The University of South Carolina Academic Team is looking forward to more tournaments in the upcoming semester after coming in first place at its first in-person competition in two years.
The Academic Team competes in trivia tournaments with other schools from around the nation. The team’s win over Virginia Tech at a tournament in Durham, North Carolina, was its first at an in-person meet since the pandemic moved competitions to Zoom, according to Jack Oberman, a second-year computer science and math student.
Students on the team buzz in answers to Jeopardy-style trivia questions covering literature, science, math, philosophy, paintings, mythology and more, according to Oberman.
About five or six schools are represented by teams of four at tournaments. Competitions last for seven 30-minute rounds, with 20 questions in each round. Most schools, including USC, are represented by an A team and a B team.
“The actual tournaments themselves, they usually run pretty long, so part of it is an endurance thing. Can you just endure being asked questions and like, having to pick up a small clue or, kind of, like, guess off of a clue and buzz in earlier than someone else,” team president Isak Jatoi, third-year chemistry and Russian student, said.
Tournaments usually start at 9 a.m. and can last until 7 p.m. Practices usually consist of going over potential questions out of packets, according to Jatoi.
Second-year chemistry student, Khushi Umarwadia, said the team provides a sense of community for its members.
“It sounds really nerdy," Umarwadia said. "But it's definitely a lot more than that. It's just a group of really cool people having a really good time talking about things that we all love.”
The team also promotes learning outside of competitions.
“We have gone to see movies, and we're planning to go see concerts. We've gone to the art museum two or three times in the past two years. So, more than just a trivia club, we're also sort of a cultural club, trying to get as much cultural knowledge as we can because a lot of that's relevant inside of competitions,” Oberman said.
Not all of the team members had prior experience in trivia competitions before joining the team, according to Jatoi.
“If you know a even a little about your major — or even not about your major, just a certain passion of yours — if you put some time into it, you can definitely build enough into it that you will have enough knowledge to be able to participate in quiz bowl practices and have fun,” Oberman said.
Jatoi said the team is looking forward to attending more in-person tournaments in the coming semester. The team's next tournament is Oct. 30 against Georgia Tech.
“When you're doing a tournament, like I said, during the tournament that lasts for like hours in a day on Zoom or on Discord or some online device, it's not the same as being there in person. You don't get to travel, you're still stuck in your room pressing the spacebar or however it is that is mediated for you to buzz in. So, yeah, it's really different. And I'm definitely looking forward to more in-person tournaments,” Jatoi said.