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A Giant Thread About Michigan Debate, etc.

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A thread of interest to discussants here can be found on the "Respecting the Elders: Coaching" sub-forum called "Are you a puppet of JW?"

 

Michigan is not the only state with concerns about the viability of policy debate.

Just as an FYI, the thread to which Chris refers has be re-titled, at my request. It is now called "Do TOC Bids Unduly Influence Schedule-Making?" and can be found here...

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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.

 

Riddle me this, you don't have to name names, but gee, I haven't seen the judge who'll only vote on defensive inherency arguments. Would you let me know so I'll make sure never to strike him/her? I mean, since I'm defending the SQ right now, I guess that judge would be ok with me..lol.

 

Oh, and which judge does NOT vote on off-case offense? I mean, some things are just universal. Some judges won't vote on a kritik, some won't vote on a conditional counterplan (not many). But I think just about everyone will vote on a decent case specific d/a. I think just about anyone will vote on solvency turns. You're presenting a situation where judges are SO diverse, that there is NO way that they could possibly vote on the same issue. That's a big time fallacy.

 

 

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.

 

Let's not open up the MIFA certified can of worms.. However, that's why rounds are staggered, so we have enough judges for all the divisions. Having judges from different divisions that aren't seen as often by the larger schools increases Ed value. Even better when the judges are directors who've been around a long time rather than college students that have biases that are much stronger.

 

Chris brings up a good point though. Often the tournament runs behind or takes longer because of the amount of coaching before rounds. While I'm not one to discourage coaching whatsoever (state is one of those times I actually feel useful!) there is a LOT of prepping before rounds that is seldom strictly enforced.

 

5 prelims with 2 judges and more strict time frames to start rounds, wouldn't THAT allow us to drop a day off the tournament and still preserve some element of differentiation for State as opposed to other invitationals?

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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.

 

A small note here: gaming the system was not possible at the 2007 tournament, because all three divisions utilized the computer-generated scheduling program that I wrote. This program is designed to create a preset schedule with a high degree of balance, without using Fitz's canned pairings. It was released at the beginning of the tournament to all coaches, which we hoped would have the effect of making the tournament run more efficiently. From observation and hearsay I submit that the dual objectives (increased fairness, increased efficiency) were both realized. Not perfectly of course, but the movement along those axes was positive.

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This is the current schedule -- 11 non-simultaneous prelim debates and 3 elim debates with the current judge selection scheme.

 

Wednesday

Tournament Committee Meeting.

 

Thursday

10 - D1R1

12:15- D1R2, D2R1

2:30 - D2R2, D3R1

4:45 - D1R3, D3R2

7 - D2R3

9:30 Debate Committee Meeting.

 

Friday

8:15 D1R4, D3R3

10:30 D2R4, D3R4

12:45 - D1R5,D2R5

3 - D1R6, D3R5

5:15 D2R6, D3R6

7:30 D2Bye, D3Bye

 

 

Saturday

8:15 Tournament Program

9:00 Pictures

10:30 Quarters

1:15 Semis

4:00 Finals

 

 

 

It seems we currently allot 2:15 for each debate. This includes the 72 or so minutes of actual speech, cross-x and prep time that each debate takes, 15 minutes of getting to the room and any pre-round coaching, any oral critique and time to pack up and get to the next debate.

 

In order to make it realistic for a team to be able to NOT spend Wednesday night in a hotel, they need to be able to drive to the tournament that day, which means starting the tournament at 3 or 4. It is possible to accomplish this by having all rounds occur simultaneously. Alternatively, it is possible to have a slightly longer schedule with only 5 rounds, double judged.

 

I'd suggest something like -

Tournament Committee Meeting eliminated or handled over e-mail or phone the weekend before the tournament.

 

Day 1

4:00 R1

6:15 R2

8:45 Debate Committee Meeting

 

Day 2

8:15 R3

10:30 R4

Lunch

1:30 R5

3:45 R6

Dinner

6:45 Bye Round

 

Day 3

8:15 Debate Tournament Program

9:00 Pictures

10:15 Quarters (If pictures really take 1:15)

12:45 Semis

3:15 Finals

(Time savings on day 3 come from using computer MPJ instead of hand-striked MPJ)

 

I'd also suggest that the tournament become Friday-Saturday-Sunday so that one less day of work / school is missed.

 

 

There are some benefits to a system with 6 rounds, single judged -

1. Costs. Suppose that there are 36 teams, with 3 divisions of 12. Then, it will require 24 judges to double-panel judge them staggered but 18 judges to single judge them simultaneously. 6 judges x 6 rounds x $25 / round = $900 (I'm not sure if gas/lodging is included in the new $25/round compensation or not...) (If there is a switch to a 5 round format, that figure becomes $750.)

2. Costs. Any additional reasons are really unnecessary, because MIFA is so far in debt that $900 annually is pretty significant.

3. Side equalization. If the judge pool or resolution is, say, aff-biased, then the teams with more aff rounds will have an unfair advantage.

4. Fewer ``unpreferred'' judges. Suppose that of the 44 judges listed as tentative judges, you would prefer not to hear 4 of them, then in 6 single judged rounds, you have a 46% chance of getting one or more of them, but in 6 double-judged rounds, there's a 73% chance of getting one or more of them.

5. No ``split'' panels. Brad does exaggerate, but there are occasions when two judges will be assigned to one round and have differing opinions about speed, critiques, the threshold for Topicality, the propensity to vote on theory arguments, strict line by line versus a synthesizer etc. It is somewhat annoying to have to debate within the constraints imposed by both people instead of just adhering to one paradigm.

6. RE: College judges.

a. You are selecting judges from (essentially - the double paneled one will just be bigger) the same pool, so the likelihood of getting college judges is the same.

b. Judges need to be MIFA certified, so... college students or not, they are competent.

c. I haven't had a problem with a college judge being bias because they were in college.

d. Judge strikes take care of any judges that are undesirable. Strikes work best with a more lax judge pool that single paneling offers.

 

 

 

 

I'll second the suggestion about reducing trophy costs. There's got to be a way to find cheaper trophies or negotiate a better price. Does anyone know what price we are paying right now for each of the debate awards? I did a quick search and found a couple that were okay in the $50-75/trophy price range.

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I would like to remind all the people reading this thread that MIFA is considerably larger then many debaters realize. The program runs two large middle school IE tournaments a year, has a three tier IE state finals run for two divisions, is in charge of the policy debate and congressional debate in the state and also works with theatrics and poetry. I am in no position to speak to actual numbers, but want to remind everyone that MIFA, in its current set up, is responsible for hundreds of trophies all across the state. Regardless of the cost of the trophies tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands will continue to be spent by this massive public speaking association. I can think of only four possible solutions to this, and not all of them are good ideas:

1. Significantly reduce the price of trophies (start giving away whatever can be bought at the dollar store)

2. Significantly reduce the number of trophies given away (only the champion gets a trophy, certificates to everyone else)

3. Make the contestants buy their trophies (Congrats, you've won, but you'll need to pay $45 to get a trophy)

4. Have debate break off from MIFA (This would reduce the amount of money spent on trophies by the organization, but might not decrease the overall costs of competing)

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There are some benefits to a system with 6 rounds, single judged -

1. Costs. Suppose that there are 36 teams, with 3 divisions of 12. Then, it will require 24 judges to double-panel judge them staggered but 18 judges to single judge them simultaneously. 6 judges x 6 rounds x $25 / round = $900 (I'm not sure if gas/lodging is included in the new $25/round compensation or not...) (If there is a switch to a 5 round format, that figure becomes $750.)

2. Costs. Any additional reasons are really unnecessary, because MIFA is so far in debt that $900 annually is pretty significant..

 

Yes, having only 1 judge has a cost advantage. I'm sure everyone concedes that.

 

3. Side equalization. If the judge pool or resolution is, say, aff-biased, then the teams with more aff rounds will have an unfair advantage.

 

The advantage here is negligible, especially since most other invitationals in state operate this way. A coin toss is not "unfair" it's just unpredictible.

 

4. Fewer ``unpreferred'' judges. Suppose that of the 44 judges listed as tentative judges, you would prefer not to hear 4 of them, then in 6 single judged rounds, you have a 46% chance of getting one or more of them, but in 6 double-judged rounds, there's a 73% chance of getting one or more of them.

 

Now this is where it becomes more unfair. You have a 46% chance of getting a 100% unpreferred judge, while in the double paneling scenario you have a 73% chance of getting "1" of the two to be unpreferred. I'd much rather split ballots in a round than take a straight out loss. With the double paneling the effect of having an unpreferred judge are mitigated by half.

 

5. No ``split'' panels. Brad does exaggerate, but there are occasions when two judges will be assigned to one round and have differing opinions about speed, critiques, the threshold for Topicality, the propensity to vote on theory arguments, strict line by line versus a synthesizer etc. It is somewhat annoying to have to debate within the constraints imposed by both people instead of just adhering to one paradigm.

You're adhering to constraints with one judge OR 2 judges. The fact that there's two makes it much more interesting to say the least. The debater then has to adapt to BOTH people, which is better IMHO. If you look at debate as a policy to be adopted, those in power DO have to adapt to what the most people want, and if you look at it as a courtroom with the SQ on trial, even then one would have to adapt to the diverse opinions of a jury. Being able to pick up both ballots SHOULD be something more difficult to do, and thus it SHOULD be a greater reward. If one judge is so much better, then why in the world do we have 3 judge panels in elims?

6. RE: College judges.

a. You are selecting judges from (essentially - the double paneled one will just be bigger) the same pool, so the likelihood of getting college judges is the same

b. Judges need to be MIFA certified, so... college students or not, they are competent.

Fair enough

c. I haven't had a problem with a college judge being bias because they were in college..

 

It's not "because they are in college" it's an objectivity/experience issue. See the thread under judging "Good Debaters = Good Judges?"

d. Judge strikes take care of any judges that are undesirable. Strikes work best with a more lax judge pool that single paneling offers.

 

Most of the time that's true, I'd definitely be more interested in knowing about your "computer striking system" as I'm not familiar with it. I do still contend though that more judges = better adaptation skills needed = better debaters.

 

 

 

And I'm down with reducing trophy costs. Hell, just make 'em all traveling trophies and make sure you get a lotta pictures with 'em.

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Joe might argue that a coin toss is predictable, because tails never fails.

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* $900 -- I just wanted to make sure that this figure was clear, because, it is somewhat significant, given that MIFA is in debt by something like 70,000. There are advantages and disadvantages to having two judges, but I don't think that the advantages are worth $900.

 

* I recalculated the numbers.... it's a wash. For 2 undesirable judges out of 12, if my numbers are right, there's only a 30% chance, but the expected value of undesirable judges is about 1.08 -- all things considered, you should expect that you'll see 1.08 undesirable judges out of 12. On the other hand, the expected value for 6 judges would be about .54 (1/2 of 1.08) undesirable judges.

 

*RE: Side equalization.

You say that 5 rounds with a coin flip is fair because it is used by other tournaments. Single paneling is also used by other tournaments...

 

*RE: Strikes. You're given a sheet of all the judges and you strike certain judges that you don't want. Then when the computer goes to assign your round, it will look to assign only the judges that fit. It becomes more difficult to offer strikes when you will end up seeing 12 of the 24 judges... instead of 6 of the 18 judges. When you go to pair later rounds, you have to exclude any judges on either team's strike sheet and also any judge who has previously judged either team (and you can't assign a team their coach as the judge). Double paneling, you will just have too many preclusions by the last round, that you can't honor additional strikes. Single paneling increases the number of ``unused'' judges, and allows a few of them to be struck.

 

I also suggest that computer MPJ be used for elim day. Right now, we sit down and strike away judges one at a time until we get to a panel that both teams agree with. The panel is ``mutually preferred'' by both schools. The current system is slow. It also doesn't leave much choice for the last school in the last debate that goes in to pick their judges. If a computer were used, you would rank your judges 1 to 6. The computer would try to find as many 1-1 judge matches, then fill in the rest with 1-2, then 2-2 and so on matchings. The big advantage would be that it would save time. It would also be slightly fairer. For more information on MPJ: http://commweb.fullerton.edu/jbruschke/Web/how%20to%20tab%20text.doc

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I guess I think it's worth the $900. I just don't want to see Varsity State be just like every other tourney. You should save more than enough to provide a positive cash flow by not holding it at a hotel and shaving off the day and goin budget on trophies. You don't need to make up the 70 grand in one or two or five years. So long as there's positive flow, you can set up payments. I'm not against change, but the wholesale change of everything seems like it would kill prestige. I like coming home and saying, "We went 9-3" instead of saying "We went 3-2 with high enough speaks to break." One of those is only said at one tournament, while the latter is said everywhere.

 

Strikes: Double paneling preclusions didn't seem to be a large issue during breaks last year. We seemed to be doing a good amount of strikes even though we had gone through 6 double paneled rounds.

 

I think though we're at an impasse, but hopefully the discussion regarding the double paneling was fruitful to people.

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Strikes: Double paneling preclusions didn't seem to be a large issue during breaks last year. We seemed to be doing a good amount of strikes even though we had gone through 6 double paneled rounds.

 

Minor correction: judges that saw your team in prelim rounds weren't precluded from seeing them again during elims. Unless I'm confused and that's not what you're talking about.

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Minor issue in response to single vs. double pannelling. My experience was that especially for small teams with limited scouting was that part of the issue with double panelling isn't just differing judge opinions, it's that many judges have a hard time articulating what they're looking for. When we talk about college judges vs. mifa judges i always felt college judges were just as good because even if they are biased or inexperienced they know how to tell me what not to argue. Older judges sometimes seemingly speak a different language. In the case of double panelled rounds this can be more pronounced where rather than hedging your bets and going ultra conservative, you might try to run something that's a bit more borderline to try to get both ballots.

 

I also think the idea that MIFA should be "more fair" seems a bit off base. Having to make more strategic decisions (IE: should we go for both ballots or just one) seems to make winning the state tournament about more than debating. If we really want to crown a champion of high school debate then shouldn't states be exactly like what we do during the regular season? They don't add a 4 point line in the final 4 and i don't see why you would add a new skill set at states.

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I've always disliked double paneling because it is unsatisfying to have a round where no one wins. In Craig's language, a team can go 9-3. I don't think that's a good way to describe their outcome. That makes it sound like they won nine rounds and lost three, when in fact they went 4-1-1. If I had a vote, I'd cast it for running States like a normal debate tournament. But, that's just me.

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Just an example... maybe add a little to the single vrs double panelling discussion. Its some information from a couple of my ballots at states this past year. I'm from Northview in division two.

 

In one of the rounds, Judge A put "Rank_1" and "Total_29". Judge B put "Rank_4" and Total_27". After reading through the ballots, I found this to be extremely frustrating. The judge who ranked me higher seemed to be coming from a less conservative viewpoint, and, to be honest, seemed to have more content-filled comments concerning how I could have better spoke during the round. Judge B, however, seemed to comment much more on technical concerns (such as "you need to follow the flow of neg arguments you were all over the flow"). Prior to the round, my partner and I understood that we were dealing with a potentially split panel, but I had no idea the disparity between their comments would be so wide. Had it been just one judge, we could have played specifically to that judge and ensured a win. Instead, my partner and I had to basically win one at the sacrifice of the other. I'm not trying to say that the conservative judge was bad, or that what he said was wrong about my speeches. To the contrary, he was probably right. At the same time, I was debating in a style that he didnt prefer. I don't think there's anything wrong with adapting to judges. However, it seems to me that at the point where the difference between one judge and the next is so large, it doesn't seem fair/educational/effective to risk these almost inevitably split panels.

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Tylor: At State all the paradigms are posted and for the most part are pretty detailed. This shouldn't be much of an issue.

 

Dan: Making State tournament "like every other tournament" is exactly what someone like myself wants to avoid. If it's "like every other tournament" then why is winning at State more important than winning at, let's say Groves or winning at Wayne State? Since we're talking about taking the hotel away and shaving a day off the schedule, SOMEthing in my opinion needs to be preserved to make the tournament unique.

 

A. Janke: Odds are, the paradigms weren't THAT different. It seems from what you're saying that one judge simply wanted better line-by-line. That doesn't preclude you from running what you want. Some things are universally voted on. I contend that you can pick any two judges in this state, put them in a room, and there will ALWAYS be SOMEthing that they'll both vote on. It's your job as a debater and mine as a coach to find out those commonalities. That's why all paradigms are posted at State.

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Making State tournament "like every other tournament" is exactly what someone like myself wants to avoid. If it's "like every other tournament" then why is winning at State more important than winning at, let's say Groves or winning at Wayne State? Since we're talking about taking the hotel away and shaving a day off the schedule, SOMEthing in my opinion needs to be preserved to make the tournament unique.

 

1. Cost efficiency is more important than being unique. It's a question of weighing impacts - a cheaper tournament a) relieves stress, B) allows for more investment in other things like other tournaments and/or better coaching, c) arguably, helps combat the decreasing number of debate programs in the state. On the other hand, being unique just makes the tournament unique. That really means very little in terms of measurable benefits.

 

2. Being unique is solved by things besides double-panelling and managing the tournament in a hotel (in other words, use one judge with strike sheets and run the tournament in a high school to save money). The tournament is unique by the very LABEL of being the state, MIFA sanctioned tournament. It doesn't need to hold a special value in people's hearts about *oh so important* double-panelling. As long as people are winning the state tournament, it will be more important than other tournaments because it is the only OFFICIAL state tournament.

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i agree with ggamer

we dont need to hold onto parts of the tournament that are expensive, undesirable for good debates, etc. just because its the "state tourny" and being different just to be different is not a good reason for these differences

 

people are comparing "winning at State vs winning at Groves" based on differences in the tournaments. there's a reason that most of the big tournaments do many of the same things (held at high schools, mpj, etc) and it's because they work and promote better debates/debaters

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If fairness and difficulty of adaptation considerations weigh against 2-person prelim panels compared with 1-person prelim panels, don't those arguments apply to 3-person elim panels? I understand there are other arguments in play such as cost considerations and judge availability. And clearly we don't use 2 people in elims because someone has to get the W. In prelims however that's not a requirement; your record will build up with two judges as each round finishes.

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At State all the paradigms are posted and for the most part are pretty detailed. This shouldn't be much of an issue.

 

The following are two paradigms directly off of the MIFA site. They're not abrevieated, they are posted in their entirety.

 

Number one: "I prefer to judge interscholastic debates using the policy paradigm. I believe stock issues at this level (high school) are important to maintaining consistency and fairness for high school debaters."

 

Number Two: "Stock Issues. Speed Kills. Road maps are timed. No tag team C-X or coaching.

Critiques, conditional counterplans, and decision rules are silly, but I judge on what is presented by both sides."

 

Sweet. 8 min. of inherency in the 1nc? Seriosly. I really hope there isn't a round with one of these people and me because it'd either be a split decision or i'm likely to kill myself.

 

Making State tournament "like every other tournament" is exactly what someone like myself wants to avoid. If it's "like every other tournament" then why is winning at State more important than winning at, let's say Groves or winning at Wayne State? Since we're talking about taking the hotel away and shaving a day off the schedule, SOMEthing in my opinion needs to be preserved to make the tournament unique.

 

I actually agree that that the State tournament should be unique. I judged for Wayne Tang one year at the Illinois State finals and it was, in fact, just like every other tournement. It didn't feel special at all. But I think that one of the biggest things that makes the MI tournament special is the fact that schools debate AS A SCHOOL as opposed to debated as multiple teams. This is pretty huge, and frankly makes a lot more sense then double panneling. So far, your only argument in favor of double panneling is that it's unique. Well I think that given that it's also stupid, expensive, and degrades the judging pool options, we should look to other things to make the tourny unique that don't have these types of disads.

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people are comparing "winning at State vs winning at Groves" based on differences in the tournaments. there's a reason that most of the big tournaments do many of the same things (held at high schools, mpj, etc) and it's because they work and promote better debates/debaters

 

I have to disagree with your assumption there. There's opportunity for you to be right too, but I suggest that standardization brings crowds. One factor driving attendance at large national tournaments is the ability to predict and strategize around the format; in other words one does not have to undergo special preparations. It's possible that that in turn leads to more focus on having better debates inside that framework, but emphasis on predictability under any scenario can produce resistance to useful change. True of MIFA tournaments; also true of the national circuit.

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people are comparing "winning at State vs winning at Groves" based on differences in the tournaments. there's a reason that most of the big tournaments do many of the same things (held at high schools, mpj, etc) and it's because they work and promote better debates/debaters

 

In fact I am going to take my response to this one step further, as part of a theory I have held for awhile now about a major reason for falling participation in debate. Bear with me everybody; my position is that too much fairness is bad for debate.

 

Why Fairness Sounds Good

 

At the micro-level, fairness is very desirable. It feels downright bad to lose because the judge has a bias against your position. Many have claimed and will continue to claim that fairness it the key to participation. The argument goes that, if people cannot have expectations that debate X will produce vote Y, they will leave the activity because it is not rewarding to improve their skills or positions. Fairness is also key to education, it is said, because our drive to research comes from the desire to win using that research.

 

Grant all of the above

 

I will agree that fairness is key to both participation and education. My claim is however that, as the level of fairness rises, the set of people that these impacts apply to will diminish. I say this because I believe that fairness is the key to recognition of competitive advantage. In a perfectly fair world, it is possible to get almost infinitely better at the activity, and become completely untouchable because you'll never be voted against unfairly. I think that, due to the standardization of several innovations designed to significantly increase the fairness of rounds and tournaments, the "good/bad" gap (sort of like the "rich/poor" gap) is growing larger between beginning/low-dedication programs and top national teams. I think Tim Alderete was saying something similar when he said that debate is "hegemonic," and that it will eventually consume itself. I think that extreme fairness has a tendency to power elitism within the activity. And this isn't even saying that those at the top don't benefit; there are some incredible debaters out there that were vaulted into the stratosphere of their own capabilities by participating at the highest levels of debate competition. I don't think however that the significant benefits for them outweigh the detriment to large numbers that are turned off by the difficulty level. I think that extreme fairness gives many rewarding experiences to those debaters and programs at the top of the competitive spectrum, but that it makes the steep debate learning curve into a psychological brick wall for kids without access to top-notch coaches.

 

I will even admit that I love trying to push kids to the top - it's very gratifying when I am able to teach them how to enter that very selective arena. I am a part of this problem. This is a more meta-level recognition that my own glee in trying to produce the best debaters could be harmful to the larger goal of maximizing debate's benefits to society.

 

A very simple example: Speed

 

Debate has become faster, no one disputes that. I don't think that speed is even the most compelling example, it's just easy to witness. I think that speed in debate represents a way to take advantage of rules, and that complaints about judges that "can't handle speed" derive from a feeling that, if the rules don't explicitly forbid a behavior, it is a fair method of gaining competitive advantage to engage in that behavior. And some kids do turn away if they just can't keep up with the really fast debaters.

 

Why do people debate, anyway?

 

I think that one of the reasons that kids debate is competition and the promise of winning through work. I have no problems with this whatsoever. However what I think has happened is that the definition of what constitutes debate has gotten significantly more complex and difficult as a result of it being defined by those who are at the top of the activity. Because excessive fairness expands the gap between the top and the bottom, it makes the activity less accessible.

 

Is the solution to have judge biases everywhere, and terrible novices beating Stephen Weil?

 

I don't know if I have a workable solution. I think that even if we reversed several of the last 20 years' fairness-oriented changes, they would come back in another form because it's so hard to argue against individual instances of fairness promotion. That said, many debaters in a less-fair world would still be easily recognizable as brilliant and successful, and many would be bad (i.e. Stephen Weil would still be very good). I think that adaptation skills represent an interesting intermediary between a completely fair debate world recognizing skill advancement and a more accessible but more random world of less-qualified judging.

 

An interesting case example is the Nevada debate circuit. Alderete has told me about tournaments there where all the (qualified to judge) coaches work in the tab room, and every debate is judged by parents. Tournaments are short in length and involve kids in multiple events during one day. There are no superstars coming from this scenario that could use those skills to dominate the national circuit. My mouth was agape in horror while he described all this, but I was staring for a different reason when he told me that there are many hundreds of kids at every tournament, every weekend.

 

Generally I think that if debate were less fair, more emphasis would be placed on teaching kids skills that directly transfer out of the activity. Many old-timers (older than I, usually) bemoan the loss of communication and rhetoric skills within the policy activity, and there's probably something to that when those skills don't usually map directly onto wins. And it's impossible to gut the competitive element completely - I think that basically everyone would still benefit from trying to better themselves if debate were less fair.

 

Why this is relevant to this discussion

 

To be honest this post is only somewhat related to discussions of how to change the State tournament. It is more an engagement of a meta-discussion, which is reflected also in the coaches' forum when they discuss whether the TOC is good for debate. I'm sorry to jump on a particular post as a launching point, I'm not picking on anyone in particular. I think that something similar to my argument was behind the creation of the Public Forum activity. I worry that in the pure policy realm we may be evolving ourselves out of existence as a community, if fairness and ensuring that better teams always win is our priority.

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I'm sorry to jump on a particular post as a launching point, I'm not picking on anyone in particular.

 

Out of all the people pickin on me for being pro-double paneling, I didn't view ya as one of 'em.

 

No, I'm not taking any offense for all the messages refuting me, but I refuse to believe I'm the only one in the community that's for double panels. Unfortunately they probably aren't all using Cross-X.

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Out of all the people pickin on me for being pro-double paneling, I didn't view ya as one of 'em.

 

No, I'm not taking any offense for all the messages refuting me, but I refuse to believe I'm the only one in the community that's for double panels. Unfortunately they probably aren't all using Cross-X.

See the (just edited) beginning of my post, I don't come down squarely on the single-judge side. I do think adapting to two judges is cool, though I recognize that it may not be an economic option. I would also characterize the one judge movement as partly motivated by a drive for fairness; see above for my reflections on that.

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A. Janke: Odds are, the paradigms weren't THAT different. It seems from what you're saying that one judge simply wanted better line-by-line. That doesn't preclude you from running what you want. Some things are universally voted on. I contend that you can pick any two judges in this state, put them in a room, and there will ALWAYS be SOMEthing that they'll both vote on. It's your job as a debater and mine as a coach to find out those commonalities. That's why all paradigms are posted at State.

 

I'm only commenting on the large difference between what the two judges perceived, even while coming from two paradigms that werent all that different. I'm just drawing attention to the frustration I have from not having a third judge to break the tie and help give a more accurate evaluation of what happened during the round. From reading the discussion, I agree that if double-pairings in preliminary rounds are bad, its only because the judging pool isnt large enough to make everyone happy with the judges they debate for. My frustration more stems from individual judges then the system. I agree: its a debaters job to play to the judges. I guess I just don't have much faith in the judging pool.

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It it's "like every other tournament" then why is winning at State more important than winning at, let's say Groves or winning at Wayne State? Since we're talking about taking the hotel away and shaving a day off the schedule, SOMEthing in my opinion needs to be preserved to make the tournament unique.

 

For the same reason that winning the Superbowl is more meaningful than winning a regular season game despite the sameness of the execution of the games. One is a State Championship, the other is not.

 

The fact that one competes as a member of a squad and not a memeber of a team at the tournament seems to ensure that it will be unique even if it is executed like a traditional tournament in all other ways.

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Question: The original intent of 2 judge preliminary panels was to avoid the risk of having a third just 'mail in' their decision. Elimination rounds initially had 5 judge panels, later dropped to three. Apparently it is assumed that the quality of judges goes up then, as does interest in each round, and thus the risk of the odd (numbers 3 and 5) judges being incompetent, apathetic and narcoleptic is sufficienly diminished, allowing for odd numbered elimination panels. The original intent was NOT to force attempted simultaneous adaptation to conflicting paradigms/philosphies/styles. What is the CURRENT intent of the two judge panels?

 

Intent I'm not so sure of. Here are two additional beneficial effects that I percieve however:

 

1) More judges = more data, a bigger statistical sample size. This could of course be logically extended beyond two judge panels (why not 16 judge panels?) but doubling does give a lot of valuable feedback to the tab room. And yes, it's fair to say that this is modulated by the effects of adaptation issues. Maybe it's even difficult to compare this directly with something like one judge panels + MPJ.

 

2) I think it's good for more debaters to have the experience of multiple-judge debates. It would be unfair of me to say that two-judge prelims at States are like full elim rounds, there are many differences. But there are also notable similarities. Having more of an audience makes debaters try to consider what the "crowd" thinks of their arguments, useful when one is trying to persuade a real-life audience outside the activity. There is undeniably a greater chance for social interaction when more judges are added, interaction that becomes a subtle part of the debate itself if the kids are paying attention. And while there aren't immediate oral disclosures at States, getting multiple perspectives on the same debate can give kids a more thorough opportunity to reflect. There are many teams present at the State tournament each year that will see no other opportunity to be judged by more than one person per round, to put it kindly.

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