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The State of SPAMTA (2018 Regionals)

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  • The State of SPAMTA (2018 Regionals)

    So I think a lot about Spirit of AMTA. I personally like it, and I find it interesting. Most of the discussion tends to focus on the merits of the award but not much in depth analysis of what it looks like on the ground has been done. This is my attempt to start a SPAMTA discussion.

    The Spirit of AMTA Award (SPAMTA from here on) is given at each AMTA sanctioned tournament to the team that "best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play" over the course of the tournament. The actual meaning of the award is subject to all kinds of debate on here and on other forums, with some charitably calling it "the pity award given to not good teams". I looked at this year's regional SPAMTA results in order to evaluate the accuracy of that description.The answer: it's kind of true but it mostly depends on your definition of "not good teams" and what part of the country you're in.

    The Data:
    In order to look at what SPAMTA means quantitatively, I compiled the results from the 2018 Regionals tab summaries. The reason for focusing on just regional tournaments for this data set is that they are just that... regional. Later rounds of competition (including ORCS and Nationals) are affected by the open bid list (ORCS) and the national character of the competition (NATS). Taking the assumption that different regions approach mock trial differently (as discussed at length in a recent Mock Trial Analysis is My Drug post), you would also expect that those differences may affect SPAMTA. In the future (if people find this interesting) I intend to look at other years to see how consistent any tends I note are.

    From the Regionals tab summaries I collected the following information:
    - Regional Site
    - Winning School
    - Winning School's SPAMTA score
    - Winning School's final ballot record
    - Winning School's final point differential
    - Regional Site's region of the country

    Data Notes:
    - I did not collect data on runner's up for this particular set. One regional Chestnut Hill had 2 co winners (MIT and University of Vermont) so both were listed.
    - I divided the country into the following regions: north east, south east, midwest, and west.

    ​​​​​​Winning School's SPAMTA score
    SPAMTA Points # of Teams # of Bids
    27 4 1
    28 9 1
    29 9 3
    30 5 1
    There's nothing super interesting here. Here's breakdown of each score. The winning number of SPAMTA points was even throughout the country. There's not much here unless AMTA ever decides to release everyone's SPAMTA score which would be hilarious and a total shitshow.

    ​​​​​​Winning School's final ballot record
    Ballots Won 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    # of Teams 1 2 6 5 6 3 3 2 0
    Average Ballots won 3.7
    # Losing Record 13
    % Losing Record 48%
    # Winning Record 14
    # Losing Record 52%
    Contrary to the SPAMTA goes to the worst team of the tournament theory, the ballot average hovers around the middle of the pack at 3.7, slightly bellow the average of 4. A little under half ended their regional with a winning record. All this really tells us is that a wide mix of teams win SPAMTA, mirroring the distribution of records and talent of the activity as a whole. However, when you start to break things down by region an interesting story emerges.
    Region Record Average
    Northeast 3.1
    Midwest 4.75
    Southest 3.3
    West 3.4
    The midwest SPAMTA has a higher average record by over a ballot. It is the only region where the average SPAMTA winner record is better than the generic ballot average. To gain more insight you can break down the data set into 2 sections: "teams with winning records" and "teams with losing records".

    Losing Record by Region # Proportion of total Proportion of Region
    North East 5 0.36 0.55
    Midwest 2 0.14 0.29
    South East 3 0.21 0.6
    West 5 0.36 0.72
    Winning Record by Region # Proportion of total Proportion of Region
    East Coast 4 0.28 0.45
    Midwest 6 0.42 0.71
    South East 2 0.14 0.4
    West 2 0.14 0.29
    Looking first at losing records, The SPAMTA winner on the coasts are much more likely to have a losing records. The same pattern as ballot average is present here, with midwest teams being more likely to have a winning record at their regional.

    Point Differential
    Point differential doesn't tell us much we can't get from ballot record but is important in evaluating the myth of the "Average SPAMTA Winner" the first year po dunk nowhere bible college that goes 0-8 with a PD of -800 that is given the award out of pity. To evaluate the veracity of that myth by region I broke down point differential into 4 categories of PD: <-40, -39-0, 0-40, >40 (I used +/-40 to represent a per round PD of +/-10 which indicates about where in the pack a school is, if you have any issues with this definition please let me know!).
    Overall Average= -12
    Range <-40 -39 to 0 0 to 39 >40 Total
    # 7 7 9 5 28
    Proportion 0.25 0.25 0.32 0.18 1
    Northeast Average= -30
    Range <-40 -39 to 0 0 to 39 >40 Total
    # 4 2 1 2 9
    Proportion 0.44 0.22 0.11 0.22 1
    Southeast Average=-60
    Range <-40 -39 to 0 0 to 39 >40 Total
    # 1 3 1 0 5
    Proportion 0.2 0.6 0.2 0 1
    Midwest Average= 32
    Range <-40 -39 to 0 0 to 39 >40 Total
    # 0 1 3 3 7
    Proportion 0 0.14 0.43 0.43 1
    West Average= -18
    Range <-40 -39 to 0 0 to 39 >40 Total
    # 2 0 4 0 6
    Proportion 0.33 0 0.66 0 1
    That particular myth is most accurate for the Northeast, which makes sense how it has gotten so popular since many of the elite programs who create a lot of the mock trial culture are in the North East. The only place where the team that get's killed on PD is not representative at all is in the midwest, where the majority of SPAMTA winners end up with positive differentials.

    Of the SPAMTA winning teams 6 out of the 29 teams (20%) received a bid to ORCS. Those teams were:
    U of Pittsburg
    University of Alabama
    Carleton College
    Kansas State
    The regional breakdown tells the same story as the other measures. 4 of the SPAMTA winners getting bids to ORCS (67%) were from the midwest.

    SPAMTA isn't exactly the pity award given to bad teams. This year's winners mirror pretty cleanly the proportions and success of the rest of the activity, meaning all we can really say about SPAMTA winners in the aggregate is that they are Mock Trial teams. Breaking down by region the most startling difference across each measure is the difference between the Midwest and the rest of the country. What this means (is the midwest nicer, does the midwest take the award more seriously, are midwest teams looking for something different in assessing SPAMTA), isn't really answered by quantitative data. I'd love to hear people's thoughts, anecdotes and impressions in the comments! Also let me know if you think there's any data I should look at or questions I should ask.
    Last edited by Ali Thomas; August 9th, 2018, 06:14 PM. Reason: Made the tables look better