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Musings on the state of CO debate, stocks, other stuff, and a farewell

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I guess I should preface this rant by stating the main reason I'm writing this is because I'm trying to put off doing my Contracts work tonight, but also because I suppose there are some "final" thoughts I had about debate, looking back upon it, and I figured I might as well state them now, while there is still the chance that someone I know posts here. I believe there is a handful.. my old coach, Greg (who I’m sure pops in now and then to spread his godless commie propaganda), I think it wasn’t too long ago since Kelly and Logan posted… possibly Sandy… oh and I guess I saw another one of Doug’s threads where he posted about judging and no one knew who he was. heh :-*

 

Anyway, it’s kinda interesting to see how this site went from being a hotbed of controversy, almost the meeting point of the “rebellion,” to being utterly lame. Well, not even ‘lame,’ because ‘lame’ entails activity… this site is more of just a ghost town with maybe 5 posters. And you kids may not realize it, but there was a day when after-tournament threads went on for 5, 6, even 10+ pages, when certain debaters got DQed at state quals for running “nihilist” arguments (or whatever it was… I’m still not exactly sure what the Ubermensch has to do with Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, and this is coming from a border-line nihilist and former philosophy student. Maybe I’ll seek out Gingerich and ask him to explain it to me), when there was talk of “storming tab rooms,” when people bitched and argued about round results, when people polled (and later calculated) a weekly top 25, when people dropped their pants in State out-rounds, etc etc.

 

Point being, there was always something going on, whether it be Loghry posting pics of his desktop or another newb tacking on an inane addition to one of TCram’s many gigantic threads. The fact that the conclusion thread doesn’t even exist anymore says it all, really.

 

So, there is no longer a CO debate community; that is ok I guess… I mean, looking back, everything that went down was kinda quaint in a way. It was mainly a lot of gossip and geeky circle-jerk over unimportant shit. But at least it was a community of sorts; something to feel a part of in HS. People got on here, talked about it, bitched about ‘bad’ lay judge decisions and ‘stocks’ teams, and what not. It was like the cool-debate kids club, and yes- I’m aware of how stupid that sounds. But, damn it, it was fun. Anyway, there is no longer the community, which is probably because CO debate is just about dead (or maybe not- maybe CO debate now just consists of anti-social freaks… a plausible explanation given that speech/debate has always attracted the dregs of maladjusted awkward HS kids).

 

But more possibly CO is on its deathbed, floundering about like a wounded animal. I give it a couple years until it mercifully gets the boot, like duet acting did in ‘01, ‘02? This is not to say that CO debate quality now is worse than it used to be… I know that several teams in the past couple years have gone deep into NFL outrounds. This is more to say the quantity is lacking- tournaments that regularly had 40+ teams are struggling to field a pool of 10. So perhaps the future of CO debate is like some states, where there are a couple of national circuit teams, and no debate otherwise. To be honest, if I was the coach of Kent Denver (and assuming their budget isn’t tiny or anything), I’d probably just axe the speech events and travel debate teams around exclusively on the circuit, eschewing the pathetic remnants of CO debate, including state. The community and collective interest clearly is not existent in CO anymore, however. That much was clear the second year I ran the winter round robin, and the reason why I stopped doing so.

 

To what reason do I attribute the death of CO debate? Well there are two, basically. A backlash of old coaching guard co-existed with the rise of PF. Those two reasons might not even be distinct- PF was offered, and even initially defended, by a bunch of people who probably thought debate had been co-opted by a bunch of pot-smoking hippies from the academy and the NDT, who were content to avoid debating the topic and read their French post-modern mumbo-jumbo. And to some extent, I really sympathize… I’ve heard enough terrible kritiks read by dirty hippies, who completely botch philosophers, to last a lifetime.

 

But, really, and I alluded to this in a previous thread, there is a two-way lack of compromise going on. Students are incessantly arrogant and, I think, a little overzealous in striking down what old school coaches are pushing, and on the flip side, coaches are little quick to jump the gun on anything-NDT related = evil.

 

I’ll start with the students. Many HS debaters, at least in my time, were really quick to pull off stupid shit- like going full speed in front of known lay judges. Or something similar like preaching the ‘evil’ of the stock issues. In reality, stock issues are just a simplified version of the same policy analysis conducted in NDT rounds, except it compartmentalizes different points of analysis into arbitrary “issues,” and removes the fluid nature of comparing those issues with a winner-takes-all “win one issue and you win” analysis. So basically it removes impact analysis to simplify the process. That’s all it is, but I swear, you’d think it was the devil incarnate by reading some posts circa ’04. I mean, I think maybe students should realize that there is not some great coaching and judging pool of NDT debaters in CO, and you’re gonna get 50% of your judges as parents taught in stock issues. Whatever.. adapt, move on. You can still probably run 90% of your arguments anyway.

 

I wish more coaches in the state were willing to train judges, and debaters, even in the stock issues- whatever it takes to get numbers up again. And that brings me now to the coaches. I got a beef with the coaches, and it ain’t because they’re teaching stocks, good ol’ CHSAA style. It’s cause they’re not even teaching that. PF and LD, for better or worse, has replaced debate and attracted all the coaching. Forensics sure as hell isn’t dead- golden-mullen had some 40+ LDers or whatever. For whatever reason, debate is now tainted, and the focus has shifted to PF/LD. I knew coaches that had no interest in debate get all excited once PF came out. I knew others that coached decades of debate but now have shifted their entire program to PF. Excuse the accusation, but quite frankly- what the hell?

 

I think it is too bad that many coaches are turned off by the prospect of teaching debate. I’m not exactly sure how it came to be associated with an intellectual black hole… it’s not like there’s a serious NDT or TOC presence in CO (even though, a couple years ago, CO did have a TOC tournament at CU.. some of you kids might be astonished to know). But, even if some elements were becoming more NDTish, honestly- what’s the big deal? Many coaches are fond of pointing out NDT debate is just “fast,” and “avoids the topic.” I won’t argue the speed aspect, but I will say that the best and most intricate case debates I’ve ever had were not in CO, but when I debated in college. Last fall when I was judging the college Wake tournament, I saw an excellent debate between Northwestern and Emory, and the neg went for… gee, guess what? Case. Yup, 6 minutes of it in the 2NR. Straight up “you got no harms and case don’t solve.” And this is not an isolated incident- for every stupid performance round I had in college (and believe me, there were some stinkers), I probably had one straight-up, complex, rigorous policy analysis-style round.

 

So I guess what I’m ultimately saying here is that coaches can be every bit as stubborn as students. I’m reminded of an incident I had judging NFL nats a couple years back when a coach quite authoritatively told me that the reason why NDT participation was down was due to the “style.” He had no interest in hearing other possible explanations, such as travel expenses (despite there having been surveys indicating that as a factor)… no, it was because the debate was “bad.” And I was brushed off (rudely, I might add) as an uneducated college kid… well does the fact that I now have that degree and am on the way to my JD make a difference? I thought he was holier-than-thou then, I think it now, and I’ll probably still think it when I’m practicing law down the road. There is no doubt, in my experience, that some coaches think the college cohorts are “know-it-alls,” and… well, many of these students think the coaches are curmudgeons also. An impasse, if you will.

 

The students are the ones that lose out in this battle, though, because the massive defection to PF/LD deprives many students of the learning opportunity that is debate. I learned more in debate over 8 years than I did in anything else. I also met some of my fondest friends.. and well, to be honest, some people I rather wish I could un-meet. But the point is, debate is a unique activity that I think CO coaches and students have collectively killed, which is a shame. I do really think it’s too late to save… perhaps in a couple decades LD or PF will have technically evolved to become a quasi-debate event.

 

As I think I’m probably now finally done with debate (having left my permanent legacy by co-writing the 08-09 college debate topic… sorry, bit of self-aggrandizement there), I imagine I will not be coming here anymore. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure why I still occasionally pop in here since I have a growing professional life to tend to, and my involvement to debate has withered to judging a couple college tournaments here and there. I can't even remember the last time I posted something here that wasn't a flame. So I guess this is just a few thoughts from someone who witnessed the entirety of the CO debate collapse, if you will.

 

To anyone still around that’s not too embarrassed to recall your formative CO debate years… my shout outs. Otherwise, to the rest of you, I bid you adieu.

 

phil rappmund

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I feel somewhat inferior posting a response to Rapp. Of course, this post is hardly a response, and much more of an endorsement of the wisdom above.

 

I'm not going to pretend that I was here in the glory days that Phil describes. I was birthed into the world of debate when Phil and the rest of the class of '04 were already in their senior year, so I discovered their legacies as I discovered debate itself. While there are a lot of passionate individuals left in the Colorado community, the numbers aren't even close to what I remember from my freshman year.

 

Entire programs, some of which had been around for decades, are gone. Lakewood, Mullen, Golden -- those teams were powerhouses. But that wasn't all -- Centaurus had a team. Monarch had a team. Columbine had a team, even though it was before my time. Bear Creek, Poudre, Pueblo Centennial, Fruita-Monument, Greeley West -- I don't know if those teams have died out or if they've merely escaped my notice.

 

I count three schools that had big programs then and still do today. Everyone else has debated for a start-up and coached themselves -- Littleton and George Washington got lucky in attracting coaches that know CX and might sustain their programs. But new coaches aren't picking CX up, and too many are letting it go.

 

Phil, thanks for posting. Good luck in life; I know I'll miss you.

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I may stand with only those who still participate, but Colorado CX isn't dying.

 

Yes, cross-x.com certainly isn't what it used to be, and I don't know the community of years past, but a community is here, and it is a strong one. Just look on facebook and see how many debaters have kids from other schools, that they know through debate, in their profile pictures. It doesn't happen on cross-x.com, but the community is still alive and vibrant.

 

And I also don't think it's too late to save (if saving is even needed). There are alarming trends in CX, mostly the stiffness of both approaches to debate, but it's not dying now and these trends can and will be smoothed over with the development of CX. Creek-East had a massive field in CX, and frequently multiple tournaments are run on the same day all across the state. CX teams are out there, independent or not, and they're still enjoying the event.

 

So yes, much of your analysis is spot-on and there are a lot of things in debate that are changing, maybe for the worse, maybe not...

 

but the Colorado debate community IS NOT dead. I assume your knowledge far surpasses mine in terms of debate itself and how coaches and students affect debate, but as a member of the Colorado cross-x community, it's nowhere near dead. Just the website.

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I can't say I am anywhere near the glory days though I wish I was. I do believe with Rapp that the "old school" debate is dying a horrible death. In Wyoming we still have our stock issues and a lot of the debates are on the stock issues. The problem I mainly see in it though is that it's now become a battle of camps and who has the best evidence from camp. Very little at least in Wyoming is actually original work and almost none of it is effectively stimulating your brain.

 

As I've noticed and not to be mean but Policy debate is a game that is suppose to be played and part of the debate is to play to the judge. At Overland I do have to say the main reason that we did well was that we played to the judges. When you have a panel and all of them are stocks and you don't even read inherency in the first affirmative constructive the odds are judges aren't going to enjoy the debate very much.

 

P.S. not trying to be mean to any team in specific but if it comes off as offensive so be it I can't control it. On the neg rep comment they didn't label anything inherency which with stock issues judges you might want to have.

Edited by The Dom
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My brief thoughts:

Mr Rappmund, I agree with much of your analysis and, while I've never met you, I really appreciate that you care about Colorado policy as an event and as a community. I too think the differing priorities of coaches, judges and debaters makes CX harder to sustain and less appealing but I don't believe the event will die. While LD and PF have their own appeals most of us would agree CX is something different. In my opinion the type of argumentation CX encourages, and the critical thinking required to be successful, can't be found to the same degree in other events. I know personally this has sustained my interest at times when I was tempted to slip into other events and I think that CXs identity will continue to be appealing to kids coming into high school.

I also agree with Patrick that the community isn't dead. While I rarely post on this forum I still count myself a member of the CX community; I just engage with the community in ways other then this forum. While that's different from how it used to be done, (which admittedly sounds like a lot of fun) it's not inherently a bad thing.

Also ROFL inherency. At Emory, Westminster's primary inherency card was: Obama only has plans to fund ITAR for 2009, and yes they CA this to the ptx flow to prove that it is part of his focus now. BA

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As one of the now elder statesmen on these boards, along with Greg, I want to say that Phil is right: policy debate in CO is dying. I don't know if its beyond saving, but its dying.

When Greg lists programs that are dead, he is touching just the tip of the iceberg. He leaves out basically all of southern Colorado, which according to these boards (in posts that I believe no longer exist), produced some very good teams back in the day, but more importantly produced a lot of teams. Canyon City, Durango, Pueblo South, just to name a few. There was also the Colorado Springs area, which used to have multiple schools with teams but I believe now has just St. Mary's. In the Denver area, add Eaglecrest, Ponderosa (even if it was just Kelly and Lydia), Smokey Hill, maybe more. Up north, you can add Skyline to the list, and I don't know if Rocky Mountain may be dead as well.

If you could go back to Phil's now-extinct website and look up results from state tournaments past, you would see that during his time in high school, the state tournament routinely broke to double octos, and I don't mean simply a partials round of 1-3 rounds (which may have last happened in 2006). Tournaments like East had 50 teams. Same for Golden-Mullen, and for Hell of the West. The TOC bid tournament at CU was dead before I was around, but I can imagine that it was quite large, and not just because of out-of-state teams.

There have still been some excellent debaters to come out of Colorado in the aftermath of the era Phil talks of: Greg Sobetski and Alex Berger at Littleton, Jordan Daniels and Jesse Spaford at Kent, Will van Truren and Alex Epler at East, although Epler started his career at the tail end of Phil's time. However, it is my firm belief that as the numbers of people competing has fallen, the number of good teams has fallen. Furthermore, this has a multiplier effect. Good teams bring out the best in other good teams and force those teams to work as hard as they can, which in turn makes everyone better. It doesn't matter if its fast or slow judging, debating good teams makes everyone better, but without enough teams, few people ever reach their full potential. The above list are just those that managed to fight through all of the barriers.

 

I want to close be echoing Phil's comment that good rounds don't have to be either fast, nor full of French philosophy. The best round I think I ever had was a round I lost, in front of a slow panel, to Will van Truren and Rose Green. Will and Rose had taken my case, researched it, and come up with an amazing set of thoughtful, well-warranted attacks, which in turn forced Gabe and I to defend our aff in a way no other team that year, including all of those we debated on the national circuit in front of numerous college judges, came close to repeating. The potential is there in Colorado, people just have to want it.

Edited by jormarber

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"Bear Creek, Poudre, Pueblo Centennial, Fruita-Monument, Greeley West -- I don't know if those teams have died out or if they've merely escaped my notice."

 

Just an FYI, Fruita Monument does have a team and has had a team; they were at State last year. Due to finances the team cannot travel to the other side of the mountain as much as they would like but they are still around. As a former competitor and now debate coach, I feel as though it is my responsibility to make sure that CX does survive at the school. The CX program has never died the issue is money and the number of kids who are interested. PF and LD are cheaper and kids think it is less work. Some kids just want the easy way out. As a coach you can only push so much.

I do see CX declining in the state. In our regions national qualifiers there were 8 CX teams and the only reason there were 2 qualifiers was becuase we had earned enough NFL degrees. This year we don't even think we will get that. I think part of CX's decline is CHSAA is unwilling to budge and allow the event to grow; you should be at some of the coach meetings and hear their complaining. I feel that younger coaches are stuck in a tough spot: on the one hand you have to struggle with CHSAA rules but at the same time you see the event has evolved beyond CHSAA guidelines. Evolution happens in debate as well and the older guard doesn't want to change. I have all the respect in the world for the generation of coaches that came before me but now it seems some have simply given up.

Also, no discredit to Rapp, but the idea that teams should just leave the State to find debate also hurts the event. When people decide to host CX and the good teams aren't there because they have gone else where, what does that say about the event. I understand the need to improve your team and make sure they are the best they can be but at the same time don't turn your back on the state or the state will turn its back on you.

As a community I am unsure how to ensure that CX will have a place in Colorado. I worry because as many of you have said, CX is unique and there is nothing else like it. I guess the best we can do right now is make sure that not another program falls.

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I think that Phil has got some things right, but other things wrong. For instance the vibrancy of speech and debate in Colorado ensures that there will always be a place for new CX programs to spring up easily and quickly. For me (Ross Garrett from Pueblo South) that's how we started our CX team within a bigger existing squad. I think there are massive ideological differences that end up being way more of a focus than they should be. Case and point our senior year we qualified to state and nationals reading a CP and politics strategy where the impact was get off the rock. Lay judges and stock judges are not the problem, rather there needs to be more focus on teaching debaters that all of their fancy camp and national circuit knowledge can be used in front of lay judges. This focus might help ease the frustration of the students, and make the old school judges happy. Students need to realize that the arguments they like can and do function in the old framework, and by explaining them that way you avoid a lot of the problems while not "wasting" time debating in a style that will never help you on the circuit.

 

I think that one major problem for CO debate is that with the absence of college programs policy debate lacks one of the strongest incentives it has. There are lots of programs (both NPDA and NDT) that pay money to policy debaters. Every single person who came out of Pueblo South got offers (DU, Liberty, Wyo and Loyola). I think CX would become more attractive to students if they realized it can be a viable long term way to achieve things like scholarships.

 

At the same time CO needs new policy debate coaches. It takes coaches to create programs to grow debate. I have no idea how more dedicated coaches can be found. This is a major problem--at South we could have grown the team from our dedicated core. But in 4 years there 4 different coaches of the speech team and not one had policy debate knowledge. I don't really have a solution for this problem--maybe by convincing coaches there is a real value to policy debate.

 

One thing I have never understood is why Colorado hates disclosure with such a passion. Maybe it is beyond me, but wouldn't disclosing help create these incredible case debates everyone wants to see. The only reason in college I can engage the case is because I have at least some clue what advantages/cases are possible and this is because of the caselist. I'm just saying maybe by starting with this argument you could begin a process of liberalization/changing of rules--it seems an awfully long time since the rules have been adjusted at all even for some changes that are not earth shattering

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Mr Rappmund, I agree with much of your analysis and, while I've never met you, I really appreciate that you care about Colorado policy as an event and as a community.

 

Heh.

 

I have virtually disagreed with Phil many times over the years, so I'm approaching this post carefully. When I was in high school, I criticized him for making judgements about a community he had no involvement in anymore. He's doing the same thing here, obviously, basing it solely on what he interprets from the activity (or lack thereof) on the forums, and I urge you not to take that from anyone.

 

Of course, I don't have much more to go on. I've judged at one tournament this year, and spent a day at George's speech class, so what judgements can I really make? You should take what I and other former debaters say with a grain of salt, and I will try to hark back to my own experience as much as I can rather than try to judge all of you based on this forum.

 

So that said, I also agree with Rapp, Jordan and Greg. Once you get past Rapp's habit of being overly critical of current debaters and aggrandizing his own generation (which we all have a tendency to do, and I will definitely do later in this post), I think a lot of what he says is quite insightful.

 

As Patrick rightly pointed out, Rapp confuses (as he has always done) 'participation in the online debate community' with 'on-the-ground quantity of quality debate,' so I'll leave his arguments about community by the wayside. However, I think his point about the ongoing battle between students and coaches is fairly accurate, even if it is a bit mischaracterized. I would go further in saying that today's students don't work as hard to understand debate on the meta level as we did. A good understanding of debate as a tool for education and analysis, and not just as a game with rules, is what really allowed Jordan and me to debate successfully on both the circuit and state level, because we understood where all of our critics were coming from. This, combined with quality opponents, allowed us to adapt and enjoy a stimulating experience in most of our rounds.

 

What's causing this lack of rigor (see also: Jordan's description of his favorite round) today is a tougher question to answer. Part of it, for sure, is the insistence of many of the coaches that NDT-style debate is 'bad' and 'evil' and 'uneducational,' mainly based simply on the fact the students are encouraged to talk fast. This is a flat-out lie. In fact, for educators to be making that claim is itself evil, reprehensible, dishonest and possibly damaging to kids who are denied the experience. Let me reiterate what Phil said: my four years of debate, and specifically the 'circuit-style' rounds, provided more education and intellectual stimulation, in countless areas, than any other part of my life, and that will probably be true for my entire life. Debate was, looking back, certainly more important than any other aspect of high school, and I owe much of my success in college to debate. (As a side note, I disagree slightly with Ross: you'll hear similar things about the usefulness of debate later in life from many former debaters, and I think that should be as much of an incentive to participate as you need.)

 

So, coaches insisting that students not participate in that style is part of what's causing this lack of quality. I also think this decreases the quantity of debaters, because students taught in the 'slow' manner get into the field, get trounced, even in front of 'lay' judges, and then quit the activity. Those who stick around don't go to camp because their coaches don't approve of most camps' teachings, which leads again to the decreasing quality. This is all a factor.

 

But part of the reason for the decline in participation and quality teams is also flat-out laziness on the part of the students. Seriously. I was lazy. Jordan and Aaron did way more work than I did, but at least I would, sometimes kicking and screaming, cut cards and positions, at least I NEVER stopped analyzing rounds and working to improve myself, and I NEVER gave up on a round. This attitude made debate a lot more fun and fulfilling, and because there were other teams like us, it made us want to stick around and improve. (We also never thought about PF as an equally fulfilling alternative, which, I can tell you from experience, it is not. Not that any of you think that, but, you know...)

 

In my experience, the worst thing students do today is fail to prepare ahead of time. Here's a secret for those of you who want an immediate jump ahead of the competition: cut your own positions, and cut them well! After the middle of my sophomore year, GW's A and B NEVER ran a straight camp position, or a straight Thursday File scenario. We cut EVERY SINGLE ONE of our arguments to specifically cater to our style and the types and ways of running arguments WE, not the camps' lab instructors, were most comfortable with. I cannot tell you how invaluable this was.

 

Moreover, and here's yet another big tip, we didn't just cut 1NCs and a few random extensions. For every negative position (especially T and on-case strategies), we cut a custom 1NC shell, a 2NC/1NR overview, link blocks for cases other teams were running, and pre-made blocks to answer the most common aff arguments. Even if we didn't have time to run every single point in these blocks, we at least had them ready. We also, and again, I cannot tell you how invaluable this was, spent time thinking about what strategies we were going to use against cases we expected to hit, and often cut specific cards and 1NC frontlines to run and work with those strategies.

 

This allowed us to be highly strategic on the neg, because we weren't just throwing up positions to waste time or see what stuck. Each position had a purpose, whether it was to get the aff to concede that their case linked to a DA, or force the aff to spend a lot of time on an argument we probably weren't going to go for, etc. This won us a ton of rounds both in Colorado and on the circuit.

 

On the aff, Jordan rarely took prep time before the 2AC. Why? Because we had 2AC blocks that answered everything we could possibly think of that a neg would run in the 1NC. Moreover, these answers were highly specific to OUR case, and included extensions and cross applications of 1AC cards, which made them that much more appealing to both flow and lay judges.

 

Now, I'm not going to lay claim to this as GW's ingenious invention. In fact, we learned a lot of this from teams in Colorado, from circuit teams, and from camps. Lots of teams do this. Lots of teams in Colorado did it when I was a freshman and sophomore: I'm willing to bet Rapp did this, I know Luke Sanford and Nathan Jeffries were ridiculous preppers. In my heyday, Will and Rose did this, Greg and Alex did this, Kelly and Lydia did this. I know all circuit teams do this. But I have rarely seen it in Colorado, both during and after my career, except from a very small minority of teams, even though it would vastly improve performance in both flow and slow rounds. Why? I don't know, I'll leave that up to you. Maybe it's coaching, maybe it's...whatever.

 

But I'm telling you this now: if you want to be really good, there's no excuse not to prepare. Yes, it does take some extra time. That said, Jordan and Aaron mainly, and myself and Z to a degree, did it all on our own, just the four of us. Some of you have bigger teams than that, and can spread the workload around. Even if you don't, I mean, what's the excuse? Social life? You're already giving up Fridays and Saturdays to debate. Other activities? We did plenty of them, from soccer to newspaper. School? I was an A-average student and Aaron and Jordan were something like 3rd and 6th in GW IB's '07 class, respectively. In all honesty, it doesn't take that much more time to do this. It requires working a bit during the late summer to build out your aff and core neg positions. It requires some diligence in cutting new arguments, extensions and frontlines when you hear new positions or run into new cases during the year. It requires using time in and out of class effectively, it requires talking with team members, it requires some critical thought, but it's not that hard to do.

 

So I guess what my rant comes down to is that I agree with Jordan's essential conclusion: Colorado has potential, but it isn't being utilized. I just...lengthily...expanded on it. Some of the blame goes to coaches, sure, but a lot of it also goes to students just not working. So, (wow, I wrote a lot, sorry) my advice is to go out there and start prepping. Start thinking about debate instead of just doing it. You'll find that it will help you compete in all of your rounds, regardless of whether they are fast or slow. It will also make the experience much more intellectually satisfying, and the experience of researching and prepping will be an invaluable skill for the future. And, maybe, over time, it may even convince your coaches to relax a bit once they see you doing more than just talking fast.

 

EDIT: So, reading the thread over for the billionth time, I realize I've just done exactly what I criticized Rapp for doing then and now. Sorry, man, for what I said above, and what I've said before. I get it now. I agree with most of what you say here, and by and large, I think you do care about the community. I still caution current debaters to take what all of us say with the full knowledge that every succeeding generation sees its day as better than the one that comes after it. Maybe that explains some of the coach's behavior as well. Regardless, take our comments for what they are, but don't let us beat down on you. You don't deserve it any more than we did.

Edited by potterhead4

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Some responses:

 

1. Greg: Heh... lol man, cut the "inferior" crap. It's not like I was some god or founding father or anything... I was a somewhat decent debater that had some successes here and there in CO, and a couple more in college, but that's about it. I'm just some dude that's stayed on this board way too long. And, unless I'm mistaken, we had the same record at NFL nats (nothin like that good, but just not quite good enough 7, eh? story of my life, man.)

 

Your point about disappearing programs is well taken. And, dude, I'm thinking about it... and I realized that probably about 90% of my posts to you over the years were insults. I probably thought I was being a witty old-guard hazer, but more likely I was just being an asshole. Sorry man. Thanks for the kind words... and good luck to you as well. I won't be gone quite yet, I'll stick around to respond to posts in this thread, but as it dies, I'll probably be on my way.

 

2. O'Brien: I guess I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, to some extent. Maybe there is indeed some community that still exists independent of cross-x, I dunno. I'm certainly unaware of any colorado debate facebook groups or whatever. I guess what I'm saying, is even if those exist, I don't know that they serve the purpose as focal point for.. well, among other things, community gossip, bantering over best/worst teams, discussion over the tournaments, a place to vent over coaches/judges, etc. I remember when this place used to serve as a big discussion board across state for all those going to nats... we'd help each other prep and talk up the summer. And when NFL nats happened, it was more then a debate contest, it was like a state-wide party as all these forces came together and celebrated the year. Furthermore, in the end, I'm not arguing that a lack of community is the problem, but rather just a symptom of the larger problem- dying CO debate.

 

3. Dom: I'm not exactly sure what the situation in WY is... but I'm not really arguing that old-school 1960's debate is dying. It may or may not, that's not my beef. My beef is that CO debate, as an entire activity, no matter its form, is dying. The numbers are down. Programs are dying. Tournaments are smaller. To be honest, I couldn't care less if we have tournaments in CO of 40+ teams running the stock issues or foucault Ks... just that we HAVE 40 teams debating! We don't have that anymore... and that's the issue.

 

4.

 

wait, the 2NR went for 6 minutes of defense in that emory/northwestern round? you make it sound like it was just defense.

 

Come on man, you know that's not what I'm saying. Of course in the emory/northwestern round there was a deep strategy including offensive turns, case turns that were essentially independent disads, complex defense, multiple impacts, advantage takeouts, etc. The reason why I whittled my argument down to that one sentence was to illustrate a point- that this myth of "no case debate" by some coaches is just that: a myth. Emory's basic strategy in that round was to prove one basic argument: the aff case wasn't a good idea. And not a good idea in the basic sense, not "it's not a good idea because my irrelevent foucault K that's not really talking about the case says it is." My best case debate of possibly all time was against Georgia at the West Georgia tournament in 2007, when we were aff and the neg went for case. It was a complex strategy, they read probably over 100 cards and we really got deep into the assumptions, warrants and underlying theses of our case advantages.

 

What I'm saying is this isn't an isolated incident, and yes- there are some stupid debates in college (most of them performance debates). But there are some really good ones too, and I've had the pleasure of having several in my college career... you know the type- where you have to dump out your entire 2AC expandos and you really get to the heart of the aff. Many older coaches are quick to point out their desire for "topical, case debate," and I was pointing out that I think it's ironic that my best "topical, case debates" were actually in college.

 

5. Jordan: nothing really to say, except I basically agree with everything you said. You're a class act dude, keep on rockin in the free world.

 

6. Cluce:

 

While I don't know you, I think you bring up some pretty good points. First, I want to salute you- we need more coaches like you that see that there is a problem, and that's trying to do something about it. I hope that desire to keep debate alive never dies while you're coaching.

 

I totally hear you about the CHSAA meetings. I'm not gonna go on some long rant here about the older coaches.. my initial post served that purpose. But I wish parties on both sides here could just realize the bitching needs to end- we're facing the imminent extinction of an important educational opportunity here. It's time to compromise and work on ways to increase debate, and put the squabbles aside.

 

Let me respond to the point that I stated teams should leave. I was a little harsh, but to be honest, if I was a coach at Kent, or similar team that I suspect has a fair budget (creek?.. I dunno, I could be bullshitting), I would push towards just putting teams on the national circuit. Why? Well, shit, if coaches don't care about keeping debate alive in CO, why should I stay? The TOC circuit, for all its failings, at least is alive and well. The TOC has its problems, to be sure. There are few things more painful in the world than watching a HS debater pretend to be a NDT debater, attempt to go fast (and actually make no sense), and put forth an analysis of post-modern philosophy that is beyond juvenile, to say the least.

 

But what I'm saying is that at least there is debate to be had. I was too quick to say I would abandon CO debate.. I would probably mainly travel novices/second years on the regional circuit and travel juniors/seniors on the TOC. But in any case, do teams like creek, east, kent, etc have anything to gain by sending their best teams around in CO? When at least these tournaments were large, maybe so. But these days, debate tournaments seem to basically be those 3 teams and maybe 2-3 more. Keeping them on the regional circuit isn't helping debate, and them leaving isn't the nail in the coffin, either.

 

The problem, and I hate to be blunt here, is the coaching. And I don't include you in this group, or others (including my former coach, Tammie Peters), that are doing what they can to keep debate alive. I'm talking about the ones that never bothered to get into debate until PF showed up, and others that axed debate in favor of PF. I don't really care how harsh I sound when I state that I think that's stupid. These coaches are either a) bitter over god knows what, or B) lazy. Debate, even stock issues debate, is the most intellectually stimulating and rewarding activity a high schooler can persue. I spent five years, including into law school, teaching and explaning debate to novices.. and for one reason: the face I'd get from a novice debater as the light bulb went on and she grasped the concept of a permutation, or a disad uniqueness, or whatever. Presumably, this is why most people coach.. I mean, it certainly isn't for the money, lol. So, given that, I'm curious about the lack of coaching zealousness for debate in favor of the lesser events.. i.e. LD/PF.

 

Sure, it's easier to teach and the students don't whine as much. So does handing out a bunch of worksheets every class instead of preparing engaging lectures and assigning more rigorous work.

 

 

7. Garrett:

 

I think you bring up two interesting points, even for someone that goes to Liberty. Haha, jk man... I tend to vote Republican too, although it's less due to the holiness factor and more because of the bling and I'm a greedy corporatist. Anyway, you are right that many students should realize that strategies learned at camp or NDT-like strategies can be used with lay judges... it's a matter of adapting style and presenting your arguments differently. There's no need for student arrogance here, and a realization of that, I think, would go a long way to mending some friction. If coaches could essentially present both styles.. we could get something done here. As you suggest, take the students in and explain- "here's how to present certain arguments in front of known lay judges," and "here's what to do when you get a hippie-stoner/NDT judge," etc.

 

The other good point you brought up was about the coaching/judging pool. This is a problem, but I don't think it's so much because there aren't enough coaches. There ARE coaches... believe me, they are out there. Tournaments still field 40+ LDers. I know, and I'm not gonna name names here because I don't wanna come off like I'm leading an inquisition or something, but I know some coaches that for DECADES taught debate and just abandonded it for PF. To me, that is inexcusable.

Edited by RappGuy

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Gabe:

 

Well, honestly, I will give you a fair bit of credit for being willing to give me some shit over this. You have never, at least not in my recent memory, afforded me some privileged status for being old, which is good. And you are quite right, that often in the past I posted a bunch of cantankerous nonsense that built up my own generation.. as if I was part of the genuine Roman Republic before it became a corrupt Empire or something.

 

But honestly, there are no shenanigans in my original, lengthy post. I'm not posting this long diatribe because I feel like leaving this forum with a presentation of my previous generation's greatness, and with a loud and magnificant toot of my own horn.

 

I posted this, because I feel I won't be much involved with debate, colorado, or this forum ever again, and as I permanently leave this chapter of my life, I see that debate is in dire straits.. a place it was not when I left.

 

The point is NOT that there was BETTER debate when I debated. Shit, for all I know, debate is better now. In fact, it probably is, given that East and Kent recently went pretty deep at NFL nats.. and well, you didn't do too bad yourself. In fact, I'm pretty sure you as a senior would've owned me as a senior. Like I said, the point isn't that those days back in 2003 were magical or anything. The best CO debate may exist now, it may have existed 40 years ago. I don't know, and honestly I don't care.

 

What I care about, is the fact that whole programs and teams are disappearing. That former large tournaments struggle to field a debate event. That coaches would rather just funnel all their kids into PF instead of even teaching the goddamn stock issues for debate. I honestly no longer care what sort of debate exists in CO, whether it be NDT-style or good ol' 1960s style. At least stock issues debate lays a framework for further exploration and can serve as a springboard into a larger world of complex debate. PF... well... is like reading Ann Coulter or Michael Moore. Lots of carbs, no nutrition.

 

And I think it'd be damn near foolish of you to ignore the fact that debate, in terms of quantity, is on the down-swing. I pointed to the lack of online community only as further evidence of that main argument, not as a seperate argument in its own right. I wouldn't be nearly so alarmed about this if this board was dead but I heard that former gigantic tourneys like hell and golden-mullen were fielding 40+ teams. And that, assuredly, is not the case. Your long post certainly helps as a guide for what debaters need to do to get on track with being successful on the circuit.. and well, those practices will certainly help if you debate NDT. But you're missing the forest for the trees, man. I'm not about blowing up the previous years... I'm about bluntly stating the fact that CO debate is a couple years from non-existance.

 

It's just a bit odd, is all. My connections with CO are less and less every day, and I don't imagine I'll ever return to denver or CO again. But somehow, I guess back in HS, I thought years down the road I could log in here and see eager debaters carrying on the charge. And, well, years have passed.. and debate is begging to be put out of its misery. It's just sad, yo.

Edited by RappGuy

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All fair points.

 

Some responses: I don't really care who would've beaten who, either, I think you understand that.

 

I also want to make it clear that I am not ignoring the fact that quantity is on the down swing. Participation is definitely, inarguably, down now, it was going down in my days, etc. You'll have no argument to the contrary from me.

 

I'm merely pointing out that, well, at least in past days you pretty heavily criticized us for the lack of posts. I get where you're coming from now, but I think that while there may be a downward trend in both forum participation and debate numbers, they may not be correlated. When you think about it, part of the reason this forum used to be so active was that everyone on it posted religiously. There are a lot more infrequent posters now.

 

I'm also with you that the lack of policy coaching, in any style, is pretty bad. But my argument is that all of these things - the lack of coaching, the decreasing quantity, and it seems to me, quality - are interrelated and stem from the conflict you described in your first post. By and large, I believe that circuit-style debaters who recognize the need to adapt are going to do better than stocks-only debaters in all kinds of debates. Most of the top debaters, as you say, are pretty arrogant about the fact that circuit-style debate is superior to stock debate. And yet, most are not, at least in my experiences in the past few years, doing it properly, which lends a lot of weight to the arguments many of the coaches make, and makes it easier for them to turn to PF as a substitute.

 

That's why I wrote what did turn into more of a guide than I had intended, because I think that you can do both, and satisfy the coaches, if you do it right and understand it rather than simply decide to talk fast and misinterpret philosophers. As I see it, and perhaps I need to make myself more clear hear, coaches and students are both part of the problem. Yes, coaches need to actually teach CX and lighten up, but the top students also need to justify the investment on the part of the coaches, justify the idea that NDT-style is better, or at least worth something. I think that doing what I outlined above is a way to improve adaptation while still practicing a superior form of debate. If that gets coaches coaching and improves the quality of debate, then it will also increase the quantity.

 

Maybe I'm being too much of an idealist, maybe I should just say, 'stop debate from dying completely at any cost.' But while I think you're right that debate is in serious trouble, I also believe there are ways to change that, for lack of a better term, within the current system. I agree that coaches need to stop being defeatist, but I also think students need to do more to justify the value of debate for coaches to come around, and I've outlined one way that could work above.

 

In those terms, maybe I'm being more of a realist. I don't see students abandoning circuit style any time soon, and unless some changes are made, I don't see coaches changing their minds much. Unfortunately, because the coaches have the power, the students are going to need to fill that gap by compromising, but I think they can compromise on style without compromising on principle.

 

And on a final note, you said it: it is sad. That's why we're still here, arguing about this, I guess? It'll be sad to see you go, too...

 

EDIT: I apologize for the incredible sextuple-post! I kept getting a 'server is busy' error, assumed it wasn't posting, etc. Look for me in Guinness though.

 

EDIT EDIT: Thanks for the neg rep! You're right, I didn't see the delete button! Thanks for pointing out that it was there. Next time I'll know, thanks to your generous words: "fucking shit just delete some of 'em already"

Edited by potterhead4
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I started typing a long response to this. I seem to type a long response to something like this once per year.

 

And it's coming up on six years...out of the activity.

 

 

I think it's about time I start listening to that part of me that says "shut the fuck up, seriously."

 

I've judged at one HS debate tournament this year and a couple last year. I liked what I saw. The numbers are hurting, but the attitude is good, and to the extent that I can, I'll be around to help. Sure, there's still a contingent with an axe to grind over debaters, paradigms, speed and all the rest...but it isn't coming from the "college kids"

 

Debate is such a strange activity from a developmental standpoint--where else do you spend so much money, time, and energy just to be judged?

 

For those newly out of debate and desiring to help, my advice is this: shut up and judge. Do both at the same time. Go to judge. Kids appreciate it. And when you judge, don't worry about how other people judge. You won't change any minds, and you don't have to. The one thing you bring to the table that a lot of other people don't is that you remember what it was like to be there--right there--being judged--just a few short years ago. You have a unique capacity to empathize with those you judge--use it while it lasts.

 

The purpose of judging is to give back--no more and no less. You don't ump little league baseball because you want to see excellent pitching, and or so that everyone can see how adept you are at calling strikes and balls.

 

No retrospective on HS debate is complete w/o mentioning the late great Winston Miller. The thing that made Winston so great wasn't his paradigm, nor his decisions, nor even the memorable advice he gave to debaters (incidentally, I would credit Winston with the longest oral critique I have ever seen in a CO HS debate round). What you had to love about that guy was that for the 8 minutes you stood up in front of him he really, really cared about what you had to say.

 

It's not as bad as you think, Rapp. Call me when you're in CO sometime.

 

logan

 

p.s. One semester of Contracts is plenty.

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Moreover, and here's yet another big tip, we didn't just cut 1NCs and a few random extensions. For every negative position (especially T and on-case strategies), we cut a custom 1NC shell, a 2NC/1NR overview, link blocks for cases other teams were running, and pre-made blocks to answer the most common aff arguments. Even if we didn't have time to run every single point in these blocks, we at least had them ready. We also, and again, I cannot tell you how invaluable this was, spent time thinking about what strategies we were going to use against cases we expected to hit, and often cut specific cards and 1NC frontlines to run and work with those strategies.

 

I can't actually tell you how many very late night conversation I have had with Aaron over debate, the state of debate, how to win at debate, how to win on certain positions, etc. Such is the benefit of having a very smart, dedicated, and committed brother in debate. Perhaps thats partly why the Schmerge (I probably spelled that wrong) family up in Cheyenne produced as many quality debaters as they did.

 

Gabe is right, start thinking about debate. Brainstorm. Talk about it. Your coaches will like it. Your judges will appreciate it. And you will end up actually liking debate more for it.

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I have will have my two cents posted within a day or two - right now, I'm just too busy to discuss an issue near and dear to my heart. Interesting discussion, but I believe I have some insights that have not been mentioned yet regarding the downward slide of policy debate. Delo and I had some discussion of this very issue less than 2 weeks ago.

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Logan:

 

Your posts, long or short, planned or no, are always welcome. And your post here gave me many things to think about.

 

Ultimately, though, I have to stress that it's not so much the type of debate or style of debate I'm worried about. Or even the quality of judging.. be it "good or bad." I've tried to point this out multiple times in my posts, but in case it got lost... it's not so much the quality/type of debate (whatever that means), but rather that debate is happening.

 

I post what I'm posting solely because I feel as if when I'm leaving the debate world, there is no debate where I used to be. Just a barren ground... of PF and LD. I want to look upon this and say... well, it's not as bad as I think. But man.. you remember senior year golden-mullen, chsaa state, hell, etc. Those numbers aren't there, you gotta admit. The coaching effort and students are going elsewhere. And far be it for me to judge, but I really think this represents an intellectual shame and honestly, a laziness.

 

I've whined my fair share in HS.. mainly because I was an annoying immature HS kid. But my complaints now are a different form... then I was angry about judges that wouldn't judge the way "I wanted." Here... it's just that I see an absence of debate, altogether. Policy-maker, tabula rasa, stock issues.. hell, NO issues.. whatever... I am just concerned about the lack of vigor in debate and the lack of participation. I elaborated about this in my earlier posts, but some of my best moments in college (and even up to law school), were teaching novices the basics of debate. Like I said, seeing the faces of those that would suddenly grasp a concept like a perm, or whatever.... that was legitimally fulfilling. I just cannot understand why this complex academic and intellectual endeavor, with many mental rewards, is being shunned in the favor of lesser events.

Edited by RappGuy

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P.S.

 

Logan:

 

I would say one term of contracts is enough... except (believe it or not) this is my favorite subject so far. Perhaps it's the subject matter and my interest as an attorney.. but whatever. Bring on the contracts man!

 

And yes, if I ever find myself in CO again... call and annoy I shall. ;)

 

 

Sandy:

 

As one I always looked up to while in debate, it pleases me to see you still check these forums. I look forward to hearing what your comments are.

Edited by RappGuy

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I understood you Phil; it was me who was being unclear. What I meant to get across was this; numbers are just numbers. Of course they're down. Of course they were higher years ago. Nothing I do as a judge is ever going to change that. Maybe at some point in my life I will be in a position to increase the participation rate of HS debate, but I'm not there now. I'm in agreement with you that styles/judging/quality are more or less irrelevant to participation, and have given up the delusion that they aren't. So in the meantime, the only thing I can do is judge...sometimes. I hope you'll be involved in CO debate however you can in the future. For me, to the extend that I can't do anything about it, I'm going to be optimistic.

 

logan

 

p.s. as for the decline of this site--it just occured to me that when we were in highschool cross-x.com didn't have to compete with myspace or facebook. There's just as much highschool angst on the internet as there's ever been--it's just moved elsewhere.

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I also coach on the Western Slope. My teams compete against CLuce's teams often. I can honestly say that her and I are trying to save CX on the Western Slope. If you think people hate the new style of debate on the eastern slope you really ought to see it on the western slope. Coaches who have had successful programs in the past have developed a hatred for the event and what it has become.

 

We often travel to the Eastern slope to compete and have had some pretty good success. Yet nobody knows we even exist. This doesn't really bother me, but if my teams have success at state (like they have had the last two years) then it will be mocked as catching a lucky break.

 

I think CX is killing itself by its elitest attitudes. If you're not one of the big schools/teams then you get no respect. I've been on panels in out rounds at tournaments in the last two months where another judge (a college student and good former debater) knew one of the teams, gave the other team the cold shoulder and smirked at them during their speeches. That doesn't' seem like the way to make this activity grow. The current attitude in Colorado makes it very difficult for teams to want to keep competing.

 

You can talk about coaches who are angry all you want, but there are a few of us out there attempting to fight against all of the opposition that CX brings.

 

I love CX and will continue fielding my 6 teams for as long as I can keep the program running, but I don't really picture the situation getting any better any time soon.

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I also coach on the Western Slope. My teams compete against CLuce's teams often. I can honestly say that her and I are trying to save CX on the Western Slope. If you think people hate the new style of debate on the eastern slope you really ought to see it on the western slope. Coaches who have had successful programs in the past have developed a hatred for the event and what it has become.

 

We often travel to the Eastern slope to compete and have had some pretty good success. Yet nobody knows we even exist. This doesn't really bother me, but if my teams have success at state (like they have had the last two years) then it will be mocked as catching a lucky break.

 

I think CX is killing itself by its elitest attitudes. If you're not one of the big schools/teams then you get no respect. I've been on panels in out rounds at tournaments in the last two months where another judge (a college student and good former debater) knew one of the teams, gave the other team the cold shoulder and smirked at them during their speeches. That doesn't' seem like the way to make this activity grow. The current attitude in Colorado makes it very difficult for teams to want to keep competing.

 

You can talk about coaches who are angry all you want, but there are a few of us out there attempting to fight against all of the opposition that CX brings.

 

I love CX and will continue fielding my 6 teams for as long as I can keep the program running, but I don't really picture the situation getting any better any time soon.

 

I have a lot of problem with this post. You don't say which school you are from, but I suspect it is Moffat County. As someone who judged one of your teams on a panel round at a recent eastern slope tournament and is one of those college judges, I don't really like being called out as being unfair. I understand what it is like to try to break into any circuit. As a debater, I was at what started as a no-name program (in fact, there was no program prior to a couple people deciding my freshmen year deciding to try policy). We lost rounds not because no one had heard of us, but because people beat us. If the judges made faces, its because they didn't think we knew what we were doing and got annoyed with that. Judges should try not to do that, but it happens.

 

Hard work got us to the point of being one of the best teams in the state (we had 2 teams at my school that were at this higher level). We decided to travel the national circuit senior year, and yes, we ran into a couple of rounds where our lack of name recognition put us at a disadvantage. That didn't stop us from breaking at every circuit tournament that we were at, and by the end of the year, we were getting the type of recognition bonuses that others had at the start of the year. Lesson is: winning changes attitudes but attitudes don't determine wins. If you aren't winning, then just go work harder, practice more, and actually change peoples' perceptions.

Edited by jormarber

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I have a lot of problem with this post. You don't say which school you are from, but I suspect it is Moffat County. As someone who judged one of your teams on a panel round at a recent eastern slope tournament and is one of those college judges, I don't really like being called out as being unfair. I understand what it is like to try to break into any circuit. As a debater, I was at what started as a no-name program (in fact, there was no program prior to a couple people deciding my freshmen year deciding to try policy). We lost rounds not because no one had heard of us, but because people beat us. If the judges made faces, its because they didn't think we knew what we were doing and got annoyed with that. Judges should try not to do that, but it happens.

 

Hard work got us to the point of being one of the best teams in the state (we had 2 teams at my school that were at this higher level). We decided to travel the national circuit senior year, and yes, we ran into a couple of rounds where our lack of name recognition put us at a disadvantage. That didn't stop us from breaking at every circuit tournament that we were at, and by the end of the year, we were getting the type of recognition bonuses that others had at the start of the year. Lesson is: winning changes attitudes but attitudes don't determine wins. If you aren't winning, then just go work harder, practice more, and actually change peoples' perceptions.

 

I am the coach at Moffat County. I am not in any way, shape, or form saying we lost that round because we weren't heard of. We lost that round because of a lot of reasons, all of them being about my students performance in the round, that judge not being one of them. The faces began before the round as soon as the other team walked in, the judge in question had no idea who they were and his body language suggested they had lost before the round even started. I'm not saying that the faces in fact influenced the debaters in question, but I can see how it would have a tremendous impact on younger debaters. Jordan, I don't know who you are and I do know the judge, so please don't take offense to this post.

 

The example I gave is just one example in which I feel like the community is becoming elitist. I'm not trying to accuse anybody of anything. I'm just suggesting this as a reason why other schools are not competing in CX any longer. Unlike other schools who have given up trying to compete, we are doing exactly what you suggested. Working harder, practicing more, and debating more.

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The example I gave is just one example in which I feel like the community is becoming elitist. I'm not trying to accuse anybody of anything. I'm just suggesting this as a reason why other schools are not competing in CX any longer. Unlike other schools who have given up trying to compete, we are doing exactly what you suggested. Working harder, practicing more, and debating more.

 

The major problem I have with this line of argument is that, well, debate IS elitist, in all states and circuits. It has always been elitist, both externally and internally. If you don't believe me, there are a ton of performance K's dedicated to proving this.

 

The point Jordan's making is that while debate is elitist, it isn't necessarily exclusive. There is a community, and gaining access to it isn't impossible. In fact, it's pretty easy if you're trying at all.

 

Like Jordan said, we (I was his partner) started at a school that hadn't had any kind of CX program in years, and gained acceptance in the Colorado debate community by working hard and starting to win (at the end of our sophomore year), by participating in these forums, and by talking with other debaters at tournaments. You don't even have to show up at every tournament, you just have to be friendly and make an effort to get to know people when you do.

 

One of the great things about debate is that it has this pretty tight-knit community, which is fun to be a part of and can really help you improve. We certainly learned a lot by watching out rounds and then discussing them with our peers afterwards. So I don't think that the community is dying out at any greater rate than the event - debaters still talk at tournaments, at least they did at the tournaments I've been two in the last few years - I just think that maybe this rift you're seeing is a symptom of your teams not engaging in the community.

 

Of course, I don't really know that. I don't really know who your teams are - but maybe that's the problem. Even two years out, I know a lot of teams personally and many more by name only. I loosely follow these forums and I've been to a few tournaments where your teams have also been in the last few years (including state last year), but I've never seen them on here, and I've never seen them talking with other debaters, especially ones from the East. Maybe that's totally unfair because I just haven't been around much, but in my limited experience that's what I've seen.

 

So maybe you can help your kids by encouraging them to get a little more involved in the community. It may not be the fairest system ever, but it is the system, and it's no more prevalent now than it was six years ago when I started.

Edited by potterhead4

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The kids who participate are the culprits if we were to blame just one group. Simply most novices are too afraid to approach an opposing team outside of rounds, especially if they are varsity. Even varsity teams show anti-social behavior. Some kids won't take the effort to reach out to the community that exists. There is an abundance of hostility in some cases toward individuals who want to improve but don't have anyone to help them, and sometimes coaches hinder their debaters. There needs to be a revival on all levels not just for the students, but for the coaches, and judges. As to what this revival will be I haven't a clue, if it boosts the community as a whole the negative implications can be assessed later.

 

Rapp made an excellent point about anti-social people joining debate, it's a product of elitism. People feel that they can express themselves in a round, or the allure of a victory draws them, which makes elitism in perspective a good thing. If debate is the gateway to future leadership and policy making we damned well better be elite. If the entire state would embrace a commonality of elitism amongst each other as if to say "we are Colorado debaters, we support each other" then we'd have a more established community in general, what we have now isn't necessarily good or bad it's just lost members through the years. Wyoming has a pretty tight community from what I've observed and they have a smaller number of teams than Colorado, doing something on a larger scale wouldn't be difficult at all. Kent and East did fantastic at Nationals, I've been hearing it for months, and I have to say I regret not knowing those teams personally, I and others could have improved vastly with just a little extra knowledge, a larger more connected community has the potential to spur a different level of competition, beyond what we have. And all it would take is a little extra effort.

 

Although I've seen similar scenarios as to what Hans was saying above (including on myself), it's based not on elite actions but a hierarchy that shouldn't exist. How can someone judge fairly at a large tourney if their paradigms are clouded by the success/renown of one team to another? The hierarchy is the only negative thing I see in Colorado: East, West, North, South. Please note, I'm not implicating anyone on cross-x as to biased action, additionally I know for a fact that Jordan has judged me fairly in the past.

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