10 years of regional assignments can get blurred....sorry about that. And that goes to ChaseMichael'sGhost questions a bit too....again...we see a ripple affect - this time caused by where we could find hosts. Finding hosts is a constant problem every year. This was before we passed this "half regional" concept we are testing this year in Colorado. This year, we are back to four "west coast regionals" (I put it in quotes because it includes Tempe). Pomona, Tempe and Fresno regionals all feed into LA ORCS, accounting for 21 of the 24 spots. So, the tournament in Washington will send some teams to LA and some to Memphis. At least one of those three teams, Berkeley, Washington, Oregon - will end up in Memphis. The final decision is in the hands of the tab director but at least one of those schools will almost definitely be in Memphis.

                              There is a theme to all of these posts as well: AMTA lacks volunteers to host. We have great hosts that we love....but what we don't have is options. And as you can see, hosts come and go every year. So first we have to replace them with a new site geographically appropriate and then, if we want to add - and we do - we need volunteers.
                              Last edited by GooglyMoogly; February 10th, 2018, 01:22 PM.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                As GooglyMoogly's close friend and assistant coach for five years (until he made the smart decision to retire from coaching, and I made the stupid decision to take over the program), I can personally attest to the hard work, thought and dedication that he puts into this process. Most of us are inclined to think that our regional/ORCS is harder than others (and I'm in the northeast so it usually is ). But GM strives to ensure that every team gets as fair a shake as possible and that as few teams as possible have to travel unreasonably far.
                                Mock Trial with J. Reinhold! Mock Trial! Mock Trial with J. Reinhold!

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X