Academic Challenge Bowl Program Logistics

The Academic Challenge Bowl  -- or ACB --   program is a fast-paced, question-and-answer competition.   It is very similar to the high school program MasterMinds.  In a sense, what middle school modified sports is for varsity/JV athletics at the high school level, ACB is to MasterMinds.

The ACB season is an 8-game regular season, with those games being spread across four meets.

Prior to the season, a scheduling meeting organizes the participating teams into leagues.  Leagues may be organized by geography or school size, but are most often organized by availability of days.

Meets are held after school with each league meeting once every few weeks.  Meets are held over the course of the school year with the regular season running from approximately mid- to late Novebmer to early April, followed by playoffs.  Each meet is normally designed so that each school plays two matches. 

Depending on the number of teams in each league, 
each meet consists of three to five games, with meets generally beginning between 3:15 and 4:00 with the final match ending between 5:30 and 6:30.  Meets are held in the schools within each league, with the location rotating among the participants.  If all participants agree, meets can be held in neutral locations and scheduled at other times.

The questions cover a broad range:  art, biology, chemistry, current events, geography, history, literature, music, political science, pop culture, religion and sports.

A team plays four students at a time, with required halftime substitution.  Some leagues may require full substitutions, others just partial, with the top scorers coming out.  

How time-consuming is ACB for the advisor/coach:  Itís difficult to say since the only true coaching requirement is to chaperone the team during meets.  This chaperone does not have to be the same person and the duty can rotate among several people.  It is, however,  important to have a single contact person for communications, arranging transportation and getting students practice questions.  Even if one person handles those duties, ACB is not very time-consuming.  Many coaches hold weekly practices or hold practices the week immediately prior to a scheduled meet; others may have the students take the lead in organizing their own practices.

How time-consuming is MasterMinds for students:  Since meets are held roughly once every three to four weeks, even an athlete can participate as long as ACB meets do not conflict with athletic games and the athletic coach is agreeable.

How do schools practice and how often:  Schools are given practice questions at the start of the year.  Some coaches do set aside some practice questions and run a Ďrealí game complete with recognizing, ringing-in and the like.  Others have students read the questions to each other to improve their listening skills while freeing the coach/advisor to do other things.  The students can practice the listening drills whenever.  Coaches should also make sure they do their homework and read the newspaper.

Why should schools participate? Because it is fun for students and adults.  It is an activity that is more educational and intellectual than sports.  It provides students, particularly the non-athletically inclined, with a meaningful opportunity to represent their school in an interscholastic setting.  There is not enough attention paid to academic extracurriculars, especially compared to athletics.  ACB fills an extracurricular void on the academic side of school.