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A Giant Thread About Michigan Debate, etc.

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Umm, I just logged into cross-x for the first time in quite a while and I am skimming this thread. I'd like to know the answer to one question. How dire is the situation? Will there be a Varsity State Tournament next year and will there be a MIFA? Is this all up in the air?

 

Just trying to establish what my schedule will look like for next year's competitions.

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Craig,

 

MIFA is 5 to 6 figures in debt. A small, vocal set of schools (East Lansing, whoever I coach next year) and people have said that they will not likely be part of MIFA next year. MIFA State finals costs over 1000 when you consider membership fees, entry fees and hotel costs.

 

MIFA has already booked a tournament hotel for the 2007-2008 State tournament in the first week of February.

 

Brad Bosserman and myself are planning on organizing the Michigan Debate Organization State Tournament for the 2008-2009 season in December 2008. There will be one team per school, with both a Novice and Varsity division.

 

_If_ there is enough interest in abandoning MIFA this school year, we will host a State Tournament this December under the same conditions.

 

East Kentwood already planned on moving their tournament to the ``Holland'' weekend in the fall. Should there be demand for a 2007 MDO state tournament, the only difference you would see in your schedule would be not attending the Varsity State Finals tournament. In December, you would attend Michigan State and then MDO Varsity and Novice States.

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Because it's relevant to the idea of a free online debate textbook, I would like to alert the readers of this thread to a new project initiated by Michigan's own MSU Debate program. The idea is a public encyclopedia of debate terminology/concepts and their uses inside debate. Read Will Repko's introduction to the concept here:

 

http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2007-April/070758.html

 

The budding website is currently located at the following URL, though I get the feeling that the location might change:

 

http://sdiencyclopedia.wikispaces.com/

 

For my part I think it's a fantastic idea. Joe Kelly may remember a discussion I had with him about a similar concept a couple of years back; the difference is that this looks like it will get off the ground, and how awesome is that! I think the idea is to encourage submissions of complete entries on individual items, and the high school community is also invited to participate in the encyclopedia's creation. Perhaps Michigan could make a solid contribution to this project as one demonstration of our commitment to educating the next generation of debaters.

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Here's something I would like input on, either as part of this thread or through backchannels. I am interested in the idea of infiltrating small debate sessions and debate workshops run by debate people into non-debate summer camps. I am running a two-day debate session this June 21-22 during the 4-H Exploration Days camp held at MSU. This will be my second year operating this session, and among other objectives I will use the time to promote interest in the activity of policy debate. Recently I realized that this opportunity could/should exist in other camps too, but maybe we haven't taken initiative to ask camp administrators.

 

MSU alone runs something like 30,000 kids through summer programs on campus each year, and many of those kids are in camp programs that could have some intersection with debate as an activity. I think that camps dealing with citizenship, politics, communication, research, maybe even journalism or drama would be candidates for this "infiltration" activity. And I think both sides can benefit; sessions could be tailored to fit the objectives of the overall camp while promoting the debate activity to attendees. Can people recommend specific camps to attempt this feat with? Even better, does anybody have existing connections with camp administrators? I imagine that workshop instructors could be found if the camp is by a big university like MSU - there are always a good number of debate people hanging loosely around campus even before the SDI gets started.

 

Has anyone else tried something like this before?

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Something to think about:

Anyone who read the front page of the Detroit Free Press this morning will note that Michigan is having financial difficulties and it would now appear that public schools are the first thing one the chopping block. Granholm's plan is to cut $125 per student per district. That means that my district will unexpectedly have 1 million less dollars for the next budget year. If you missed it, here is a link: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070427/NEWS06/704270398&template=printart .

With many public schools districts in MI financially restrained, this surprise cut will be a shock to their budgets. Who knows what might happen if this is the "solution" to MI fiscal problems?

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While MIFA and MSCI council and committee members may not share the goal of additional board seats elsewhere, they do seem to share the behaviors involved..."Rank and file" should remember this as we approach the upcoming MIFA Forensic Council Meeting (this Thursday at Central Michigan University), MIFA General Membership meeting (Monday June 25 at U of M) and MSCI Spring Conference (May 18-20 at The Grand Hotel).

 

A brief announcement: I spoke with Jim Telfer late last week, one of the things he mentioned was that what's happening this Thursday will not be a full MIFA Council meeting in any formal sense. The calendar's listing of that date may be a holdover from prior years when what happened was a full meeting, but what's going to go on this week is Council members (and others) showing up to help prepare for IE States. I'll notify Linda and see if she can maybe send a note out to the membership to clarify.

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Very, um, touching. I am not here to say who lead us into Michigan's current budget crisis, I'm here because I like debate. I think the debate comunity should be prepared to do what ever it takes to keep policy debate an event high schoolers can participate in in Michigan. Who knows if the next Kalkaska will be East Lansing, Novi, EGR, East Kentwood, Seaholm or Groves.

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Chris is right in that the MIFA situation was obvious 5-6 years ago if not longer and now the people in charge have let it get to the point where it may not be fixable. I have long been a critic of MIFA and the antiquated rules and procedures and unnecessary forms and bureaucracy but, the people in charge let Fitz do what he wanted. It took 5 years to get MIFA to accept Legislative Debate as an activity despite the fact that Student Congress in Lansing was hemmorhaging money left and right. I gave them the information about how economical Legislative Debate is and how it might keep some schools from dropping MIFA completely but, even though the council would approve things, Fitz would come up with an excuse to keep it from happening.

 

The Nancy Bordewyck thing has been going on for years as she was the chair for forensics and dating Fitz. I thought she should have resigned from that post and just stayed on the committee but she never did and now they are married. I am happy for them but it was still a huge conflict of interest. Wonder why Lew Vandermeer, also from GRC kept getting appointed chair of the discussion committee even though he doesn't have any kids in legislative debate and has no interest in the activity.

 

I was on the council for just one year and it seemed to me that most of the members were just jockeying to get more MSCI people on board so they could push their agenda. Notice how Zoz was an MSCI delegate and then he resigned that position to run for MIFA at-large and now Ruth Kay is doing the same. Soon they will have a majority in votes and then MIFA will be nothing more than MSCI, inc... Scary thought.

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I do intend to re-join this discussion.

 

In lieu of that, I felt it would be informative for me to report our expenses caused by MIFA events and membership. Excluding purely incidental expenses which related only to unforseeable accidents, inevitable costs such as food, lodging, etc. and that we would have gone to other tournaments those weekends, we entered 1 4-person novice team in prelims and 1 varsity team at states, costing us $705. Assuming we simply would skip those weekends, or, the direct costs of MIFA were 1184.63. Including all costs associated with MIFA entry and membership this past season, the figure rises to $1539.63. Of course these are rough numbers, but even if a variety of actions were taken to prevent or minimize costs, they would not vary greatly. The finer points of how to minimize the above sums or how they could have been minimized is immaterial; their size is given for their illustrative value.

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One more thing before I re-join, and I do hate to snipe like this, but could the Grumpy Curmudgeon stop diverting from the topic? Get a blog, man. Further, you are doing the opposite of what "old people" like Kay and Smith are doing-- They are looking before their leap, you have already leaped to your conclusion.

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Way-Efficient Promoter of Interscholastic, Multiple Perspective Speech Organization and Lengthy Vernacular Engagement Now Commencing Year 2008

 

Fleshing out this organization, I think it would include all debate activities.

 

As for a main point against transition-- that administrations would have a problem with two organizations/making the switch. Neal and I calmly explained that we could have flown to Harvard, gotten about as many rounds, with judges we wanted, and with better competition on the costs of MIFA. Administration oversight isn't a problem (yet) to our autonomy with regards to our team's membership. If solvency for the MDA or W.E.P.I.M.P.S.O.L.V.E.N.C.Y.2008 is sketch, so are the links to the disads!

 

But thank goodness that this discussion has gotten away from who really cares about Michigan debate... or has it?

 

Bureaucracy does the leg-work for commitment for many of the pro-MIFA arguments. The impact to many of Orion's disadvantages to the switch is severely mitigated by the lack of action on the part of MIFA. Lobbying, advertising, mentorship, and cost-saving should be the staples of a debate or speech organization at a time when budgets in the state are being slashed. Where is MIFA on these projects beyond an embryonic stage and a constant cry to 'get more involved?" It seems that over and over, Orion or Ruth's arguments rely on 'that would be hard/impossible to change' when Joe is able to find some answers with a half-hour of work on google.com.

 

To be more specific:

TShuman's characterization of Brad, Mine, and Joe's arguments is accurate... None of this provides an absolute rationale for a new organization. While I think that those prospects (of MDA or whatever) are worth exploring, I don't grant them de jure acceptance. But I won't participate as a member and force my program to bear those financial costs to bring about those changes from within. MIFA: Do or Die for East Lansing's dollars. If MIFA follows through with what D. Marsh said to Joe last year, "Why should MIFA Care?" then I guess we'll be pursuing success on our own.

 

Brad is specifically wrong when he says that the flaws of the way debate is done are intrinsic or fundamental to MIFA. Nothing is that intrinsic. If it were, then wouldn't it be a flaw related to debate organizations as a whole? This is also probably the worst exponent of the "blame MIFA for the woes of debate" which pro-MIFA advocates incorrectly assert as a reason that their opponents arguments are faulty. I think Brad's argumentation has a lot of validity, and I think that his and Joe's efforts to demonstrate the feasability of another debate organization or of doing MIFA better, whichever the case, are the most productive results so far.

 

Comparison of MIFA to a vacuum.

It doesn't make sense-- at least not any more than a comparison of "if MIFA hadn't been" to the MDA or WEPIMPSOLVENCY2007. What's sadly ironic is that all that fire and passion of "Get involved" dissipates when the discussion of a new organization appears. Of course there would be organizational problems with an MDA or what-have-you. But it is fundamentally a question over whether or not those problems would be greater or lesser than with the status quo.

 

Would teams be worse off in a vacuum? (read: what does MIFA actually do to improve debate? This was, at one time, the crux of the question and it seems worthwhile to return to it. Thinking, in a sense of, "MIFA is bad if it is not either making reasonable progress towards improving debate more than any alternative, or is already superior to those alternatives," an opportunity cost, is what is at the heart of this question.)

 

--I am not aware of a post that was filled because MIFA was there to guide the right person to the position. It seems that an e-mail server or coaches association could do the job as efficiently as done by MIFA in this regard, but without the costs.

--Keeper of the record? Ibid. Check out http://www.ndtceda.com, http://www.debateresults.com/

--Legitimacy? Isn't this a fabrication anyways? Wouldn't demonstrating success at other tournments rather than a salutory "you competed at states!" fill the void of programmatic legitimacy? These days, if I met someone that said they were a former Michigan Debate champion, I would ask what H.S. they went to... if they said Caro, Marshall, or Henry Ford II, I would think of the years that school was a contender as more significant than the fact that MIFA enabled them to demonstrate their abilities at a couple of tournaments or in a few rounds' time.

--If Legitimacy made sense as an argument, the market would ressurect it in some form-- even if only as a de facto State tournament (such as a large, regional tournament.)

 

MIFA's Debt:

--I don't care *whose* fault it is. Comparisons to Watergate are a waste of time. Crying over spilled milk and such.

--Responsibility to care for it? Only those who can either be held responsible or those who choose to be. I may make that choice if I can be convinced that MIFA is 'good' as described above.

 

Ruth's comments about brochures and books

It's great that those things are produced. Why not, recognizing that Neal and I are new at directing, didn't the debate organization our school was a member in distribute that information to us. I've called this advertising in the past, and I think the lack thereof is a clear symptom of a lack of competition and a symptom of organizational disease.

 

Further, This set of comments, particularly the denigration of this forum as grousing, doesn't give MIFA the high-ground. At this point in the year, I'm confident that East Lansing qua East Lansing only has this forum (and Orion Smith's phone #) to discuss these issues/caucus/grouse. I think it's very important to be able to discuss these things in, roughly, this form.

 

Answering...

Orion's first point of offense:

--path 1: This is a short-term cost. It also neglects the extent to which co-habitation of two debate organizations would force them both to be at their best. If one was unable to compete, then it would absorb the capabilities of the other. Competition is good for consumers.

--path 2: Much of this problematization from Orion stems from the assumption that MDA would be merely a the severed Debate arm of MIFA. It literally has it both ways: MDA would fail because it would be too radical of a change and because it would be exactly what MIFA did for debate. Good for the goose (who's grousing), but for the gander?... Additionally, more debate activities would be encompassed by MDA-- LD, Discussion, etc. These things seem to boost its appeal to a 'activity-count-per-dollar' oriented administrator. Why not say, "hey, I can get these 3/4 for $100 (or whatever) or MIFA for $?,???." Further, Orion's hypothetical over-the-shoulder, micro-managing, omniscient, omnipresent administrator shifts positions. I doubt the super-intendant directly oversees debate-- at least in most cases. In fact, when MIFA sent their letter to our super-intendant this past march, he sent it to our principle, who sent it to my boss, who gave it to me. That took 4 weeks. What this also shows is that while Orion might cite MIFA for 4 speech activities post-split, two of those are middle-level competitions-- ones for which a principal would not see all of.

--path 3: not even on the table.

 

"no one will run MDA part-time"

--and you've done that research?

--why one person...? the closer an organization gets to its own members, the more likely they will participate... understandable that you would make this argument, after all, you're a coach who stuck it out with Women-In-Combat rather than a civil-service portion of the resolution.

--again, assumes that MDA is the severed limb of debate-MIFA

--Cavanaugh's examples of MIFA refusing Cooley or that law firm demonstrate that these problems already occur--

 

"the secessionism disad"

--as any objectivist will tell you, the invisible hand will work it out.

--given that I don't truly believe the above answer, I'll give a more substansive response: a) this has already occurred. Michigan debate is segregated. I probably won't ever enter my debaters into a 4-person division again. I don't have anything against the schools who like that kind of debate, but I have yet to see a really productive round that results from the clash of the two-- they're just doing different things. . B) MIFA hasn't exactly taken action to prevent the current level of balkanization-- much less include LD, congress, or that other kind of debate. c) I'm not sure that these schisms are bad. I'd need to hear a convincing argument.

--assumes that a vacuum is bad... answered above.

 

"start-up costs"

--now who's pimping solvency?

--jokes aside, this argument amounts to bad defense as MIFA already costs programs money.

--I guess you'd have to reach a critical mass. Maybe that means more coaches would have to post to this forum on cross-x?

 

"other organizations will siphon money off of dying debate programs"

--less likely after a change-- as long as those programs are linked through MIFA, inter-change of budgets is more likely. creating a bifurcation might solve this problem

--those who are concerned about debate qua debate view MIFA as a negative in this regard-- hoping to promote choices such as "these three debate organizations for $??? versus four for $?,???."

 

"MDA won't be more efficient"

--Orion is right to point out a lack of caucusing now, but that doesn't mean that under the MDA, meetings couldn't be more often/conducted more efficiently (for example, during awards... pre-tournament... etc.) or that an MDA would be 'closer' to its constituency.

--the real issue at hand, in my view, is the possibility of unfavorable change. Requiring super-majorities for permanent changes to how debate would help resolve this problem. In addition, the harassment scheme I mentioned previously seems plausible. Why not tell someone they have a month to vote, remind them via e-mail a couple of times, call if necessary, and if they don't vote, that's too bad. Don't the current level of changes within MIFA-debate, including most anecdotes suggest that this is already the case? Even anecdotes that seem to favorably describe the changes MIFA can achieve or has recently made do so against a stark background of the lack of change.

 

Again, I'll throw it out there that set of those worth consulting about how to change debate isn't congruous with the set of those coaches/directors too unwilling to give some thought to an issue and e-vote.

 

The rest of the arguments are, to me, either already answered or irrelevant to my position on the issue. I would like to expound that it remains an open question, to me, whether or not MIFA will or can improve, and whether or not a new organization would be net-beneficial. This is, after all, a heuristic forum.

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Wow, this thread had evolved, devolved, and re-evolved (probably featuring stem cells) into a microcosm of what HS debate today is: people creating steadily tightening logical circles around an important issue, until the 'logical circles' are getting more attention than the issue itself.

 

Here's what we know:

 

1. MIFA racked up a huge debt to UofM.

2. UofM never really planned on collecting that debt, until recently.

3. Fitz did a helluva lot of work to establish oratorical activities in Michigan over his 40-year career, then he retired.

 

Here's what we speculate:

 

1. Fitz was an embezzeling profitmonger who has probably purchased one (IF NOT ALL) of the Hawaiian Islands, and dines on the flesh of those unfortunate enough to succumb to his Bermuda Triangle-like gravitational field. In the secret society he chairs, he is known NOT as Jon Fitzgerald, but as J.F. Eatsbabies. Y'know, for his habit of eating babies. This is a well-established fact.

 

Here's what we can do:

 

1. Form an ancillary organization that will be an e-penis functionary for those of us still trying to relive our HS debating days. RB noted that the people in love with this concept tend not to be the standard-bearers of edumication. He stated this earlier, and more eloquently than I, in his 'why i lost the love for HS debate' post up yonder. To be fair, I was more than likely one of the people he made reference to. I'll own that, I was an idiot for quite some time, and by most accounts, still am.

2. Form a new organization with the profit motive and morals in the proper place. If you can do that, you are a better man than I. I can say that confidently, because I tried to do just that. And despite having very experienced and informed people on my side, there just isn't a helluva lot of dollars available out there for debate-ish activities, no matter how good a sell it is on paper.

3. Slowly reform the system. I was at a grand total of ONE debate council meeting in my life. That meeting passed more sweeping reforms that I could have possibly imagined, tossing away antiquated rules from the state tournament like yesterday's garbage. I wish I could say that it was me, Pete, Joe, Brad and Ellen that proposed and wrote up all of these progressive referenda...but nope. Ruth Kay, Scotty Warrow and Deb Marsh were the ones that wrote it, stumped for it, and got it passed, while the people from my generation were all sitting off in the corner being snarky and bitchy.

 

Personally, I like #3. Your mileage may vary. Fitz has been an active member of the debate community for 40 years (yes 40, and to restate -pardon my French- 40 FUCKING YEARS). To write him off as a 'balance sheet liability' is shortsighted at best and downright idiotic at worst. If you could do better, I'd like to see it. If you are willing to burn the bridges he crafted, then I feel sorry for you, and Michigan Debate as a whole. Because those bridges are about the only link we have left to State and School District funding.

 

Debate in its current state may suck (and God knows I've made that argument several times), but I'd rather see policy debate be a going concern than a consignment to budget cuts because we couldn't decide on a governing body. I may piss off a lot of my friends by saying this, but get a grip, fix what you can, and don't stress so much about the stuff that you can't change/can't improve on.

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Andy mentions that there is something to be said for change within the system. MIFA probably isn't going away, so we should make the best of it.

 

Here are the changes I would like to see from MIFA. The changes marked with a ** would reduce the overall costs of attending a MIFA event for schools and therefore would justify an increased fee paid to MIFA for the event.

 

 

___VARSITY STATES

**The Varsity State tournament should be made a two-day, one night event.

**The Varsity State tournament should be held in a high school or college, not a hotel.

*The Varsity State tournament should not ``flight'' rounds.

*The first two rounds should be random presets and the rest power-paired.

*Preliminary rounds at the Varsity State tournament should be adjudicated by only one judge.

*Judge Strikes should be allowed in preliminary rounds.

*Mutual Preference Judging for the elimination rounds should be handled on a computer.

 

___NOVICE STATES

**Novice States should become a one-weekend event.

*Novice States should become a two-person event.

 

___CONGRESS

*This event should become revenue-neutral by raising the entry fees and/or by cutting costs and/or by changing location and/or by shortening the duration of the event.

(EDIT: As noted below by RB, the Competitive Student Congress (or Legislative Debate) State Tournament paid for itself. The Fall Simulation is the one which needs to become revenue-neutral or eliminated.)

 

 

___GENERAL

*The number of forms needed to fill out should be reduced.

-The membership form should be retained.

-The debate commitment form should become a check-mark on the membership form.

-The league membership form and the fee associated with it should be eliminated.

-The school record form should be eliminated.

-Registration for the debate tournaments should be handled over e-mail like at any other tournament.

-The resolution forms should be handled through e-mail.

*The MIFA should use the least expensive method for printing all of their documents. This may mean no longer using their university account for photocopying and no longer using Kinkos, but scanning and printing internally.

*The MIFA should at least temporarially eliminate or reduce funding to the topic wording convention.

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Andy mentions that there is something to be said for change within the system. MIFA probably isn't going away, so we should make the best of it.

 

Here are the changes I would like to see from MIFA. The changes marked with a ** would reduce the overall costs of attending a MIFA event for schools and therefore would justify an increased fee paid to MIFA for the event.

 

 

___VARSITY STATES

**The Varsity State tournament should be made a two-day, one night event.

**The Varsity State tournament should be held in a high school or college, not a hotel.

*The Varsity State tournament should not ``flight'' rounds.

*The first two rounds should be random presets and the rest power-paired.

*Preliminary rounds at the Varsity State tournament should be adjudicated by only one judge.

*Judge Strikes should be allowed in preliminary rounds.

*Mutual Preference Judging for the elimination rounds should be handled on a computer.

 

I am not in favor of the changes you suggest to the State tournament itself. What you suggest is that Varsity State should be essentially just like every other tournament only with judge strikes. By creating tertiles, I believe there is little to be upset with regarding good or bad draws. I also believe that the system of using the tertiles and not having a random draw was never broken, and shouldn't be "fixed."

 

Since none of the suggestions to change the format of the tournament do anything to reduce cost or increase additional interest, I think it's kinda X-tra T in a sense. I also don't think that the fact that it's a 3 day tournament stops all that many schools from coming other than budgetary issues. And even then, holding at a high school or college, while significantly taking away from the tournament experience, would cut costs enough when your team can stay at a Red Roof Inn. So I'm down with the high school or college venue, but other than that.. Not so much.

 

Having 2 judges per round vastly increases the fairness factor of varsity state and should not be changed. I would even go so far as to encourage directors to judge as it was a couple years back. There is no limit to the complaining about judging pools at tournaments. I'd like to ensure that there is a certain level of competence and better yet experience at the state tournament. The more you make the State Tournament like any other tournament, the more lustre is lost.

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I am not in favor of the changes you suggest to the State tournament itself. What you suggest is that Varsity State should be essentially just like every other tournament only with judge strikes. By creating tertiles, I believe there is little to be upset with regarding good or bad draws. I also believe that the system of using the tertiles and not having a random draw was never broken, and shouldn't be "fixed."

You are very confident in the tertile system, however I think that it is not as good as a power-paired system. The tertile system can be exploited by coaches, and also in the rounds that are between teams spread further apart in the system (i.e. team 1 vs team 20) If a judge sees this listing before the round, as was available at this years tournament, they may become biased before the round starts. Also, as a debate community, we should be aiming to create the best debates possible, for education and other purposes. Rounds between teams balanced in skill are often better learning experiences for teams. A weaker team doesnt learn very much getting blown out by the best team in the state, and stronger teams have better debates and improve more when paired against other stronger teams. A power paired system ensures the most balanced debates in the later rounds. You claim that the changes proposed by joe turn varsity state into every other tournament, but you give no reasons for why that would be a bad thing.

Since none of the suggestions to change the format of the tournament do anything to reduce cost or increase additional interest, I think it's kinda X-tra T in a sense. I also don't think that the fact that it's a 3 day tournament stops all that many schools from coming other than budgetary issues. And even then, holding at a high school or college, while significantly taking away from the tournament experience, would cut costs enough when your team can stay at a Red Roof Inn. So I'm down with the high school or college venue, but other than that.. Not so much.

 

The high costs at the state finals tournament dont necessarily stop teams from coming to the finals tournament, because of the prestige, however it does prevent teams from going to other tournaments. If a team spends an extra $500 on MIFA finals that could be eliminated, that's $500 that they cant spend on other tournaments

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It is encouraging to see people looking for ways to improve debate in Michigan. It is a worthwhile activity but I don't see younger folks who have a limited investment in it and will soon move on as the ones who can solve the problems. It will be the long term coaches and directors in the state who will implement the changes. I just don't see that happening but that is my opinion.

 

In regards to congress, the competitive legislative debate tournament did pay for itself. The event that costs a ton and is only a simulation is the fall student congress in Lansing at the state capitol. That is the event that is bleeding money and cannot possibly pay for itself because the numbers participating have dropped dramatically over the last few years. The cost of the Radisson along with having to stay three nights is more than some school budgets can take.

 

MIFA needs to get rid of the congress simulation and stick to competitive legislative debate that charges fees that cover all costs.

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I know people may not like the idea, and if you don't then don't take it, but I've always wondered why the state tournament has a 1 team per school rule. I know it allows a school to win the state championship, but it seems that with many schools now having 2-3 judges readily available for the tournament that allowing 2 teams per school (and thus doubling entry fees) could 1. provide extra income at the state tournament, 2. provide an automatic way of levelling the playingfeild a little as the schools with big budgets (and thus big numbers) would be paying more to attend the tournament, and 3. could help make the state tournament just as profitable as other tournaments with a few other tweaks. I'm sure there may be some flaws with the idea, but It's a potential option which is accepted in many other states and is something I think we should at least consider.

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Once again, I don't have the numbers, but as a participant, I do have some facts. Do to the spiraling costs and lack of participants it was agreed that we would only spend two days, one night in Lansing for Mock Student Congress. I have no idea how much money this saved, but it shows that something is being done.

The Spring preliminary event, on the other hand is to me one of the best examples of MIFA waste. You can see my complaints several pages ago about the preliminary events for forensics. I found this spring session even more revolting. Virtually everyone gets in the high 70s out of 75 because judges are under pressure to be kind (they want more participants, and giving bad scores is seen as a turn of to the activity). it doesn't matter, though. You could get a 0 and still attend the Fall competition. To detail the fall of this enjoyable activity, several years ago both houses of congress were filled, and their was a sizable media, governor and lobbyists group. Over time the senate had to be closed, and as of last year we would no longer have lobbyists. We were unable to fill the House of Representative, either, even though this was a no cut activity.

In conclusion, while something seems to be being done to tighten up other MIFA activities, there is still a long way to go. Reform from the inside might be the easiest thing, but I would like to have a back up plan.

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I know people may not like the idea, and if you don't then don't take it, but I've always wondered why the state tournament has a 1 team per school rule. I know it allows a school to win the state championship, but it seems that with many schools now having 2-3 judges readily available for the tournament that allowing 2 teams per school (and thus doubling entry fees) could 1. provide extra income at the state tournament, 2. provide an automatic way of levelling the playingfeild a little as the schools with big budgets (and thus big numbers) would be paying more to attend the tournament, and 3. could help make the state tournament just as profitable as other tournaments with a few other tweaks. I'm sure there may be some flaws with the idea, but It's a potential option which is accepted in many other states and is something I think we should at least consider.

The one thing i have heard complaints about this is the option of there being multiple teams from the same school in the break rounds/paired up. My suggestion for this, mainly due to the prestige of the "state championship tournament" is to have the restriction that only the top team from each school participate in the break rounds. It's hard for a school to say "We placed first and second in the state this year"

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You are very confident in the tertile system, however I think that it is not as good as a power-paired system. The tertile system can be exploited by coaches, and also in the rounds that are between teams spread further apart in the system (i.e. team 1 vs team 20) If a judge sees this listing before the round, as was available at this years tournament, they may become biased before the round starts. Also, as a debate community, we should be aiming to create the best debates possible, for education and other purposes. Rounds between teams balanced in skill are often better learning experiences for teams. A weaker team doesnt learn very much getting blown out by the best team in the state, and stronger teams have better debates and improve more when paired against other stronger teams. A power paired system ensures the most balanced debates in the later rounds. You claim that the changes proposed by joe turn varsity state into every other tournament, but you give no reasons for why that would be a bad thing.

 

The exploitation of high v. low seeds already happens. About any time a Groves or DCD team walks into a round there is a chance of bias, no offense at all to those schools, it is a testament to their success. That is a large reason why having directors judge would ease that possibility for bias. I'd much rather see a Bassett/Smith panel in a round rather than 2 college kids who've been judging for a couple years in those rounds. Rounds between balanced skill teams already occurs in the tertile system, while in a random draw following power pair merely does the same thing. Add to the fact that under a random draw, a weaker team with a "lucky" random draw can still meet up with that top tier team in round 3, then with only one judge, and possibly an inexperienced one, that team might slide with a high seed into the next round as well. You gain no educational value from that. You say that there would be more balanced matchups in the later rounds, but why does it matter if the balanced matches come early or late in the debate?

 

Explain how the tertile system, or Orion's magic number system of last year, could be exploited by coaches? Cuz if there was a way, I've never found it, and believe me I'd have tried!! lol..

 

 

The high costs at the state finals tournament dont necessarily stop teams from coming to the finals tournament, because of the prestige, however it does prevent teams from going to other tournaments. If a team spends an extra $500 on MIFA finals that could be eliminated, that's $500 that they cant spend on other tournaments

 

You asked why making state tournament like any other would be bad, but you answer my question above. "Because of prestige." While yes, I understand that you might lose out on another tournament, but taking a full day off wil likely kill prelim rounds, making the tournament shorter and taking away a full day of prep. I thought you touted educational value above, but now you're down with taking away days of real education. 2 years ago, while at State, my kids came to me and said, "Geez Craig, we've done more work tonight than the entire year." THAT's the prestige and educational value of state tournament at work. (Now if I could only get them to work half that hard throughout the year! lol..)

 

I still contend that the format isn't broken. Costs can be cut, but the tournament itself is a great and wonderful thing that shouldn't be wholesale changed without great reasons to do so. Cost can be addressed elsewhere, (changing venue). But shaving an entire day kills education worse than any tertile or magic number system that have not been fully indicted.

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I've suggested 3 changes that haven't been disputed here -

 

-The Congress simulation event in September should become revenue neutral or be eliminated.

 

-The Novice State tournament should become one weekend long instead of two (and fees should be increased to offset lost revenue).

 

-The MIFA should rely more on electronic communication and printing rather than photocopying.

 

 

There are a few changes in the Varsity state tournament that I suggest that are in dispute.

 

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1. Make the tournament shorter.

--

Currently, we get 6 rounds and 3 prelims done in a very inefficient way. We stay in a hotel Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. There are two factors contributing to the length of the tournament:

a. The seeding meeting on Wednesday.

b. The non-simultaneous pairing of rounds throughout the tournament.

 

I suggest eliminating the seeding process because power-pairing is just as fair. But, if we must seed the tournament, I suggest that seeding be handled either through a formula or by a meeting over the phone.

 

Rounds are not paired simultaneously for two reasons:

a. Hotels don't have enough rooms for us to have all of our rounds occur simultaneously.

b. We do not have enough judges to cover the extra rounds in the double-paneled fashion that we do right now.

 

I think all here agree the tournament should not be hosted in a hotel, so that teams can stay in economy hotels for the tournament. Tournament stays at the state tournament are in the 80-90 dollar range, which is more than most hotels.

 

There are a few different ways to structure the tournament after getting rid of the above factors.

3 rounds Friday, 3 prelims Saturday, 3 elims Saturday.

A more realistic schedule, given that a bye-round must fit somewhere would be:

2 rounds Thursday, 4 rounds Saturday (and a bye round), 3 elims Saturday.

 

In the first, super-condensed schedule, 2 hotel nights have been shaved off , in the other, only 1 hotel night has been shaved off. These changes would mean about $600 or $300 would be saved for a small school. (And more money would be saved for larger schools.) Hotel costs are the largest cost for tournaments, so this means that a school can perhaps afford an additional tournament. With the money saved from novice prelims, that is yet another tournament.

 

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2. Single-panel the judges.

--

 

I suggest that we single-panel rounds so that power-pairing is possible and also so that the additional rounds can be judged. Hiring out 12 or so judges for the tournament would be an expense that the MIFA cannot afford right now. Double paneling is bad because it increases the likelihood that you will have your least favorite judges judging you and also because it can lead to judge panels that have conflicting paradigms. Additionally, to get 12 more judges at the tournament to fill out the double panels would require getting some judges from out of the woodwork or off the street. Single paneling with judge strikes ensures the quality of the judge pool. Single paneling is acceptable for nearly all invitationals and championships.

 

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3. Create one division.

--

 

Multiple divisions means more trophies (cost). This is ultimately an issue of whether the community feels that the additional costs for 2 additional sets of trophies is a worthy expenditure of money.

 

 

 

After these changes have been made, I'd suggest that the MIFA could raise fees by $100 per school for the state tournament, generating a couple grand for the MIFA so that MIFA can eventually get out of its debt.

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I've suggested 3 changes that haven't been disputed here -

-The Novice State tournament should become one weekend long instead of two (and fees should be increased to offset lost revenue).

 

I've been ridonkulously busy the last several weeks so haven't participated as much in this discussion, but wanted to throw in one small useful tidbit. The Debate Committee is currently discussing the issue of eliminating Novice Prelims, it seems likely to me that this will become an official recommendation so long as we can determine how the event would work logistically. My personal suggestion is to have it all on the weekend of the Novice Finals event, but not change the schedule at all (just have everybody come to one 5-prelim, 3-elim event). Requires more rooms, and does require an overnight stay for schools that would have gone to Prelims but not made Finals. Still it also gives all schools 5 guaranteed rounds against a healthy-sized field. I also think it might provide some incentive for more schools to bring along debaters to the MSU Varsity/JV event that happens concurrently.

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There are a few changes in the Varsity state tournament that I suggest that are in dispute.

 

--

1. Make the tournament shorter.

--

Currently, we get 6 rounds and 3 prelims done in a very inefficient way. We stay in a hotel Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. There are two factors contributing to the length of the tournament:

a. The seeding meeting on Wednesday.

b. The non-simultaneous pairing of rounds throughout the tournament.

 

I suggest eliminating the seeding process because power-pairing is just as fair. But, if we must seed the tournament, I suggest that seeding be handled either through a formula or by a meeting over the phone.

 

I'm sure every team has claimed to have had an 'unlucky draw' while seeding reduces this greatly. Elims are still power paired. I would be quite impressed with a tele/video conference for the seeding committee, as I myself have never attended one. Once again, the seeding of teams looks to me as a system that isn't broken.

 

Rounds are not paired simultaneously for two reasons:

a. Hotels don't have enough rooms for us to have all of our rounds occur simultaneously.

b. We do not have enough judges to cover the extra rounds in the double-paneled fashion that we do right now.

 

I'm not sure I understand exactly how there are more judges needed for power pairings. The same amount of rounds go on at the same time in either format, isn't that right? Ohhh, nm, you mean div I, II, III.. ok.

 

 

There are a few different ways to structure the tournament after getting rid of the above factors.

3 rounds Friday, 3 prelims Saturday, 3 elims Saturday.

A more realistic schedule, given that a bye-round must fit somewhere would be:

2 rounds Thursday, 4 rounds Saturday (and a bye round), 3 elims Saturday.

 

In the first, super-condensed schedule, 2 hotel nights have been shaved off , in the other, only 1 hotel night has been shaved off. These changes would mean about $600 or $300 would be saved for a small school. (And more money would be saved for larger schools.) Hotel costs are the largest cost for tournaments, so this means that a school can perhaps afford an additional tournament. With the money saved from novice prelims, that is yet another tournament.

 

The FIRST one is super condensed? All I see in this second example are 7 rounds straight of debate. That's what, about 10 1/2 hours of debating not including lunch/dinner and various prepping? Seems like a marathon.

 

--

2. Single-panel the judges.

--

 

I suggest that we single-panel rounds so that power-pairing is possible and also so that the additional rounds can be judged. Hiring out 12 or so judges for the tournament would be an expense that the MIFA cannot afford right now. Double paneling is bad because it increases the likelihood that you will have your least favorite judges judging you and also because it can lead to judge panels that have conflicting paradigms. Additionally, to get 12 more judges at the tournament to fill out the double panels would require getting some judges from out of the woodwork or off the street. Single paneling with judge strikes ensures the quality of the judge pool. Single paneling is acceptable for nearly all invitationals and championships.

 

By single paneling you not only are shortening the duration of the tournament by a day, but you are additionally cutting the tournament in half. Double paneling is good because you SHOULD have to debate for people with conflicting paradigms every so often. It increases the usefulness of coaching to decide whether or not to go after both of the judges ballots or proverbially "steal" one from a higher seeded team by catering to one judge. Additionally it is more often than not that judges with conflicting paradigms vote the same way in these rounds, if the debaters are good, they're just good. I don't think there is quite as bad a shortage of judges who could "come out of the woodwork" for a state tournament. If approached early, I think it can be found. What's acceptable in other invitationals is not the same as this tournament as it is supposed to hold prestige and be "special."

--

3. Create one division.

--

 

Multiple divisions means more trophies (cost). This is ultimately an issue of whether the community feels that the additional costs for 2 additional sets of trophies is a worthy expenditure of money.

 

 

 

After these changes have been made, I'd suggest that the MIFA could raise fees by $100 per school for the state tournament, generating a couple grand for the MIFA so that MIFA can eventually get out of its debt.

 

Interesting. While it would solve problems, the main ones it would solve from cost would be from so many smaller schools dropping out of the programs entirely. Gawd, the tournament would be even more of a plethora of crying debaters after they got crushed in a round.. Do we really want that? Perhaps 2 divisions, but one would be too tough.

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I myself have never attended one. Once again, the seeding of teams looks to me as a system that isn't broken.

 

I can only speak to the D1 committee meetings, of which I’ve attended a couple. It’s not “broken” per se, it’s just silly and unnecessary. The seeding of teams after the top four or so is pretty much a crapshoot. There’s a large gulf between the top few and last few but everything in the middle is pretty much just thrown in. I don’t think that this system creates that much more equity, if any. Even if you think there is some negligible amount of increased draw fairness I think that it pales in comparison to the extra day of expense. And for the record, the system can be “gamed” a bit. You can ensure that you don’t hit certain groups of teams if you seed correctly. Trust me, I’ve done it.

 

All I see in this second example are 7 rounds straight of debate.

 

Again, it’s a trade-off issue. Currently the tournament is financially prohibitive for many programs. I think that allowing the opportunity for more students and programs to compete is more important than you having a really laid back week. It would be a more intense schedule, perhaps, but lots of teams debate similar schedules at Harvard or Glenbrooks.

 

Double paneling is good because you SHOULD have to debate for people with conflicting paradigms every so often.

 

Not in the same round! This is just ridicules. I agree that having to adapt periodically is good, but the double paneling at the state tournament often results in rounds where a team simply can not win both ballets. They end up having to choose between someone who will only vote on defensive inherency args or judge 2 who only votes on off-case offense. There is ZERO educational or strategic benefit to this situation.

 

 

I don't think there is quite as bad a shortage of judges who could "come out of the woodwork" for a state tournament. If approached early, I think it can be found.

 

Sounds like you’re volunteering to find them and pay them. Cool. Sounds like a deal. One other thing, remember they have to be MIFA certified. Because that ensures a quality pool.

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Can you explain what your stance on this is? You say that you are really debating 12 rounds, except you are stuck debating two different rounds at the same time. I cant tell if you are being sarcastic with your last sentence, do you really have a proposal for this situation? Do you like the SQ?

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