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Hello all,

 

Recently, I have become increasing concerned about the lack of adequate disclosure by teams at TFA tournaments, or by teams playing "disclosure games". This is a discussion that I believe has been hashed out on the national circuit thoroughly within the last several years both on Cross-X.com and the CX-L but much of this hasn't been done on a local or regional level.

 

First of all, it is the policy of Austin High School (Austin) to fully disclose the plan text we read in the last round; We will not disclose new changes, but will let you know that changes to the plan text will be made. Second, we will disclose our previously ran advantages to you and answer generic questions about them. We will disclose our aff whenever asked to, no exceptions. We will not disclose negative strategies.

 

***First, an important disclaimer:*** I understand it is completely utopian to expect that every school we debate against disclose to us. While I think that they should, I respect their choice. What angers me is inconsistant policies where certain teams on the squad disclose and others don't, or disclosing during prelims, but not elim rounds. Either everyone on the squad should disclose or no one should, all of the time or non of the time. It's that simple.

 

However, If you do not disclose your aff, an Austin High debater or coach will politely approach another team at the tournament to ask if they know. Trust me, we will find out. If we feel that you are playing games with us, the end product of not disclosing your aff is that we find out anyways and as an added bonus, you've just made the squad mad. I hope for your sake that the anger has diminished before an Austin High person becomes your judge in a future round.

 

If I am judging you, I will enforce disclosure to the best of my ability, including delaying the start of the round to give a team adequate time to prepare should a team decide to not disclose until I get there. In an elim round, this also goes for flipping for sides. So, for not disclosing when I am a judge, the other team still gets time to prep and you get to go home later.

Shady teams also tend to get really shady speaker points too.

 

I respect a team's right not to disclose if they are consistent about that disclosure policy. I do not have respect for schools that disclose ten seconds before the round begins so they can consider themselves one of the teams that do disclose nor do I have respect for schools that pick and choose when to disclose an Aff that they have already ran.

 

Disclosure just makes debates better. This old "suprise attack" strategy just doesn't function well in an academic forum. Big school and little schools both benefit. I am willing to answer any questions about disclosure.

 

Cheers,

Jakob Stewart

UTexas/S.F. Austin High School (Austin)

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Hello all,

 

Recently, I have become increasing concerned about the lack of adequate disclosure by teams at TFA tournaments, or by teams playing "disclosure games". This is a discussion that I believe has been hashed out on the national circuit thoroughly within the last several years both on Cross-X.com and the CX-L but much of this hasn't been done on a local or regional level.

 

First of all, it is the policy of Austin High School (Austin) to fully disclose the plan text we read in the last round; We will not disclose new changes, but will let you know that changes to the plan text will be made. Second, we will disclose our previously ran advantages to you and answer generic questions about them. We will disclose our aff whenever asked to, no exceptions. We will not disclose negative strategies.

 

Awww how nice and honorable of you

 

 

***First, an important disclaimer:*** I understand it is completely utopian to expect that every school we debate against disclose to us. While I think that they should, I respect their choice. What angers me is inconsistant policies where certain teams on the squad disclose and others don't, or disclosing during prelims, but not elim rounds. Either everyone on the squad should disclose or no one should, all of the time or non of the time. It's that simple.

 

What???? Each individual team member and and squad spends their money to travel, prepare, etc. I know I am not a dictator and will not dictate to each individual team whether they will disclose or not. Personally, I think your standard for this is utopian. My teams will disclose, but they are not required to disclose. You seem to be using revenge tactics.

 

However, If you do not disclose your aff, an Austin High debater or coach will politely approach another team at the tournament to ask if they know. Trust me, we will find out. If we feel that you are playing games with us, the end product of not disclosing your aff is that we find out anyways and as an added bonus, you've just made the squad mad. I hope for your sake that the anger has diminished before an Austin High person becomes your judge in a future round.

 

Holding grudges sounds like unethical judging to me. It's not bad to go and try to find out what they a team that is not disclosing is running, it is bad however to vote them down because of it at a later time. Games are wrong, but again unethical to vote a team because in the past they played disclosure game.

 

If I am judging you, I will enforce disclosure to the best of my ability, including delaying the start of the round to give a team adequate time to prepare should a team decide to not disclose until I get there.

 

Not your job as a judge. You can give time, but the tournament host may get a little pissed that you are holding up a round because of some personal disclosure policy. As a judge you should never force a team to disclose, it is just wrong.

 

In an elim round, this also goes for flipping for sides. So, for not disclosing when I am a judge, the other team still gets time to prep and you get to go home later.

 

And the team that does not disclose gets to go home later? Sounds like you are just such a great judge. Enforcing your disclosure paradigm on an in round decision that you then do not evaluate the round? And you are a coach? SBEC should rank your certification.

 

 

Shady teams also tend to get really shady speaker points too.

 

Again, such a great judge

 

Disclosure just makes debates better. This old "suprise attack" strategy just doesn't function well in an academic forum. Big school and little schools both benefit. I am willing to answer any questions about disclosure.

 

How about something else? Debate the round in the round and not worry about it what happens outside the round. In fact shouldn't the entire debate round be done and prepped for while it is going on instead of being prepared for and scripted for the hour in advance? Just a thought, we disclose, but not sure about the warrants on why disclosure=better debate.

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i agree with Tree.

 

 

also, i think its ok for a team to wait for the judge to get there in order to disclose. that still allows them a few minutes before the round and 8 minutes of the 1ac to prep. seeing how late all of these judges get to rounds these days, you may disclose and then the judge shows up an hour later after the other team and has prepped, gone to their coach, talked to other people, and gotten a HUGE strat together. at that point, it can become the coach and team mates debating rather than the other team, because they havent had to think of anything for them selves. their strat and answers have been fed to them. this has happened to me before, and it is quite unpleasant to wait 30-45 minutes for judge after disclosing and watch the other teams coach prep them out for that full amount of time.

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So the affirmative should allow the neg time for better args? It's not like the 11 minutes during the 1AC and prep time are not enough.

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So the affirmative should allow the neg time for better args? It's not like the 11 minutes during the 1AC and prep time are not enough.

 

Agreed completely. But I moreover agree with tree: the enforcement of personal opinion through the means of the ballot is ridiculous and as "unethical" and "shady" as the teams who don't disclose.

 

Arguements that will be made in round should be thought of in round, is my idea.

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Mr. Stewart,

 

I understand that disclosure is, at least generally, a good thing for debate. But the purpose of this thread, as per your first paragraph and the title of the thread, is to discuss the goods and bads of disclosure. It seems that your post only turns this into a place for Austin High School to threaten every team they hit. I suppose that while we're at it, every school on cross-x.com might as well post their own methods and threats to get teams to disclose. The point is that most of your post is about tactics you or your teams would use against others.

 

I have one objection to one of your reasons why disclosure is good: you say that disclosure helps the big schools as well as the small schools. But if you, as a judge, encourage and perhaps force a disclosure from a small team when they're debating a big school, then that big school team can go and get help from their coach. Disclosure before the tournament would lead to the same thing, too. Sure, small schools can hire coaches, but most of them don't have the budget, and assistant CX coaches aren't a dime a dozen, even in Texas. Wouldn't that just hurt the small schools?

 

I also don't see how disclosing the case, say, five minutes before the round would help anyone or help the debate. Like people have said before in this thread, 11 minutes of prep time is plenty for a neg team that should be carrying shells and other pre-written 1NC arguments. The five minutes before the round isn't going to make the debate that much better, and if it does, it will only be because the neg teams consults their coach, which doesn't really encourage debaters to improvise and make their own creative arguments.

 

I think disclosure, or at least finding out what the aff case is, is alright in some instances: 1) the affirmative team is willing to disclose without others forcing them to, or 2) word about the case spreads around the tournament and teams find out anyway. Under each of those two scenarios, no coercion is used, and news of the case is inevitable anyway. But when the judge or a coach of a team confronts the aff team and intimidates them, nobody ends up happy, and there's only a chance the neg team will get that extra advantage over the aff.

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What?

 

First, I would object immediately to anyone who would question Jakob's legitimacy as a judge or coach because he enforces a 'personal opinion' on the round: if you were of the opinion that speaking at a conversational pace was best for debate, you'd dock teams that spread; he believes that disclosure is best for debate, so he docks teams that don't disclose.

 

I think everyone should take a step back. Jakob's (and my own [wait, most people's...]) opinion is that an environment of disclosure is good for debate. I'm sure you'd be kinda upset if you had your case disclosed to someone who could beat you with that information, but lets turn the tables: lets consider the perspective of a 'small' school in a world without disclosure.

 

Teams with coaching/large squads still find out your case through organization/scouting.

 

Larger schools still have the advantage in prep and arguments

 

Larger schools can use the idea of 'infinate prep time' to it's fullest extent by preping and changing the case at will, without any possibility of smaller schools knowing.

 

Smaller schools are left in the dark on all this.

 

For some reason people treat non-disclosure as an equalizer when it just isn't. A community where teams disclose is better for teams with less resources because they can predict what the debate is going to be about and use those resources to their fullest advantage. Plus, if you're scared about people running applicable arguments against your aff, don't run the aff. If you rely on suprise to win rounds, you arn't doing your part to think about what a good aff is. Think about your aff and be strategic so you minimize the impact disclosure has.

 

To the people whineing about '5 minutes doesn't matter anyways!!:' Look, you're just wrong. If you can pull links/strats in the hall before round, that means you don't have to do it during the 1AC, which, last time I checked, was kinda important to understand if the rest of the round is to go well. Somehow, I just think you should hear the 1AC along with knowing what to run. Use that time, instead of scrambling for cards, to write arguments about specific evidence and listen to what the case does on a functional level. Hell, might even make your link stories better...

 

The point is, disclosure is a polite thing to do- it helps the education and quality of debate. If you do something that is rude, or anti-educational, expect people to be kinda upset. Also, if you're affraid of people making responses to your aff, you're running the wrong plan, figure something else out. I don't care if I disclose because I know my aff, and I'm going to beat you on it. You should feel the same way.

 

Please, I want to disclose. Email me, I'll send you the St. Marks casebook. Our TRCs aff is in there, I'll be glad for you to know it. That way, whenever we debate, we can debate relevant things, instead of 5 off generics debates. Nick is really tired of our generic blocks. I'm tired of being able to script 50% of my 1AR at home. It also gives you, the 'small' school, a chance to debate our warrants in depth, and puts you close to the win.

 

Duncan

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I like how a big school tells the small school whats best for them. ::shakes head::

 

lol, our varsity cx squad is 2 people, but nice try.

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so true. Who was our debate director last year? oh yeah, a technical theater teacher. Believe me, I know what it's like to be on the small end of things. I still disclosed.

 

Got issues with our school? Like I said, email me, I'll send you my 1ac outline.

 

PS. Our tech theater director was a badass.

 

PPS- arn't you from Missouri?

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I think Duncan rather eloquently stated the ideological reasons that Westlake discloses, and so I just have a few more things to say.

 

First, an announcement. I greatly appreciated all of Stefan's work putting together the case list for St. Marks this year. It's a trend that I sincerely hope will be replicated in many places throughout the upcoming years. In that spirit, Westlake volunteers to compile a voluntary TFA State case book. If you email me your affirmative, I'll send you a list of everyone's affirmative a week before state. If you email me your major negative positions, I'll email you a list of everyone else's. Send it to westlakeforensics@yahoo.com with your school name and aff or neg in the subject line. (If necessary, can someone create this as a separate thread, so people know?)

 

Now, my rambling comments. I think we spend a lot of time bashing the debate community, or debate trends, or foretelling the end of debate as we know it, so I wanted to pay a compliment to a recent Austin debate trend. My favorite thing about coaching in Austin this year is that the varsity debaters harbor a genuine intellectual excitement about arguments and ideas. My varsity debaters spend time at every tournament and during the week explaining arguments to novices from other squads. They post the cites to every major argument we run online, or email them to you if you ask. Want our 1ac outline? It's yours. Similarly, varsity members from other schools (Nick Burr especially comes to mind) spend hours talking to my novices about new arguments, strategy, skills, etc...

 

This doesn't help them win directly. It does make the activity better. When you spend time teaching instead of cutting cards, it means that debate in your community will be better 2 or 3 years from now. It also means that tournaments are a more fun place to be.

 

I feel the same way about disclosure. At the end of the day, this activity is about education. It's what you learn in round, it's what you learn out of round through research, preperation, argumentation and strategy. My kids learn in a big hurry that I'm not impressed when they win on a cheap shot... I think that it's completely meaningless. If we can't beat you straight up, I'm not particularly interested in the win. If you need to hide your affirmative from us in order to have the psychological edge in the round, then we've basically won the round already.

 

I think that the activity is a better place to be when it centers around an exchage of ideas and advocacy. I don't want this to read as "my squad is so great --" believe me, I spend enough time telling them when they mess up. I get discouraged, though, when I hear people being reactionary about progressive ideas that are aimed at improving the educational experiences everyone can benefit from.

 

And, for those who are confused, Jakob is an outstanding judge.

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Thank you all for responding to these posts. I've enjoyed reading your responses. I think Duncan's post has some amazing explanations of why disclosure equalizes the playing field and why it's most educational. I just want to clarify some misunderstandings about my original post.

 

1) **I didn't write this post to threaten other teams.** As a coach and judge these disclosure games really aggrevate me. I wrote this thread to explain the realities of a process which I find truly highlights the educational and democratic values inherent in debate. I wrote this because people should know what to expect when they debate us.

 

The bottomline is more people should disclose. If you don't, I respect your right not to. However, the reality is that we'll probably find out anyways by asking another team so you might as well just tell us. Defend your arguments, don't run away from them.

 

Second, I did my best to emphasize that I only have a problem with teams with inconsistant policies, not with teams who don't ever disclose. Does it really make any sense to disclose one tournament but not the next? to disclose for Round 1 but not for quarters or semis? of course not. Im totally cool if a team chooses not to disclose; I don't agree with it, but I'll respect the decision. But pick a side, please.

 

Like I said in the initial post, I think it would be completely utopian to expect every team in Texas to disclose. I respect different views of debate, athough I probably don't agree with them. However, I think that teams need to be called out on these inconsistant policies because they are simply illogical.

 

As a coach, it is my job to provide an educational experience for my students. But how am I suppose to teach kids about strategy when we don't know what's about to happen? We show up to tournaments to improve as debaters and to learn. My kids aren't getting their money's worth when I can't teach them.

 

2) ****As far as my judging is concerned, I never, ever have any intentions of voting a team down because they did not disclose. I also will not force a team to disclose. I agree that it would be unethical and out of bounds. I don't get where you can interpret that from my original post****

 

What Im referring to again is teams that play games.

Example 1: This most often occurs when a team will only disclose when a judge gets to the room, which is usually a whopping 2 minutes before the round starts. Why disclose at all? Just so you can call yourself a team that discloses?

 

Here's another disclosure award-winning example: "Ya. We'll disclose. It's an Africa thing..." And that's it. No other clarifications. Congrats. Since it's only the largest continent on the planet, that helps.

 

Disclosure game #3: We disclose to novices but we won't disclose to varsity teams. OR even better, we'll disclose to A,B,C schools because they are our friends, but we won't disclose to X,Y,Z schools because we don't know them/they have cred.

 

If this is the case, I will, even at the wrath of the tournament, give the opposing team time to talk with coaches or teammates or just amongst themselves in order to prepare. It's the most fair and educational way to do it.

 

Furthermore, as you've just served to aggrevate me, and knowing that the other team had very little time to prepare, the aff's *speaker points* will reflect those sympathies and be better. I do not think these phony, fake attempts at 'fairness' should be rewarded.

 

**Again, this does not apply to teams who consistantly choose not to disclose, just to teams who want to be in the 'disclosure club' but aren't willing to pay their dues***

 

If you have further questions or comments, I look forward to a healthy discussion.

 

Cheers,

Jakob

Austin High School

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2) ****As far as my judging is concerned, I never, ever have any intentions of voting a team down because they did not disclose. I also will not force a team to disclose. I agree that it would be unethical and out of bounds. I don't get where you can interpret that from my original post****

 

 

 

Here is what you said and I will try to make it in bold from your original post that says it.

 

If I am judging you, I will enforce disclosure to the best of my ability, including delaying the start of the round to give a team adequate time to prepare should a team decide to not disclose until I get there. In an elim round, this also goes for flipping for sides. So, for not disclosing when I am a judge, the other team still gets time to prep and you get to go home later.

 

Sounds like you are saying that for teams that do not disclose, you will send them home.

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The bottomline is more people should disclose.

 

SFA never disclosed to me when I debated.

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Teams with coaching/large squads still find out your case through organization/scouting.

 

Larger schools still have the advantage in prep and arguments

 

Larger schools can use the idea of 'infinate prep time' to it's fullest extent by preping and changing the case at will, without any possibility of smaller schools knowing.

 

Then why do these same big teams express disclosure as such a needed thing? If they have such an advantage, and they will still have args and can find out the case, then they aren't suprised anyway. There is no reason that they should complain about not getting a little more advantage.

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Here is what you said and I will try to make it in bold from your original post that says it.

 

If I am judging you, I will enforce disclosure to the best of my ability, including delaying the start of the round to give a team adequate time to prepare should a team decide to not disclose until I get there. In an elim round, this also goes for flipping for sides. So, for not disclosing when I am a judge, the other team still gets time to prep and you get to go home later.

 

Sounds like you are saying that for teams that do not disclose, you will send them home.

 

 

Actually I think he was saying that you would go home "later" because he would delay the round so that the consultation/prep can occur.

 

 

I think it would help the discussion if we made a distinction between the two different levels of disclosure. The first is knowing what cases the Aff team has at its disposal to potentially run that round (I call that "informational disclosure'); the other is the Aff team commiting to WHICH of their cases they WILL run in the upcoming round (I call that "commitment disclosure").

 

I think the arguments for "information disclosure" are much stronger than those for "commitment disclosure," but many advocates of disclosure mix the two in their arguments. I also feel that there are sometimes some excellent reasons why a team might decline to participate in "commitment disclosure".

 

If someone wants to pursue that line of controversy, I will add to my post later; if not, I'll drop it and let you Texas folks fight it out.... ;)

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Probably one of the things that concern me most about diclosure is the fact that more and more now it is the coaches debating the round rather than the students. We make arguments that we should coach the kids on what to do as our role of a coach, but does that mean we should tell the kids what to do instead of having them figure things out on their own.

Plus the Neg has plenty of time to come up with intelligent args. Think about it. 11 minutes before the 1nc to cases that probably have heard before by now. then also the Neg block. Does the neg also need before round prep time to come up with more args? If so, how do we balance out the additional advantages the neg is receiving so the aff can get something also.

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Actually I think he was saying that you would go home "later" because he would delay the round so that the consultation/prep can occur.

 

I don't buy that just from the logic. It wa referring to in context elimination rounds. He seperates the two teams using they versus you rhetoric. Only the team that did not diclose did he refer to as having to go home. Not the team that got the additional prep time.

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Actually, Greg Hartney had it right. I just meant that because the round gets off later then it's much later before someone can go home. Which is why teams should disclose and get the consultation over with before the judge shows up. Seems to be the most effecient way to do things.

 

Second, I completely disagree that its becoming the coaches debating. I don't think there is a single high school debater out there that is beyond coaching. Pre-round prep is critical to teaching a debater how to construct arguments. We do alot of prep for teams during the week before we even show up to a tournament; yet, that last few minutes of judge adaptation, team adaptation, argument selection is critical. Every debate is different and I feel its my job to help my students prepare for that situation. After all, why don't high school football or basketball coaches just sit in the stands and watch, or why come at all? It's their game, right? By all means let them play.

Like any competitive activity this sport of debate is becoming increasing more difficult to play. While Im not scholar, I've atleast been around debate long enough and have the higher education and life experience to share with them to hopefully make them more informed and thus, debate better. People break new arguments and adapt what their doing and it's my job to help.

 

cheers,

Jakob

 

cheers,

Jakob

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Then why do these same big teams express disclosure as such a needed thing? If they have such an advantage, and they will still have args and can find out the case, then they aren't suprised anyway. There is no reason that they should complain about not getting a little more advantage.

 

Because an environment where people disclose is still better for debate. The argument about big/small/legit school is kinda absurd- it really doesn't get us anywhere, and is irrellevant to the educational and competitive value of disclosure. Also, most of these teams have a reciprocity policy, meaning that they'll expect the same gesture in return when they are willing to disclose to you. It could also be because the national circuit has that type of environment where diclosure is the norm, and they expect it.

 

Tree: I think everyone has really addressed the issue of why disclosure BEFORE round is good. Here, I'll even re-print it for you, so you don't miss it again.

 

Look, you're just wrong. If you can pull links/strats in the hall before round, that means you don't have to do it during the 1AC, which, last time I checked, was kinda important to understand if the rest of the round is to go well. Somehow, I just think you should hear the 1AC along with knowing what to run. Use that time, instead of scrambling for cards, to write arguments about specific evidence and listen to what the case does on a functional level. Hell, might even make your link stories better...

 

Point being: listening to the 1AC is a good thing. There isn't '11 minutes' of prep before the 1NC, there's 8 minutes of speech time to read and listen to the affirmative, and then 3 minutes to ask questions, and begin constructing arguments. If you have issues with speech times, take it somewhere else, but disclosure is still good, and the purpose of speech time is to listen, and the purpose of CX time is CX.

 

Duncan

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However, If you do not disclose your aff, an Austin High debater or coach will politely approach another team at the tournament to ask if they know. Trust me, we will find out. If we feel that you are playing games with us, the end product of not disclosing your aff is that we find out anyways and as an added bonus, you've just made the squad mad. I hope for your sake that the anger has diminished before an Austin High person becomes your judge in a future round.

 

If I am judging you, I will enforce disclosure to the best of my ability, including delaying the start of the round to give a team adequate time to prepare should a team decide to not disclose until I get there. In an elim round, this also goes for flipping for sides. So, for not disclosing when I am a judge, the other team still gets time to prep and you get to go home later.

Shady teams also tend to get really shady speaker points too.

 

 

 

Maybe i'm missing something? This deep in the year you should have a strategy for every case that has been run on the circuit, period. With optional strategies for specific advantages and scenarios. If you actually put in some effort in creating those strategies, it wont matter if they disclose, you'll be ready.

 

I have always disclosed, but seriously, get off your soapbox. It is a team's choice to disclose to whoever they like. If you want to do the legwork to talk to other teams they have debated, then thats fine, but threatening to doc speaks, or unfairly judge the round because they dont feel like disclosing their aff is pretty ridiculous.

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jakob's a cool guy.

 

i think that he is right that its legit for teams to not disclose because that is their decision and they shouldnt disclose to some schools and not to others. but i still think its legit for a team to disclose when the judge gets there. that 5 minutes can benefit them.

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I hope for your sake that the anger has diminished before an Austin High person becomes your judge in a future round.

 

If I am judging you, I will enforce disclosure to the best of my ability, including delaying the start of the round to give a team adequate time to prepare should a team decide to not disclose until I get there. In an elim round, this also goes for flipping for sides. So, for not disclosing when I am a judge, the other team still gets time to prep and you get to go home later.

Shady teams also tend to get really shady speaker points too.

 

I respect a team's right not to disclose if they are consistent about that disclosure policy. I do not have respect for schools that disclose ten seconds before the round begins so they can consider themselves one of the teams that do disclose nor do I have respect for schools that pick and choose when to disclose an Aff that they have already ran.

 

 

 

wow... can we say judge abuse? I hope you never get hired on the houston circuit.

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