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PKennedy

The status of debate in Kansas

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I have never been inclined to write long messages about the status of debate, because frankly I'm not in every debate and do not truly know what is going on at some of the tournaments that I have neither debated at nor sponsored. But still, I feel like over the past year I have learned things about debate in Kansas that I did not know before.

 

We have learned the wrong lessons from the Tournament of Champions and the NDT. We have picked up their secrecy and drive to win, but not their strategic and critical thinking possibilities. We have picked up their fervor about specific arguments theoretical legitimacy, but have become a bastion of conservatism amidst a world of progressive argumentation. Debate is not what it was during the 90's or even the early 00's.

 

Debate has become more polarized than at any other time in the past ten years. Previously, Kansans could stand toe-to-toe with TOC champions because we knew how to make smart arguments and were willing to take the best positions on the topic, even as they attempted to race to the least predictable arguments. What happened to Kansas? Where is our drive for greatness? It existed even five years ago, when I was a freshman. There were teams debating at the same tournaments that I was that could have taken down at least half of the TOC or NFL pools. Now the pool of talent has started to run dry and we have started to run these competitors out of town.

 

Many coaches say that it is the out of state competition of the TOC that ruins local circuits, but this is probably untrue. They will say that it is empirically proven, but in reality this assessment does not take all the issues into account. The Illinois circuit is one example that is commonly touted. While schools like Glenbrooks North and South have effectively taken control of this circuit, it was not because they went to the TOC. Rather, it was because they ONLY went to TOC tournaments. These tournaments provide valuable opporunities for students to test their knowledge and compete nationally, while also preventing stagnation of Kansas debate ideology and culture. It encourages innovation in argumentation and allows us to give back to the national community. If it is true that Kansas has a lot to give, then it is our duty to teach the country the value of smart aguments and persuasion. If the Glenbrooks had debated more commonly in the Chicago area, with all of its teams, not just the lower teams, then they could have brought the experience of the bigger tournaments back to their local circuits and effectively let all of the local schools get their experience vicariously.

 

It is no longer enough for coaches to say: "I don't believe in this style of argumentation, and it is therefore not a legitimate way to debate." Saying that it is cheating or not educational is not enough- it will not go away because we stand with our eyes shut as it grows more and more each year. If you do not think the criticism is an effective way to debate, then learn why it is not a good response to calls for material action. If you, like me, think that the utilitarian consequences of enacting a plan are important, then teach your students about the value of this form of policymaking and decision making, rather than how to make fun of the other team and where they should go to engage in Lincoln Douglass debate.

 

I am only willing to make fun of one group of people, because they are the only ones who truly make no sense to me, but still somehow exist in Kansas. Those coaches who think that counterplans are illigitimate and not educational have obviously never read any public policy or international political literature. Counter proposals are made every day and debated in relationship to one another. For example, there are currently multiple forms of the health care bill before congress, and their distinct benefits are being weighed in conjunction with one another. When the status quo is truly unacceptable, do you want your future policymakers to throw up their hands and say there are only two options- the bill currently on the floor, or the flawed current system? And, the obsession with counterplans being untopical? This example still applies- would you want your senator to suggest that we respond to the health care bill by implementing a bunch of other programs to solve the problems in the current order, none of which are health care? No, it is more efficient and realistic to provide a counter-proposal that is directly responsive and in the same field as the original proposal.

 

It is time for us to work together to craft a new system, where those who would like to debate in a national setting can still debate against the local circuit teams without ever match ending in a startlingly quick decision in favor of the team that was more technically proficient. It is time to bring an end to this startling inequity in our present order and shuffle the deck on our long-standing power politics. It is time that we recognize debate prowess and technical ability for what they are and no longer tag them as elitism. NDT debate is no more esoteric than football, it just happens that more people tune in to the NFL. In fact, this style of debate is less restricting, since you make up the majority of the rules as you go along. Shouldn’t it be the least esoteric and most strategically oriented game ever?

 

Yet time and again, there are coaches who tell their students that there is only one way they should debate. When I was a senior, attending the NFL qualifying tournament for the first and only time in policy debate, I was told in my elimination round that I had lost a ballot, not because of an argument the other team had made, but because a coach said that all plans needed to specify their funding and enforcement mechanisms in them, or else they were invalid. Thus, it is not only the debaters who are losing out directly, but indirectly as well. What the coaches of this state teach their debaters becomes the knowledge base of the judges at our tournaments. Why should DCI, State or NFL be decided based upon, not the debate round, but someone’s preconceived notions about how debate works? Since when did debate have a rule book that was so rigid and inflexible?

 

Furthermore, why has an air of secrecy shrouded our debate community? It is absolutely uneducational for teams to refuse to release the information for the affirmative for the general public, or at least before the debate state what arguments they are reading. The main criticism of this method is that it allows for schools (like my high school) with a large number of coaches to crush the smaller schools through superior preparation. First, this is simply inaccurate- we were far less scared to debate these teams, because we were prepared to debate in depth on all of our generic strategies and they were simply hoping we had nothing to say to their silly affirmative. This means our real advantage was that we knew how to argue and defend our positions, as well as make them apply to people’s affirmatives, even if we were ill prepared for them specifically. Secondly, it would actually benefit the small schools to be able to focus their case-specific preparation to only the few cases that would be read at each tournament. Not only that, but they could boost their affirmative files by recutting useful articles from larger schools. Furthermore, increased availability of case information would encourage increased depth of debates. This is critical. I cannot tell you how many times I either heard or judged a team say something outlandish like the Heidegger K, just because they did not have anything better tailored to say. This cannot stand.

 

In a similar vein, I am quite perturbed at the growing number of teams that responds to so-called generic da’s by simply stating that they could apply to any case on the topic. NEWS FLASH, that probably means they are fairly relevant objections to ALL OF THE AFFIRMATIVES ON THE TOPIC and are thus CORE NEGATIVE GROUND. For all those wishing to refocus debate on the thing we choose to argue about, this so-called resolution, we need to ensure our debaters are a lot more resolute in actually defending it. There are too many people who are simply looking to run away from debates. And, even if the disadvantage is not at the heart of the topic, and links to lots of affirmatives, is it not still a DA? I think the only reason that people even get away with this argument still is that there are people out their who want to encourage laziness on their debate teams, rather than doing the research to write effective answers to arguments that lie at the center of academic discussions.

 

Finally, one last question- what ever happened to just having a division for the people who wanted to do the NDT style debate? I remember once upon a time tournaments like Olathe South, Shawnee Mission East, Lawrence and even Topeka High had a champ division. Why did they go? Seeing all the people go to debate camp to learn this style of debate each year seems to contradict the argument that there is no interest. Maybe it is because we are pushing these debaters out. I did not feel welcome at my own state’s competitions, because I had also debated at Greenhill and St. Marks, as though that made me the outlaw of Kansas debate. Champ tournaments were an opportunity to learn and make arguments quickly and efficiently, as well as at a greater depth and level of precision than in open or varsity tournaments. As to the accusations of elitism: so what? What does it matter if some people think that they are better than others because they do one style of debate? Tell them they are simply confused and that all styles of debate are legitimate forms. In reality, the reason that this is not sufficient for most people is that they too feel like this style of debate is most difficult. Digging hard into the heart of a topic each year is not so easy to do, but will inspire a lot of creativity and interesting discussion, and it will certainly make me want to judge again.

 

For those of you that think that I have simply been indoctrinated in the dogma of Shawnee Mission East thinking, I would like to inform you what I was taught the very first day I walked into my first period novice debate class, the very first of my lesson in that learned institution. I was taught about logic and argumentation. I was told how to craft a strong case and attack a weak one. Ethos, pathos and logos, all were stressed. Contrary to popular belief, we were never taught how to read a counterplan or criticism in class, though Ms. Manville (as great a coach as there will ever be) certainly knew them backward and forward. Those lessons would be ephemeral; instead we dived head first into a world of persuasion and mental subtlety for all situations and audiences. As often as not we discussed how our strategies would play in the court room, not just the classroom. We were a squad forged in the fires of rhetorical and legal conflagration. So, while it may be true that I have been tainted by my school’s brainwashing, I urge the reader to reconsider their misconceptions about my supposedly damaging education. I believe strongly that the lessons I learned in room 229 will follow me always, and allow me to persuade anyone, from a layperson to an experienced field leader. This is what debate means to me, and this is why I have sought out the styles of debate that engage most in-depth with those ideas of logic and argumentation (and make no mistake, I include so-called “lay debate” as a very valuable style). The only thing that saddens me are the ballots lost to true dogma, where the judge blatantly lifts their veil of objectivity and renders a transparently unjust verdict. These decisions, I believe, are the dagger in the heart of debate’s pedagogical possibilities. These decisions, I firmly believe, must be reversed and rendered before strength can return to the Kansas community.

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Sorry you feel that way Patrick. I can't say that I agree with you today as much as I would have agreed with you 3 years ago. I am sorry you feel the way you seem to feel.

 

We offered a "national circuit style" division last year and even had schools from MO and OK coming. They asked at NFL if we are going to do it again. There was not enough Kansas support to hold the division. I can't say that I am inclined to stick my neck out again only to be ignored by the Kansas community when the out of state teams want to come.

 

That said, I don't feel like you are on the mark. We all grow, adapt, change, etc. That goes for coaches too. Your complaints about judging really apply at every level and decorum prevents me from telling you what I saw take place at nationals this year in a round that PJ and Kendall lost. I submit that their 6th place finish at NFL is as much due to the need to adapt to Kansas as it it that they debated on the national circuit and developed those types of strategies too...it took both styles to do that well.

 

I have no real need to try to persuade you to change your mind. I just feel like you are a bit bothered by something and chose to vent it in this forum and in this fashion. Fair enough.

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I actually think your tournament is one of the best examples of a good experience for Kansas that I am talking about. It allowed the opportunity for people who had some experience on the national circuit to debate alongside programs without institutional or financial support to leave the state. I'm not calling for an exodus, I'm merely commenting that there are programs out there that need to do more adapting and more changing. I think that debate in Kansas has the most potential of any circuit in the country, and would not trade our mixture of judging for anything- I simply believe that we need to make sure people's preconceived notions do not find their way onto ballots, only what occurs in the debate.

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I actually think your tournament is one of the best examples of a good experience for Kansas that I am talking about. It allowed the opportunity for people who had some experience on the national circuit to debate alongside programs without institutional or financial support to leave the state. I'm not calling for an exodus, I'm merely commenting that there are programs out there that need to do more adapting and more changing. I think that debate in Kansas has the most potential of any circuit in the country, and would not trade our mixture of judging for anything- I simply believe that we need to make sure people's preconceived notions do not find their way onto ballots, only what occurs in the debate.

 

I get that man but I submit that the problem of judge intervention is there at every level. I don't think that a lay judge snorting during the round is any more or less heinous than a national circuit judge doing the same thing...maybe less since the national circuit judge SHOULD know better.

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It is no longer enough for coaches to say: "I don't believe in this style of argumentation, and it is therefore not a legitimate way to debate." Saying that it is cheating or not educational is not enough- it will not go away because we stand with our eyes shut as it grows more and more each year. If you do not think the criticism is an effective way to debate, then learn why it is not a good response to calls for material action. If you, like me, think that the utilitarian consequences of enacting a plan are important, then teach your students about the value of this form of policymaking and decision making, rather than how to make fun of the other team and where they should go to engage in Lincoln Douglass debate.

 

I am only willing to make fun of one group of people, because they are the only ones who truly make no sense to me, but still somehow exist in Kansas. Those coaches who think that counterplans are illigitimate and not educational have obviously never read any public policy or international political literature. Counter proposals are made every day and debated in relationship to one another.

to this point, i'd like to refrain from disputing anything you have said; yet i feel obliged to note that, as has been brought up several times on similar destabilizing threads in kansas, whether the issue being destabilized was computers or disclosing or anything else: the single least effective way to persuade a group of people to change their way of thinking is through direct confrontation and telling them what's best for them.

It is time for us to work together to craft a new system, where those who would like to debate in a national setting can still debate against the local circuit teams without ever match ending in a startlingly quick decision in favor of the team that was more technically proficient. It is time to bring an end to this startling inequity in our present order and shuffle the deck on our long-standing power politics. It is time that we recognize debate prowess and technical ability for what they are and no longer tag them as elitism. NDT debate is no more esoteric than football, it just happens that more people tune in to the NFL. In fact, this style of debate is less restricting, since you make up the majority of the rules as you go along. Shouldn’t it be the least esoteric and most strategically oriented game ever?

since when does the elitism tag functionally matter? it may be an undertone of the discussion of those on either side of it ["we're better because we know more!"; "they think they're soooo good because they know a bunch of unimportant shit"] but i think you'd be hard pressed to point to it as a causal factor in the problem you outline in any manner.

Yet time and again, there are coaches who tell their students that there is only one way they should debate. When I was a senior, attending the NFL qualifying tournament for the first and only time in policy debate, I was told in my elimination round that I had lost a ballot, not because of an argument the other team had made, but because a coach said that all plans needed to specify their funding and enforcement mechanisms in them, or else they were invalid. Thus, it is not only the debaters who are losing out directly, but indirectly as well. What the coaches of this state teach their debaters becomes the knowledge base of the judges at our tournaments. Why should DCI, State or NFL be decided based upon, not the debate round, but someone’s preconceived notions about how debate works? Since when did debate have a rule book that was so rigid and inflexible?

i think i can safely say that everyone who has spent a substantial amount of time debating has thought to themselves "we got screwed out of that ballot". something i was told from before i even started debating in high school by my dad [of the ziegler/lawrence round fame] that "you can't take credit for the rounds you win if you are unwilling to take credit for the rounds you lose". this was easily the single building block which the rest of my approach rested on, and i think it's why i've had the least problem with accepting losses that i thought i won of anyone i've ever talked to in debate. with the exception of exactly one round in my senior year [tip of the cap to alex parkinson and jesi egan] i thought i won them all. you're supposed to think that way after you get enough experience because you can see how you would fill a ballot out for yourself. the key is to view the round--before, during, and after--as the judge would have. while i am one to flippantly throw around two word explanations for threads on cross-x with obvious expectations of more input, i do so because i believe what i post.

 

i agree with you on several accounts, but i think operating within the system that you are placed in is in and of itself a part of technical proficiency in debate. i think that's where we may differ here. i understand that when you invest the kind of time and effort into debate that anyone that aspires to debate on the national circuit does--and especially you, because i know you worked your ass off at debate [and likely invested more time than i did during your career] and certainly should win the majority of rounds you debate, especially against others who didn't invest that same time. but we all make mistakes. and i think the mistakes that debaters who invest the kind of time you did in technical proficiency make most often are those of adaptation. so i feel your pain there, because it happened at an extremely inopportune time. but i don't know that it's the system's fault.

 

Furthermore, why has an air of secrecy shrouded our debate community?

because it's the security dilemma as applied to debate.

 

The only thing that saddens me are the ballots lost to true dogma, where the judge blatantly lifts their veil of objectivity and renders a transparently unjust verdict. These decisions, I believe, are the dagger in the heart of debate’s pedagogical possibilities. These decisions, I firmly believe, must be reversed and rendered before strength can return to the Kansas community.

this is where you have to toe the line gingerly, my friend. many an advanced, "high flow", "collegejudge" throws a ballot away due to dogma. it's happened in my favor before, as well as against my favor; in kansas and away from kansas [and in kansas but in a national tournament]. i don't think you can state that the dogmatic beliefs are solely a problem in the "lay judge" or "old school" judge world. in fact, and i have no evidence to back this up save personal anecdote, so i understand the weight of this will be extremely limited, but i'd contend that complete lay judges are far less dogmatic than the average college judge. i realize this isn't responsive to your claim whatsoever, but it is a thought that i think should be mulled over before leveling an indictment of the system as a whole. if dogma is the problem, are the old school coaches you discuss the keys to the problem? i seriously doubt it.

 

my $.02 [respectfully submitted, of course; as is always the case with the handful of posters here that i respect]

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Patrick is on the right direction, even Missouri (a slave state at one point) is getting ahead of us in terms of contemporary debate participation and activism. It seems that the quality and caliber ot teams is decreasing, and a lot of it is partially because of narrow prospects for debate opportunities. There are a pleuthra of judges in Kansas who will refuse to listen to certain arguments, more or less entertain them, and have a pre round disposition towards crucial components of modern policy debate. Not that slow Kansas style is bad, it is probably good to have a mixture, but recently we have been going too far left and are at the point of ceding the political. So, in light of what Patrick has said, why are we gonna do? For starters, we can revoke the TOC decision two years ago, and allow dedicated debaters to compete against the best in the nation.

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i agree with you on several accounts, but i think operating within the system that you are placed in is in and of itself a part of technical proficiency in debate. i think that's where we may differ here. i understand that when you invest the kind of time and effort into debate that anyone that aspires to debate on the national circuit does--and especially you, because i know you worked your ass off at debate [and likely invested more time than i did during your career] and certainly should win the majority of rounds you debate, especially against others who didn't invest that same time. but we all make mistakes. and i think the mistakes that debaters who invest the kind of time you did in technical proficiency make most often are those of adaptation. so i feel your pain there, because it happened at an extremely inopportune time. but i don't know that it's the system's fault.

 

the answer here is yes, but to a degree. i have the absolute utmost respect for those debaters who can win both the TOC and NFL in the same year. but you have to allow individuals the ability to do both at the highest level. the truly best debaters should be allowed to compete at the TOC and NFL in the same year if they wanted to even if they were juniors, soph, etc.

 

locking debaters into a single mode of debate is absolutely anti-educational. locking debaters into stricly champ is anti-educational just as locking debaters into stricly speaking skills debate. both styles of debate have an enormous amount that can be learned from them. a diversity of experiences should be encouraged.

 

 

 

this is where you have to toe the line gingerly, my friend. many an advanced, "high flow", "collegejudge" throws a ballot away due to dogma. it's happened in my favor before, as well as against my favor; in kansas and away from kansas [and in kansas but in a national tournament]. i don't think you can state that the dogmatic beliefs are solely a problem in the "lay judge" or "old school" judge world. in fact, and i have no evidence to back this up save personal anecdote, so i understand the weight of this will be extremely limited, but i'd contend that complete lay judges are far less dogmatic than the average college judge. i realize this isn't responsive to your claim whatsoever, but it is a thought that i think should be mulled over before leveling an indictment of the system as a whole. if dogma is the problem, are the old school coaches you discuss the keys to the problem? i seriously doubt it.

 

you and swanson are making the same argument. yes, judge intervention occurs at all levels. but you have to look at the likelihood of interventions. it is WAY more likely to occur in a nonchamp round.

 

 

pretty much the rest of what sev said i agree with, but i, obviously, very passionately agree with patrick. i hope that swanson is correct and the KS community adapts. but if it is the case that adapation is inevitable, why not expedite the process?

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Mr. Kennedy,

 

You offer some interesting criticisms but little in the way of solutions. Let me offer my $.02...

 

I judged a ton this past season and I feel qualified to say that the Kansas Circuit as a whole was down a little this year. There were a handful of really good teams and quite a few good to so-so teams that made up the DCI circuit. I don't think that this is the year to criticize teams and coaching staffs for lack of outside the box type arguments because the vast majority of teams would be better served in concentrating on the fundamentals... execution of regular old arguments; disads, simple counter-plans and the case debate. If teams can't get those right, they have no business pulling out the foucalt file (or whatever).

 

As to your point about old schoolish coaches and counterplans. Sure some coaches are stuck in their ways, but if you are staring down the barrel of 4A State or West KS NFL you might be less apt to want to get your squad amped about Kritiks and Counterplans.... Most coaches are very competitive and they run their squads the way that they feel that they can become the most successful. Time will eventually take care of this "problem" as these older coaches retire, but perhaps if we could get more active participation from former students in the judging pool these coaches would have to adapt to stay competitive. I don't agree that this is causing us to somehow become less competitive on the National Circuit, we had a team take 2nd at CFL and we had a team in 6th at NFL... that is a strong showing for what I would consider to be a down year. We need not be concerned with TOC "street cred". This year's NDT Champions were born in this system... Not to mention a ton of other competitive college teams and past national champions.

 

There are still quite a few tournaments that offer champ style debate, but judging pools are sparse. If you really want to make change in the community the #1 thing that you could do is go out and judge... as much as you can... Organize groups of people (like on facebook or something) that carpool and pitch in for hotels to travel together. People reading this, get out there and support this activity. I know that judging sucks sometimes, and I know that it costs money, but you've got to do your part. Over the long term it would be great if tournaments could start paying for judges via increased entry fees, but the economic situation of school districts makes this impossible for the foreseeable future. Better judging pools solves for pretty much everything that you outlined in your post.

 

To Mr Swanson,

 

I would speculate that the reason that your tournament wasn't well attended was the lack of having the DCI label attached... I could be wrong... I would certainly be in favor of allowing for more than one DCI tournament on certain weekends. Especially considering the current economic situation. The Winfield/T-High weekend would be one in particular that I'd like to see a dual bid weekend.

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to this point, i'd like to refrain from disputing anything you have said; yet i feel obliged to note that, as has been brought up several times on similar destabilizing threads in kansas, whether the issue being destabilized was computers or disclosing or anything else: the single least effective way to persuade a group of people to change their way of thinking is through direct confrontation and telling them what's best for them.

 

Fair enough. I suppose a more accurate phrasing would have been- the only group that seems openly hypocritical and has no leg to stand on. I do not think that there is a valid logical argument to support this viewpoint, though I personally would not insult someone for holding it, only the viewpoint itself. Think of it like the difference between saying the phrase "sub-Saharan Africa" is racist, and saying someone is racist for saying "sub-Saharan Africa." The baggage is what I am taking issue with, not the one carrying it at present.

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Mr. Kennedy,

 

You offer some interesting criticisms but little in the way of solutions. Let me offer my $.02...

 

I judged a ton this past season and I feel qualified to say that the Kansas Circuit as a whole was down a little this year. There were a handful of really good teams and quite a few good to so-so teams that made up the DCI circuit. I don't think that this is the year to criticize teams and coaching staffs for lack of outside the box type arguments because the vast majority of teams would be better served in concentrating on the fundamentals... execution of regular old arguments; disads, simple counter-plans and the case debate. If teams can't get those right, they have no business pulling out the foucalt file (or whatever).

 

As to your point about old schoolish coaches and counterplans. Sure some coaches are stuck in their ways, but if you are staring down the barrel of 4A State or West KS NFL you might be less apt to want to get your squad amped about Kritiks and Counterplans.... Most coaches are very competitive and they run their squads the way that they feel that they can become the most successful. Time will eventually take care of this "problem" as these older coaches retire, but perhaps if we could get more active participation from former students in the judging pool these coaches would have to adapt to stay competitive. I don't agree that this is causing us to somehow become less competitive on the National Circuit, we had a team take 2nd at CFL and we had a team in 6th at NFL... that is a strong showing for what I would consider to be a down year. We need not be concerned with TOC "street cred". This year's NDT Champions were born in this system... Not to mention a ton of other competitive college teams and past national champions.

 

There are still quite a few tournaments that offer champ style debate, but judging pools are sparse. If you really want to make change in the community the #1 thing that you could do is go out and judge... as much as you can... Organize groups of people (like on facebook or something) that carpool and pitch in for hotels to travel together. People reading this, get out there and support this activity. I know that judging sucks sometimes, and I know that it costs money, but you've got to do your part. Over the long term it would be great if tournaments could start paying for judges via increased entry fees, but the economic situation of school districts makes this impossible for the foreseeable future. Better judging pools solves for pretty much everything that you outlined in your post.

 

To Mr Swanson,

 

I would speculate that the reason that your tournament wasn't well attended was the lack of having the DCI label attached... I could be wrong... I would certainly be in favor of allowing for more than one DCI tournament on certain weekends. Especially considering the current economic situation. The Winfield/T-High weekend would be one in particular that I'd like to see a dual bid weekend.

 

to this point, i'd like to refrain from disputing anything you have said; yet i feel obliged to note that, as has been brought up several times on similar destabilizing threads in kansas, whether the issue being destabilized was computers or disclosing or anything else: the single least effective way to persuade a group of people to change their way of thinking is through direct confrontation and telling them what's best for them.

 

since when does the elitism tag functionally matter? it may be an undertone of the discussion of those on either side of it ["we're better because we know more!"; "they think they're soooo good because they know a bunch of unimportant shit"] but i think you'd be hard pressed to point to it as a causal factor in the problem you outline in any manner.

 

i think i can safely say that everyone who has spent a substantial amount of time debating has thought to themselves "we got screwed out of that ballot". something i was told from before i even started debating in high school by my dad [of the ziegler/lawrence round fame] that "you can't take credit for the rounds you win if you are unwilling to take credit for the rounds you lose". this was easily the single building block which the rest of my approach rested on, and i think it's why i've had the least problem with accepting losses that i thought i won of anyone i've ever talked to in debate. with the exception of exactly one round in my senior year [tip of the cap to alex parkinson and jesi egan] i thought i won them all. you're supposed to think that way after you get enough experience because you can see how you would fill a ballot out for yourself. the key is to view the round--before, during, and after--as the judge would have. while i am one to flippantly throw around two word explanations for threads on cross-x with obvious expectations of more input, i do so because i believe what i post.

 

i agree with you on several accounts, but i think operating within the system that you are placed in is in and of itself a part of technical proficiency in debate. i think that's where we may differ here. i understand that when you invest the kind of time and effort into debate that anyone that aspires to debate on the national circuit does--and especially you, because i know you worked your ass off at debate [and likely invested more time than i did during your career] and certainly should win the majority of rounds you debate, especially against others who didn't invest that same time. but we all make mistakes. and i think the mistakes that debaters who invest the kind of time you did in technical proficiency make most often are those of adaptation. so i feel your pain there, because it happened at an extremely inopportune time. but i don't know that it's the system's fault.

 

 

because it's the security dilemma as applied to debate.

 

 

this is where you have to toe the line gingerly, my friend. many an advanced, "high flow", "collegejudge" throws a ballot away due to dogma. it's happened in my favor before, as well as against my favor; in kansas and away from kansas [and in kansas but in a national tournament]. i don't think you can state that the dogmatic beliefs are solely a problem in the "lay judge" or "old school" judge world. in fact, and i have no evidence to back this up save personal anecdote, so i understand the weight of this will be extremely limited, but i'd contend that complete lay judges are far less dogmatic than the average college judge. i realize this isn't responsive to your claim whatsoever, but it is a thought that i think should be mulled over before leveling an indictment of the system as a whole. if dogma is the problem, are the old school coaches you discuss the keys to the problem? i seriously doubt it.

 

my $.02 [respectfully submitted, of course; as is always the case with the handful of posters here that i respect]

 

 

I think PKennedy is spot on. I've been at the GDI scholars camp for the last month and have met some of the cream of the crop from Kansas while i was there, and have emense respect for all of them. McClung, Raghuveer, Empson and Halter all have my total respect as debaters. I don't know about Kansas's level of talent compared to other years but I do know that you have a lot of talent returning this year all the same.

 

That being said, I think Kansas is holding itself back. Its like Kansas is preventing itself from being the best it can be. Obviously Kansas is the biggest participant in the NFL and has a strong tradition but Kansas could do so much more with what it currently has. With a curcuit that has such a deep tradition as Kansas does its a shame to see debaters discouraged from alternative modes of debate. I think its great that coaches want their debaters to be competitive NFL/CFL type debaters but I think its a shame that they are somewhat discouraged from TOC style debate. Sure there are ways for them to participate in that style of debate but the opportunities are too few and far in between.

 

Judges need to accept all types of debate. There shouldn't be rules in debate. Its fine to have a stylistic preference for types of debate but you shouldn't exclude other members. Debate is a self correcting system, it can never be corrupt if you let it run its course. If TOC style debate was better than CFL style debate then it would crush the other and vice versa. But you need to let those styles coexist and feed off eachother because surpressing one or the other only damages the activity.

 

Sure you can't start a revolution or any thing but you can still try to work within the system to make things change. Maybe judges need to decide that they'll stop letting their biases show in rounds and just let the kids debate. But even individuals make a diffference if they want to, its just whether the will is there. Thats my little sappy schpiel

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ITT: We generalize debate "styles" then choose to identify with one and blame the other for destroying us. Lol pragmatism, what's that

 

Also, to both sides, everything was better as we remember it than it is. I thought Golden Eye was awesome on the N64 but now all the things that made it awesome are expected in games today. Put this last quote in the debate context because its the first thing I thought of when thinking about the, "It was better when..." people,

 

"That's what I like about high school girls, I keep gettin older, they stay the same age."

 

 

EDIT: Ok maybe that was a bad quote for that. Point being debate didn't get worse you got better.

 

EDIT 2: Also Mr. Swanson, Chris obviously judge intervention happens at all levels. Really the message between the lines is if there's gotta be judge intervention I'd like it to be at least reasonably warranted and semi-intelligent as opposed to "You're just wrong but I can't tell you why." (Must be one of those tightly guarded secrets.) or losing because of eye contact, shoes, or a better outfit in general.

Edited by Felix Hoenikker

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I don't agree that this is causing us to somehow become less competitive on the National Circuit, we had a team take 2nd at CFL and we had a team in 6th at NFL... that is a strong showing for what I would consider to be a down year. We need not be concerned with TOC "street cred". This year's NDT Champions were born in this system... Not to mention a ton of other competitive college teams and past national champions.

 

 

Vehemently disagree.

 

I would care to know what your definition of the "National Circuit" is. For me, it is the debate community that travels to TOC bid qualifying tournaments. KS has seen a decline in competiveness at these tournaments, such as Greenhill, St. Mark's, etc.

 

Can you tell me the last time that a KS team was invited to the Greenhill Round Robin?

 

Saying that KS does well at NFL and CFL is a non-sequitur to "KS is less competitive on the national circuit." Both NFL and CFL are home to many, many debates in front of judges that prioritize form over substance. It doesn't make sense to gauge our performance on the "national circuit" by NFL and CFL. These are not "national circuit" tournaments. They are just 2 tournaments that happen not to be in KS. While NFL and CFL are great tournaments, performance at the TOC should be the primary gauge given that the national circuit is entirely geared towards qualifying for this tournament.

 

****

 

Something that Patrick alluded to, but didn't explicitly note which I think may be the single greatest shortcoming of KS debate is the inability for a team to ask the judge questions about their decision and about the round.

 

Open dialogue between the judge and the team is where some of if not THE BEST learning takes place. I still have nearly all of my notes from judge's RFD's. Some of my conversations with judges post-round were more valuable than even camp lectures. Furthermore, immediate response ensures that adaptations are made. 15 minutes after the debate, you are still very much engaged in the debate and still in that mindset. Immediate feedback allows you to better understand your shortcomings or strong points.

 

This shouldn't be viewed at as strictly a "champ" style habit. I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to ask a coach at an instate tournament how I could have presented my message better. But no.... instead of being able to ask a question and clarify and get feedback immediately, I had to wait a few days until after the tournaments so I could unsuccessfuly attempt to discern three scribbled sentences in the bottom portion of the ballot.

 

This practice is ANTI educational to the absolute extreme.

 

I anticipate the prevailing concern will be, "but what if kids argue with the judges!?" But coaches are able to teach their students decorum and even penalize bad behavior which would keep this practice in check.

 

If a judge is unable to justify their decision to a team, then they have absolutely no business judging debate in the first place.

 

So can someone please explain why debaters are denied post-round immediate learning?? Because I'm still baffled by this one.

Edited by Lamp

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To quote Bill Engvall, "Today, when I woke up, I didn't want to be a jackass, but you just pushed my jackass button"...

 

I'm ever so tempted to respond in my normal arrogant, mocking tone, (which I may be alone in finding delight in, but so be it), but instead I will push people to go more to what I believe is the root of the issue: What is high school policy debate to them?

 

For some, (I would imagine a majority who post on CX) debate is the most fun game they've ever played. It is an educational, competitive game. Debate is a social group in which some people feel included and special. Because kids are playing the game, and it is for them, they should make the rules, determine priorities, and in general the activity is all about them. The best judge is one who plays or played the game and thus gets the concepts.

 

I’m really not trying to paint this as negative. It is a viewpoint. It is one, that at a time, I lived and breathed and 100% thought was fact.

 

For some, debate is all of that, but to a much less extent. Debate is about lifeskills. Competition has its place, but that in general debate should be about communication, persuasiveness, and most importantly learning that even when you are stone cold right you might not win (a lesson I apparently never learned, but my boss teaches me at least once a week). The best judge is anyone, because in real life anyone might be the person you are trying to convince.

 

Me, personally I’m in-between. I lean more to the second, but value the 1st very much so too.

 

I was very tempted to debate right now, and had it all written out, but changed my mind because I said I wouldn’t be a jackass.

 

The challenge I would put out there is to defend your claims with warrants. Why is favoring one viewpoint of what debate is better then the other? What do we do when they are in conflict (gotta love that LD disclaimer)? To say TOC is more educational is a fallacy until you back it up with a reason.

 

And what is your actual plan to make this needed change? Seriously, policy debaters have plans of action. If you believe that Kansas is dying or at least being harmed, how do you plan to solve those harms? Come back and be one of the more liberal coaches? Lobby the Kansas legislature for a “no lay judge” rule? Bring a case before the courts to overturn the 500 mile rule? What is your plan?

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Vehemently disagree.

 

I would care to know what your definition of the "National Circuit" is. For me, it is the debate community that travels to TOC bid qualifying tournaments. KS has seen a decline in competiveness at these tournaments, such as Greenhill, St. Mark's, etc.

 

Can you tell me the last time that a KS team was invited to the Greenhill Round Robin?

 

Saying that KS does well at NFL and CFL is a non-sequitur to "KS is less competitive on the national circuit." Both NFL and CFL are home to many, many debates in front of judges that prioritize form over substance. It doesn't make sense to gauge our performance on the "national circuit" by NFL and CFL. These are not "national circuit" tournaments. They are just 2 tournaments that happen not to be in KS. While NFL and CFL are great tournaments, performance at the TOC should be the primary gauge given that the national circuit is entirely geared towards qualifying for this tournament.

 

What has changed in the past few years to make us less competitive? Please don't say the TOC decision because there are plenty of teams that still travel to bid tournaments. We had a down year, there was less talent. Who cares about St Marks and Greenhill? We can't go to the TOC, they are functionally irrelevant tournaments. NFL and CFL are what we have and we should continue to focus on being competitive there. The reality is that most school districts in the state will have a hard time traveling the KS circuit given the budget cuts we are facing. Lets focus on making Washburn Rural (and others) a better tournament, this starts with people going out and judging.

 

I completely agree about your point oral critiques and interacting with the judges. I was able to give an oral at any tournament I judged at except NFL District. DCI forbids post round disclosure (which I think should be changed) but the point is, this is not an institutional issue. Unfortunately (as an aside), when I ask "do you have any questions" at the end of my oral critique, I get blank stares about 68% of the time. And don't say "well their coaches don't prepare them for that"... you don't need any preparation for that question. How do we fix the lack of oral critiques? wait for it.... go out and judge.

Edited by t-money

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I think I need to clarify something- debate to me has little to do with who can spit out the most arguments and play the technical game well, even though that is a skill I feel I posses. I have no qualms with any judge who does not bring any heavy theoretical preconceptions into a debate. This obviously means that I have no issues with judges who have never seen a debate before. They are perhaps the blankest of slates, or the best "tab" judges, and at times, the most objective. My point was not to argue for the superiority of debating quickly, but rather debating smart. I think most people will call this common sense, but this was the whole point of my post- what once was obvious has been obscured by hatred for one kind of debate or another.

 

I posted about a round I lost at NFL. I could not care less at this point in my life if I "truly" won or lost the debate. It is over and had no real impact on my career. My point was to give an example of a decision rendered entirely on the basis of someone's ideas about debate that had literally no relationship to the arguments presented. THIS is the problem. It is not just judges that I am criticizing though. Many debaters have forgotten that this activity is about critical thinking and taking positions that you may not believe in order to better understand both sides of an argument. Personally, this is why I always refrain from posting my opinions on issues like whether computers should be allowed in debate rounds or whether students should be allowed outside of the 500 mile travel limit. I was taught to see both sides of an argument, and understand that there is usually a reason that there is such a large argument. However, when debaters begin answering arguments with "your argument is cheating" more often than substantive answers, without even giving these arguments real warrants, then I feel like something has gone wrong. Warrants are important, and many a time I feel like they have gone missing from our debates.

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What has changed in the past few years to make us less competitive? Please don't say the TOC decision because there are plenty of teams that still travel to bid tournaments. We had a down year, there was less talent. Who cares about St Marks and Greenhill? We can't go to the TOC, they are functionally irrelevant tournaments. NFL and CFL are what we have and we should continue to focus on being competitive there. The reality is that most school districts in the state will have a hard time traveling the KS circuit given the budget cuts we are facing. Lets focus on making Washburn Rural (and others) a better tournament, this starts with people going out and judging.

 

I completely agree about your point oral critiques and interacting with the judges. Unfortunately (as an aside), when I ask "do you have any questions" at the end of my oral critique, I get blank stares about 68% of the time. And don't say "well their coaches don't prepare them for that"... you don't need any preparation for that question. How do we fix the lack of oral critiques? wait for it.... go out and judge.

 

As an aside, I always offer to judge at all of the tournaments I sponsor. I am only taken up on my offer occasionally. I always give explanations of my decisions and explain how the debaters could structure their arguments more effectively, even if they were to ask no questions.

 

Oops double posted...

Edited by PKennedy

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For some, (I would imagine a majority who post on CX) debate is the most fun game they've ever played. It is an educational, competitive game. Debate is a social group in which some people feel included and special. Because kids are playing the game, and it is for them, they should make the rules, determine priorities, and in general the activity is all about them. The best judge is one who plays or played the game and thus gets the concepts.

 

I’m really not trying to paint this as negative. It is a viewpoint. It is one, that at a time, I lived and breathed and 100% thought was fact.

 

For some, debate is all of that, but to a much less extent. Debate is about lifeskills. Competition has its place, but that in general debate should be about communication, persuasiveness, and most importantly learning that even when you are stone cold right you might not win (a lesson I apparently never learned, but my boss teaches me at least once a week). The best judge is anyone, because in real life anyone might be the person you are trying to convince.

 

Me, personally I’m in-between. I lean more to the second, but value the 1st very much so too.

 

I very much respect your point and agree with your competing views of debate. But I think that ultimately the point that I'm trying to make is that WHY CAN'T WE HAVE BOTH IN KANSAS? And if anyone thinks the status quo is having both they are terribly wrong. As of right now it is prohibited to compete in the TOC. I qualified senior year for the 2nd time and if my partner and I had gone, we would have disqualified our entire school from participating in in-state competition for a considerable amount of time. If that is not mutual exclusivity, then I do not know what is.

 

As of right now, debaters are forced to participate in debate in a very particular way. Yes, debaters may be allowed to go to tournaments like Greenhill and other 500 mile tournaments, but if you can't actually compete in the big dance at the end, what is the point? The pinnacle of experiences is being robbed from debaters. There is a ceiling to how far you can go if you choose to participate in the national circuit whereas there is none if you choose to prioritize speaking skills.

 

I believe that competition is the LIFEBLOOD of this organization. It is what motivates individuals to push themselves well past their comfortable zone and ultimately gives them a greater purpose for their actions. Education is a by-product of competition. We should encourage competition -- anagonism, not antagonism though.

 

 

To say TOC is more educational is a fallacy until you back it up with a reason.

 

No one is saying that the TOC is MORE educational. It is equally educational but in different ways. Fast paced thinking, research abilities, greater holistic strategic vision, and greater discussion of a wider array of issues (everywhere from semantic discussions to political issues to postmodern discussions). Individuals dive into the political ramifications of policy proposals. Sure, politics DA's are "contrived" and "stoopid" but I would like to note that many debaters who cut their own politics DA's are just as knowledge about the political realm as many analysts at think tanks. Shouldn't we encourage that RELEVANT education which manifests itself in a better democratic participation?

 

I want KS to maintain a fierce competitive edge by being one of the few states which introduces its debaters to BOTH styles of debate. Someone who can philosophically comment on social structures and then simplify their arguments and present them to EVEN an everyday mom is someone who is going places in life. DON'T WE WANT THAT?

 

 

And what is your actual plan to make this needed change? Seriously, policy debaters have plans of action. If you believe that Kansas is dying or at least being harmed, how do you plan to solve those harms? Come back and be one of the more liberal coaches? Lobby the Kansas legislature for a “no lay judge” rule? Bring a case before the courts to overturn the 500 mile rule? What is your plan?

 

Yes. I have a very specific vision. Amend the Kansas State rules to allow individuals who qualify for the Tournament of Champions to:

 

a) participate in 3 additional tournaments in the debate "off-season"

B) attend the ToC regardless of its geographic location

 

This is NOT doing away with the 500 mile rule or changing the internal structure of KS tournaments. This is merely affirming the notion that YES the ToC is an educational experience. It is putting the ToC on the same level as NFL nationals. WHY SHOULDN'T IT BE?

 

I'm going to say this right now -- anyone who says that the ToC doesn't have much to offer in terms of education never went.

 

After going to nationals, and seeing plenty of KS debaters being honored for attending 3 and 4 years in a row, I hope one day KS debaters will be honored for repeat TOC appearances. Yes HONORED for repeat appearances. Not banned from them like what happened to me.

 

So I'm ready. I want ANYONE and EVERYONE to take your best shot at this proposal. I want EVERYONE to play devil's advocate. Because, I am just THAT confident that taking this single action will GREATLY benefit Kansas debate as a whole and will not disrupt current practices.

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Lets focus on making Washburn Rural (and others) a better tournament, this starts with people going out and judging.

The problem is that, and all coaches that read this don't come back as though we're in the wrong here because this is a matter of opinion not fact, virtually all of the people you're telling to go out and judge get this negative and hostile position toward the Kansas debate community because they don't feel welcome when they go to tournaments. Plenty of times I've seen qualified and incredibly bright judges that do all they can to remain un-biased get trash talked by coaching and in turn by debaters who follow their coaches lead because someone who, many times, wasn't even watching the debate thinks it was an unfair, unjustified, and stupid decision. News flash to coaches that may not have realized this but about 90% of the time you ask your debaters to play back the round and tell you what happened they're going to tell you a story that has lots of elements of the debate but ALWAYS makes it look like they won.

Even if the coaching in this state feels like this isn't accurate this is how a lot people feel when they go to judge and its the reason why a lot of them have no real incentive to go judge anymore.

 

Unfortunately (as an aside), when I ask "do you have any questions" at the end of my oral critique, I get blank stares about 68% of the time.

This is something that I think also relates to some of the kids Mr. Volen is talking about. Hard reality is that while a lot of debaters think debate is fun a bunch of them don't really care about it. They don't invest the time, the energy, the resources, or the emotion into the activity that the "elite" do. As such I'm of the opinion that those members of the community shouldn't be prioritized over those that care the most. Maybe thats an unpopular stance to take but this is the moderate opinion of mine if I really wanted to offend I could have summed up this paragraph in one 3 word sentence that involves a 4 letter word.

If you don't invest anything in the activity why should your presence over ride the opinions and desires of debaters that did invest and do care and love debate and hate the feeling that they aren't appreciated or wanted, debaters like Patrick, and Danny, and Chris, and many others. And don't think the ones like Danny and Patrick are your enemy at least they still care unlike still other members of the past "elite" that just got sick of not being welcomed and don't care about the Kansas community at all anymore.

Edited by Felix Hoenikker
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Who cares about St Marks and Greenhill? We can't go to the TOC, they are functionally irrelevant tournaments. NFL and CFL are what we have and we should continue to focus on being competitive there.

 

THIS NEEDS TO BE CHANGED.

 

I completely agree about your point oral critiques and interacting with the judges. I was able to give an oral at any tournament I judged at except NFL District. DCI forbids post round disclosure (which I think should be changed) but the point is, this is not an institutional issue. Unfortunately (as an aside), when I ask "do you have any questions" at the end of my oral critique, I get blank stares about 68% of the time. And don't say "well their coaches don't prepare them for that"... you don't need any preparation for that question. How do we fix the lack of oral critiques? wait for it.... go out and judge.

 

I am not going to call out anyone in particular but I have seen tournament directors BARGE into oral critiques and start screaming at the judge because they were giving oral critiques. We need to change the tournament rules. Judges should be told by tournament directors that "staying post-round to offer advice to students is STRONGLY encouraged." This is going to become a matter of changing norms. Yes, maybe students have blank stares but that is just those students being dumb. If someone doesn't want to fix their mistakes, they probably aren't going to learn very much and be very good at debate.

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As an aside, I always offer to judge at all of the tournaments I sponsor. I am only taken up on my offer occasionally. I always give explanations of my decisions and explain how the debaters could structure their arguments more effectively, even if they were to ask no questions.

 

Oops double posted...

 

Offering to judge at a tournament you are sponsoring (getting paid to be at?) is great and all but is it really enough? I don't mean to single you out or anything because your contribution is great compared to so many others. My incredibly redundant point is that people need to give back to the community that gave them so much. Too many have this "someone else will" or "I'm not going unless I get paid" mentality. (Not saying this is you)

 

I completely agree with your points about quality argumentation. I chalk that up to lack of talent this past year. I was disappointed in almost all of the rounds I saw at DCI and elsewhere this year. As opposed to say 2007, when I saw a ton of great debates.

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Danny,

 

I agree that students that qualify for the ToC should be allowed to compete at said tournament. I also agree that the educational value of the debate represented by the ToC is highly valuable. However, KSHSAA has been very clear about their stance on this. They will only allow competition beyond 500 miles at tournaments that the HS Principal's Association sanctions. NFL and CFL are sanctioned. ToC is not. Your issue should be with the ToC not getting that sanctioning. However, this discussion has been had several times in this forum and I'm not going to engage further in it than that.

 

However, I don't believe that being unable to compete at the ToC creates a ceiling for that style of debate. I will openly maintain that to be successful at NFL Nats, CFL Nats, or at State, students must be proficient in all types of debate, from lay to traditional to circuit. The teams that have been successful at either national tournament were only able to do so because of their experiences in slower rounds in KS, as well as in faster rounds at Circuit tournaments.

 

To this end, I am sure that I have been criticized by other coaches in the community for taking my kids out of state. At the same time, I am positive that I have been criticized by people in the community for not allowing some of my teams to compete exclusively on the national circuit. Frankly, I don't give a darn about the criticisms from either side. I value all of the educational opportunities that debate has to offer, and I am going to provide them to the best of my ability to all the students that I can.

 

King

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I completely agree about your point oral critiques and interacting with the judges. I was able to give an oral at any tournament I judged at except NFL District. DCI forbids post round disclosure (which I think should be changed) but the point is, this is not an institutional issue. Unfortunately (as an aside), when I ask "do you have any questions" at the end of my oral critique, I get blank stares about 68% of the time. And don't say "well their coaches don't prepare them for that"... you don't need any preparation for that question. How do we fix the lack of oral critiques? wait for it.... go out and judge.

 

My freshman year, I volunteered to judge at most tournaments near KSU I could find (Manhattan, Silver Lake, Topeka areas). I was yelled at by a coach at Silver Lake for clarifying that it's probably nice to let a team read the ununderlined portions of their evidence. Most other tournaments, I found myself at bottom bracket rounds. I really don't mind - I've helped with debate camps the past few summers because I enjoy helping young debaters. Those rounds were ones I felt I could leave the biggest impression on debaters - you know, give basic speaking suggestions like inflection, feeling, etc. Tell them how they could have handled certain arguments better. Alas, it's hard to do any of the above when your round finishes 3 minutes after the next was supposed to start because people are still convinced a high school round can go down in an hour and fifteen minutes. It's also hard when you have some pimpley high school ballot runner constantly asking you if you're done when the debaters haven't even sat from from the 2AR yet...

 

I find it a little disheartening (and a bit ironic) that my only positive tournament experiences in terms of flexibility to judge rounds I felt like I wanted and give feedback have been ran by Pam McComas and Gail Naylor (McComas is the ironic part - get it? I made a McComas is mean joke. These were funny back in my day). It's very unlikely that I judge, if I'm not sponsoring, anywhere but Topeka High because of two years of feeling like tournament directors couldn't care less of how I spent my Saturday.

 

Oh yeah - and a very consistent trend of calling debaters volunteering my time and never getting a call/email/breathe back. That one feels good. Really good. Am I that bad of a judge for KS? If somebody could just tell me, I wouldn't feel bad. I'd probably thank you and stop bothering you all. I won't cry (that much), I promise.

 

I'll be told "you're being a selfish college debater - rar!" It's interesting how in high school "the judge is all that matters" and when you get out "the tournament is all that matters." Seems like a big excuse to not get out of a mold we have.

 

I understand my above experiences oftentimes aren't even the fault of the school the tournament is being held at. I have nothing but respect for Gail and Silver Lake - they're fun people.

 

But I think I'm allowed to rant when I'm told my experiences with tournaments in KS are all because I haven't judged enough. Get real.

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Fowler,

 

The more that you say "it was a down year" the more insulting you are being to the juniors and seniors that competed this year, and quite well I might add. You may say that it is not your goal to insult them, that you are merely expressing your opinion, but it is demeaning none the less.

 

That's just my opinion having read your posts.

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They will only allow competition beyond 500 miles at tournaments that the HS Principal's Association sanctions. NFL and CFL are sanctioned. ToC is not. Your issue should be with the ToC not getting that sanctioning.

 

That's exactly what my proposal is. Change that. Thanks for the clarification.

 

However, I don't believe that being unable to compete at the ToC creates a ceiling for that style of debate.

 

Going to the TOC is a goal that drives many debaters, which ultimately facilitates greater education. We should be allowed to reward debaters for their achievements and talent by allowing them to compete. How would Bill Gates feel if he created Microsoft and got $0 in return? What about Michael Dell not getting anything return for his brilliance?

 

Not rewarding our participants disengages many. What would happen to entrepreneurship in our country if no one was rewarded? It would cease to exist.. That is why not being allowed to go to the TOC raises the question "What's the point of even going to tournaments like Greenhill which are very expensive if they ultimately amount to nothing?"

 

I can tell you from personal experience, the thought of "Wow I got a bid!!" isn't enough. I want to compete.

 

I will openly maintain that to be successful at NFL Nats, CFL Nats, or at State, students must be proficient in all types of debate, from lay to traditional to circuit.

 

I really don't understand why NFL, CFL, and State are the end all and be all of debate and the ToC is viewed as just another tournament. Why isn't the TOC included that list of the absolute most important tournaments?

 

The teams that have been successful at either national tournament were only able to do so because of their experiences in slower rounds in KS, as well as in faster rounds at Circuit tournaments.

 

I agree. That's why students should be allowed to do both. Imagine what great preparation attending the TOC would be for NFL nationals? You would be exposed to TONS of new innovative arguments and cutting edge strategies that could be repackaged and adapted for NFL nationals? This would only make KS more competitive at these tournaments.

 

**

 

I challenge someone to produce an offensive reason for why allowing students to attend the TOC would be BAD. Not that speaking skills debate is important. That's not responsive. I'm not changing the 500 mile rule here. Just that students should be allowed to go to ONE single tournament.

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A few people have asked me for a solution. I have a suggestion, and it is not really all that radical. Tournaments with the means to host a separate champ division should host a separate champ division. Make no mistake, that's quite a few tournaments. Not only that, but do not collapse the division, even if there are only 6 or 7 teams in it. Host round robins, small tournaments, whatever it takes to let everyone know that your tournament and school support all styles of debate. Champ once meant debaters who were smart and effective- the champions of the state. There is no speed or brand of argument attached to that connotation, only excellence. Students who are excellent and truly care about debate should be allowed to debate each other with a much greater degree of frequency than they are presently able to. I think that it was a great loss that I only debated Sarah Weiner and Andrew Baker about 4 times, even though we attended many of the same tournaments. The next year Danielle and I only debated Sarah and Taylor one time, even though, once again, we went to many of the same tournaments. Many of the people that I respect most in our debate community I never had the opportunity to oppose, despite attending the same tournaments. This is not about a style being more educational, but rather about the competition being more fierce and at a higher level, all of my concerns about juding aside.

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