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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:26 pm
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As the name implies, AMTA regional competitions used to be geographically divided by region. Constrained by travel, teams would usually only compete in regionals that took place in their part of the country. This year, due to online mock trial, regionals are now geographically neutral, and teams compete with other teams from across the country. With over 600 teams competing and 180+ bids to ORCs on the line, this new regionals format can give us a lot of data about which regions are more successful at mock trial. To do this analysis, I divided every team in AMTA in to one of 4 regions by state: West, Midwest, South, and Northeast.


West: Washington, Alaska, Hawai'i, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana

Midwest: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio

South: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and D.C.

Northeast: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine


These regional classifications aren't necessarily even or perfect, but they were the best I could do, so I kept them consistent throughout the analysis. For a control group, I used the 2020 Regionals that took place in February 2020 and awarded 184 bids for 32 tournaments with a total of 678 entrants, for a bid rate of 27.14%

Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Screen13

In the 2020 data, each region had a bid rate between 25 and 29%, representing a great degree of geographic parity. The West had the highest bid rate at 28.70% and the Northeast had the lowest at 25.56%. The very important caveat here is that, with a few exceptions, teams are only competing against teams in their own region. Less than 6% of total bids were won by teams from a region that wasn't the majority at their tournament. As a result, most of the variation we see can likely be chalked up to slight variation in the sizes of regionals. Here, a lower bid rate generally means harder regionals, not necessarily weaker teams.

Looking at the 2021 geographically-mixed data, we begin to see greater variation emerge. The February 2021 regionals awarded 185 bids for 32 tournaments with a total of 637 entrants, for a bid rate of 29.04%. This means that teams competing at regionals in 2021 across the board were 7% more likely to get a bid than 2020.

Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Screen14

In the 2021 data, regional bid rates ranged from 25% to over 32%, indicating a greater gap in success when regionals are mixed. Here, this Midwest had the highest bid rate at 32.48% and the West was the lowest at 25% even. Regionals also had a more consistent field size this year, from 18-22 teams, compared to the range of 17-26 at last year's regionals.

Changes in bid rate by geographic region:

West: 28.7% to 25%, a decrease of 12.9%

Midwest: 27.81% to 32.48%, an increase of 16.8%

South: 27.10% to 29.41%, an increase of 8.5%

Northeast: 25.56% to 27.91%, an increase of 9.2%


Given the nationwide bid rate increase of 7%, the two regions that really stand out for their performances are the West and the Midwest.

The West region has the smallest sample of the four and it was also the only region to experience a drop in its bid rate between 2020 and 2021. This was an unexpected result for me, since I figured that the West coast teams had been held back by geographically constrained competitions in years past, forcing powerhouses like Berkeley, UCLA, and Stanford to poach bids from each other. However, the data shows that introducing the West region to a larger competitive field only hurt them, though the major powers largely escaped unscathed. The West also has the fewest teams slated to pick up an open bid, with 4 out of 30.

Conversely, the Midwest showed that, pound-for-pound, they may be the strongest region in AMTA. Less than 4% of Midwest teams competed outside of their region in the 2020 data, so the 2021 data shows what it looks like when the Midwest gets the chance to compete against the West, South, and Northeast. The Midwest seemed to dominate up and down the board, from traditional powers like Northwestern, Michigan, and Miami, to teams that should not be slept on like Saint Louis, Illinois, and Nebraska. The Midwest region is also slated to pick up the most open bids of any region, with 10. It will be interesting to see if this data holds from regionals into ORCs, which will also be sorted without regard for geography.

I hope this analysis of the regionals results was interesting or helpful. This isn't nearly enough data to conclude which region of the country is definitively the best at mock trial, but the geographic disaggregation of regionals certainly gives observers a good comparison point to contrast with regionals from previous years. Admittedly, I am not an expert in statistics and I have no clue how statistically significant this data is, or if there are any flaws in my methodology. If you can spot them, feel free to let me know as intend to do the same spreadsheet for ORCs. Good luck to everybody competing!

adamsel, bdopl, TheRealMockProdigy, MockforLife, epicrewind and pdarty like this post

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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Tue Mar 02, 2021 2:08 am
One thing I think is worth pointing out is how many teams there were in each region. South has almost double the amount of teams competing as the west coast and with the exception of midwest, it pretty much follows the pattern of the more teams competing from that region, the higher percentage of earning bids. I have two guesses of why that is. 1. I think more schools advance 3+ teams from the regions with more teams. West coast really just has Berkeley and UCLA who consistently advance 3+ teams. Meanwhile regions like Northeast, South and Midwest have multiple schools who consistently advance 3+ teams. I think that really showed this year where there were more open bids than expected with a lot of C teams from strong programs earning bids. 2. I think similar to the proportion of teams per region, maybe there was that same proportion of judges per region and stylistically those didn't mesh well.
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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Tue Mar 02, 2021 9:21 am
I'm skeptical about saying these numbers are the result of certain regions having more teams who "consistently" get 3+ bids. There are barely any teams anywhere in the country that consistently advance 3+ teams. It's very difficult to do. A lot of the schools that did it this year have not done it in recent memory; each region has no more than 2 or 3 teams that get 3+ bids year in and year out. I think the other explanations you gave are more plausible to me than that one.
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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Tue Mar 02, 2021 9:56 am
I could be wrong on that but I do think there’s some merit. Berkeley, UCLA, Tufts, Patrick Henry, Florida, Wesleyan, Rhodes, Northwestern, Chicago, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Penn State. I’m sure there are others I missed. Obviously not all of them get 3+ bids every year but I’d say over the past few years they all earn 3+ bids more often than not.
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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:38 am
So I don't think all of those schools actually do usually earn 3+ bids -- this was the first time in years Northwestern had done so, for example. They did not earn more than 2 bids at all in the last 4 years (maybe even longer but I was too lazy to check). But putting that aside, of the schools you listed, there are 2 west coast, 5 south, 3 midwest, and 3 east coast. That to me looks like similar numbers in every region. Maybe the south is a bit heavier on those types of teams, but I'm not sure that helps explain what happened this year. The Midwest did substantially better than every other region according to this, and per your reasoning we'd expect the south to do much better than the other regions because they have more of these "power" schools. In fact, a lot of the midwest's success seems to come from schools that do not usually get multiple bids -- Mizzou, SLU, Nebraska, WashU, etc. -- getting multiple bids.

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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:57 am
I agree, I’m not saying that was the only reason nor am I saying that was the main one. The Midwest did amazing this year and I don’t think the multiple bids thing is super likely there. As you said a lot of teams earned multiple bids for the first time from there. But for the other two regions, I do think there are some powerhouse programs who are known to send multiple teams to ORCS and that has an impact. All I said is that could have played a role and I still think ir played some role
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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:46 am
I think if you just look historically at the spread of mock trial, you'd find this pattern tracks that pretty closely. Mock trial started in the Midwest and while there are now many dominant teams from the coasts, this is a relatively new development. The West, especially the mountain west and PNW, were among the last areas to get into mock trial as a collegiate activity.

I think if you disaggregated the west into the the Southwest (CA, AZ, NV) , the Mountain West, and the PNW, you'd find the Southwest to be trong, with the PNW and mountain west being very weak.
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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Thu Mar 04, 2021 11:23 am
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I wonder how much certain areas of the country are hurt by the travel times. In the PNW or in the Mountain West, it's often very difficult to find tournaments because you have to travel so far just to find other schools. AMTA even changed the rules about sending more than two teams to a regional because there was really only one realistic option for most schools in the PNW (the Seattle regional). It's expensive to travel that far, and makes it more difficult to attend invitationals and get practice before regionals.
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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:18 pm
As a PNW competitor, I can confirm that our region suffers from relative geographic isolation. Beyond the slimmer selection of tournaments and increased expenses from travel, we also have fewer opportunities to compete against top-tier NCT programs. Most programs here can normally only afford to go to one or two tournaments outside of the PNW, so it's common to not face any elite programs until ORCS. While there are plenty of solid programs in this region who all regularly make it out of regionals, they are all around the same level and since they mostly compete against each other, they don't have as many opportunities to grow. In fact, I think it has been about 5 or 6 years since a PNW team last qualified for the NCT, when Oregon made a run.
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Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals Empty Re: Analysis of Geographic Bias at Regionals

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