Sandy eloquently and passionately illustrates the insane amount of resources that go into high school CX. There's no arguing with the fact that, per kid, CX is ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more expensive than any other event in terms of time, money, and energy.
When you take that into account, Regrettable as it is from my (obviously biased) perspective, you really can't blame a coach for "switching" to PF when you consider just how much he or she saves in terms of resources, and while I do believe that CX is a more valuable event on its merits if I were in the position of a coach of an entire squad of debaters in all manner of forensic events I don't think it would be nearly such an easy decision. Holistically speaking, what do you want to accomplish with a speech/debate team? The answer for most highs schools doesn't include bagging a lot college debate scholarships, or, I think, even ensuring that your students are engaged in the most in-depth, gruelling intellectual excercise you could conceivably provide for them. More realistically, I think you want kids to have a chance at a meaningful activity where they can learn, work hard, and maybe grow up a bit along the way. On this count, CX may in fact be the best event out there (and I personally believe that it is) but it's hardly overwhelmingly so.
Anyhow, having thought about some of the ideas/insights in this thread over the last couple of days, I think I'm the most (naively?) optimistic about the future of CX as an activity. The main reason for this, I think, is that I think a lot of the frustration, hurt feelings, and bitterness both discussed and exprsesed in this thread is more the result of the decline of CX rather than its cause. Furthermore, I think that negativity, in itself, is about the easiest thing to fix there is.
Debaters (aka "the kids," emphasis on the diminutive) need to accept the responsibilities that come with being ambassadors for their activity. I'll fully admit that I think people have unfair expectations of debate (isn't it at least a tiny bit strange that people who have never judged a debate before feel comfortable watching a video of the ndt and saying 'that's not debate.'?) but the fact is these aren't going away, and while its unlikely that any debater will ever please anyone completely with his substance/style, a lot more smiles and kind words could go a long way.
At the same time, college debaters, coaches, judges (aka "the adults," overly-simplistic metaphor supplied for emphasis) should realize that while the returns they get for being incredibly selfless may not reveal themselves right away, but they are no less important for it. Kids make mistakes. THey go too fast. Their arguments don't make sense. AND THAT'S A GOOD THING. Kids who debate like that should lose. Not because they're bad, arrogant, or 'corrupted,' but because they didn't persuade their critic. No more, and no less. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned in high school, not just about debate but about life, were intimately related to what could be crudely characterized as 'adaptaion errors' when I debated. I realize it's unpleasant to watch an unclear, overly-cocky 16-year-old blather on at incomprehensible speeds about some hackneyed French philosopher who has no discernible relation to the supposed 'topic' of discussion. But it's also unpleasant to watch a clammy freshman mumble and fumble his way through a series of anecdotes that have nothing to do with his NX topic on Obama's energy policy. Or 9 minutes of a DI's overwrought monologue on abortion/suicide/rape/self-harm or whatever other shock-topic du jour that makes "red asphalt" Public Service Announcements seem positively uplifting. Why is it that in example one we talk about the event like it's "broken" and in the other two we have the perspective to realize that there's something really beautiful about the process of development which takes kids from the phase in their lives we see as a judge to the phase where they are arguing briefs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, or dazzling juries with their poise and showmanship?
I think the answer is that people are just frustrated. Frustration leads to bitterness and bitterness has caused people--on all "sides" if you want to look at it that way--to question the good faith and sincerity of motive behind the actions of their colleagues.
And I guess the reason I keep saying I'm ultimately optimistic is that I just don't think bitterness can kill this activity. Thinking about it in Obamaesque terms, I think that hope will win out. It has to.
Lemme just conclude by giving a shoutout to three people who I really admire:
I mentioned Winston Miller in one of my earlier posts, and wanted to mention him again. As I said before, that guy was great because you couldn't doubt that he really, really, really cared about you. Winston didn't like speed--in fact, he hated it. He didn't like rudeness either--I suspect he hated that too. But I'll never forget watching him lecture a fast, rude debater for 30 minutes after a round on why he shouldn't be so fast and rude all the time. And what was so goddamn admirable about the whole thing was just how incredibly selfless he was. He wasn't incredulous. He wasn't mean. His perspective wasn't "I the great Winston Miller have been offended by your disagreeable debate style and look down upon you for having engaged in it." It was just "don't do that. It doesn't work." The man cared, and I didn't appreciate him enough when i was in hs. When I judge now, I strive to do for other debaters what he did for me. I know I usually come up short
My hs coach, Pauline Carochi, hated the aesthetics of "college" debate. It wasn't even that she hated certain types of arguments (kritiks/counterplans)--she just didn't like the speed, jargon, and attitude. But that didn't stop her from listening to us when we tried that crap anyways, or from encouraging us to go to camp where we would spend two weeks doing nothing but learning all the stuff that she personally loathed. My experience as a debater was greatly enriched for it, and I am still so thankful that I had a coach as selfless as she was, who realized that there were a multitude of ways to look at debate out tehre, and who encouraged me to take part in all of them.
Lastly, Sandy, despite your very well-founded criticisms of debate's excesses, you produced some of the finest debaters I have ever known, all of whom were more than capable of persuading mom and pop that the aff case just didn't have no dadgum inherent barrier, or reading a prisons, er, dedev aff with multiple nuclear war scenarios in the 1ac at blazing speed. From my standpoint, there's something to that.
At any rate, as a debater and as a person, I'm better for having known you, and hell, I wasn't even one of your students.
Anyhow, this post got super long and probably shifted in tone as it got late. But I meant everything I said. I hope some of it made sense.